Wednesday, 26 January 2011

New Stig grows up, Sky lost some weight, and I learned some Danish

And on the 38th day new Stig  instructed his first star in a reasonably priced car. New Stig was finally allowed out of his cage after having eaten the raw meat Jezza had left for him. Amazing how quickly they grow up. As Clarkson remarked, he'll soon be old enough to present Countryfile.  Top Gear got stuck in with it's latest run of school boy humour and thinly disguised genuine consumer information. I for example know that my future all terrain vehicle should be a Skoda Yeti. I will however probably still go for a classic Land Rover or even a gentrified Toyota Hilux if I can. Not missing a beat, Top Gear presenters searched for new ways of poking humourless twats with a pointed stick. Funny Scouse man accused of stealing tyres, Stig elevated to the status of Jesus replacement,  Cap'n Slow made to look a div, wait that's not a crime, just a stated goal. Ironically, this is the same man who can tell you the most about the cars  should you care to ask. Richard "Hamster" Hammond  tries to prove the Porsche 911  is in fact the best car in the world and more than the sum of the parts of a Beetle from whence it came. I for one was convinced by his arguments, having been in several proper poor people bugs in my life for extended lengths of time. I think dropping a cheap car from a crane was hardly a fair test of speed was it? Besides maybe the Autobahn and dying, the only good thing Hitler ever did, the Volkswagen Beetle is hardly the model of reliability or comfort or technical advancement. The Porsche 911 on the other hand is still the only car I'd consider having that satisfies my inner douche bag and thrill seeker. While the Jag is in fact a car for somebody who can drive over small pets and garden beds, the Porsche will do it and not even try to apologize.   Why should it? It is a mechanical marvel that moves like a wild cat on the hunt. The noises it makes sound like what I thought a car should sound like when I was 8 years old. As a boy I aspired to a Porsche, as a man I now aspire to a Jag or maybe an Astin Martin, unlike some people, |I don't want to others to think I'm the kind of person who would drive a Porsche. Now if I could borrow the Stig's skin...

About that new Stig. He's still  white, drives even better than sacked Stig, seems to be more content and doesn't bite like the old one. I think perhaps this one's a keeper, he may even last longer that the last two put together. Just to be clear, whoever the new Stig is, he's now part of one of the oldest , most entertaining car magazines on telly ever. He will meet stars and drive fast cars and get paid for it presumably really well for as long as he wants to. If this one also does a diva, it may be time to bury the Stig once and for all. Seems some people are more interested in sudden piles of money over sustained respectable pay and loads of perks you won't get for being an ex-Stig.

New to our screens from BBC 2, Charlie Brooker's How TV ruined your life, a weekly look at how TV took a perfectly nice life and this week, has scared the hell out of us for 60 years. The point of the show was to demonstrate just how mad the paranoia and fear had gotten from public service spots that pointed out every danger lurking out there past your door and in your living room, to crime programmes that purported to show just how bad the the criminals were. If the news is to be believed , we are always on the brink of the final dissolution of humanity as we know it.  His pens catching fire parody was brilliant stopping just short of being repetitive and pointless. Breaking news used to mean something had happened, but with 24 hour news, we were treated to Gaza shouting "Moaty Moaty Moaty"  and explaining why he had brought fried chicken, lager and a fishing pole for his "old mate".  If I want to stay relaxed and fear free I try to watch BBC news only a few times a day and avoid the soul sucking misery of unending failure in the world. I know news is news, but it's not all bad news is it? South Sudan voted last week. We saw one day of nice peaceful story, then nothing for a week, then twice in as many days , some Northern nomads killed 30 people and the BBC war machine was in full gear. Thankfully for South Sudan it's remained for the most part a dull uneventful story.   Uneventful that is except for all those people getting on with their lives and building a new country without recourse to death and dismemberment. Perhaps if more watched less sensationalist filler, some of them would be less inclined to report Jeremy Clarkson to ofcom for crimes against alleged human decency. Some of you may recall that on the back of one complaint, decades after the song came out, you can't play Money for nothing in Canada, because of the "dirty little faggot" reference.  If you've ever heard the song, you are my age, if you are worshipping Ellie Goulding's murder of Elton's "Your song", you're probably wondering why anybody would ever say an offensive thing ever to anybody , even jest.  Watch the video, you'll see it's not even homophobic, just a good song. So when did one person's opinion mean we should all suffer? Where was I?  Charlie Brooker, yeah,  good show, watch it.

