Saturday, 15 September 2007

The Lacklustre Video Show: Part One

If you're anything like BrokenTV, you'll have an unhealthy addiction to a lot of things. Cockspur rum, cheese and ham flavour Hot Pockets, referring to yourself in the third person, rubbing our 'special purpose' endlessly when in polite company and heroin (only joking about that last one, Mum). But by far the worst of our habits is being utterly incapable of not buying any DVDs we see on offer at under four pounds. Sometimes, they're an unmissable barg (The Flaming Lips: VOID, The Goodies LWT Shows, Tatu: Screaming for More, Straw Dogs, the entire Laurel and Hardy collection, Amazon Women On The Moon). Sometimes, they're offerings worth it just for esoteric value (Terry Wogan: One on One, Morecambe and Wise At The Movies). Well worth the effort, we're sure you agree.

Better than heroin on toast.

Most frequently, they're things that we know we're going to hate (or already hate), but we can't help ourselves because they cost less than four of the shiny objects in our pocket. Our DVD shelves contain offerings such as Alien vs Predator, Blue Streak, Churchill: The Hollywood Years, Die Another Day, Extras, Forrest Gump, God of Gamblers, Happy Gilmour, I-Spy, Jam, King Kong, Lucky Number Slevin, Men In Black 2, Natural Born Killers, Outbreak, Passenger 57, Rush Hour, Spider-Man, Terminator Woman, U-571, Wedding Crashers, and X-Men. And that's just cherry-picking one clunker for each letter of the alphabet. And it means we're tempted to go out and buy some crap films beginning with the letters Q, V, Y and Z just to complete that set now. Gah. And it gets worse, there are at least a couple of items on that list which we own two copies of - the thought process in Tesco generally being "Hey, it's only three quid. I'm sure we haven't already got it, it wouldn't have been worth paying more than three pounds for. We'll buy it", without realised that we'd said exactly the same to ourselves about three weeks previously in Woolies. That's what rum, Hot Pockets and heroin do to the brain, we suppose.

In the first of an irregular series, we're going to take a look at some of the especially disappointing collections we wouldn't have spent more than a fiver on.

The Dick Cavett Show: Rock Icons

Coming in a splendidly packaged three-disc boxset, this compilation of the finest episodes from a chat show host we'd never heard of, including musical performances from lots of artists we'd never heard of (Tex Ritter or The Jessy Dixon Singers, anyone?), made us hope it'd be right up there with all the bits we've seen of The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. In actual fact, it's all quite uninspiring stuff, with the only bit our brains have even bothered to recall were where the host got a bit annoyed with the neckercheif his producers had told him to wear in order to appear 'hip', and duly chucked it away on air. Hardly up there with Johnny Carson teaming up with James Randi to expose Uri Geller as the great big fat charlatan [citation needed] he really is. Probably that's why it was only a fiver.

Wikipedia does reveal that there are other Dick Cavett DVD collections that sounds a lot more promising, such as the Comic Legends four-disc set which includes interviews with Woody Allen, Mel Brooks, Bill Cosby, Bob Hope, Jerry Lewis, Groucho Marx and The Smothers Brothers. We're guessing we're a lot less likely to pick that up in any sale soon.

In defence of Dick Cavett, at least one of his shows is available on the internet in its entirety and further in his defence, at least he's not as bad as bloody Dave "Dave" Letterman.

Domino (2005)

Bah and gah. We saw this ages ago, and disliked it immensely. It does have an interesting premise based on real events - Domino Harvey eschews her privileged background to become a bounty hunter. Plus, Terry Wogan is in it, how could it possibly be anything less than excellent? Unfortunately, as it's directed by Tony Scott, the whole thing is shot as if it were an advert for Pepsi Max, making the whole movie seem like a massive eye-buggering chore. Two out of ten.

And yet! When we saw it in Asda for £3, we somehow accidentally bought it. This sort of thing probably explains why small children often point and laugh at our stupid faces in the street.

Friday, 7 September 2007

Let The Rugby Commence

"Hurrah! Another try for Whimsby Harriers!"

It's the Rugby World Cup again. A sport that has a number of redeeming characteristics when compared to the sport a ruggerloving colleague of BrokenTV's Mark X constantly refers to as 'poof-ball'. Players who don't squabble like girls every time a line-out/throw-in doesn't go their way, who don't crowd and whine around the referee like dicks for every decision that doesn't go their way, officials who are willing to use instant video replays for decisions that will have a notable impact at what is after all, the highest level of their chosen sport. It's just a pity the actual sport isn't anywhere near as good as football, really. But anyway, what of the TV coverage? Maybe we should compile a Rugby World Cup 2007 TV Coverage FAQ.

