Thursday, 8 October 2009

Charlie Brook-err?

This post is something of a call out to Telf to satisfy my curiosity and because I like arguing. Mr. Telford has on more than one occasion expressed his dislike/disdain for You Have Been Watching, a TV panel show/pseudo-panel show/postmodernist satire of TV panel shows. As a fan of the show, I was surprised to hear this as I know Telf to be a fan of the show's host, Charlie Brooker, as evidenced by several of his entries on this blog, most recently his post about another Brooker show, Gameswipe. Essentially, Telf has never explained exactly why he dislikes You Have Been Watching so much. So, I want him to do just that.

To keep things even, here's why I do like the show. For a start, I'm also a fan of Brooker, regularly reading his Guardian column and having watched bits and pieces of TV series he's done before. I find his sense of humour unashamedly honest, envelope pushing and very funny. Whilst I may not always agree 100% with his opinion, I can always respect his feelings towards anything he decides to turn his attention to, and usually end up with a wry grin or a wicked laugh at the end of any acid-tipped point.

Secondly, I like panel shows. Not all panel shows by any stretch, but when done well (Have I Got News For You and 8 Out Of 10 Cats spring to mind as two examples) they serve as a good showcase for some very funny people to riff on whatever the chosen topic might be. YHBW's format essentially uses the panel show format fairly loosely and rips it apart at the same time. If nothing else, it's used so that Brooker doesn't have to explain why he and three other people are sitting there talking about TV programmes each week.

Thirdly, the guests. Some of them I didn't care for (Frank Skinner was never funny, and now that he's trying to get back on TV, he still isn't). But most of them I found to fit in well with the show's premise. Reece Shearsmith and Richard Herring are inspired choices, and whilst Frankie Boyle is a fairly obvious pick for this kind of TV, he is regularly hilarious.

Finally, the subject matter. The mix of the familiar and mainstream with the obscure and bizarre, all roundly cut down to size by Brooker and his cronies, kept me interested for the whole series, with only a couple of the shows featured seeming like slightly bland choices for discussion.

Essentially, compared to a lot of the dross that is churned out on TV today, I found YHBW to be, if not entirely original, then a fresh and funny spin on a familiar format, elevated further by Brooker's sense of humour. In all honesty, Telf isn't the only Brooker fan who has expressed their dislike for (or at least disappointment towards) You Have Been Watching. So I'm curious as to why this is, and I hope that Telf chooses to respond.


Hanspan said...

I'm not Telf, but I didn't like it either. Largely because the other guests were never particularly funny and weren't given enough screen time to justify them even being there. And CB just didn't seem as funny as he usually does, maybe he felt pressured into having to come up with the goods alongside stand-up comics.

He'd ask them all for their opinion, then tell them they were wrong if they didn't agree with him, but just came across as obnoxious rather than humorous.

I only saw about two eps and it was never funny enough for me to want to watch any more. I didn't realise it was supposed to be a satire of panel shows, it just felt like one that didn't work.

I'm a fan of Brooker and I read his Guardian columns and I loved Screenwipe. I just didn't think this was nearly as insightful or amusing.

Lastly, imnsho 8 out of 10 cats sucks mooseballs...
and comparing it to Have I Got News For You is like saying fool's gold is comparable with the real thing.
This may be explained by the fact that, most of the time, I really don't like Jimmy Carr.

Anonymous said...

I agree that 8OO10C doesn't hold a candle to HIGNFY. Maybe I should have said only the series of Cats made after Dave Spikey left, because I couldn't stand him. But the last few series, Jimmy Carr largely takes a back seat allowing Jason Manford and Sean Lock (who in my opinion are both incredibly funny) to do steal the show.