Posts Tagged ‘TV’

The Chancellor-off

March 29, 2010

Well, Alistair Darling was a bit more passionate than expected, which was good.

Gideon Osborne was less sneery than expected, which was good for him.

And Vince Cable kept the audience happy, which I’m sure the Lib Dems are very pleased with.

Darling definitely seemed the least articulate of the three. I was also annoyed with his continuing conservatism. But he laid some good punches on the Tories.

Osborne had well-rehearsed populist lines up his sleeve, yet I don’t think he came across as Chancellor material.

The Channel 4 website has the following opinion poll result:

 Who is the best choice for Chancellor?
36% Vince Cable – 32% Alistair Darling – 32% George Osborne


March 2, 2010

So, we’re definitely going to be treated to a series of televised leaders’ debates during the upcoming election campaign.

I don’t like how the focus on the leaders personalises politics. I can see the importance of these sorts of debates in the American presidential system, but it should make less constitutional sense over here.

However, I am still looking forward to them. In this day and age where the population is spoilt for televised choice it is ridiculous to say that voters should watch Prime Minister’s questions on BBC Parliament if they want to see how the party leaders perform against one another.

I also think there’s a high probability that lots of people will get mixed up between David Cameron and Nick Clegg. The two men look the same and sound pretty similar on many policy issues. This could confuse anti-Labour voters when they get into the polling booth. Excellent.

Embarassed by Austin Mitchell.

February 8, 2010

Well, that was another entertaining and insightful episode of ‘Tower Block of Commons’. I would be quite happy to see a law passed requiring all MPs to participate in similar schemes (living for a week with some of the most deprived people in the country for those who don’t watch as much telly as I do) before being allowed to take their seats in the Commons.

This week Nadine Dorries appeared as the replacement for IDS. Funny how Ms Dorries’ started to regain her ‘ooo I’m joost a working class lass froom Liverpoool’ accent almost as soon as she met her hosts. Keeping £50 notes in her bra was a dirty form of cheating. Tch tch. If you can’t survive on these benefits then why should you expect other people to?

But once again the politician who came across the worst, IMO, was the Labourite Austin Mitchell. He had no idea about the price of everyday items like milk and bread. Worse; he thought it wasn’t important for politicians to keep themselves informed of things like this. Plus he made numerous chauvinistic remarks throughout the programme. Not clever, not funny.

So disappointing. Maybe time for another Labour MP to bow out at the next election? His wife was also very irritating with her talk of taking one of the council estates residents around “London’s top dinner parties”. CRINGE!

Next week looks even more exciting with Nadine Dorries dressing up in a hijab, Tim Loughton recording a rap, and Mark Oaten witnessing a police raid. Excellent stuff!

Tower Block of Commons.

February 1, 2010


Very watchable. I thought it was slightly unfair for Channel 4 to suggest that all MPs are equally out-of-touch about life on Britain’s housing estates, but the featured MPs did indeed come across as fairly clueless.

I was disappointed with the Labour representative, Austin Mitchell. He was the only participant who cheated by insisting that he stay in accommodation with his wife instead of living for 8 days with a real-life council house resident. They were supposed to be shadowing the lifestyle of a recovering heroin addict, but this seems to have not really been to the Mitchells’ tastes. Mrs Mitchell brought a laptop to amuse them in the flat and they travelled out  of the estate to attend a dinner party at a friend’s house.

Couldn’t Channel 4 have found a Labour MP who was willing to take the experience more seriously? Oh well, perhaps Mitchell will get more in the spirit of things in next week’s episode.

Respect to Lib Dem Mark Oaten for persevering in the face of adversity. Having groups of hoodies recognise you as the MP exposed by the News of the World for your dabbling with rentboys can’t be nice. Also: Tory Tim Loughton did well on the Birmingham dance floor.

Nadine Dorries is supposed to be featuring next week. Can’t wait.

Let Obama be Obama.

November 3, 2009

Arianna Huffington reviews a new book on Obama’s election victory and laments what she considers to be the lack of audacity now being displayed by Obama the President as opposed to Obama the Candidate. Huffington’s in a huff (so to speak) about the abandonment of all the vision and high ideals put on display by Obama during the election campaign. 

I think she is being slightly unfair. The massive federal intervention in the US economy, talk of nuclear disarmament, and launching of an attempt at reforming health care are signs that the Obama administration cannot be dismissed as essentially timid.

