Surfing the channels, I paused at 3e and there was two or three America’s Got Talent shows back to back with Piers Morgan, Shazza Osbourne and the hero hulk David Hasselhoff (don’t hassle the Hoff!). What a comedy show, for all the wrong reasons. There was a hillbilly duo – she was dressed in gingham and sang while playing a guitar. He balanced a flymo type lawnmower on his chin and the host tossed heads of lettuce into the blades. There was a cocky but naff magician, a performing dog, a lot of bad singers and a rowdy audience who kept making the X Symbol with their arms almost too quickly. Why do people do it? For that quick blast of fame and maybe? Maybe baby, name in lights.
BBC1 have gone back to classic bonnets and bodices costume dramas to win back a slice of Sunday night as UTV dither a bit in the ratings. Emma by Jane Austin should win back ground for BBC due in no small measure to the casting, with Romola Garai, as the quick witted, gushy and loveable, Emma who blithely goes on matchmaking and interfering in peoples lives in such a fun way. Johnny Lee Millar as Mr. Knightly will no doubt bring her into line. This is a light frothy script by Sandy Welsh and it zips along. As an added bonus you get a whimsical Michael Gambon as Mr. Woodhouse. Apparently BBC didn’t like the bonnets and bodices references, no doubt due to some political correctness about possible confusion with bodice-rippers (that we should be so lucky) and now refer to them as Coaches and Crinolines, or period drama.
But it is big budget stuff, costing about £900,000 an hour to make as against £400,000 an hour for a show like Casualty.
If you were expecting I-told-you-so from pundit-economist, David McWilliams, in his three-part RTE1 series, Addicted To Money. Or that he would single-out individuals to blame, well the first episode, would have been a disappointment. He did say that a crime had been committed but we were all guilty because of our alleged addiction to money, credit cards, property and good times. No quick description yet, of a Breakfast Roll Man as he visited several continents (at what cost?) to tell us stuff that Pat Kenny is doing better in a studio.
This time round he is more circumspect – no more talk about people hijacking a whole generation, it’s the fault of credit cards. At least he has stored up some credit with viewers for his courage in the past but that courage seems to have deserted him, as he stood on a glacier in Iceland – Why a glacier, why Iceland? Perhaps you are going to get attack and blame in the last episode but otherwise this was just another talking head on a junket of disapproval.
Beam me up Bobbie, as that tetchy Scottish actor, Robert Carlyle, heads up the new cast in the third product of the Stargate series. Now going out on SKY1 within days of its American launch, it follows the tried and tested footsteps of SG-1 SG Atlantis and now SG-U (U = universe). The opening is classy with lots of bodies crashing through the liquid stargate to crash into each other and in the death and mayhem, the various characters are introduced. Besides Carlyle as a possibly dodgy – other agenda scientist, Dr. David Rush , you get the nerdy maths genius Eli Wallace played by David Blue as a sort of Jack Black tubby. He solves some sort of hacker’s puzzle and when the police arrive, he says – What you gonna do to me, beam me up to your space craft – Which they do. The military hero is Louis Ferreira, as Colonel Young. Elyse Levesque as Chloe Armstrong, is supposed to be – sexy and strong – but not for me in the first two episodes. No doubt it will settle down into an episodic voyage aboard a rusty starship Discovery. Atlantis was dropped after five series, but will Universe go further. Doubt it.
You could describe the new C4 series, True Blood, as Buffy meets Trailer Trash and this much praised series is tacky, tasteless and at times soft-porn pretending to be comedy drama. Penned by Six Feet Under writer, Alan Ball, it has two riveting attractive leads, Anna Paquin as a telepathic waitress, Sookie Stackhouse and dishy Stephen Moyer as a ‘mainstream’ vampire, Bill Compton who comes into a Louisana bar and diner for a bottle of a brewery made blood substitute drink, Tru Blood. The setting is full of weird characters, hicks, hillbillies, swamp people, crooks, robbers, a serial killer, a gay short-order cook. Maybe it ill improve but it is as tasteless as its opening credits of good and evil in a church. But if you need blood, violence and lots of sex then it’s Wednesday for you and vampire stew.
Big talking point, to make much needed advertising revenue in TV is Product Placement, where firms pay to have their products and services displayed and used on tv. Like an Aston martin or a brand of drink in James Bond movies. The British Givernment is considering a proposal from ITV and C4 among other commercial interests to pass legislation to allow this. If you used the American calculations that PP generates about 14 percent of total US ad spend then in Britain this could mean about £211 million a year.
Most lucrative area for such are soaps. Imagine every product in Dev’s shop or The Kabin in Corrie sponsored. Already Emmerdale and Corrie account for 16 percent of all UK soaps ad revenue. If so, one minute of product exposure in Corrie could be worth quarter of a million to an advertiser, over a year. Sometimes, it is hard to get your head around these figures and you wonder, how do they arrive at same.