Friday, 30 January 2009

Teenage Kicks

Last week good friend and noted television critic Tom Haywood lamented me for not hating the first episode of Skins Series 3. Given it wasn't a great hour of television but as a first episode it did the job of introducing the cast of characters and got the ball rolling in the post Tony & The Gang climate. However, this week no such excuses can be made.

I have a number of issues with last night's episode 2. First of all, the characters themselves. The first two series of Skins worked on a sort of week by week revolving basis starting with the surfaces of these characters and then delving deeper into them as each took a turn in the spotlight. Series 3 looks to follow on from this format starting last night with the character Cook. And after an hour getting to know Cook all I can say is that he seems to be a more reprehensible bastard than at the start. I say getting to know him but all last night's episode succeeded in was taking the surface aspects of his character and cranking them up further and further. He's loud, obnoxious and likes women and drugs. Really? Is that it? The other characters aren't much better either coming across just as unlikeable as Cook or being pushed into the background so far that they basically act as set decoration (Blonde girl I'm looking at you). Even Effy who worked so well as Tony's anchor to morality in the first two series is nothing more than a vapid object to divide the male characters. Freddy and JJ are the best of a bad bunch but that's probably due to my natural inclination to side with the geeky. 'But Steve couldn't these same criticisms be applied to Tony from Skins series 1 and 2? Yes, series 1 especially. Tony is almost Machiavellian in his scheming and is manipulative to friends and enemies alike. Yet, he is never someone we as the audience hate. We in fact side with him because the other characters do. Chris, Sid, Anwar, Maxie and the rest are all so instantly and insanely likeable that because they obviously see something in Tony we want to see this too. Skins 1 and 2 can be viewed as Tony's journey from a selfish user of people to the humbled but still gifted leader of the gang who keeps them together in spite of the tragedy that seems to pervade their lives as the curtain comes down on their time together. Compare this to loutish Cook who repels everyone except his closest friends and seems to bounce from one ill thought out act to the next.

My second major issue with last night's episode was what seems to be a distinct detachment from the reality that the show was initially based in. Yes, I am quite aware that the show is fictional and has a license to exaggerate (I read comics for fucks sake) but what I loved about the first two series was that whatever situation the characters found themselves in it was always relatable. I've been to crazy house parties with people I didn't know, I've seen people struggle with the decision of whether school is the right environment for them but I have never trawled around Bristol at two in the morning looking for prostitutes. Compare the characters attitude toward The Mad Hatter in Series 1 with the attitude toward Jonny White in Series 3. I don't know anyone who would stumble across a chained up nipple clamped gangster and intentionally aggravate them by taking pictures on a camera phone but I do know people who have maybe messed with the wrong type of person and then done everything in their power to avoid them at whatever cost.

Related to the detachment from the reality is the Drug and Alcohol use in this series so far. I celebrate the fact that Skins acknowledges that teenagers enjoy drugs and alcohol. That is pretty much a fact. What I can't handle is the extent that it's been taken to. In the first episode Cook has a couple of pints before school and a load of 'spliff'. Does any teacher smell his breath? In episode two I know it's his Birthday but he drinks enough to probably kill an elephant and never goes past the 'a bit drunk' phase. There is also Pandora ingesting a small bag of drugs (MDMA) and again not feeling any effect. I'm not an expert but someone who's never used before eating an entire bag of drugs is sure to have some sort of negative effect isn't it? I don't want to be lectured on the dangers of drink and drugs but moments like this take me out of the story and that has to be a bad thing. For a far more accurate representation of my experiences with teen drinking watch The Inbetweeners and their increasingly more desperate attempts to even get their hands on alcohol of any kind.

I probably will be tuning in next week for episode three. The people behind the show have built up a load of good will from the first two series and I'm hoping the new cast will grow on me. Maybe for this to happen some of the louder characters will have to take a back seat and allow the so far background characters to come forward and shine. After the first episode Tom said to me that if Skins series one and two were American Pie, Series three was American Pie: Beta House (The Straight to DVD sixth movie that I have sadly seen). I wouldn't say it's that bad but at the moment if Skins 1 & 2 were Saved By The Bell this would be Saved By The Bell: The New Class (Before Screech came back as Assistant Principal).



