Sunday, 31 December 2006

BrokenTV's Tribute To A Forgotten Comic Genius

Yes, we've finally got around to updating BrokenTV TV. And what have we added? Some of the best old comedy we've found, dating from the late 1940s. Viewers of Victor Lewis-Smith's output may well have noticed clips of old Public Information Films with a rubbery-faced old man being bollocked by an off-screen announcer who throws pepper in his face, but the full version of this, and other films from the era seem to have been missing from YouTube. UNTIL NOW.

"Don't drink it, man!"

Watching them all now, we can't help but hail the star of these short films, one Richard Massingham, as a comic talent to rival Hancock, before Anthony Aloysius Hancock had got anywhere near a TV screen. Born in 1898, Massingham worked in medicine, at one point being appointed Senior Medical Officer at the London Fever Hospital, but also made occasional short films. Noting that there was nobody making specialist informational films for the public, he set up Public Relationship Films Ltd in 1938, and set about making a troubled Britain a slightly safer place. Especially once the Nazis stopped dropping bombs on it, of course.

The clips we've got here date from 1945 to 1948, and are just a few of the ninety or so short films he turned out over his short career. Massingham went on to co-direct (with Jacques Brunius) an award-winning short film for children, To The Rescue, and had begun work on The Blakes Slept Here, excitingly quoted at Screenonline as "a lavish and curious Technicolor amalgam of gas advertisement and historical cavalcade", when he sadly passed away in 1953.

Just imagine how great he could have been given the Bill Kerr role in the TV version of Hancock's Half Hour.

Here are a few shorts of Massingham magic, in full.

Coughs and Sneezes (1945)

Or, the one that was on TV Offal (or was it Ads Infinitum? Or neither?). All great fun, but quite how people who go about kicking other people into rivers can be classified as 'pretty harmless', we're not sure.

Don't Spread Germs (Jet Propelled Germs) (1948)

Semi-sequel to the above snot-aversion campaign, includes a wonderful bit of announcer intervention.

Pedestrian Crossing (1948)

Pay heed, citizenry. How to cross the road in post-war Britain. "It's no good thinking you can have a sleep!"

A Warning to Travellers (Five Pounds in Notes) (1949)

Richard Massingham being told ONLY TO TAKE FIVE POUNDS IN NOTES WHEN HE GOES ABROAD, otherwise the balance of payments will get all messed up. Less excellent than his other PIFs (his character speaks for one thing, instead of just pulling faces), but any Richard Massingham is fine by us.

There is one Massingham clip already up at YouTube, Watch Your Meters, which is nice, because the version we've got has messed up sound, and you can get hold of the super What A Life! (a tongue in cheek look at postwar austerity) from (we'd put that on YouTube, but we're not directors so can't put twelve-minute epics up there).

ScreenOnline has more details on the great man, including more clips of his short films (but only if you're a school, college or uni, which we're not. Bah). It even includes a transcript of an article written by Massingham for Sight And Sound in 1939, Richard Massingham on Continuity.

Now, if you'll excuse us, we're off to spend the new year fretting about the balance of payments and drinking. Look out for the BrokenTV Awards 2006 tomorrow, if we're sober enough. Until then, here's a bonus bit of VLS-approved retro clippage, this time from 1950, telling foreigners how to use our buses.

Sunday, 24 December 2006

They Never Seemed To Select The Moneybags Icon

Here's something we were thinking of doing for a while. Remember The Chart Show? The pop video showcase that used to be on Channel Four in the 1980s (and then on ITV, where it wasn't anywhere near as good)? Repeats of old episodes are now running on Sky Digital channel The Vault on Saturday mornings and Thursday afternoons. It'd be handy to capture one of those, and bung it up onto YouTube so everyone can see it, we reckon.

Well, what with us being as endemically lazy as ever, it's quite fortunate that someone else has done just that. Except, even more excellently, they've uploaded an original Channel Four broadcast of it. So, with thanks to the enigmatic (well, we presume so) JamesTV2001, here it is in full colour. Now we can all sit back, watch that cutting edge Amiga 500 graphicry, and hope that the specialist chart rewinds to one of the songs in it that we want to see,
even although it hardly ever bloody did:

Part one. "Everything Good is Bad" by Westworld, "Burn It Up" by The Beatmasters with PP Arnold and "Why Are You Being So Reasonable Now" by Wedding Present.

Part two. "The Garden Of Eden" by The Garden of Eden and "Copperhead Road" by Steve Earle.

Part three. "Please Help the Cause against Lonliness" by Sandie Shaw, "Valerie", "Don't You Know What The Night Can Do", & "Roll With It" by Steve Winwood. Before somebody stuck a drum machine behind the latter and then claimed it was their own song.

Part four. "Harvest For The World" by The Christians, "Don't Cry" by Boy George and bloody "Orinoco Flow" by bloody Enya.

Part five. "Ordinary Angel" by Hue & Cry, "True Love" by Glenn Frey and "Riding on a Train" by The Pasadenas.

The final bit, with "Desire" by eighties band U2.

