Saturday, 1 January 2011

Not-So-New-Year's-Eve television delights.

Maybe you were out at a rave party for New Year's Eve last night, but sensible people like me were sitting at home in front of the TV with a glass or two in the vicinity hoping to celebrate without worrying about getting a taxi home at 2 am.
Most of the evening there was nothing on TV except bad language offered as comedy, and repeats: repeats of last year's bad language and the year before that too, drearily carted out as "entertainment". While people are being urged to get bigger and posher TV-sets all the time, with cinematic screens and Haitch-Dee, the standard of what is actually broadcast does not really merit it. There are more and more channels, and there is less and less to watch.
Last night we were depressed to find a choice between a repeated thriller (The Judas Tree) and a repeated edition of Grumpy Old New Year, in which bad-tempered moaners related how they snoop around other people's houses on New Year's Eve, rifling through the bathroom cabinet to find out what pills their hosts take. How revolting! It's not even funny, and most of the comedians on every channel were the sort of people who think they are witty for saying a-se or sh-t or f-ck. Going to the opposite extreme, in the afternoon, The Sound of Music was broadcast for the sixty-seventh time - really, is there anybody who can bear to see that saccharine confection again?
In the end, we got out a video of an old fifties movie with Ian Carmichael and Terry-Thomas, and watched that until five minutes to midnight, when we switched over to Jools Holland. At least he keeps a civil tongue in his head.
Of course there were a few good things on TV over the Christmas period, but not enough. Victoria Wood's show was funny, and so was Ronnie Corbett - brilliant. Miranda Hart's comedy show is a really good laugh but the series finished shortly before Christmas. There were some good films less than ten years old but most of the truly outstanding things were classics. Patrick Stewart and Richard E. Grant in A Christmas Carol. Rowan Atkinson in the Blackadder spoof of A Christmas Carol. Both vintage material.
Almost every day during the Christmas period, at peak times there were soap-operas or interminable episodes of Strictly Come Prancing, calculated to bore you into a stupor. Personally, I would pay not to watch Cliff Richard, Bruce Forsyth and Andrew Lloyd Webber. It's like being trapped in a geriatric ward without a mobile phone. And there were also far too many TV-chef shows. There seemed to be about six on every channel every day.
Since Stephen Fry seems to be on TV every week in every possible sort of programme, why can't we get Lottery funding to straighten out his nose? It should have been done years ago.
And the same goes for Anthony Armstrong - have you seen the size of his ears? They are absolutely monstrous. He is like an elephant. It makes me shudder to look at him. If he can't afford plastic surgery, he could at least wear a crash-helmet to cover them.
While there are some good things on TV they are eked out so thinly now that by the time you have read through what is on fifteen different channels you have probably missed it. The digital switchover is really designed to make people pay more. If you don't subscribe to cable or satellite, you won't get the new programmes, or the best sporting events, just an endless cycle of repeats. If you try to protest against that by stopping your TV-licence payments, you will be cut off from television altogether. So although TV sets are getting bigger and grander and more like home cinemas, we have become a sadder, more authoritarian society.

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