I’m Rob Buckley, a journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live’s Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I’ve edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for TV producers magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it “web site for urban hedonists” The Tribe. Since going freelance, I've contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network, TV Scoop and The Custard TV.
You know ‘Dr’ Gillian McKeith, right? That nasty, humourless woman with the fake doctorate who turns up on Channel 4 to look at people’s poo and pronounce judgement on them? Yes, her. I’ve written a lot about her elsewhere, if you want to know a few more reasons why she should be shunned like a PlayStation-using Amish.
Anyway, some people think she’s scary. She’s not though. She attacked Louis Walsh and was so furious she fell over and sprained her wrist. Wow. Anyone not fancy their chances in a fight with her? Thought not.
There’s an obvious joke here. It’s so huge and obvious, it’s like a giant magnet sucking every other joke in its vicinity towards it. It involves the words ‘better diet’ and ‘wouldn’t fall over’. Anyone want to stoop ever so low and say what everyone else is thinking?
I didn’t watch Doctor Who tonight. What can I say? I was playing ‘Settlers of Catan’ – damn those Germans make good board games, plus my mother-in-law’s addicted. Never mind: I’ll watch the repeat tomorrow or something. It didn’t look too brilliant so I’m not too worried. (Potted review, incidentally, of last week’s episode, since I never got round to it: nice video, shame about the script. For those familiar with classic Who, wasn’t it essentially Patrick Troughton’s TheInvasion chopped in half and far less entertaining?).
So I didn’t catch the good Doctor, but I did catch Greg the Bunny on ITV4 afterwards. ITV4’s a great channel in many ways, with a lot of quality stuff, mainly programmes from the US (of course) and British programmes from the 60s and 70s, which is roughly when we could still make decent/entertaining TV consistently.
The trouble is it has ‘ITV’ at the beginning of its name, which makes you think it’s nothing but rubbish. You really have to force yourself to watch it and constantly come up with new reasons to switch the channel from Ulster TV’s pro-celebrity basket-weaving or whatever crud you’ve found on one of the other channels; ITV4 will almost certainly be guaranteed to be showing something that should be a gadzillion times more appealing but for some reason isn’t. Judging by ITV4’s viewing figures, it’s as though we’ve collectively been given aversion therapy and now have to summon our courage to the very sticking point just to watch a couple of minutes of even the best show, for fear of getting the electric shocks again.
So here’s a good reason to watch ITV4: Greg the Bunny, which airs on Saturdays. It’s really a very funny show (well, it was: it’s been cancelled, of course), put together by some cutting-edge New York comedians and with a pretty stellar cast. It’s basically about a TV show for kids that features puppets – such as Greg the Bunny – but the twist is the puppets are all real and are generally regarded as an ethnic minority. Tonight’s show revolved around some nasty graffiti found in the gents’ that used the s-word (sock), which forced management to send everyone to sensitivity training. Here’s a choice sample of dialogue I found on the Internet after doing some snooping:
“Let’s face it, humans have been mistreating puppets for centuries. It’s nothing new. We lure them to our country with the tartar sauce, and the lollipops, and the empty promises of sparklers which I believe are yet unfulfilled…”
Anyway, I liked it, particularly because the cast includes not just Seth Green (Austin Powers and Oz in Buffy) and Eugene Levy (American Pie) but also the delectable but ever-so-slightly scary Sarah Silverman. In case you’ve not heard the name before, she’s commonly regarded as the Next Big Thing™ in edgy US comedy (the successor to Lenny Bruce, George Carlin, Andy Kaufmann, Bill Hicks – delete according to your generation).
If you’ve seen her and actually remember her, it’s probably because you watched The Aristocrats, a documentary about comedians that was in the cinema relatively recently. It’s named after a particular joke told by comedians to other comedians. The joke only has an opener and a punchline, but the comedian has to fill in the gap in between, the idea being that it’s an opportunity to show off their comedic style and gross out or offend the others. Silverman’s version of ‘The Aristocrats’ is the only one that really offended people, despite descent into racism, sexism, necrophilia, coprophilia and the like by the other stand-ups. As I said, delectable but scary.
So catch Greg, catch Sarah and see if you can boost ITV4’s ratings in treble figures. Through the magic of YouTube, here’s a clip of Greg visiting a Sci-Fi convention for you to get your teeth into as a kind of sampler for you.
It started with Mission: Impossible 3, which was released on the fourth of May this year. So that’s M:I 3 on 4/5/6. Ooh, clev-er.
Now The Omen is coming out on Tuesday 6th June. That’s 6/6/6.
This lends itself to a new theory. Well, three actually. Which do you think is right?
Movie companies are now holding back or bringing forward release dates of movies to match clever dates
Marketing departments at movie companies now believe in the power of numerology
Entire movies are now being made purely so they can be released on a clever date. After all, surely there was no point to re-making The Omen except that it’s the only movie that could possibly benefit from that date.
I kind of liked Kung Fu in theory. It started out well enough, but each episode moved so slowly. Plus they spent the first two seasons doing judo instead of kung fu, except for the pilot episode, which was slightly disappointing to say the least – talk about false advertising. Hence, my resistance to buying any of the DVDs.
Then, of course, there was Kung Fu – The Legend Continues, which made Ultimate Force look like a credible action show. “Look there’s David Carradine! Blimey, the budget is so low they can’t even afford the edit room time to do slow-mo. So David Carradine is just going to do everything in slow mo anyway, even if everyone else is going to go at normal speed.” Who says drugs have no effects on reaction speed?
Anyway, I’m curious to see what they do with this. Amp up the fight scenes, amp up the Eastern philosophy or both? And who will play Kwai Chang? Can they find another completely Caucasian man willing to fake a half-Chinese heritage, or will they actually do what they should have done in the first place and hire someone Asian?