Beyond TOWIE: TV at its worst
I don’t really watch TV. And this isn’t me trying to be hipster (in this case). My living room last year was affectionately called ‘the snug’ and was the smallest room in the house which the landlady had the humility not to advertise as a bedroom. With a singled glazed window painted shut, and the total furnishings comprising of a futon, a broken camping chair and a dead wasp, it wasn’t the most pleasant of televisual experiences.
So the only TV I watch is on my laptop, and it's stuff I pick out myself, so it's not the real 'TV experience'. I go through phases of illegally watching television series' religiously. Once I watched 22 episodes of the astonishingly average American sitcom ‘Happy Endings’ in one day. I’m not proud of that.
So, on returning home I've rediscovered television proper. Spoiler alert: It’s crap. Really crap. Astonishingly so. Remember when Red and Black polluted our screens for the hour between X Factor and ‘The Results’, lining Simon Cowell’s pockets as Ant and Dec antagonised contestants with the pressing question, ‘but which colour will you choose??!!’? That was just the tip of the crap iceberg. It’s got a whole lot worse.
Item #1: Volcano: Live
With the exception of national sport and all sentient beings, things are better off not live. Big Brother. Britney Spears. Wires. In terms of television, one thing that most certainly does not need to be live is an unpredictable natural phenomenon that’s prone to being dormant for centuries.
Why the BBC thought it would be great to send two hideously uncharismatic presenters over to Hawaii (where, by the looks of Kate Humble’s pac-a-mac from Millets, isn’t even that warm at the moment) to stand next to a volcano, is beyond the realms of my understanding. The bloke end of the presenting package is a geologist, and from what I could gather is expected to sex up some rock facts to accompany a visual that looks like the powerpoint slides from my double science GCSE classes. So, half the programme isn’t even live, which is lucky, because the bits that are simply consist entirely of the duo standing near the rim of the ENTIRELY UNENTERTAINING DORMANT VOLCANO. In fact, the best bit of the whole thing was my mother chuckling at the word ‘rim’.
I’m not completely disregarding the idea of a volcano live on TV. But I want it to be with the presenters hopping around the lava that’s running around their feet BECAUSE IT’S ACTUALLY DONE WHAT IT’S FAMOUS FOR AND ACTUALLY ERUPTED. That’s all I ask.
Item #2: Tipping Point
Okay, so. I’m going to have to take a deep breath in order to be able to fully and calmly explain the premise of this programme to you. Right. You know the two penny slider machines? In arcades? The only amusement where the money spent adequately matches the amount of pleasure gained from the experience? They’re pretty good, huh? Well an ITV exec obviously thought they were good. So good, in fact, that apparently a giant version, a selection of general knowledge questions categorized under Pub Quiz: Easy and a presenter who’s fake tan is almost as off putting as his obvious embarrassment is worthy of a good solid hour of television.
I’m not even joking. I wish I was. I only managed about 4 minutes of viewing time, in which I picked up that answering a question allows one to select a ‘zone’ for the 2p (which is actually a large disc) to be dropped into the machine, after which about 40 seconds is spent cheering on said disc whilst it slowly and ineffectually pushes the other discs around.
As monotonous an experience this is, at least when you’re playing it yourself, in a grotty arcade in Scarborough, you can hit the machine a bit and imagine that the miniature fake converse on a key ring got a bit closer to the edge. This is literally one of the most utterly stupid game shows I’ve ever witnessed ever, and it has made Pointless seem like a haven of afternoon intellectualism and entertainment in comparison.
Item #3: Country House Rescue
We all love a good lifestyle programme don’t we? A good nosey round a villa in Spain with Kirstie and Phil? No? No, me neither. Why on earth I want to look round a house that someone else might buy is beyond me. I most certainly cannot afford it, and even if I could, and I liked it, and I thought it was a good idea to sell my flat in London and open an art gallery in Valencia, I can’t. Because it’s just been bought, by you, high flying couple. So there.
But, for the most part, these programmes are limited to the daytime and pensioners are welcome to them. I get the appeal of watching grumpy women trudge round houses looking miserable because ‘it’s not quite right’. It’s better than Bargain Hunt, anyway. What I do take issue with is the prime time slot given to Country House Rescue.
Don’t get me wrong. I love stately homes. They’re great fun, and I’ve spent many a day out at my local one running around the gardens pretending it’s 1926 and all of this land is MINE, not the National Trust’s. What I don’t love is whiny-ass dispicably rich country house owners complaining about how much of strain it is to own so much property and land. So much strain, in fact, that they must employ Simon Davis to tell them how to make some actual money, because selling the land to get actual money would be ‘letting the family down’. Luckily Davis is just as agonizingly posh as most of his clients so they almost take advice from him.
If there is anything more dull than watching someone buy a house, its watching someone pay for a house they already own. A house that, fair enough, costs the price of about four other houses just for its yearly upkeep, but still. The only good part is that they usually are so unwilling to make any concessions whatsoever (“Let people live in the stables? But.. that’s the ancestral home of our horses!) that they end up with less money than they did to start with.