BrokenTV's Rugby World Cup 2007 TV Coverage FAQ

* Has Gabriel Clarke really missed out on his true vocation in life: playing the slightly smug posh bloke who steals the central character's girlfriend at the beginning of movies (in a scene which contains the line "he's more of a man than you'll ever be"), only to lose out after a stunning act of redemption by the central character in the last five minutes? YES HE HAS.

* Will ITV make everyone sit through the opening ceremony on full and tedious detail, with a commentator dutifully reading out a press release about how the dancing people in lycra are now representing the story of The Prince of the Seven Golden Cows? MERCIFULLY NOT.

* Are ITV about to fall into their usual trap of trying cling onto a few extra viewers by trying to make out that England are definitely going to win the large sporting event? PENDING ANSWER.

* Will they plaster the phrase "Exclusively on ITV" onto every caption that they possibly can? YES THEY WILL.

* Will ITV try to claim that the Rugby World Cup is "the world's third biggest sporting event" at every opportunity this time around, even though it really, really isn't? WE DON'T THINK SO, BUT WE MISSED THE FIRST FEW MINUTES OF THEIR COVERAGE.

* Why have Volkswagen changed their 'midlife crisis' advert so that the bit where the car shown outside the office is now in a different setting, and the tubby Scouser now says "is that your Passat?" instead of "is that your car?" WE DON'T KNOW, BUT IT DOES REAFFIRM OUR OPINION ON ADVERTISING AGENCIES.

* Will BrokenTV suddenly lose all interest in the Rugby World Cup once Wales contrive to balls up their opening match against Canada? YES.

* In fact, is BrokenTV not really that bothered about rugby after all, and that its favourite thing about any Rugby World Cup is the way the 1999 tournament meant loads of road signs in Wrexham had to be translated into Japanese and Samoan? GETTING TO BRIEFLY LIVE IN A TOWN WHERE THE ROAD SIGNS ARE IN JAPANESE, WHAT'S NOT TO LOVE ABOUT THAT?

* Is that why you've lazily restricted the blog's coverage of the event to a simple question and answer format, so you don't get rumbled for not understanding why the referees always seem to give away penalties when as far as you can tell, nothing at all has happened? NOT AT ALL. OOH, THAT WAS A QUALITY SCRIMMAGE BY THE ALL-CYANS, THERE. WHICH ONES ARE BRAZIL, AGAIN?

"I say, Sebastian. I must disagree with that last tackle."


Sunday, 2 September 2007

Eliana's Brazilian Big Night, and Those Big Brother Results

So, who won our Big Brother Fame-O-meter, then? Why, the excellent Brian of course. See?

A late surge from Brian helped him take the prize, picking up bonus multipliers for winning the series (25%), being our favourite (10%), having his own Wikipedia page (another 25%). Having his own page also helped Jonathan take a somewhat unlikely second place, just in front of the excellent twins. Sam and Amanda finishing joint second in Friday's final sees them gain a 15% boost, and the extra 10% for being our joint favourite with Brian sees them knock Charley unceremoniously into fifth place. Ha ha.

So, what have we learned over this series of Big Brother, the first 'normal' series of BB we've bothered with since the first one? Well, trying to wade into it pouring scorn on all the contestants for little or no reason is the act of a cad (or a slightly longer word beginning with 'C'), as a glance at the Sunday Mirror's TV review section (or BrokenTV's intro to BB2007) will attest. If you're going to take the piss out of Big Brother and you're not Sean Lock, just don't bother. You'll look bad.

The other thing we've learned from BB2007: it goes on way too long. And it really doesn't provide a lot of comic potential once you've made a concious decision not to simply slag off everyone involved. Which is why we haven't got anything remotely amusing to say about it here.

SECRET TELEVISION: Part One - Massive Picture Special

But that's enough about Big Brother, because we've got a new favourite programme ever. Lurking in the Sky EPG stratosphere is a delightfully deranged Brazilian channel called Record TV (Channel 801). Generally, their output seems to consist of incomprehensible local news reports, variety shows hosted by a moustachioed man in a neck brace, telenovellas where absolutely nothing happens, and shows like 'Tudo é Possível'.

