Thursday, 26 February 2009

Channel 5 Are Dicks... (or How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love '30 Rock')

You may think the title for this blog entry is a little harsh, but, much like urinating through a nasty bout of V.D; the truth hurts. Channel 5 are dicks, and here’s why;

There was a time that in between the documentaries on freaks and the soft porn you’d be hard pressed to find a decent show on Channel 5.

But then something amazing happened; no, Fearne Cotton didn’t conduct a knowledgeable, un-patronising, interesting interview, rather someone with a brain over there at the fifth terrestrial channel decided to start cramming the schedules full of top quality US shows.

‘The Shield’, ‘House’, ‘Prison Break’ (back when it was good) so much ‘CSI’ you could practically get soaked in arterial spray, the sublime ‘Californication’ and the majestic ‘30 Rock’ all filled the Channel 5 schedules, making sightings of Shannon Tweed’s breasts few and far between, sadly.

The latter two shows in that list are at the centre of Channel 5’s dickishness.

‘Californication’ features David Duchovny at a career best, forever shedding the ‘boring’ tag he was given at the height of ‘The X-Files’ success. Art awkwardly imitated life last year when Duchovny checked into rehab for sex addiction, something that his ‘Californication’ alter-ego Hank Moody could probably do with himself.

‘Californication’ is one of the most original, funny and at times, moving shows to grace our screens in years and easily the best thing not involving soapy boobies that Showtime has ever produced.

The Thursday night Channel 5 ‘Californication’/’30 Rock’ double was a shining light in the schedules, a beacon of top notch programming crow-barred in between the lamentable splurge that one would normally find populating the schedules these days on the ‘free’ channels.

Five obviously got sick of ‘30 Rock’ somewhere down the line though as they started giving away two episodes a week, I read somewhere that they were blaming their lust to get through the first season on a lack of viewers – what do they fucking expect at 11.20 & 11.45 on a Thursday night!?

With both ‘30 Rock’ and ‘Californication’ going from strength to strength in their sophomore years, it seemed only a matter of time before we got them on these shores, especially with Five’s addition of Five US - a channel dedicated to showing the best American shows out there.

Yet somehow, here we are, over a year on and despite Five having had the rights to both second seasons all along as part of their deal, only now are we getting season 2 of ‘30 Rock’, while America is half way through season 3! And there’s still not even a sign of ‘Californication’!

But Five are finally airing ‘30 Rock’ now, so all’s good right? Wrong. They’ve buried it on Five US on a Saturday and are back to their old tricks giving away two episodes at a time

Sure in these glorious times of digital recorders, schedules don’t mean as much, but beyond the die-hards who’ve been desperate to see these great shows return, how are we ever going to convert new viewers by burying them in a ludicrous slot.

I suppose I should be grateful Five are putting ‘30 Rock’ on before midnight, but come on, who’s watching Five US on a Saturday night!?

I sincerely doubt we’ll be seeing Season 3 of ‘30 Rock’ on Five - The contempt that Five seemingly has for these shows is nothing short of criminal.

And that my friends, is why Channel 5 are such dicks.

My hope is that Paramount will eventually get ‘30 Rock’ and give it the respect that it truly deserves. In the meantime, it looks like downloads and import DVDs if we want to continue to enjoy the exploits of Hank Moody and Liz Lemon et al.

Through said magic of Import DVDs and multi-regional DVD players, I am currently basking in the superlative-proof ‘30 Rock’s second season, seriously there just aren’t enough superlatives out there to do this show justice, simply put; it’s the best comedy on Television right now.

Don’t believe me? Just ask the star of the greatest TV comedy of all time; Jerry Seinfeld.

The notoriously reclusive Seinfeld, guest stars in the season 2 opener of ‘30 Rock’; ‘Seinfeld-Vision’ and helps kick the season off with a bang.

I doubt that Seinfeld, a man who has been very careful about the projects he has associated with since the end of ‘Seinfeld’, would appear on a show unless he truly appreciated just how good it was.

Why is there a copy of ‘Mean Girls’ in your DVD collection? – a question I have been asked on numerous occasions. Is it because I used to have a thing for Lindsay Lohan before she went off the rails and became a lesbian or whatever she is these days – that may have something to do with it, yes. But the main reason I own that film is because it is written by the genius that is Tina Fey.

