Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Odds and ends

-Pretty much a consensus that Christmas TV was worse than usual this year, saved for me by gratefully receiving DVDs of HBO's finest (Generation Kill, The Corner, Recount) to keep me ploughing on with life into 2010.

-2009 was the year that I realised that Jeremy Vine poisons anything he lays his hands on with Daily Mail-itis, turning his Radio 2 slot into a right wing polemic, having already driven the once fine investigative television programme Panorama into a sensationalist tabloid travesty.

-2009 was also the year that I realised I couldn't stand (even detested), those that can't spell, can't differentiate between 'your' and 'you're', 'to' and 'too' and 'of' and 'off', and the boring mass of the (young, although not exclusively) British population who are obsessed with drinking, shouting, ignorance and little else. I've entered my old life crisis at 21.

-Quote of the week

'(Sarah Palin) would like Avatar: its depiction of "the noble savages" is, no doubt, a well intended argument against the destruction of rain forests, but add in a couple of orange brush strokes and you have a Gauguin painting. It is patronising, simplistic and offensive, like Palin and fake science.'
-Hadley Freeman, G2 -30.12.2009

-Picture of the decade

A Palestinian boy being teased with toy guns. A picture that had me disturbed for some time, and neatly encapsulates our new era of terror. Happy New Year.

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

In Treatment

In Treatment has become an instant television favourite of mine in the two weeks I have been watching it.

It's one of a few select programmes that is both so emotionally involving and moving that you feel somehow a more rounded human being for having watched it.

And because it feels such a personal discovery given that it is relatively unknown, part of you wants to keep it that way, and not let the masses hear about it or see it.

However the acting and writing is too perfectly judged, meaning that you are seriously denying yourself if you never allow yourself to become engrossed in the programme.

Gabriel Byrne plays a therapist with a life that appears to be being dramatically shaped by a select few of his patients, whose weekly visits map the course of the series.

That's all the background I feel necessary to give to you, you can discover the rest for yourself.

The first season is currently showing on Sky Arts at the moment, with a UK DVD boxset due to arrive early next year. If you can get hold of an import copy in advance however, I'd recommend you do so. It really is worth investigating.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Deadliest Catch

Deadliest Catch is oddly compelling television, given the subject is crab fishing. This is primarily because the setting is, as the programme reminds us every episode 'the vast Bering Sea', known for its cold stormy waters. And the work itself is tiring even to watch, physically demanding, and very dangerous.

There is no doubt there is a substantial amount of post-editing that goes on, as with most modern shows. You will for instance hear the same audio every other episode dubbed over new shots, but the tactical decisions, mechanical issues and daring sea rescues make up for that.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't The Sopranos of the sea, but it is cleverly made television that, for a reality show at least, remains fairly minimalist.

Irritating adverts

Yet more of those twatting adverts featuring arrogant little shites 'getting a band together' via facebook and other self-adulation sites are sprouting up all over the place.

What worries me most are the people you see in the background of these adverts, who are, I am hoping, extras brought in en-masse for the purpose of shooting the ad.

Terrifyingly though, many look as if they are general passers by who have been taken in so easily and readily by the shiny promise of minor X-factor style fame. This doesn't bode well for our political future, as if a bunch of fascists in a van turned up at this location, these people would be the first ones dancing over; jumping, smiling and waving their arms around like cretins.

For a balanced argument, here is how to do an advert properly; clever design, great Sigur Ros-esque music, and a simple premise:


The judge from Masterchef (one of two, I'm not looking his name up) currently doing stilted Iplayer trailers, has a strangely distracting head shape. When viewed from the front, it raises unexpectedly in steps, like sections of pavement that you scuff your feet noisily and embarrassingly along the surface of, having turned out to be higher than you had initially judged them.

In terms of weird skull geometry he remains behind the never-ending forehead that is Evan Davies, but solidly ahead of the famed rotundity of Karl Pilkington's.