Thursday, 29 January 2009

First & Free Motherfucker

Take that fictional Middle Eastern country! 50 Cent is back in the sequel to 50 Cent: Bulletproof (How did I miss that one?!) killing terrorists in quite a haphazard manner. You can play as 50 or one of the far less popular members of G-Unit (But why would you ever do that?). As you can see 50 loves swearing and handing out gunishment. Wonderful stuff.

I think there's potential to this idea. You could have Pete Doherty: Smackdown, R.Kelly: Out of the Closet (I think a puzzle based RPG would be a cracking way to go with this one) or maybe Katie Perry: I Want To Kiss A Girl where you control Katie in a fictional quest for vagina. As usual video games companies please leave your details in the comments section and I will get back to you.



Thursday, 22 January 2009

The Nightman Cometh!

I have gone on before about why It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia is one of the best shows on TV that you're not watching. The characters go to the sort of lows other more prominent shows can only dream of. To give you a flavour just read some of these episode titles - Charlie Got Molested, Charlie Wants an Abortion, The Gang Goes Jihad, Mac Bangs Dennis' Mom. Bare in mind this doesn't go into the fantasy world that South Park sometime inhabits. This is all stuff that could plausibly happen.

At the climax (LOL) of the fourth season the creators choose to follow in the footsteps of That 70s Show and Buffy with a completely ridiculous musical episode. I don't want to ruin it for you but any TV show that can get away with a line of dialogue like 'I think the rape scene went really well' is OK in my book. Check it out, you won't regret it... Probably.



Wednesday, 21 January 2009

We Are The Nation

In the wake of Barack Obama's inauguration much has been made of the contribution made by Civil Rights campaigners in helping us reach this most historic of moments. However, there is one name conspicuous by its absence. It is a name that ranks alongside that of Martin Luthor King Jnr. It is the name Farooq.

In 1997 Farooq united the black wrestlers of the WWF under the moniker of the Nation of Domination. This was in no way a storyline, grouping together helped these oppressed wrestlers strike out against the white and mexican dominated WWF hierarchy that was holding them back. We just have to look at their results. Under the careful tutelage of Farooq - Rocky Maivia became The Rock rising through the ranks to become heavyweight champion and then the multiple Oscar winning movie star we all adore today, Kamala Mustafa discovered his true vocation as an in no way stereotypical pimp, D-Lo Brown did his funny head shaking thing and Mark Henry got an old woman pregnant who then gave birth to a hand (You win some, you lose some I guess). Who knows, if Farooq hadn't brought these changes to the wrestling world then Barack might not be in the White House today?

So when you're saying your prayers tonight I ask of you one thing. Take a moment and say thanks to our boy Farooq. We couldn't have done it without you.



Tuesday, 20 January 2009

My 3D Valentine

I went to see My Bloody Valentine with low expectations. I mean it wasn't in 3D (which is the main selling point in all the adverts) and it was a remake of an 80s horror film that wasn't particularly fondly remembered. I have to say though, it was an OK movie. It didn't do anything special but it sticks to a tried and tested formula and amps everything up TO THE MAX. There is plenty of gore (kudos evil miner man for your creativity with a pick axe), some suspense (though I'm sure the mines could have been used better. see - The Descent) and some truly excellent nudity (including a woman who for almost her entire role in the movie walks around naked). The only thing that ruins it is a truly horrible ending that only works if the audience accepts that one of the scenes that happened earlier in the film just didn't happen. It's an easy problem to fix - don't show the scene just show the aftermath and let the audience fill in the gaps (probably incorrectly and therefore accomplishing the goal of the whole thing). I think maybe the filmmakers bloodlust just got the better of them. The lack of 3D is a more difficult problem. There are so many scenes that you can just tell by the way they were shot that they were intended to show off the 3D factor. It isn't too jarring it just leaves you with a sadness that you're not watching the 3D version. That being said, if you have the opportunity to watch the 3D version go and check it out now!! What are you waiting for? Valentine's Day (Which of course is the logical release date!?!)?



