Monday, 28 November 2011

98% of all films and TV programmes can safely be skipped

One of the benefits of growing older is that you know in advance that 98% of all television programmes will bore you to tears or make you feel grubby: ditto 98% of all films. And you’ve got a pretty good idea which programmes and films are going to belong in that 98% category.

(The same principle applies to paintings, but, oddly, the opposite is true of novels, poetry and classical music, where I’m often surprised by what I end up enjoying – the lack of a visual element seems to help.)

Here’s a handy cut-out-and-keep guide to the sorts of films and TV programmes most of us can safely ignore:

Gross-out film comedies of any description – but particularly those aimed at young males between the ages of 15 and 23. They are invariably repellent.

“Theatre of Cruelty” films or TV comedy programmes. My toes have been curled enough. For instance, I own a DVD of Sacha Baron-Cohen’s Bruno, but I will never watch it. And I would pay money not to have to ever watch the latest Ricky Gervais comedy series starring a dwarf.

Horror films of the splatter variety – especially if they involve the slaughter of teenagers, because the violence is interspersed with drivel delivered in a whining tone.

Speaking of which - any film set in an American school. They look like deeply horrible places full of deeply horrible young people, who swear all the time and hate each other. Can this be accurate? After all, most adult Americans are charming! 

Crime films with crashingly boring and crashingly loud Rock soundtracks, and lots of car crashes, plus explosions, moody, inarticulate (i.e. terminally thick) heroes and an edit every 0.4 seconds (during the slow bits).

TV “talent” contests where deluded and talentless people make fools of themselves while murdering “classic” songs I’ve never heard of (mind you, for all I know, they may be improving them). The rich used to visit lunatic asylums for this sort of diversion.

Films about prostitutes, drug dealers, gangstas, transsexuals or cross-dressers (or all five). Their drearily predictable and nasty lives are of absolutely no interest to me (and vice-versa, I’m sure).

Topical panel shows featuring liberal-left comedians sneering at the perfectly rational and decent beliefs and attitudes of the majority of their fellow-Britons.

Any documentary featuring people with grotesque deformities. (The Boy Who was Born With 17 Testicles and An Ear Where His Nose Should Be etc.)

Any soap opera in which stupid people alternate between shouting at each other (“You’re doing my head in!”) or whisper gruffly (“Frank, we need to talk!” – you don’t, you really don’t).

Documentaries about modern policing involving louts and loutesses vomiting, fighting, shrieking, doing v-signs, bearing their pasty bottoms, and swearing at the police. I know it happens a lot – but I don’t want my life to be sullied by having to watch it.

Any drama involving “damaged” war veterans. (I’m watching The Killing II in spite of its military background.) I’m sure the vast majority of Army veterans are perfectly sane, and that 99.99% of Allied soldiers who fight in the Middle East don’t commit atrocities – let’s not forget that America’s liberal media did far more to drain America’s resolve in Vietnam than the VietCong ever did.

Any "reality" programme featuring "celebrities"  in any way, shape or form, whether dancing, ice-skating, learning how to be a brain surgeon, wandering caringly amongst starving Third Worlders, wittering banalities in exotic toruist destinations, or eating bat guano while being lowered into a glass case filled with maggots and live wolverines (unless, of course, this results in their death).

Any programme featuring Piers Morgan or Tony Robinson (unless it involves either of them being pelted with dung, or being executed).

Any TV or film awards ceremony. Period. I used to like Kate Winslett.

Any programme featuring clips from old TV programmes - especially if the clips are interspersed with terminally unilluminating comments from obscure and unfunny provincial comedians - "Ah looved watching The Two Ronnies wi' mah Nan, I did". (98% of all television has always been crap – people who work in TV must stop trying to persuade us that there was ever a Golden Age.)

Any film involving unconventional, dysfunctional American families undergoing a series of hilarious, “kookie” adventures which result in them bonding and which show them to be far more vibrant, creative and lovable than boring normal people like you and me.

