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Archive for the category “Television”

Under The Knife

This could almost be a PIDU post – but it’s not, and I don’t quite know why myself.  But anyway…

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching Botched, a programme about Plastic Surgery, and primarily fixing the bad jobs that’ve already been done on people. It’s a ‘reality’ series, and kind of annoying, but also weirdly interesting.  I find it fascinating to see the things that people have had done to themselves, the things that they feel insecure about, and what they put themselves through in order to feel better.

Personally, I don’t get that whole surgical self-improvement thing – I’m far more of an “accept what you are/have” person, which seems to result in a lot less stress.  Then again, I’ve never been pretty, so I don’t have that innate vanity that sees Just One Thing that’s wrong. I don’t feel the need to “fix” things, so it’s all just a bit… alien to me.

The people who do want work done (and in the greatest number of cases, it’s definitely ‘want’ rather than ‘need’) are of interest to me, looking at the mindsets that are so obsessed with that One Thing that needs ‘fixing’, that if they fix that, then everything will be fine (while also never actually addressing the underlying insecurities that are driving the desire for surgery in the first place)  and wondering why they only look at fixing the physical, rather than the mental and emotional issues that cause them to focus on these things.

More than anything, I think I feel sad for a lot of the people, to have lives that are so focused on something like that, and to be so desperate to get it fixed.

Anyway, it’s a rotten reality programme, but it still interests me for the people involved. Which, I suppose, is the whole point of reality programming.

Idents

Of late, I’ve been watching a few more TV programmes on commercial channels, and as a result I’ve been seeing a lot more of the ident/sponsorship captions at the start and end of each ad break.  (I’m sure there’s a proper name for them, but ‘ident’ will do for now) However, they primarily stick in the mind because they annoy me.

I know advertising is supposed to be all about brand recognition, making things that stick in the mind so we remember the company when we’re looking for whatever product they’re hawking.  But all the idents (and a number of the primary adverts as well) only stick in my mind in order to be companies that I never, ever give any money to.   (Which has happened several times now, looking for a product or service and knowing I won’t use [x] because their adverts annoy me so much)

Part of it, and the part that grates with me the most on idents, is a lack of range.  I assume it’s a budgetary thing or something, but lots of them seem to make five idents, and think that’s enough. However, there are four ad-breaks, so there’s should be eight idents. Instead, we end up repeating at least a couple of idents – in just one programme! – and all that makes me think about the company is that they either haven’t thought things through, or they’re just cheap. Either way, I can’t see that as being the reaction/perception that the company is aiming for when they’ve spent a bundle on buying the slots and making the idents.

I mind less when they’ve only done the one ident – even thought it means it can end up being seen eight times per episode – because at least it’s simple and easy.  It’s the supposedly-funny ones that aren’t amusing in the first place, let alone once you’ve seen it twice in an hour, and even less so over the full run of any series.

Slight Demoralisation

Over the last couple of weeks, one of the satellite TV channels has been repeating one of my all-time favourite series, “The Closer“, and I’ve been recording and re-watching them. In some episodes it shows its age (it first went out in 2005) with the technology, phones etc., but that’s pretty much to be expected now.

Right from the start I liked it, each episode contained all the clues and ideas needed to solve the crimes, which raised it above an awful lot of the procedural dramas around. It was intelligent in a number of ways, but there was also a focus on personalities, clashes, and idiosyncracies.

I was well into it anyway, and then the last three episodes of the first season hooked me completely.  I won’t go into the details, but the final episode of Season One has the best apology ever seen on TV, and it still makes me laugh, even knowing it was coming.

However, it also has a bit of a downside.  The writing is so sharp, the characterisation so good (in my opinion, naturally) that I watch it – and a couple of other things, particularly “The West Wing” – and just find myself thinking that I’ll never be able to write like that.

I’m going to damn well try, don’t get me wrong, but yeah, it still makes me a bit demoralised about the whole thing. Fun and games.

Apprentice Thoughts

Once again, the BBC has a series of the Apprentice running. And yet again, every single contestant currently appears to be an inveterate fuckknuckle with all the business skills of a bundle of second-hand scrotum skin.

What I don’t understand about the competitors (more even than being so massively underprepared and underqualified) is what think will happen afterwards.  This year, there’s 18 competitors, and that means that 17 are going to lose, and go back to reality.

