on the Telly!!
The funny thing(s) about Sky Satellite TV
I've been stopping at a friends house this week, whilst said friend is out
of the area. In amongst all the nice stuff, like the over-friendly dog, the
well-stocked freezer, and the broadband internet connection, they've got Sky
satellite television. Sadly, there's no demoscene cable channel on MTV, but
you can't have everything I suppose, unless you're running around in the
spare gigabytes of Felice's vast and fertile imagination ;-)
Now I've spent a fair bit of time flicking between channels on that, and I
think I've learnt a few things that I didn't know before I started!
I was lucky enough to be watching in a week where UK Drama repeated 'Band of
Brothers', the brilliant WW2 tele series which sort of picked up where
'Saving Private Ryan' left off. Of course, there were advert breaks, and on
each and every occasion, the male target audience of this channel were
seriously asked to consider thinking about hair care products that "deal
with rebellious hair!" Hmmm, funny sort of chick-flick we've got here? Maybe
it was sergeant Maybelline, flicking her blonde tresses in slow motion, in a
foxhole, somewhere due east of objective Charlie-four??
Advert breaks in general, start before you've even had a chance to sit down
and wipe your nose with the back of your hand. This is the cause of most
channel-surfing and instability of viewing habits. Unfortunately, the
majority of ad-breaks all run together! Then there are the tedious and ever-
lasting trailers for other stuff which you won't see, because the network is
too vast to care about it all, then back to the programme at last.
About 50% of history programmes will have the words "Third Reich", "Secrets
of", "Century of Conflict", "Hell in the Pacific" or "The Fluffy Bunnikins
Eastern Front blitzkrieg" in their titles. You can tell I made the last one
up completely ;-)
Most nature programmes use a collage of the following terms "In the eye
of_", "Killer Storm/Volcano/squirrel", "When shoe-salesmen attack", and not
forgetting "Kirsty's amazing planetary doom home movies!" These are
unmissable, erm, missable.
There's more of this stuff appearing on terrestrial teevee, but you can't
really beat satellite/cable for all those fantastic shows like "When
Americans stupidly hurt themselves!" - Who knows, one day the Darwin Awards
will be televised, and then the year after that, due to massive popularity,
they will replace premiership football and be available on pay-per-view
I always thought that when BBC 2 showed the Simpsons, they displayed a total
lack of imagination in running what seemed to be the same few episodes over
and over. It is exactly the same on Sky One! Maybe there weren't as many
Simpsons episodes made as we think there were?
Sky Movies (as opposed to the pay-per-view Box Office) always seems to have
something called 'Osmosis Jones' on one or other of the channels. Anyone
know what this is? I'm not inspired to watch and find out for myself!
Then when it gets late, it gets even stranger!
Skating effortlessly past a whole slew of pay-per-view adult channels, there
are a number of amusing variants on the softcore theme. In the "Oho, I'm so
sure this is not pre-scripted" basket, is something called "Strip
Masterbrain." The classic 'Mastermind' brain-taxer quiz is reinterpreted
through a porno distorting lense. A couple of wannabe "lingerie models" who
seem to have difficulty pronouncing, let alone writing their own names, give
out answers to brain-taxing questions. The penalty for getting one wrong is
the removal of an item of clothing. Sofa-bound hilarity ensues, when you
realise that there is absolutely no consistency in the quality of the
answers. For example, one of the ladies is able to give the correct periodic
table number for Zirconium, but she is totally floored by the next question
which is "What popular snack called the sandwich was invented by the Earl of
Don't forget these are people who would have problems dressing themselves,
let alone answering Mensa-level general knowledge brain-stretchers.