Any political discussion where the majority of the guests are liberals (i.e. every single political discussion ever held on British TV).

Any live TV show where members of the underclass shriek at each other about their seemingly unending, bestial shenanigans. It is simply impossible that there could be anything which interests me less than whether Dean was shagging Shawneesa when he should have been giving Kelly-Marie a right seeing-to. Why don't these cretins get a f*cking job!

Any form of televised charity event.

Any coverage of a modern beat combo performing at any music festival. I would honestly rather be forced to listen to a CD of Bobby Crush’s Greatest Hits than listen to these twerps parading their almost supefrnatural lack of anything even vaguely resembling talent.

Any reality show in which spurious time limits are placed on people doing pointless things badly “Only three hours to go and there’s a serious danger the Aardvark sanctuary won’t be finished in time!”

There are plenty of other types of programmes and films to avoid - but that should get rid of at least 95% of the dross.


  1. I personally think Speaker Bercow is much funnier than Warwick Davies and available endlessly on the BBC Parliamentary channel.

    Thank you for exempting my two favourite television programmes - Lorraine Pascal [which the BBC seems to have cancelled?] and Celebrity Coach Trip [again, I can't find this anywhere - has this been cancelled?]. The list of participants was supposed to include hilarious funny man and swimming pool enthusiast Michael Barrymore and the Estonian ex-MP with the bent face, Lembit Opek, who the BBC house magazine Radio Times described as "professionally desperate". If it wasn't for the good sense of his former Welsh constituents Mr. Opek would probably be in the Government right now and appearing endlessly on "Question Time" and "Any Questions?" in order to give Simon Hughes a breather.

  2. The reference to Speaker Bercow made me recall some lines [well, there's a lot of poetry about]:

    1. Apparantly, when he hauls himself into the Speaker' Chair, a small group of Tories always breaks into Randy Newman's verse from "Short People":

    "They got little baby legs
    They stand so low
    You've got to pick 'em up
    Just to say hello."

    2. And as far as his ridiculous academic gown is concerned there is the line from Macbeth:

    "Now does he feel his title
    Hang loose about him, like a giant's robe
    Upon a dwarfish thief." [Angus]

  3. The BBC has certainly not dispensed with the services of the beautiful and talented Lorraine Pascale! Her first series attracted an average of 2 million viewers on BBC 2, and her second series, "Home Cooking Made Easy" only finished last month. Keep your eyes peeled for a repeat of the series. I'm sure she has become a regular fixture on the BBC - especially as Harry Hill has taken to featuring her on "TV Burp". I would never have believed that the sight of someone kneading dough or fondling cheese straws could be quite so stimulating!

    TV Critic, when I read your remarks about Lembit Opik being in government now if only he hadn't lost his seat, a genuine thrill of fear ran down my spine. What a terrifying thought!

    But not, oddly, as terrifying as the fact that someone even more farcical and revolting is actuall the Speaker of the House!!! I was of course touched to see that Bercow's Coat of Arms featured references to his unstinting support for the gay, lesbian and trans-gender communities (or whatever they insist on being called these days). I forget what the four balls are supposed to refer to - and don't really like to ask. Still, at least he's married to a good, sensible wife.

    And to think we thought we'd reached a nadir with Gorbals Mick - who now seems positively statesman-like in comparison.

    I have never quite worked up the courage to watch Celebrity Coach Trip - although I'm sure it is a very fine programme. Maybe their set crashed. Oh please, God, please!!!

  4. Bercow Fan (it must get lonely in your club), thank you for that tid-bit about Tory MPs - no, I didn't know that. I wonder if these are the same hooligans who used to shout "Large Gin & Tonic!" whenever former ship's purser John Prescott used to get up to speak in the Commons.

    The quote from Macbeth is perfect - he really should have incorporated the image of a "giant's robe/Upon a dawarfish thief" in his coat of arms. Lordy, what a prat!