This instalment of TWiT is almost solely devoted to the facelift received by one particular network.
Once upon a time there was a channel called BBC Choice it showed most of the same shows as BBC while showing old kids shows in the day. Then five years ago BBC Choice had a facelift little sluggy icons started appearing everywhere and Big Brovaz told us that Three was the Magic number. And low and behold BBC3 was born the first two weeks we got to watch Eastenders before those pesky fellows on BBC1, we also got to catch the next episode of 24 a week early, Little Britain (when it was funny) debuted on the first night as did the very funny and much-missed Monkey Dust. After a while the hits started to fade away, there were a few exceptions the ludicrously popular Two Pints of Larger and a Packet of Crisps, the underrated Bodies, my personal favourites The Smoking Room and Ideal and last year’s runaway smash Gavin and Stacey but for every one of these there was a Grown-Ups, Grass or TittyTittyBangBang. So some people got into a room and bounded about words like Demographic and Multi-Platform and low and behold BBC3 got a face-lift.
Although at first the shows were the same (Top Gear, Eastenders, Family Guy) certain things had changed. Real people recruited from the internet after posting a two-minute audition (multi-platform) were introducing the shows. 60 Second news had a brand new set and even the ident had gone from a boring BBC sign with three underneath to a funky new pink balloon-esque model. An early highlight for me was The Real Hustle in Vegas. If anyone hasn’t seen The Real Hustle before it’s basically a suave guy, a fat beardy guy and a scouse dolly bird going round a swindling people and depending your take on it either try and stop you being swindled or teach you how to swindle people. In Vegas they obviously wanted to do things new so the Scouse dolly bird had had her hair dyed from blonde to black and in one massive stunt the team pulled off their largest stunt yet. With help from two other players, two pretend girlfriends, two supposed drunkards and two more players the gang swindled a blackjack table for thousands, having the two guys and fake girlfriends come to the table with two planted players and then the two drunk girls distract the dealer so the guys can replace the current card schuh with their own one and then the two couples start winning big. Not to arouse suspicion they leave and the Scouse girl with two more mates comes in and cleans up. Exposing the stupidity of Americans other stunts include stealing cars by pretending to be valets, stealing jewels by pretending to be a sheik, his wife and a security guard and stealing hotel valuables by pretending to be an inspector. Of course this is just filler but its entertaining nonetheless thanks to the compelling nature of the two guys and the general stupidity of the girl.
But it all kind of seemed newer on Tuesday as the first of six pilots debuted on the channel with one getting turned into a series after all have aired. The first was Phoo Action (which has already had the go ahead to be turned into a series). Based on a comic book the premise of Phoo Action was that the Queen has been killed Police Chief Action is at his wit’s end and useless Kung Fu cop Terry Phoo is called in to help. Princes William and Harry are then kidnaped by the mutants who killed The Queen and to stop the mutants becoming the new monarchy Phoo enlists the help of the daughter of the police chief and unruly pink-haired teenage tearaway Whitey Action to help him solve the case. There was a lot of Kung-Fu, shaky visuals and silliness. But at the end of the day there was a lot of fun. Jaime Winstone carried the majority of the acting, daughter of Ray she did a good line is stroppy and her pink wig was a work of genius. Eddie Shin had to play the hapless Kung-Fu cop but got to do some good action and dancing and for me the biggest casting coup was Carl Weathers as Chief Action. At times it did lapse into the ludicrous (the head mutant was a stick with a basketball for a head) but overall it was colourful, funny and inventive but one wonders if it would make an entire series.
Moving on to what would probably be considered the channel’s biggest new show – Lily Allen and Friends. At first look a chat show as Lilly Allen hosted and talked to David Mitchell and ‘Oscar Winner’ Cuba Gooding Jr. But the dreaded multi-platform word came out again. All of Allen’s audience or ‘friends’ had been picked after apply via the webpage and confessed certain secrets. The ones with the most embarrassing secrets (had a wet dream while sharing a bed with a male friend, was a male escort) got to go to the bar and drink with the celebs. New bands could also post videos on Allen’s website and then get picked by the internet users to play at the end of the show (you’ve got to feel sorry for the losing band who turned up and didn’t get to play on air). There was also about five minutes of ‘hilarious internet footage’ which basically involved Lily and her audience laughing at videos of animals having sex while David Mitchell said their bemused. To fill time Lily Allen even had a video diary which just saw her doing general things. David Mitchell as always was funny while Cuba Gooding Jr. was so desperate to impress that he almost got naked. At the end of the day this was another one of those yoof programmes where 40 year old T.V. execs show they’re down with the kids by letting them book half of the show. Lily Allen presides over the show like a teenager filming a You Tube version of her friends 17th birthday party. Giggly and unprofessional this was more of a Student’s Media Studies presentation than a primetime chat show. Mitchell aside there was nothing of worth here.