Miraculously, to stay within the terms of their broadcasting licence, they
just manage to avoid going the whole way in clothing removal terms, stopping
Then there is the fat and florid presenter, who looks like his trial for
doing unmentionable things to small boys is coming up shortly, mopping
himself down ever more frenziedly as the quiz goes on. This looks pre-
Then there is "When Muff Diva's attack!" -Okay, you can tell I just made
that last one up. But I bet you couldn't tell the difference ;-)
We then come to the nadir of gentlemen's late night diversions. The screen
is divided into several parts. The largest segment is dominated by a
"presenter", another of those linguistically challenged lingerie models who
commentates on the "action", such as it is. Several other females seem to be
playing with telephones and themselves in smaller windows to the side of the
screen. Somewhere near the bottom, a constantly changing array of text
messages of the "LET ME DO IT UP YR BUM!" from 'Lonely Boy of Leamington'
variety scroll upwards. This is "Babestation", not a pink inflatable sextoy
version of Sony's favourite console, but a live screened version of those
premium rate telephone sex-lines, all calls terminate in Guatemala, cost
2.00 Euro per minute. As with telephone sex-lines (so I am told!) There is
an awful lot of promise, but in reality nothing much happens. Apart from the
sound of cash inexorably draining out of the pockets of some very sad men...
There is a lot of good stuff. Some repeated quality comedy does turn up,
like Red Dwarf, or M.A.S.H. Then there are the cartoon channels! Ahh bliss!
Wacky Races was still as fresh as it was, the last time I saw it thirty
years ago(!) Hong Kong Phooey doesn't wither with age either. Yes they are
cheaply made, but hey, I'm feeling good about seeing these again so I don't
mind. We even had back-to-back Ren and Stimpy over the weekend. Now this
isn't quite as way-out as I remember it, as South Park raised the bar there,
but there is still a surreal genius to these.
And I've managed to miss out on all the weird god-channels, and the shopping
channels, lucky me..
So my assessment of Sky tele and all its ilk is. It is fine in short bursts,
but for most of the time I could manage quite well without it.
Fear and Loathing at GMTV!
Fiona Phillips, well I don't condone violence against women, but that is one
hamster face that deserves a slapping, her cheeks are stuffed with cliches
and platitudes. I'm sure I'm not alone here, but that woman exudes an air of
irritating smugness, as if anything she says on air really matters! It's not
as if GMTV is lined up as a direct replacement for Panorama or Question Time
after all, as they tend to run features like "How clean is your inchloss
island dream kitchen?" I don't think Tony Blair is gagging to go on it, oh
wait a minute, what am I saying, this vacuous image over substance thing is
exactly what he loves!
People called 'Fiona' shouldn't be allowed on telly in the first place.
People called 'Fiona' don't tend to mature much from their schoolgirl
persona. You know, when girls are at the stage just before they get
interesting to boys, and are more correctly known as "gurls". Fiona was the
'gurl' who was both the school swot and the chief sneak. This concealed the
fact that in reality, she was not too bright. I think you know what I'm
getting at, in fact, to build on the theme, the Fiona's of this world grow
up into the sort of nasally whiny wealthy mother, driving the kids in a 4WD
tank to the posh school on the other side of town, through the narrow
streets of London, all paid for from her vapid gushings on GMTV, or a weekly
column printed in some brightly coloured arse-rag like "Hello" or "Serial
Killers Knitting Monthly"!
Here's how she handles serious proper news, an excerpt from an email to the
"In fact, if things in the wider world turn out badly, then none of us may
be going, as Fiona Phillips, the stupid bitch who anchors GMTV blurted out
this morning "There's going to be more fuel blockades in three days time!"
(depending on whether the govt reduces fuel duty or not beforehand.) They
might as well have gone all the way and flashed up a caption at the bottom
of the screen screaming "PANIC NOW!""
Of course, the full horror is magnified by her partner in crime, Eamonn "Who
inhaled all the pies?" Holmes... Now he looks like the "Terry" half of
'Terry and June' infamy, but you need to imagine Terry joining up with crazy
Ian Paisley and the Ulster Unionists, putting on his bowler hat and Orange
sash, marching up and down the Garvachy road to spit bricks and broken glass
Gus Spank, June 2004