Sunday, March 15, 2009

A New Dawn

After a long weekend in the Westcountry, surrounded by family, friends and relatives, some of which I hadn’t seen for years, it felt strange coming back to London and, after being surrounded by people, spending each day alone, writing at the computer and working my way through the homemade cakes brought back with me. Apart from a few brief telephone conversations for research purposes and a call to an actress friend to arrange lunch next week, the longest chat was with an apologetic supermarket checkout girl after all the tills went down and we waited for their system to reboot.

Ignoring the outside world, and even giving up newspapers and the daily crosswords to concentrate on the work, I’d even forgotten about bloody Comic Relief on Friday. Okay, it’s all for a good cause, raising money for charities and the like here and abroad, but I wonder how much more would be raised if the BBC pledged not to blow off the whole evening of regular programming for hour upon hour of such awful amateurish bullshit. Repeatedly reminding everyone to BE FUNNY FOR MONEY, based on what I saw the performers should be required to hand back any payment they received, ever.

If people want to something to help why don’t they help fix up shelters for homeless people or battered women? I never understand these idiotic stunts like sitting in a bath filled with mushy peas or baked beans, especially when it’s all done for a famine relief. Doesn’t anyone get the contradiction in wasting food to raise money to feed people dying of hunger? As for those D-list celebrities sent off to climb Mount Kilimanjaro... Hell, if they flew the lot to Hawaii, had them climb the Mauna Loa volcano on the Big Island and then threw them in once they reached the summit, that would surely bring in a lot more cash.

Instead I contented myself watching the special edition of Newsnight Review that asked: Is Television Dead? I’m sure it would have been a decent debate if they hadn’t asked the utterly useless Jana Bennett, Director of BBC Vision, to contribute to the round table discussion. Maybe she was nervous about appearing on live television but the idiot woman could barely string a coherent sentence together. Asked to name an innovative BBC programme at the offset, all she could do was gabble about Armando Iannucci‘s political satire The Thick of It, which, if we don’t count the two specials shown in 2007, was last broadcast over three years ago. Keep up woman!

If you had to divide the population between those who were given a new puppy and those thrown to rebel Hutu tribesmen to be raped and mutilated, Bennett certainly wouldn’t have to worry about popping down the shops for some Winalot. Asked later on why, Red Riding aside, British television couldn’t produce something as thoughtful and provocative as recent American dramas like The Wire, she avoided the question and blurted out that the BBC were going to show the drama, finally, seven years after it was first broadcast on HBO. Oh, well done her!

It’s good that BBC2 is showing The Wire. It means that all the little knuckleheads that are so desperate to write television drama and haven’t seen it yet have no fucking excuse. Although it seems bizarre that, with transmission dates still to be announced, the BBC has decided to strip the episodes in across the week. Is it because they think that the majority of today’s audience, having had their brains turned to mush by nonsense like Lark Rise to Candleford, wouldn’t be able to follow the narrative if only one episode was shown a week? Given the content, the drama will no doubt be shown on Monday to Thursday after Newsnight. Which means people can bemoan that it’s on too late as an excuse not to watch. The cocks!

In the meantime the finale of Battlestar Galactica is imminent, after which I will no doubt be inconsolable. It may not be to everyone’s tastes but that’s surely because the imbecilic post-Star Wars generation don’t understand that science fiction is supposed to be a reflection of contemporary times rather than the puerile antics of farting robots and all the stupid shit that goes with it. Then, to make matters worse, I recently read one blog post where the writer stated he didn’t like the re-imagined series simply because, rather than being black and white, the characters had too many shades of grey and were, at times, unlikeable.

I wasn’t sure whether it was supposed to be written tongue-in-cheek or the person putting these thoughts down was utterly retarded. But it helps prove that the problem with so much stuff today is that far too much is written by adults who haven’t grown up and can’t get beyond the juvenile crap they watched as kids. In other words: Useless dumb fucks! Anyway, to illustrate Battlestar Galactica’s true worth as a drama, this Tuesday, when the first part of Daybreak, the three-hour finale, is being shown on Sky One, the United Nations is playing host to a series retrospective and panel discussion.

Flagged up by Mo Ryan who writes the Chicago Tribune’s insightful The Watcher blog, the event will illustrate how, Battlestar Galactica examines the problems currently afflicting our planet issues such as armed conflict, terrorism, human rights and reconciliation and dialogue among civilizations and faith. The panel will consist of, from the show, executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick and actors Mary McDonnell and Edward James Olmos, and, from the UN, Radhika Coomaraswamy, special representative of the Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict; Craig Mokhiber, Deputy Director of the New York office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights; and Robert Orr, Assistant Secretary-General for policy planning, executive office of the Secretary-General.

An invitation-only event, Alan Sepinwall the TV critic of The Star-Ledger will be in attendance and promises to report back on his equally entertaining blog sometime in the week. While we wait I’ve been trying to imagine that happening over here with...? Ah... Instead of going to Turtle Bay it would have to be convened at The International Court of Justice in The Hague. Once there that smug Welsh git could be dragged into the dock and relentlessly questioned about stealing proper creative writers’ ideas for his own worthless gains. If it led to a well deserved summary execution immediately afterwards, that would be something I’d certainly give money to see.


At 11:16 pm, Blogger Brian Sibley said...

Glad I'm not the only one left cold by Red Nose Day...

At 11:38 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...


I'm glad to find out I'm not the only one either. God, it's like some ego mad am-dram nightmare.

At 3:42 am, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

An ego mad am-dram nightmare is about right.

But 90% of programming falls into the same rancid category.

As I read your blog during the week, BBC1 was showing a documentary presented by Danielle Lloyd, The South Bank Show was paying tribute to the aristic colossus that is Will Young, and Channel 4 was running promos for a series about human reproduction in which life-sized sperm will be played by actors (imagine the auditions for that).

And as for that Newsnight debate about the health of TV, once a 'Head of Vision' starts blathering on, they're not discussing the problem, they're part of it.

At 2:18 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

I’m afraid I had to Google Danielle Lloyd to see who she was. I suspect the documentary was very deep and profound. At least for an audience more used to CBeebies.

The South Bank Show on Will Young? Oh, for fuck’s sake. I don’t know if I mentioned it before but ages back, I was working with a producer who had obtained personal diaries and the like of Carl Mayer who co-wrote Das Cabinet des Dr. Caligari with Hans Janowitz, and the screenplays for Murnau’s Der Letzte Mann and Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans. He worked on Leni Riefenstahl’s Das Blaue Licht before fleeing Nazi Germany in 1933.

The material was absolutely fascinating. His films were utterly astonishing. The reply from The South Bank Show’s production office was that they now only profiled living artists. And they wonder why arts on ITV has gone down the toilet.

I’ve seen the promo for the Channel 4 programme. At first, when I caught only a brief clip, I thought it was an old British Airways commercial. When I saw the whole thing I just stared slack-jawed at it. Do they really think we’re that moronic?

At 6:41 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

That's priceless. You can almost imagine the researcher asking, 'Who's Lenny Reeferstall?'

A couple of years back Private Eye went through a series of the SBS and lo and behold every single episode was tied in to another ITV programme.

It's an absolute fraud of an arts show.

At 7:15 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

We always give three cheers to anyone in the UK television industry that makes one of the few darn good adult dramas without pandering to the morons out there. I think anyone who manages to make an intelligent documentary nowadays needs to be congratulated. Because most of the crap holds together as well as a Farley's rusk dipped in warm milk.


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