Fey deserves so much credit for ‘30 Rock’s success, and thankfully the plethora of awards the show has taken home recently seem to indicate that she is getting the critical acclaim she deserves. There was a point during the height of the election build-up last year where it seemed that Fey’s dead-on Sarah Palin impression would overshadow her work on ‘30 Rock’.

It isn’t just Fey’s writing on ‘30 Rock’ that she deserves praise heaping on her for; her performance as Liz Lemon is nothing short of brilliant. Sure Alec Baldwin steals almost every scene he’s in, but you honestly get the impression that Tina Fey IS Liz Lemon, and sweet Moses does she make neuroses seem sexy.

But yes, this is Alec Baldwin’s show. Who knew that the man responsible for one of the greatest speeches in film history thanks to his ‘Glengarry Glen Ross’ monologue had such impeccable comedic chops.

As network exec Jack Donaghy, Alec Baldwin has been nothing short of a revelation since Tina Fey coerced him into appearing on ‘30 Rock’. There’s a scene in season 2 during a supposed therapy session for show nut-job Tracy Jordan (who we’ll get to later) where Baldwin impersonates several members of Tracy’s family having a conversation which is nothing short of amazing.

If Alec Baldwin wasn’t already the most talented of the Baldwin Brothers then his run on ‘30 Rock’ has absolutely proved it. His performance even seems to have got the public back on side after that unfortunate ‘little pig’ phone call.

The guy even gives Frank Langella a run for his money with a Nixon impersonation during a Tracy dream sequence. Alec Baldwin. Yes the same guy who you got splinters in your eyes from watching in ‘Mercury Rising’.

In my personal opinion, the real star of this show is Tracy Morgan as hip-hop comedian/actor Tracy Jordan. Forced onto Liz Lemon’s ‘TGS’ by Jack, Jordan’s every line is pure, unequivocal greatness.

His use of non-sequitars is a constant source of hilarity as are his numerous past celebrity indiscretions, his bizarre pastimes, his film back catalogue (‘Fat Bitch’ is my personal favourite; a ‘Big Momma’s House’-esque comedy where Jordan plays a dog rather than a woman) and who can forget his entourage Grizz and Dotcom, the show’s unsung heroes.

The show’s ensemble cast has depth beyond the big three pictured below. Judah Friedlander is perfectly cast as the oafish Frank who has an amazing collection of hats. I’m also a big fan of Josh, who, sadly, after not being featured too prominently in season 2 didn’t return for season 3. Regardless though, the Christopher Walken impression he did in season 1 was awesome.

Incidentally, if I ever found a magic lamp one of my wishes would be to be able to do a Christopher Walken impersonation.

‘30 Rock’ is also jammed full of sight gags and throwaway lines and pop culture references – the sort of humour I eat up. Whether it’s the posters of Tracy’s film back catalogue that line his dressing room, Frank’s hats or one of the numerous cutaways to a flashback, dream sequence or media parody.

Season 2 highlights in this department have been Tracy’s ‘Thriller’ inspired novelty party song ‘Werewolf Bar Mitzvah’ and Jack’s reality TV show ‘MILF Island’, which featured “25 super-hot Moms, 50 8th grade boys and no rules”.

‘30 Rock’ is up there challenging ‘Curb Your Enthusiasm’ and ‘Arrested Development’ as the best sitcom of the new millennium, so what are you waiting for? Go and see for yourself, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.

‘30 Rock’ Season 2 is airing Saturdays on Five US. It airs at 6pm this week (the fuckers).

The Region 1 DVD of Season 2 is out now.

Season 3 is currently airing in the States Thursdays at 9.30pm on NBC.
Other Tele-Visual Musings This Week:

- Sunday night left me in a quandary; after half-watching ‘Dancing on Ice’ and later watching ‘24’, I was left to ponder; just who is the biggest silver fox on TV; Philip Schofield or Bill Buchanan…?

Speaking of ‘24’, I know I mentioned to it last week, but; where the hell is Tony!?

No sign, nor mention of him again this week, surely Jack could use his help with all the gunfights he seems to find himself in, rather than having that poor man’s Kate from ‘Lost’ as a sidekick.

