Another trip into TV Hell.
April 4, 2002 1:47 PM   Subscribe

Another trip into TV Hell. In the UK we're much kinder to bad television -- shows will go on for weeks without an audience and often get comissioned for second series before someone releases they're awful (yes you 'Let Them Eat Cake' -- if that French and Saunder monstrosity had been on UStv it would have been cancelled after two episodes -- if it had been comissioned at all). 'Off The Telly' considers all the things prospective television producers need to avoid if they're going to create something they're proud of. Does anyone else have any bad examples?
posted by feelinglistless (18 comments total)
I don't know what it is about you English-peoples that is just so darn *cute* to us Americans! You and your culture are just like little furry animals that purr and don't make a mess. The same applies to your teevee. We just want to hold you and hug you and make American versions of your cheesy shows, just *because* they're cheesy. We know that if we take something like Dr Who, Red Dwarf or AbFab, and throw in a LOT of car-crashes, special effects, crude manners and scatalogical jokes it's DYNO-MITE for enough episodes to sell it into syndication!
Maybe it's 'cause you all talk so funny.
Heck, I remember that Mel Brooks sucked an entire SEASON out of "When Things Were Rotten", and when *that* pegged, he recycled the material for his astoundingly lame ass "Robin Hood-Men In Tights" movie.
I bet you Englishers would-a been soccer rioting by then.
posted by kablam at 2:41 PM on April 4, 2002

Pop Idol should be axed it's a complete waste of time. Lets' elect a talentless geek to make tons of money.

The people with the real talent are missing out big time!
posted by stevridie at 2:51 PM on April 4, 2002

Pets Win Prizes with Danny Baker. That was fantastic. A programme with pets, that win prizes. But if you're talking about bad, I don't think I've seen anything worse than Xena: Warrior Princess or Hercules. I know they should count as so-bad-it's-good, but they don't.
posted by Summer at 2:54 PM on April 4, 2002

Rolf Harris is going to lose his number one fan if he doesn't stop making them goddamn vet / pet programmes.

They should just put all the critters down straight away after birth
posted by ajbattrick at 2:59 PM on April 4, 2002

I hate all the "...from Hell" programmes that litter UK TV at the moment.
I also hate the DIY, gardening and cooking shows.
In fact the only thing I am watching is the Mark Thomas Product - everything else seems to suck big time.
posted by crustygeek at 3:01 PM on April 4, 2002

Well, we've got plenty of similar examples here. For instance #5 about "contracted presenters" i.e. what we call anchors. Bryant Gumbel, who was so successful on the NBC Today show, quit and departed for CBS to presumably do more interesting things. Seventeen or thirty-five newsmagazine formats later he ended up .... hosting the CBS morning show. And now he's just quit that.

And we've seen them so far throw every supporting actor from Seinfeld against the wall.

And now with six actual broadcast networks, plus increasing forays into original programming by cable channels, there are series that die before anyone ever hears of them.
posted by dhartung at 3:02 PM on April 4, 2002

the tv that i watched on my brief stay in the uk (when i wasn't getting madly drunk on alcopops or rather pleasantly buzzed on your more mature beverages; so, about two hours) was really incredible -- even though there was only three channels in the hotel, there honestly was something always good on. I wish I could say the same for cable. the one that i recall the best was a show where the hosts make over someone's apartment or house in a whirlwind of interior decorating madness -- wish I could get them out to my shotgun apartment.

switzerland also has good tv, with a big bonus: broadcast porn! (file under: good album names).
posted by fishfucker at 3:17 PM on April 4, 2002

I have to agree with fishfucker (how I've longed to say that)-- I'd be willing to take my chances with British TV over standard American fare. In fact, if all I got was Coupling a couple of times a week and a black screen the rest of the time, that might be an improvment.
posted by yerfatma at 3:28 PM on April 4, 2002

Thanks for the link, yerfatma, that "advice on foreplay" clip was hilarious.
posted by CrunchyFrog at 3:44 PM on April 4, 2002

Is there another country that can make gardening, DIY and cooking the safe bet of prime time national network viewing?

When it's good, it is very, very good. When it is bad, it is fucking awful.
posted by vbfg at 3:51 PM on April 4, 2002

And we've seen them so far throw every supporting actor from Seinfeld against the wall.

And you're having a go at him? For that? Cause them pain! Man I hate that show. There is some genuinely fantastic American comedy that we get to see beyond just The Simpsons, I'm a huge fan of everything Gary Shandling has ever done for example. Except stand-up I suppose. I know he made his name in it and everything but bugger only knows how. How the hell did Seinfeld get so popular though? I've seen Jay Leno be funnier than him. Jay Leno!
posted by vbfg at 4:05 PM on April 4, 2002

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention, we got MASH the series with no laugh track in the UK. I was very young and maybe my memory is a little hazy but I remember it as a much more poignant show when watching them the first time on network TV without it than later on stalactyte TV with. It doesn't seem that way at all now.
posted by vbfg at 4:10 PM on April 4, 2002

I abhore the likes of Becker and Everybody Loves Raymond. You wouldn't want losers like them in your life, so why let them into your living room?
posted by skinsuit at 4:49 PM on April 4, 2002

'Days Like These.' Importing 'That 70s Show' from the US without caring about the transfer was like playing a NTSC tape on a PAL player. That awful thing with Davina McThingy, too. Does ITV even attempt to do sitcoms now, or is it all just clips shows? It's as if they've abandoned all hope. Or given all their writers' money to the football clubs.

(At least I get to tape Black Books tomorrow night. It's just bizarre to have Debbie Aldridge from the Archers swearing her head off. And the thing on BBC1 with Sally Phillips is nice, but nowhere near 'Smack The Pony'.)
posted by riviera at 4:54 PM on April 4, 2002

Ooh, "Smack the Pony."
posted by rodii at 6:23 PM on April 4, 2002

Where's 'Crossroads' on the list? It was crap in the old days, so why did they resurrect it again? At least in the old days the walls would move around when people touched them!
posted by wackybrit at 7:56 PM on April 4, 2002

I went to see a recording of a "Days Like These" episode. Trouble was, the studio was in Twickenham, on a Five Nations (as it was then) double header. So we sat in the pub, watching the rugby on the big screen, getting drunker and drunker. By the time it came to walk across the road to the studio, we were absolutely shitfaced. We spent the entire time talking loudly about how unfunny it was and generally pissing off the people around us, until we'd had enough and walked out in order to make last orders. How they ever thought they could make a sit-com without any jokes whatsoever, I'll never know.

I agree with vbfg. When British TV is good, nothing can match it. When it's bad, it's terrible. Even the best American shows seem formulic and uninteresting by comparison, even the ones with huge budgets.
posted by salmacis at 2:43 AM on April 5, 2002

Does Duckman count as a successful foray into something else by a Seinfeld supporting cast member? Didn't always work but I rather liked it and it had some intelligence compared to a lot of other fodder.
posted by kerplunk at 6:29 AM on April 5, 2002

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