TV

Christmas Adverts & The X Factor (Uninformed)

So, here’s the thing: I stopped watching The X Factor at about series three or four. Then started watching again some series later. I started watching this latest series and it is shit, really and truly. It’s horribly manufactured in terms of drama and excitement and nobody on it can sing. But, inevitably, it’s still hugely popular and we’ll no doubt land a Christmas Number 1 cover of something breathy and cheap by someone people will have forgotten the name of by New Year’s Day.

A few years ago, when there was that campaign to keep X Factor from the top spot by pushing sales of Killing In The Name Of, I said “Yeah, that’s all well and good, but that number one is still manufactured! You’ve still coerced people – through campaigning of some kind – into buying something they wouldn’t ordinarily buy: indeed, most WOULD ordinarily buy an X Factor track around Christmas, mainly as a gift for a relative” – never let it be said I don’t think through the shit I spout.

But we’re talking as though it matters! We’re talking as though people actually care what’s Christmas Number 1. It doesn’t! We don’t! And now, for the last few years, we’ve had those bloody awful, emotionally-facile, multi-million-pound “Retail Store Christmas ads” – I’m looking at you, John Lewis and bloody Sainsbury’s!

Again, we are given a breathy cover of a song that once did quite well, sung by someone who is either not yet known or long forgotten, set atop a mawkish representation of a Christmas that has never existed! I hate them all. By default, I hate them. Sainsbury’s, not content with cashing in on cheap emotion and festive generosity, have this year also cashed in on WAR! Because, this year (and until 2018) WAR SELLS!

The Great War sells chocolate! Yeah! That old-looking chocolate bar in that advert? Yeah, available at all tills in all Sainsbury’s stores for just a quid. Bargain, right? Well, it’s about normal price for a chocolate bar, but in cheaper packaging. And, you know, it’s technically a film prop, isn’t it? So…

Ah, I don’t even know what I’m trying to say here. I’m just moaning, I think. I reckon, instead of giving the X Factor winner an almost-guaranteed Christmas Number 1 and a career that will last no time at all, just get them to record the song for the John Lewis advert. Kill two birds with one stone. It’s all bollocks anyway.

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Jonathan Creek is Shit

Please don’t take that comment as a blanket statement covering the entire history of the show. I love the first few series; even the specials with Sheridan Smith aren’t too bad. But this most recent series is abysmal. a real load of shit. It’s like the makers of the show – its writers, its directors – have forgotten how to “do it”.

This week there was some guff about a magic lamp which came to nothing, a part where Jonathan Creek’s unconvincing wife and her new cleaner had to dispose of the body of a male prostitute (and not a single person called the police! Not even Jonathan) and a non-mystery about what on earth badly superimposed twins played by Joan Whitfield might be up to: are they murderers? Crooks? No, they were standup comedians, or something. All so the writers could use a shit joke about Laurel and Hardy.

There was also a kidnap plot where a politician’s wife was extravagantly kidnapped and held in bondage gear in a bunker in the middle of the common. To make her whereabouts known she took off her tights, put her solid gold diamond encrusted watch in a balloon, blew it up with her breath (which was apparently 80% helium), ties that to the tights, knotted the waist to send a message about some recycling plant and then put the balloon out of the window and into the wind where it landed in a tree in the grounds of the very house where Mrs Creek and her psycho maid dumped the escort’s body. 

That watch fell miraculously into the maid’s hood, was carried home with her, tangled in her hair, and ended up deposited neatly beneath her pillow. Without doubt the most convoluted and unbelievable way to get Jonathan on the case. And even when he did get on the case, almost half way through the episode, he wasn’t that bothered with it. 

Yet again this series a train of coincidences land Jonathan in the midst of a barely-credible plot made of an entirely implausible mystery which has no outcome, no point and no tension. I cannot express how disappointed I am that the good show I used to enjoy (and still enjoy when I watch the earlier episodes on Netflix) is now a load of nonsense.

This series suffers from the same issue as JK Rowling’s book The Casual Vacancy; namely, stereotypical representations of twee little country villages inhabited by quirky country bumpkins who may or may not be predatory killers and/or perverts just isn’t interesting! When Jonathan Creek was drawn into a drama featuring a locked room with a body in it, or some other weird case, that was interesting if formulaic. In fact it was the formula that made the show so unique. You knew just what you were getting and it worked well enough to keep millions watching.

Now, however, you get 15 minutes of Jonathan on screen if you’re lucky, most of which is his sitting behind a desk in a flashy TV office doing a job I don’t remember him ever getting. You then get a load of Sarah Alexander’s big eyes and firecracker temper, some bumbling locals which apparently provide comic relief and enough uncomfortable racial or sexual humour to turn you off altogether. And if it’s not some hilarious gag about poor people, fat people, black people or those silly women they have nowadays it’s a borderline pornographic fantasy scene, like tonight’s shiny-mini-dress blonde with a ballgag and dog collar being dragged about a dungeon by knifepoint for no reason whatsoever.

I’m not even wasting any more of my time criticizing it. Jonathan Creek should move back to his windmill, get Maddie on the phone and leave this tawdry bollocks behind him for good. 

The King’s Handjob

I borrowed the first series of A Game Of Thrones from a friend recently and I have to say, after watching it all in two days, I’m not bowled over by it just yet. It seems to me that, if I was a real fantasy nut, it would appeal to me more. However, as it stands, I just don’t understand why EVERYONE seems to be raving about it.

It’s Merlin, as a friend has already observed, but with porn. It’s The Lord Of The Rings with less excitement and more boobs. And often unnecessary boobs at that! And I like boobs! There seems to be a clause in the contract that states that there needs to be at least two sex-scenes-cum(sorry)-expository-monologue per episode-where-nothing-else-happens, which is pretty much the middle six episodes.

Like many American TV shows it suffers from “a soggy middle”, the opening eps are fine as are the final two, but everything in between are… Just shagging and being sexist and stuff. And characters I like, who seem interesting, are killed suddenly (and not that “Woah! I didn’t expect THAT!” Kind of suddenly, either. More like a “we’ve too many characters and so must drop them; the author could’ve done with a better editor” kind of suddenly).

Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed enough it as a series. The bits with the Khaleesi are great and Jon Snow’s scenes at the Wall are wonderful and the little Stark tomboy is awesome. But there’s a whiff of meaninglessness to the whole thing. I’m sure that the next few seasons will expand and develop the stories and the characters. I’m sure it gets better. Surely it must because I can’t see, from just this first ten episodes, what everyone is raving about.

All in all, I’m not overly impressed. I’ve got season two here, but I’m in no rush to watch it. I’m sure I will one day. Yes, I think I’m one of the minority who thinks that HBO’s A Game Of Thrones is over-written, over-acted, under-edited and (dare I?) a little bit dull. Sorry!