- The BBC sneaked ‘Heroes’ back into the schedules this week and while it started slow, the first episode in this fourth chapter built to a nice climax with the whole ‘X-Men’ meets ‘Con-Air’ thing they had going on, although, to be honest, I could’ve done without all the Gitmo social commentary.

With the second episode airing on BBC Three, which I honestly think could be one of the worst channels on television, we got a good indication of where this season’s ‘back nine’ is heading.

My only gripe is that although I like seeing the original cast interacting, I wasn’t sure about the whole ‘getting the gang back together’ storyline they had going on, who are they ‘Ocean’s Eleven’?

And I must admit; I did mark out when Daphne was gunned down, although sadly I’ve subsequently learned she ain’t dead.

TV veteran Zeljko Ivanek should also be a formidable acquisition to the cast, he does ‘bastard’ so well; just look at his work in ‘Oz’ and ‘24’, among others.

- I know it’s cheap, juvenile humour but I can’t help but laugh every time I see that Churchill advert with Roy Walker. But boy has any man ever dined out on one catchphrase (no pun intended) as well as Walker has?

- I have to confess; I sat open-jawed as a I watched Robert Webb and his male camel toe pull of a seamless ‘Flashdance’ on Saturday night as part of ‘Let’s Dance for Comic Relief’. Whoever they have lined up for the coming two weeks will have to do something pretty special to even have a chance of competing, because seriously, funny as it was, Webb has some serious moves!

- Finally, an unexpected slice of heavenly TV pie this week came during ‘The Daily Show’s return from it’s week off in the shape of John Oliver’s now traditional, annual post-OSCAR bashing of Jon Stewart - even though ‘The Daily Show’ host hadn’t even hosted The OSCARS this year.

Speaking of ‘The Daily Show’; Ricky Gervais put in a good showing with his guest appearance on Tuesday’s show, it was a very funny interview that you should definitely try and check out.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, was wondering if you good chaps might be able to help me find the name of this film
    okay, the film from what I remember was shown on channel 5 in the UK sometime between 1999 - 2001 I think. The plotline basically was about a husband (Ardee or Ardy maybe? I think?) a latin looking guy, who had been cheating on his older blonde wife marion with a dark haired woman named annie, this annie kind of reminded me of . anyway towards the end of the film, marion having found out the goings-on between them, she convinces Annie that she wants to join them in a threesome. so annie meets with Ardee, the sex scene commences between annie and Ardee, and during the couple having sex, marion is present in the room sitting with her back turned to them on one of those swivel office type chairs, she turns round to reveal that she is here to Ardy, and this results in a startled Ardy. Ardee is surprised to find that marion is in the room with them, instead of joining them, she them holds the couple at gunpoint. annie then says: "she's going to join us, menage a trois for example" Marion: "Shut up annie don't be a fool" Ardee: "Marion i'm sorry, do you want me to give you a divorce?" Marion: "haha, you give me a divorce?" "I want you to finish what you started, I've had to sit at home wondering why I wasn't enough, knowing that that bitch was waiting for you, so believe me I can get much worse". Marion: "finish what you started Ardee, you're a professional, got to reach the finish line". Marion forces them to continue having sex at gunpoint, she becomes unsettled after they continue after she's asked them to stop and then fires the gun at them both. She fires blanks at them... and then talks for awhile before the closing credits roll. She says: "I didn't shoot him, I fired blanks, come to think of it, I think he did too" lol "The gun was just to intimidate him".
    he film itself was made in the early 90's from what I remember. Could've been part of a tv series, or even a tv movie, i'm not sure as I saw only the last half an hour or so. But I thought this particular scene i caught at the end might stand out for someone who has seen it. Yeah, you're right, I don't know the names of any of the actors/actresses either, just three principal characters Annie, Ardy (spelling?) & Marion.

    I have contacted Channel 5 regarding this, but they said that they couldn't help me. I've written to them again tonight just asking for a list of films they showed during that time. I hope they do keep a list of them like you say mate. I'll give it another try anyway, and thanks a lot for your post, I will continue with my quest in finding my holy grail of softcore pornography! lol
    if anyone can tell me which film this is, It'd be a great help.


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