The Front

Six of the worst


Boxed in

If TV reflects the state of the nation, then the nation is in bad Shape. Words: John Denis McGonagle

elevision holds the nation in a vice like grip. l’erusing the winter

terrestrial TV schedules. it would be easy to come to the conclusion

that we live in a country obsessed with plumbing the lows and worshipping the inane. Take. for example. the recent abomination ol l'l‘\”s Britain 's~ .S'mit'st. 'l'he tawdry premise of the show was. unremarkably. to discover the sexiest people in Britain. What was more remarkable was that the contestants were uniformly hideous. This oversight lent the show an unintentional hilarity for around ten seconds. until its sordid and slea/y nature led to disgust.

Then came the drastic I'm a ('v/c/iritv. (iv! me ()111 (ill/ere. Presumably the producers realised at the last moment that no proper celebrities would want to be involved. Viewers were treated instead to the undignilied spectacle ol‘ l)-list wretches scrambling over each other in a vain attempt to resuscitate the putrel‘ying corpses of their careers.

The show represented the nadir ol the reality 'l‘\" phenomenon. which permits lazy broadcasters to churn out innumerable shows adhering slavisth to the templates of Big Brother and/or Pop Idol. lieaturing ‘real' people at work. home or in a studio environment as they seek lame. The public is being duped into thinking that it‘s exercising control over the destiny ol' the 'stars‘ of these programmes. where in reality they are doing nothing more than making money for the producers ol’ the shows by calling premium-rate phone lines. ('(‘lcbritv Big Brother 2 is a yet l‘uither insult.

()utwith reality TV. television schedules are now lull oi soap operas. Millions ol‘ people nationwide can recite a litany of casts and spirit-crushing storylines. '

Such people are obviously far from e unintelligent. It’s just that television has preOCCUPIed provided them with a warped view oi what

is important. More often that not. the _ characters in soap operas behave immorally Squanderlng or are stuck in depressing ruts. Surely there could be more enjoyable forms of

escapism‘.’ Why should we be subjected to fee on

such repetitive drudgery when we could be '

watching something lil'e-al‘lirming instead'.’ mln

Imagine the positive el‘l’ect that such an bIOCKDUSterS influential medium as television could exert upon the country if harnessed as an educational l’orce. I'm not talking about ()pen l'niversity physics classes presented by wide-eyed madmen staring through thickets ol' l'acial hair at 3am. I'm talking about solid. informative programming at sensible times. the likes of which the BB(' used to be famous l'or throughout the world.

l'nl'onunately the BB(' is now preoccupied with squandering hel'ty chunks ol‘ the licence lice in return for the dubious privilege oi broadcasting mindless blockbusters such as Harry Potter um/ I/It’ l’lii/oso/i/it'i“.s Stone. the cornerstone of an alleged L'lllm (‘hristmas package. ('hannel 4. despite a drop in quality in recent years. provides proof that there is still room l‘or innovative programming on terrestrial 'l'V.

ll‘ television is genuinely rellecting our society. then we should be worried indeed. Let’s hope that the new regulatory body ()l‘com stops the rot before the [K reaps the reward ol sowing the TV schedules thick with titillation. violence. stupidity and indolcnce.

Disagree? react@| 10 if". l\.’,. il‘.”

'-'u thing/W

1 The Streets

Music Is it hip hop? Is it garage? Whatever, Mike Skinner has created the seminal sound of 2002. See feature, page 14. Barrow/and, Glasgow.

2 The Quiet American

Film He's made some duff movies in his time, but Michael Caine has come up trumps with this Graham Greene adaptation. See feature and review, pages 12 and 21. General release.

3 Leonardo da Vinci

Art The Divine and the Grotesque marks a fine opening for HRH‘s new gallery space. See feature, page 16. Queen’s Gallery, Edinburgh.

4 David Holmes

Music DJ. soundtracker and dancefloor ballistics expert, the Holmes boy heads this live night with his Free Association. If you can't go. check out the album of the same name. See review. page 109. QMU, Glasgow/ 13 Amp.

5 The Lord of the Rings Video/DVD Serving as a nice warm-up for The Two Towers. this Tolkien extravaganza of the first film comes with docs. commentaries. a map and storyboards. Leave a long weekend free. See review. page 112. Entertainment.

6 Pressure

Clubs How many fourth birthday parties do you know that have guests such as Pete Tong. Jon Carter and Slam? That‘s right. just this one. Arches, Glasgow.

7 Richard Alston Dance Company

Dance Two SDT members have joined up with Richard Alston’s renowned company, as they prepare to show off three works. See preview. page 55. Festival Theatre, Edinburgh.

8 Salman Rushdie

Books He‘s had some tough times for sure, but Rushdie‘s writing hasn’t been hampered by fundamentalist threats. as his excellent retrospective of essays proves. See review, page 104. Jonathan Cape.

9 8 Women

Film As weird a musical as you‘d expect from the maker of Sitcom Francois Ozon, starring Catherine Deneuve, Emmanuelle Beart and Isabelle Huppert. See preview and review. pages 20 and 22. Selected release.

1 0 Ian Rankin’s Evil Thoughts

TV Taking a breather from throwing Rebus in the path of dastardly deeds, his creator entertainingly muses over the nature of ‘evil'. See review. page 113. Channel 4.