Now admittedly, we don't speak word uno of Portuguese, so we're not best qualified to judge, but luckily that's never stopped us spewing forth our judgement before now. Running on Sunday afternoons from 4pm until 8.30pm - yes, you read that right - the Sky infobox describes Tudo é Possível as "Eliana hosts a programme with lots of stuff and curiosity". Anyone able to resist the promise of a show containing over four hours of stuff and curiosity can only have a heart of stone. For the benefit of our listeners and the non-Portuguese-speaking population of Earth, here's a synopsis of what happened from the point we tuned into the show (at about 6pm, just after the football, the sport that we still haven't got to starting our blog about yet).

As we crash into the broadcast, there seems to be some sort of quiz going on. As far as we can understand, here's what happens. Two contestants each stand in their own perspex booth and answer questions. But! For each question they answer correctly, they are charged with the task of inviting another person, dressed in a ludicrous outfit, into their booth. Outfits seem to include but are not limited to: Giant frogs; men dressed as tomatoes; a ringmaster on stilts; a fat naked man in a barrel; an Egyptian mummy; a ballet dancer. As each new person is introduced to the stage, Johnny (or Jemima) Contestant has one minute to cram everyone into the confines of their booth o' fun. If they manage to do so, they are allowed to continue. If they fail, they LOSE AN ARM. Actually, we're making that bit up, because we didn't see anyone fail.

In tonight's show, it was Male Contestant who was best able to cram everything into his ker-azy cubicle, and so he goes on to the main event. As you can see by looking at the following pictures with your eyes.

But what of Female Contestant? What happens to her? SHE IS INTRODUCED TO A SLIGHTLY SINISTER JESTER.

Nooooooo! Oh, hang on. He is juggling some balls (as is the way of the harlequin). They seem to contain prizes. He wants Female Contestant to pick one of them. Or else.

Brr. It's like an unsettling combination of Golden Balls and Stephen King's It. Female Contestant picks a ball (not pictured here), and so lovely host Eliana shows the world what's in the balls she didn't pick. Hey, they've got over four hours to kill.

This is what she didn't win. Which is lucky, as Escolna Outra Bolinna is rubbish. We imagine. Babelfish tells the prize translates into English as... "Escolna Another Bolinna". Thanks, Babelfish.

This is what she did win. 1000 Brazilian Reals. A quick visit to tells us that the prize is worth £252.26. Boo, cheapskates! The tomato suit probably cost twice that.

Now it's onto some sort of pre-recorded outdoor thing. There are clips of a Radio One Roadshow-type event, which are displayed alongside lots of product placement. This is then followed by clips of various activities such as children playing, old people in a hall, and a dentist performing surgery on a woman. We hope those aren't the prizes. Suddenly, £252.26 doesn't sound so bad after all. You can probably get an Xbox 360 Elite and a copy of Bioshock for that in Brazil.

Ah, no. Here come the prizes. A television. A cooker. And a microwave. And, depending on what the caption means, R$5000 on top of that, or not.

To win, he needs to... well, we're not sure. Now all of the fancy dress people are lined up, wearing numbers, as if they're about to have a race around the TV studio, which would be ACE. That's the sort of thing that should happen in Television Centre every Saturday night. They could have lottery numbers stuck to their front or something. But now Lovely Eliana is holding up two envelopes, which mean... something. Not sure what.

Before Male Contestant gets to choose, we're shown a bit of his home life. A bit like they used to do on Families At War, except it's not Vic and Bob cavorting around someone's residence. Ah, Families At War, another show that ought to be on iPlayer. Sigh.

We're back in the studio, and he's picked an envelope. He doesn't want to change it. But before we get to see the outcome, it's MC Sapao, who does a nice rap for the ladies and gentlemen.

Top Tip: If you're trying a portray yourself as a bit of a gangsta, try not to be pictured performing in front of an identity line-up comprising of giant frogs, Frankenstein's monsters and bestilted ringmasters. It tends to dampen your impact somewhat. There's a reason Ghostface Killah never appeared on Doobie Duck's Disco Bus.

Now, back to the envelopes. After a metric ton of faffing around (over four hours, remember), it is opened. And it contains...

"Sem colher de cha". Or, "Without spoon of cha". Thanks again, Babelfish. All a bit of a comedown after all that. Instead he gets to pick a person in a costume, who he may possibly have to marry as some kind of consolation prize. Luckily for him then, that he picks the beauty queen.