Thursday came around and flicking through the channels I saw a programme called Dawn gets Naked and got ready for some fun. But unfortunately Dawn didn’t get naked fully, onscreen anyway and this wasn’t a slightly lewd show. But instead it involved journalist Dawn Porter dealing with her body issues and wondering whether she could get naked. It started with the general meanderings about looking and feeling good, how magazines make women feel inadequate and how no matter how you try you get never look good. Dawn then travels to a nudist beach and marvels at how easy it is for these people to get their kit off. The second third of the show saw Dawn trying to get to grips with her own naked form stripping as a nude model for an art class and then stripping for a photo shoot in which she was airbrushed to look like the models on the magazines do. After feeling liberated Dawn wanted to spread her message so she put billboards up and went down the street with a sandwich board saying ‘Get Naked with Me’ on it. In the end quite a few women got naked with her but Dawn herself as well as some of the hotties covered their intimate parts while most of the older or less photogenic women didn’t mind letting it hang out which I’m sure spreads some message to women watching but the message it gave me was turn over. There was a general hypocrisy to Dawn’s message saying it’s okay for people to look at you naked but never showing us herself naked didn’t do much to warrant her cries. The final naked march on the double decker bus got a lot of men taking snaps on their camera phones so reducing women to sex objects again and so really the whole thing was in vain.
I’m guessing the new demographic that BBC3 is going for is Women aged 18-49 the Kung Fu in Phoo Action and The Real Hustle aside there was nothing for men here (there was also a modelling show akin to Colleen’s Real Women). While there was women’s liberation in Dawn Gets Naked, a young female chat show host in Lily Allen and a kick ass girl in Phoo Action. Fair enough there are other dramatic pilots coming up in the next couple of weeks but I could take or leave the first week of the new BBC3.
Channel 4 keeps pumping out the great documentaries and this week was no exception with Baby Bible Bashers. The hour long show followed three youngsters who preached in some way or another. The first was Samuel Boutwell a seven year old evangelist from Mississippi his story was the most harrowing. Boutwell was basically bullied into religion by his parents, he is blatantly beaten by his mother (at one point she asks for the camera to be switched off) and brainwashed by his father. Boutwell’s story saw him travel to New York with his father and preach the good word in the streets but there was the usual protests against a child preaching and a slow-motion shot saw Samuel’s bewildered face looking at what was going on around him in awe. The second story saw 9 year old Terry Durham, again raised into a strict Catholic household he has been bought up primarily by his grandmother who is so religious she answers the phone ‘Praise the Lord’. Durham is one of these Black Preachers who touch people’s heads throw them down and then they’re cured of whatever ailments they have. His grandmother recounts tails of Terry curing a woman with cancer and throwing a woman’s stick away and getting her to walk, neither of these women were available to comment. But again the exploitation element arises as his father sells Terry Durham merchandise to the congregation and his grandmother scolds him for not mentioning her in his sermon. The third child is thirteen year old Ana Carolina Diaz from Rio De Janiro who has been preaching since she was three and at the age of eight gathered crowds of over a thousand. But Diaz has been taught by her father who she likens to God, her father his her friend, her mentor even her choreographer. But daddy Diaz was in prison and has a slightly creepy ‘special bond’ which his daughter which is made even weirder by the fact that he never tells anyone while he was in prison. The underlying theme here is that the children are brainwashed sure they can think with their own minds to an extent but if you are bullied and threatened with violence and raised in this society then you’re going to do what you’re told. There was a feeling of isolation to the world Ana Carolina lived in while Terry seemed quite shy when he was donning his ministerial suit. But this was a fascinating insight into pushy parents and the dark side of religion.
And finally Skins was back this week for a second season. I was overly-critical at the start of the first season but mainly because I thought Nicholas Hoult was a poor choice for leader of the gang. Coming into Series Two, Hoult’s Tony had survived being hit by a bus at the end of the last series but had limited brain capacity allowing Hoult to stretch his acting capacity to more than the usual shagging and manipulating that he usually does and he did well in this role. While many of the other characters worked around this particularly Sid who had a diminished role in this episode as he pined for Cassie and fretted over what to do to rebuild his relationship with Tony. Michelle’s story was similar while Amwar, Chris and Jal were relegated to the sidelines. But Maxxie who had the least to do in the last series seems to have been given the lion’s share of Series Two. This was his episode as he was given a passion for dancing, a very colourful dad in the shape of Bill Bailey and a stalker who will reveal themselves in the next episode. Bailey was the star of the episode revealing some hidden acting talents his relationship with Maxxie was touching and sweet and he also got to dance with a dog. This episode is a lot less raucous and a lot more touching than the first episode of the previous series and its better for it as well.
Next Time: The Last Enemy, Being Human and Freezing