Forced Viewing... Week One

Category: , , By Rev/Views

At the tail end of this week I really got into watching shows I would normally avoid. I didn't really take notes while watching them, so it's mostly going to be vague impressions and I might even forget some of the shows I watched, but here we go.

First of all a thank you to Dan Owen over at Dan's Media Digest for pointing me in the direction of some trashy TV yesterday. I didn't watch all of your suggestions because other things interrupted (e.g. Have I Got News For You). But I did indeed watch Total Wipeout, which I must admit I didn't hate. In fact I had a bit of a grudging admiration for the contestants and a bit of a dislike for the editors who felt some need to make people having to perform difficult and humiliating tasks look even more foolish with replays. Mostly I was impressed with the sheer nuttiness and grit shown by the contestants and I enjoyed rooting for whomever looked least likely to win.

Of course I was drawn back to watching Robin Hood again, mostly because I wanted to see if the quality shown in the previous episode would continue. Sadly I don't feel it did, the show was back to it's usual nonsense and I think my main assessment is this. Robin Hood is bad, Jonas Armstrong is a complete fish out of water (and bad) and Richard Armitage is just brilliant. Seriously he needs his own starring role in a fantasy/medieval series where he can play a character with dubious morals, maybe a British Firefly type show with a band of rogues chugging about the universe. I could see him as a Captain Malcolm Reynolds sort easily. Anyway, I shall probably watch until the end of the series, at least then I'll have some context for Dan (DMD) and Aaron's (Snark and Fury) reviews of the show (which is how I've been following it without watching up until now). Apparently there are some deaths promised in the series finale, I'm holding out for Robin Hood popping his clogs.

I also attempted to watch some Big Brother 10, but I did find it exceptionally difficult to follow anything which is going on. When there's fifteen (I think) people around it's rather hard to follow anything, especially when quite a few of them look and sound similar. I can barely tell the difference between the two blondes at all, apparently one of them is now called Dogface after changing her name on the show (I can only assume it was for a task). That's pretty amusing, especially whenever Marcus Bentley narrates about her in his always amusing accent.

It was really difficult going watching any of the "highlights of the past 24 hours" and I could barely keep my attention for more than five minutes before wandering off to sandpaper my face away in an attempt to clean off the stain caused by watching. But the absolute worst moment occurred during the live eviction show on Friday, which I was watching while waiting for 8 out of 10 Cats to start. Housemate Cairon, who's London born but raised mostly in America had some major problems with Sree, a sweet overly sensitive soul who'd asked him to treat women with respect. How dare he suggest such a thing, as the age of the gentleman is dead and gone, dem is all bee-hatches and garden ho's now innit?

As such the scene unfolded with this bizarre hat wearing pseudo-wannabe gangster/rapper type just rapid fire attacking poor Sree. It was an exceptionally vile and horrible moment of bullying, made all the worse by the total apathy from many of the other housemates around. It was like watching one of the less intelligent street lads from The Wire verbally abusing a Disney character in the Playboy mansion - it was almost funny just how one sided and unpleasant the whole thing is, thankfully Big Brother stepped in where everyone else failed. All I can hope is the very moment Cairon is up for eviction he's turfed out of the house faster than you can say "gimp".

The highlight of the awfulness for me though was Embarrassing Illnesses, a show which takes members of the public with... well... embarrassing illnesses and brings them on the show to try and see if the medical profession can help out. Sort of like a TV GP. This in itself is quite an altruistic idea, it's a reality TV show which is genuinely looking out to help people and I initially found myself nodding in approval.

But gradually I began to notice the insidious and disturbing undertone to the show. These poor members of the public are paraded out and put on display for the public to ogle at like the old freak shows of yesteryear. One poor chap had his infected (and obviously very painful) scalp infection described as "manky" by the technician examining his skin cells and just about every single moment is punctuated by terrible puns and one liners just highlighting the humiliation these people are going through. All that was missing is a few amusing "You've Been Framed" style sound effects, canned laughter (and other such audience noises), a little "WAA, Waa, waaa, waaaaaaaaa" music and you'd realise just how perverse this show actually is.

I'm pretty used to human suffering being exploited in the name of "reality television" by now, but I think Embarrassing Illnesses managed to push the envelope all the way out with it's underhanded and sneaky handling of the whole thing. I wasn't exactly offended, I think it's impossible for TV to offend me short of showing something absolutely illegal or so debasing I can't even bring myself to suggest the acts here (I guess I'm just too desensitised by all the violence on the telly vision these days), but Embarrassing Illnesses did manage to make me feel dirtier than Big Brother did. And that's an achievement to be proud of.


1 comment so far.

  1. Aaron 15 June 2009 at 15:55
    Richard Armitage is wasted in Robin Hood, especially as he really seems to TRY to make the material better than it is. It's a pity the costumes often make him look ridiculous.

    I hope he gets cast in A Game Of Thrones, he'd be perfect for a part in a complex HBO fantasy show.

    Oops TV (Sky), narrated by Justin Lee Collins is a terrible show; imagine You've Been Framed but replace the bad jokes with piss-poor jokes. Not sure if it's on Saturdays though.

Something to say?