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Alive 9
Gus Spank!

                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
at topless....

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-
scripted too.

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
MyAtari dudes.

"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
onto Catholics.

Gus Spank, June 2004

Alive 9