However, there does indeed seem to be a risk of the President losing momentum. Perhaps Huffington should be calling for a ‘Let Bartlet be Bartlet’ moment to take place in the White House soon?

Mayor of Balitmore responds to Grayling’s silliness with a reference to Midsomer Murders

August 27, 2009

Mayoral statement on crime

This week I was alerted to a speech made by a Member of the British Parliament, a Mr Chris Grayling, who suggested his country should fear becoming like our city of Baltimore as portrayed in the HBO series, The Wire. We all watched The Wire and while it was sometimes a heart-breaking reflection of reality, it was in the main, merely entertaining fiction.

The television show failed to reflect the best we have in this city, our sense of community, our hospitality and our proud history and culture. To present a television show as the real Baltimore is to perpetuate a fiction that dishonours our city. It is as pointless as boasting that Baltimore has a per capita homicide rate a fraction of that in the popular UK television show Midsomer Murders.

The Baltimore Police Department is working hard to protect the people of this city and it should be remembered that The Wire was just a television show. As this video shows, there is so much more to Baltimore than The Wire.
Mayor Sheila Dixon
City of Baltimore


7/7 conspiracy madness – the ripple effect

June 30, 2009
But thats what the government want you to think...

But that's what the government want you to think...

As tonight’s excellent BBC2 documentary demonstrated, there really isn’t any way to describe the 7/7 conspiracy brigade other than ‘bunch of nutters’.

There is a film available on the internet entitled ‘7/7 Ripple Effect’. Apparently it is quite popular. I had never heard of it. But then again, I don’t go looking for this sort of thing.

Some run-of-the-mill conspiracy geeks can be expected to simply ask pedantic questions about every detail of an event and then take smug self-satisfaction in doubting the ‘official’ line on the matter, as if such an act demonstrates great independence of mind and intellectual superiority over everyone else.  

‘7/7 Ripple Effect’, however, goes so far as to label the London bombings of July 7th 2005 a MI5-Mossad operation and accuses several individuals (who aren’t even connected to the government or security services) of being involved in the mass murder. Some of these people have been receiving death threats from conspiracy loons as a result.


Diverse, multicultural Britain has got talent, unlike the BNP

May 31, 2009
Best of British

Best of British

I must concur with Chris Paul’s post on the Britain’s Got Talent result and the BNP.

The victorious dance group Diversity would indeed have a hard time under a BNP government. The BNP wants an all white Britain and is against “racial integration”. BNPers are full of hate for this country, but one of the numerous things that gets them really annoygravated is the concept of diversity.

We can only imagine the Nutzis’ incredulity and disgust at a dance troupe composed of different ethnicities being able to perform so spectacularly and then win the popular vote with nearly a million viewers phoning in to support them.

The fact that many of Diversity’s members hail from Dagenham, which has unfortunately been polluted by a sizeable BNP presence in recent years, must have made their victory even more painful for any BNPers watching the show.

Ok, so Britain’s Got Talent is at heart just a big money spinner for Simon Cowell and encourages the cynical cult of celebrity, but given a choice I prefer his exploitation of collective national pride over the BNP’s. At least Britain’s Got Talent does not insist upon a weird and ultra-restrictive definition of ‘British’ (i.e. white, heterosexual, right-wing, preferably Christian and male), promotes empathy with contestants even if they have very different backgrounds from our own, and is generally positive and upbeat.

A BNP-controlled Britain’s Got Talent would be an exercise in miserabilism and ideological barminess. Contestants could show off what low levels of melanin they have. Others would demonstrate abilities to trace their indigenous British ancestry back to the fifth century BC. There would be the godawful racist sock puppets from the BNP’s Youth Officer, the unintentionally hilarious musical offerings from Great White Records (the BNP’s genuine musical division! Naturally, top ten hits have only been denied them by Jewish dominance of the entertainment industry), and party members making jokes about the Holocaust as recorded in numerous undercover documentaries.

In short, there wouldn’t be a huge amount of talent on offer, and ITV would not have a ratings winner on their hands.  But it is important to remember that although fascist scum despise people of talent who are also people of colour they are not opposed to talent-requiring activities such as dancing per se…

Franz Liebkind:You know, not many people know zis, but der Fuhrer was a terrific dancer. 

Max Bialystock: Really? Gee, we didn’t know that, did we, Leo?

Lee Bloom: No, we sure didn’t.