Monday, 19 January 2009

Fresh News

These are exciting days for fans of the hippity hop. Not only are Blazin Squad set for a return to touring (Who would've thought Friday Hill wouldn't work out?) but also Soulja Boy is preparing to return for a worldwide multimedia domination. In a live action / cartoon hybrid imaginatively titled Soulja Boy Tell'Em: The Animated Series the animated Soulja Boy clashes with maybe the only man capable of giving him a run for the money in the dancing stakes - The man voted best dancer of the 1990s - It's only flesh and blood Carlton from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. Prepare for dance-citement.

See you at the Crossroads.



Sunday, 18 January 2009

Wiped Out

Total Wipeout is the show that you wish the new Gladiators was... except for the fact there are no Gladiators in it. I should probably clear that up. The show (Saturday nights on BBC 1) involves 20 competitors being whittled down to one through a series of assault courses and challenges which in some way are similar to those on Gladiators (In particular the Eliminator).

Total Wipeout doesn't have any of the pretensions of Gladiators. Instead of having the commentator talking about how tough the challenges are and trying to sell the fact that this is a true battle between athletes you get Richard Hammond snidely taking the piss as people get absolutely battered... It's brilliant. Where Gladiators has referees and places safety at a paramount the challenges on this show seem set-up to hurt people. Where Gladiators has challenges that are tough but definitely do-able this has people attempting things that appear to be literally impossible (and getting hurt in the process). Where the contestants on Gladiators are finely tuned athletes they appear to let anyone on Total Wipeout.

The creators have basically taken all the elements that have made Japanese game shows like Takeshi's Castle such a hit and given them a more workable and Western structure. Now all we need to do is find a way to include muscle bound roid freaks chasing the pensioners and hairdressers as they attempt the courses.



Monday, 12 January 2009

Oly's Sex is Apparently on Fire

Kings of Leon - Sex On Fire. Wait till the start of the third verse, listen carefully now and you'll hear a shout out to my good friend Oly Le Feuvre. We don't know what the Kings of Leon want with him and whether it involves sex or fire or both, whatever the case may be, Oly we salute you. OLY LE FEUVRE!



Sunday, 11 January 2009

Tropical Island Paradise in Winter Shades

I call this composition 'Tropical Island Paradise in Winter Shades'. What you might not be able to tell is that it was actually REALLY cold. Not included are the numerous photos of me jumping off walls pretending to be Spider-Man.

In other news Dooby The Cat was sick yesterday. It was gross.



Friday, 9 January 2009

Shame = Tom

It is a true shame when people remove tags of themselves in pictures on Facebook. This vanity must be stopped by any means necessary. Shame on you Tom Haywood. You brought this upon yourself. Oh and speaking of vanity, is that notorious photo-hog Alex Jones? Tut tut.



Thursday, 1 January 2009


What a crazy old year that was huh? Onto a new one now and as is my way I'm going to make some predictions. Last year we didn't do so well with a grand total of 0 out of 10 predictions. I've used crystal balls, tarot cards and complex super computers and this is what WILL happen this year.

1. Beyonce will open a bird sanctuary and call it 'The Birds & The B'. It will be a huge success and be voted the most girlicious bird sanctuary on the planet.

2. After years of perfecting the recipe I will finally unleash my horse shaped (and flavoured) 'Seabiscuits' onto the market. Only a mere 5 years after the release of the film too.

3. The credit crunch will lead to all paper money becoming worthless and people will revert to bartering and trading.

4. An especially charismatic cat will be elected to an important political position.

5. Man will walk on the moon.

6. The Salvation Army will challenge the real Army to a dance-off... and WIN!

7. Eddie Murphy will win all The Oscars.

8. The musical craze of the year will be covers of Lighthouse Family songs. This will reach a stunning climax in December 2009 when a Lighthouse Family tribute band win The X-Factor.

9. Watchmen will be the best film ever and everyone will start reading comics and the world will be all the better for it. I will be given a comics themed television chat show.

10. Machines will enslave the human race having picked up the idea by watching Terminator.

Personally, I can't wait.