Friday, May 11, 2007

The Barcelona Factor

I don’t mean “Barcelona, Like a jewel in the sun!” or some clunky Robert Ludlum espionage doorstop either.

What I mean is this...

Where, through the twelve episodes of Fawlty Towers, every time Manuel fucked up John Cleese’s Basil Fawlty would excuse the Spaniard’s imbecilic mistakes and misinterpretations by simply explaining to the guests: “He’s from Barcelona.”

So The Barcelona Factor comprises the howling great gaffes in television, alongside other forms of media, where the programme makers try to sidestep and gloss over the inherent flaws.

For instance, Doctor Who’s Barcelona Factor is its complete inability to marry characterisation with a coherent story and get out before the deus ex machina comes crashing down with a loud thud.

Or Life on Mars’ creators concocting a scenario that set the series in the seventies simply so they could pretend they were making The Sweeney.

In the case of Holby Blue it’s the fact that the pre-watershed drama has to be filmed in the same house style as Casualty, virtually unchanged in pace and tone after 21 years, which has spent the time perfecting the art of motionless motion.

Does that make sense? The idea rattled into my head this afternoon while I was stuck on a dawdling District Line train on the way to deliver some work to a waiting client.

What other shows can you think of that suffer from The Barcelona Factor?


At 6:50 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

The problem is that most British programmes are one Barcelona moment after another.

To take your Dr Who example, how can anyone watch those special effects with a straight face? Forget the space rhinos, what about Ardal O'Hanlon as Pussy Galore?

And how about Coronation Street, the most watched programme on British television? They're currently running a storyline where 75-year-old Ken Barlow is trying to reconnect with his 10-year-old son. And even that's more plausible (and less creepy) than the idea of the barmaid finding Steve McDonald attractive.

Sadly, from one week to the next, there isn't a single British-made, scripted programme that's worth watching. It's getting to the point now where I don't even bother with a new series like Holby Blue because, let's face it, what's the likelihood of it being any good?

At 10:20 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

J+C, all too true.

what about Ardal O'Hanlon as Pussy Galore?

That was the episode that had anti- gravity vehicles that gave off exhaust fumes, right? Right.

At 2:41 pm, Blogger Lara said...

In the recent past I have found "The IT Crowd" totally unforgiveable - I guess it's just not 'my thing' and I know lots of peeps who love it.

The other one is that stupid, gross, mind-numbing series with the bear puppet thing which tries so desperately to pass itself off as a comedy but obviously requires a labotomy to appreciate. I can't even remember/care to remember what the title is.

Again, I am sure loads of people love it.

I don't ;0)

At 5:01 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


Have to say I didn't think much of The IT Crowd either. Some good jokes but it seemed very slow and tired.

But what we know.

The US version of The IT Crowd starring Richard Ayoade from the original and some American actor I've never heard of, will run on NBC - probably midseason - during their 2007-08 season.

Haven't got a clue what the bear puppet is. But then if I don't watch it, it obviously isn't any good. '-)

At 12:31 am, Blogger Jason Arnopp said...

I reckon youze guys are referring to, um, The Bear from Bo' Selecta!, right? Little foul-mouthed fella with specs?

I really enjoyed The IT Crowd. It's no replacement for Father Ted, but I love that guy who was also in the excellent Garth Merenghi's Darkplace - he's got a great delivery, even if it makes him sound like a lousy actor!

Doctor Who? Barcelona moment? Blasphemy! Ironically, the newly regenerated Tenth Doctor claimed he was going to take Rose Tyler to Barcelona.

I'll get my coat, hat and lengthy scarf.

At 1:03 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

Bo Selecta! - which has that mad ginger. Oh, dear.

That guy who was also in the excellent Garth Merenghi's Darkplace? That's Richard Ayoade, who's gone over to America to star in the US version of The IT Crowd.

Can't comment on Doctor Who and the reference, I'm too busy trying to choke on my own vomit.

At 9:17 am, Blogger Lara said...

Yeah, Jason I think you may right -the Bo Selecta! bear thing - didn't it get it's own series??? All I can say is: minging.

With regard to The IT Crowd - Richard Ayoade certainly has his own style and I think it's one that would carry nicely to the US.

One US 'transfer' I'm scratching my head over though is Blackpool - set in Nevada - I am presuming Vegas. How will that possibly stand up to the glamour of Blackpool? ;0)

At 10:36 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

Lara, the Blackpool adaptation is called Viva Laughlin and set in Laughlin, Nevada which is on the banks of the Colorado River and close to the Nevada-Arizona border. I guess the bright lights are not as bright, and high rollers not rolling as high as in Sin City, about sixty miles north.

The Viva part comes into it because when Blackpool was shown on BBC America it was retitled Viva Blackpool.


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