But anyone who has seen the programme will know that they’re insufferable, incompetent, and in most cases utterly vile human beings who couldn’t truly run a business if their lives depended on it.

So – what happens when they look for new work? Or even just return to the job where they’ve managed to negotiate a break or sabbatical? (Come to think of it, that situation might be even worse, with the added weight of expectations etc.)

I know that if, regardless of whether I were interviewing or being interviewed, any single one of them were in the room, I’d know they’re (at best) useless, gobby, opinionated, and shit at their supposed job; and wouldn’t work with them.  I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d do the same.

All told, pretty mind-boggling.

The End Is Nigh

ScroogeIt’s the first post of the year to see Scrooge!

As of tonight, we’re officially in the run up to the Festering Season.  How do I know? Because tonight on TV there’s the first episode of the new series of X-Factor.

Not that I’ll be watching it, but it’s definitely the harbinger of the year’s end…

Eating Well For Less

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been watching the BBC’s “Eat Well For Less” series.  It’s an interesting concept, helping people with their eating habits (and more accurately, their spending on food) by removing all the labelling and branding from food in people’s houses, removing all the prejudices etc. around their food spending.  They replace expensive branded stuff with ‘own-brand’ or cheaper alternatives (and in some cases with more expensive, but better/healthier options) and also leaving some things alone.  Additionally, they help people with recipes for their favourite meals, rather than buying pre-packaged and so on.

A lot of it is insanely annoying, but the core information is (in my opinion) worth it, for both the families on the programme, and people watching it.

But oh Dear God, those families are fucking pathetic. There’s lots of preconceptions about brands being preferred “because they wouldn’t be so popular if they weren’t the best” and so on, which drives me crackers.

The most recent one tonight, though, drove me crackers. One family member had been diagnosed as coeliac, and had spent six years eating salads he hated. Six. Fucking. Years.  How does anyone end up eating stuff they don’t like for six bloody years? There’s no logic in it that I can see – unless they haven’t done any enquiries or research about what’s got gluten in and so on?

In this case they were buying loads of pre-packaged food – and I get that more, because they were so worried about cross-contaminating from their foods to his, and making him ill – but with no thoughts or understanding. I think the peak point for me was buying pre-packaged “gluten-free” rice, not understanding that all rice is gluten-free, in the name of Jesus H Pant-shitting Christ.

So yeah, it’s been an interesting series, but Holy DogEggs, some people are fucking lazy/stupid/pathetic*.

(* Delete as applicable)

Life Stripped Bare

This week, Channel 4 had a one-off programme called “Life Stripped Bare“, which turned out to be pretty interesting.

It was basically about how people handle having no possessions. All their items, furnishing, clothing – everything – is taken away and put in storage, leaving them with absolutely nothing except the walls of their homes. It was slightly gratuitous, as all the participants had to strip off, leaving them to start the process completely naked. I understand the reasoning for it, but yeah, there seemed to be a lot more focus on that than was strictly necessary.

Each participant (a single woman, a house-share of a man and woman, and another house-share of two men and a woman) was allowed to get back one item a day from storage – although in all three cases, that storage unit was at least half a mile away, so they had to make the effort and journey in order to get those things. In autumn/winter. The first couple of days, where clothing was limited (to say the least) showed off their inventiveness all round – and the single woman in particular, whose first choice was a bolt of material, from which she fashioned a load of things, rather than just one thing.

It was interesting though, seeing what the people valued, what they couldn’t live without, and then what they did once everything was returned.  Naturally, with the participants being late-twenties and early-thirties, one of the things they had real problems living without was their phones, and being pretty much permanently connected to the world.

It also made me think about my own attitudes to possessions, what I have, what I value, what I could live without if I chose to. I think a lot of that would come down to semantics, for example whether “books” counts as one possession as a whole, or whether each one is an individual possession.

All told, there’s a lot I could live without if I had to or chose to. I wouldn’t want to be reduced all the way to zero possessions – I don’t think anyone truly would – but I think I probably could handle a significant reduction if I had to.

Anyway, it was an interesting programme, and made for some interesting thoughts – which I may write more about at some point in the future. Or not. We’ll see.

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