Speaking of offensive words on telly..... no I don't mean Kay Burley saying anything on any subject, Andy Gray (sacked) and Richard Keys (apologized and resigned), both now late of Sky Sports, landed in a cauldron of trouble over sexist remarks about lineswoman, Sian Massey 25,  (see also remarks about Theo Walcott) before the match even kicked off. It all got a bit sordid as a series of further of air remarks were found and broadcast to the delight of the people who disliked the the duo. Sky sports reacted well enough at first, but hardly seem to take this seriously at first , then went entirely the other way and sacked Andy Gray. Seems you're fine till you get caught out. A few simple truths in broadcasting. All mikes and cameras are to be treated as live at all times. Saves you a great deal of embarrassment. Never put down in writing just how big a twat you are. And lastly, you're only as good as your last good deed or rating and scandal of any kind will wipe the slate clean in entirely the wrong way. All lessons at least one of these men has not learned. While I do not applaud the creation of super cautious PC man, the death of Neanderthal footie man is long overdue. My wife loves football, it's a huge part of why we get along. She gets it, she understands the offside rule, well the one before the new one which confuses even the players and the officials now. You would be shocked to hear what she used to say about Arsenal and Chelsea supporters, would have made a Millwall fan seem,... no  too strong, ... a Leeds fan, seem realistic.  That said, the powers that be at Sky sport need to understand that women have been following football in droves for at least a decade now, gone are the times that every vagina in the room left at the sound of the pre game show.  I suspect the fancy fan who supported a side ONLY because [name of footballer] is fit,  is long dead or blended in with the male version more concerned with the run of play and the general direction and placement of ones team in the table. The hypocrisy of Sky speaks volumes however, when you compare the numerous times people like myself have called for the incredibly justifiable sacking of Kay Burley, and been ignored. This woman who claims to be a journalist has done enough to be sacked 10 times were she a man or even a gay Asian uni-legged agnostic hermaphroditic creature working at a real news channel. Where is the justice when caveman sports twit gets the sack  but Versace sledge hammer stays?

On the subject of genteel, better times when even the nut-cases were held to a certain standard of decorum and behaviour, Lark Rise to Candleford on Sunday was a treat. Dorcas has finally got some action going and Postman Thomas has his absolute shield of faith and somewhat too sure certainty punctured, revealing a very scared little man who seems to have finally had to deal with his own personal demons. The scene where he looses his religion was so sincere I had no idea where it was going from there. The use of the snake in paradise wasn't wasted or over the top in the least bit. Yet again, Larkrise shows that good writing is the key to wringing out truthful performances from these well trained actors and actresses. Stand out performance of the night had to be Curtis Brown (Thomas) in the faith story line with an equally strong performance from character actor Burn Gorman and former Torchwood regular, playing the trouble reverend. Oh and still no sign of Dawn French.

Yet again BBC4 wins a big fat nothing, yes you're watching the National Television Awards , the award show for text voting pond scum who haven't quite learned to spell yet. How else do you explain Qi v I'm a Celebrity? Oh well, every year I sit down an d think , maybe this year Stephen Fry will win something for his current work, but no. Benidorm and In Betweeners won which is ok as it's not about pretty people or unscripted, thank you both for making us laugh. And....big drum roll....... Top Gear has the love of geeks, intellects and the great unwashed, all rolled into to one. Despite being fact free for for 7 years now, Top Gear has entertained all levels of viewer and in so doing showing living proof you can be smart funny, un hip and still be a winner. Three middle age men falling over indeed , Congratulations, at least one or two of my shows made the grade! Sherlock, Ashes to Ashes, Doctor Who, Touch of Frost ?!! all in one category ! David Jason wins for Touch of Frost, and well deserving he is. At least this one they couldn't get wrong.  Lastly, Mr Show-business himself, Bruce Forsyth got the lifetime achievement award from last year's winner Stephen Fry. Brucie is an institution and anybody who thinks he's past his sell by date needs to have a quick look at what this man can do even  now. Sad but true, Louis Spence is no replacement for an all rounder comic, singer dancer actor go to guy who can handle any live situation.  Since I was little, Brucie has entertained out family in a bewildering array of programmes over the years. I hope he never stops, I suspect he'd be unsure what to do with a pipe and slippers, so Bruce, It's always nice to see you , to see you Nice! And Doctor Who fans.... we got zip this year, nothing nada, nil, nowt, but the opening sequence with Matt Smith and the Tardis was great.

Last word goes to Danish crime drama The killings on BBC4 is brilliant and completely engrossing , even if you don't speak Danish. Much like UK crime drama, yet a little less intense , it still arrives at the same destination that any crime drama wants, you care and you want to solve it before the DCI does. Good chance to learn yerself another language and have a decent rummage through your brain for solutions. My wife wept several times and it takes convincing acting and story to get her going like that. Something for the big softy and the amateur sleuth.

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