But alack! Lovely Eliana has gone over to Male Contestant's girlfriend in the audience, and has asked her to pick a potential life-mate for him instead. Sensing a chance for revenge, she picks the berk dressed as a tree. Now, surely Male Contestant won't decide to marry...

Oh. Behind the numbers is a prize. He gets to pick one prize. Aah. He picks the tree. After much (more) fannying around, the prize is revealed.

It is a microwave. He doesn't look elated. He decides to gamble on the beauty queen. After another dose of fannying around, her prize is revealed to be...

a black dot. We don't need to be a polyglot to understand that this means he's won piss all. The beauty queen seems quite pleased by that, for some reason. It transpires that the lady frog contained the big money. Forlorn, Male Contestant walks away. All that took up forty-five minutes of his life. But at least he hadn't made a misguided decision to transcribe it all in minute detail, like us. That takes much longer. Of course, if he'd ever entered one of those 'pick the football team' charity raffle card things you get in pubs occasionally, he'd have known the prize is never under the most popular choice. The beauty queen is clearly Liverpool or Manchester United, whereas the female frog is the Tudo é Possível equivalent of Airdrie or Crewe. It's a no-brainer.

From the quiz segment, we move onto a dubbed clip from 'Breaking The Magicians Code' (or, 'A Volta Do Magico Dos Magicos'). The action split-screens back to the Tudo é Possível studio, where members of the audience are invited to guess how it's done. A bit like those nicely diverting Saturday night magic specials the BBC did a few years ago. A bit pointless, and it's lucky we'd Live-Paused it to write all this bumph, so we can skip past it.

Now you're talking: Brazilian adverts! We could do a long and unpopular update just about these. Mercifully, we won't. We'll restrict ourselves to the following pictures.

The last of these is a trailer for "Show Do Tom", which is on later. We're mightily tempted to compile another synopsis of that, but we'd quite like to have some readers left this time tomorrow.

After the break, they carry on with the Magicians Code bits for ages, merely cutting to Lovely Eliana asking an audience member how they think it's done, just before they reveal the answer (a false body switcheroo, generally). It's a bit like us just copying and pasting text from UK:Resistance and saying whether we thought each bit was funny or not, then claiming it's all-new content. Whereas of course, in reality, we just copy and paste it all into Blogger, but then replace the words 'Sonic', 'Sega' and 'Emily Booth' with 'ITV1', 'Big Brother' and 'Dark Haired One Out Of Tatu'. All this has also reminded us how 'Breaking The Magicians Code' could be very interesting, if only it didn't make the seemingly conscious decision to be irredeemably shit instead.

Suddenly, the show is hijacked by another programme called 'Sorria Voce Esta Na Record', where a bloke who looks a bit like a jolly Hugo Chávez and a bloke who's supposed to be an American (but who clearly isn't) are in front of a crowd.

Before we can understand what's going on, a man with a bag of potatoes wanders on, and begins to chuck spuds at 'John', with accompanying comedy sound effects. The man (called Shaolin, a caption handily tells us) is angry about some sort of misunderstanding. The jolly Chávez man calms it down, and everyone laughs.

Then, in accordance with the UN statute that states all non-English television stations must have a hidden-camera stunt show BY LAW, it's prank time. A man asks passers-by to start a sprint, by firing a starters pistol. This happens every day in Brazil, we imagine. Certainly, none of the passers by seem perturbed by this. But, when they fire the pistol, a dead pigeon falls out of the tree above them. Repeat several times. Ha-ha-larity ensues.

(Hilarity not pictured)

Cut back to the Tudo é Possível and Lovely Eliana. She tells us to, well, do one, as it's the end of the show. No credits, no end music, not even any applause, just a station logo and copyright notice. No messing about at Record TV. At this point, we can't help but feel they could have made a bit more effort here. Maybe have Lovely Eliana's comedy dad walking in and shouting "right, I want you all out of my house now" or something. Oh well.

The next programme (after Incomprehensible Local News which includes lots of old men in a field playing accordions) is a talent show called, quite magnificently," Successo!"

We make our excuses, and put the Spanish Football on. But we'll be back for more next week, Lovely Eliana. Maybe. If only to see what sort of thing goes on for the first two hours. We do hope it isn't just Lovely Eliana explaining the rules to the costume-stuff-box game.

NEXT TIME ON SECRET TELEVISION: Sitting through hours of TVEi, trying to find something to write about.

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