There's a heap more Chart Show goodness from the same Tuber here. It includes the last ever episode from 1998 (which includes a superb montage of all the Chart Show graphics over the years) and a special from 1986 (which is great, because Fuzzbox are on it). Both of which we probably would have been better off posting here, but what can you do, eh?

Tuesday, 12 December 2006

Music To Eat Griddles By

We're currently sitting at home waiting for Johnny Parcelforce to deliver the Nintendo Wii we should be getting today. We'd be really excited, if it weren't for two things:

(a) The parcel tracking page for the delivery in Amazon claims that it was actually delivered yesterday morning. No it bloody wasn't. Nobody was in, and no stupid little card was left. And you'd said Tuesday on your confirmation email. If J. Parcelforce has nicked it, then we'll have to go on some sort of MASSIVE DAMAGE spree at their depot.

(b) SWEET MOTHER OF MERCY DAYTIME TELEVISION IS BAD. Why do the BBC assume people who have nothing better to do than watch TV at 10am are the kind of audience thinking "how I can buy lots of houses, have them renovated, and sell them on for profit?" It's more likely they're thinking "how long have I had that bread in? Wonder if there are any green bits on it yet?" Or, in our case, thinking of ways to cause MASSIVE DAMAGE to the local Parcelforce depot.

A far better thing to broadcast at this time of the morning is a static screen of a scary clown, and some jaunty music. They did it all the time in the 1970s and early 1980s, when there were lots more people with nothing better to do than watch TV at 10am, and we're betting with that cheery little lift to their collective spirit, the peoples of Britain set about inventing the ZX Spectrum and DNA fingerprinting and stuff.

By way of testing this theory, we've put the YouTube video below on a loop for the last half hour, and we've already come up with a number of new exciting ideas. Mainly ideas for inflicting MASSIVE DAMAGE on the local Parcelforce depot if our Wii doesn't arrive in the next few hours, but it's a start.

[Midnight update]Luckily, our Wii arrived not long after we'd noticed that someone we've never heard of had signed for it via ParcelForce's online tracking. They lived down the road, and delivered earlier this evening. Which was lucky for us, because Johnny Parcelforce couldn't be bothered putting a card through our letterbox telling us who he'd given it to, so they could just as well have kept it, and we would never know.

Here's our in-depth review of the Wii so far: It is excellent. Wii Sports is wonderful, but Wii Play is slightly disappointing so far (apart from the 9-ball pool game, which is tops). In fact, Wii Sports is so ace, we haven't even got around to trying Zelda or Call Of Duty 3 yet. Our Mii code is 6585 9853 0847 1206, in case anyone wants to kick our online arses at, well, whatever online games might appear.


Sunday, 3 December 2006

American Television: Special Report

My Name Is Earl. American Dad. Curb Your Enthusiasm. The Daily Show. Arrested Development. Studio 60 On Sunset Strip. Lost. 24. The Colbert Report. American television is in a very healthy state at the moment, possibly the healthiest it's ever been. OR IS IT?

Thanks to modern technology, namely the newest version of TVUPlayer, we can finally see what it's really like without it stopping for rebuffering every five seconds. And guess what? Well, predictibly, it's mostly rubbish, which much of the day outside primetime being taken up with teleshopping or tedious local micro-news. Of course, what with the channels being taken from the west-coast feeds, they're all about seven hours behind us, meaning you need to be up at around 4am to see anything in primetime, but even then it's mostly repeats or dull reality TV that even Bravo 2 will turn their nose up at over here.

The screenshots we've tried to take don't work, so have an out of date one.

The listing of available channels is constantly updated in the new beta version (which works much better for us than the last 'stable' release), meaning a few appear and disappear at random (BBC World popped up on the list for us the other day, only it wouldn't work. If a working version of BBC Prime pops up, we'll be really pleased). It does contain Comedy Central, so night owls will be able to see live editions of The Daily Show and Colbert, but be warned - the same channel seems to show endless episodes of MadTV, surely the worst sketch comedy ever broadcast. Although we haven' t seen Blunder yet.

Oh, and you can use it for seeing live 3pm Saturday Premiership football, which was the real reason we'd used it in the first place. Yesterday we watched the Wigan-Liverpool match, which was quite odd, as it featured no commentators at all, just the crowd noise and occasional caption.

Special bonus selection of YouTube clips sorted of linked to the two above things: Classic clips from the NASL! You've gots to love that Being There-ish TV coverage.

George Best's greatest ever goal, for the San Jose Earthquakes.

Ronaldinho's overhead volley? Pah! Giorgio Canaglia of the NY Cosmos did it first!

Do the hustle. With the Seattle Sounders, circa 1975.

1977 Soccer Bowl: New York Cosmos take on the Seattle Sounders.

1978 Soccer Bowl: New York Cosmos vs The Tampa Bay Rowdies.

1980 Soccer Bowl: New York Cosmos vs Ft. Lauderdale Strikers.

1981 Soccer Bowl: New York Cosmos vs Chicago Sting. It's a shootout!

Blog Archive

Popular Posts


Blog Archive