Franz Liebkind: THAT’S BECAUSE YOU WERE TAKEN IN BY THE BBC! Filthy British lies! But did they ever say a bad word about Winston Churchill? CHURCHILL! With his cigars, and his brandy, and his ROTTEN paintings! ROTTEN! Hitler, there was a painter! He could paint an entire apartment in one afternoon! Two coats!


Reviewing the new Star Trek film

May 21, 2009

*Spoiler alert! Spoiler spotted off  the starboard bow. Take evasive action if necessary. Shields up. Set phasers to stun, etc, etc*

Further to my earlier Star Trek post, I hope my Paintbrush comrades will allow some further nerdery on my part. I went to see the new Star Trek film the other night and feel the need to pass on my thoughts.

I had written that I was feeling pessimistic about it. This was primarily because I am a wee bit of a film snob (though not as much as another blogger here who finds it hard to appreciate a film if it’s not black-and-white et en francais). I prefer dialogue and steady character development to big explosions and things moving too fast. Reading that director JJ Abrams was determined to make an action blockbuster out of t’ Trek made me worried that it would be too populist for my high-brow tastes.


On Star Trek

April 21, 2009

 Tom Harris MP has written a post about Star Trek. He admits that he isn’t actually much of a Trekkie. He prefers the (mostly godawful) films to the TV series, which in my book is always indicative of slightly odd taste. It perhaps also explains why he has failed to pick up on the fact that one of the most appealing aspects of Star Trek is its promotion of progressive values. It’s not just sci-fi nerds who should appreciate the cultural signifiance of t’Trek!

The basic premise of the programme was radical. Creator Gene Roddenberry wrote those original storylines against the backdrop of explosive racial tensions in the U.S and the spectre of Cold War divisions threatening to breakout into a nuclear conflict. And what did he come up with? A TV series based on the adventures of a space ship in the future populated by various races living together in harmony and representing the United Federation of Planets. 

Remember aliens were mostly represented in popular culture as dangerous ‘foreigners’ who had come to invade America ( just like the Commies wanted to). By contrast the mission of the Star Trek crew is essentially to bring about greater peace and understanding in the universe – how lovely is that? When speaking of socialism Oscar Wilde once said “A map of the world that does not include utopia is not worth looking at”. The sheer utopianism of the show is endearing.

Ok, so the format was fairly traditional, in that the structure was meant to be similar to the Wild West shows that were popular at the time and every episode was basically some sort of morality parable. But luckily the Star Trek moral code was one which envisaged humanity growing up and leaving behind petty squabbles of race and nationalism. Roddenberry later revealed that through creating “a new world with new rules, I could make statements about sex, religion, Vietnam, and intercontinental missiles. Indeed, we did make them on Star Trek – we were sending messages and fortunately they all got by the network”.

Lieutenant Uhura was played by Nichelle Nichols (a black woman) and Lieutenant Sulu by George Takei (Japanese-American). Unlike most contemporary television at the time Star Trek did not portray ethnic minorities as stereotypes and did not have them cast in lowly, servile positions.

The famous interracial kiss between William Shatner and Nichols was one of the first ever seen on screen and was hugely controversial (although the fact that the characters were being momentarily manipulated by alien mind control somewhat spoils the poignancy of the moment!). Apparently when Nichols was considering quitting her role to move on to something else Dr Martin Luther King Jr. advised her not to.

We should also remember that Shakespearean thesp and loyal Labour man Patrick Stewart starred as Captain Picard in the excellent Star Trek: The Next Generation. Stewart once recalled a journalist telling Roddenberry: “Look, it doesn’t make sense. You got a bald actor playing this part. Surely, by the 24th century, they have found the cure for baldness.” Roddenberry replied: “By the 24th century, no one will care.” 

I will admit my argument that Star Trek was a TV show of high principles and great cultural significance is undermined by the production studio’s ruthless financial exploitation of the franchise, by some of the abysmal film plots, and by the ever weaker TV spin-offs (Deep Space Nine was very good, but Voyager was poor and Enterprise I find unwatchable). 

I will go to see the new film but I am pessimistic. I think Star Trek was at its best when it reflected upon matters of contemporary relevance in an imaginative and sometimes daring manner. This is obviously best done on television rather than in a blockbuster movie designed to make maximum profit. Yet for its historic challenging of social norms and for its portrayal of such an optimistic future for humanity, Star Trek still deserves to be taken seriously.

Captain Jako

p.s I have a girlfriend and have never been to a Star Trek convention