Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Another TV Channel Is Added To Our List Of Shame

A week or so ago I railed against Turner Classic Movies for chopping up Philip Kaufman's glorious The Right Stuff, forcing me to boycott the channel (a sacrifice that irked me a few days later when they showed Bad Day At Black Rock, a movie I have yet to see). I wouldn't have thought it possible, but our list of boycotted channels just doubled, as Diva TV, which until today was pretty much a permanent fixture in our house, has made the grave error of cutting back broadcasts of Late Show With David Letterman, filling its weeknight slot with a repeat of Oprah that had been aired earlier in the day, and just cherrypicking "the best" of that week's shows and airing them on Saturday and Sunday in much the same way that Late Night With Conan O'Brien is shown on MSNBC. That show had been aired daily once upon a time, but obviously extra editions of Business Daily Featuring Suit-Clad Pro-Market Cyborg #71253 are more popular than broadcasts of a show featuring a man once described with a straight face by the Sky+ EPG as a "flame-haired mad man", a description that gave us much amusement.

You'll note that I put The Quote Marks Of Derision around "the best", as according to a message sent to a commenter on the lovely Late Show UK blog, the show has been sidelined due to its focus on guests that are not familiar to UK audiences, thus redefining "the best" as "the most likely to soothe the confused mind of the random UK viewer, who we assume to be perplexed by new experiences". While I will admit any UK viewer stumbling across a typically unfunny appearance by Chris Elliott and Gerard Mulligan would probably be so alienated by the experience that he or she would block Diva TV forever, it's patronising to think that just because Dave is interviewing one guest who is unknown to a UK audience, that they won't stick around.

Perhaps his show is being compared to UK chatshows within the Diva TV boardroom, and I understand that Late Show is completely different to our shows, such as Friday Night with Jonathan Ross and The Graham Norton Show, in that it relies on wit, charisma, and imagination to carry the day, instead of "cheeky smut" (i.e. unimaginative manipulation of English prudery to garner an "edgy" reputation), stilted banter, and obnoxious celeb chumminess. Having been exposed to the wonderfully peculiar Late Show sensibility during several trips to the US (and on occasion on UK TV when odd episodes were shown on C4 back in the '80s), having to settle for Jonathan Ross' brand of hectic, empty gobshite is a depressing prospect. Considering how he reveres Letterman, it's sad he cannot be bothered to emulate his intelligence, preferring instead to fall back on "risqué" banter instead of trying to work with his guests to try to create a unique interview experience two or three times a night.

For the record, I'm not averse to dick jokes, but if that's all you've got, then you don't deserve a show, or the adoration of fawning media types with their large collars and cocaine habits. I can only imagine Letterman is considered anathema to UK audiences because his "slick, glossy, American" shtick might be thought of as unappealing to our cynical selves, but his show is more odd than its professionalism suggests. Letterman himself might seem like an empty joke machine like Leno on first glance, but his onscreen persona is half spoof/half homage to the Johnny Carson school of presenting, taking Carson's style and giving it a post-modern twist. At times the show is practically dadaesque; recent running jokes like Old Turkey Buzzard and Len Easton, California Highway Patrol would not be out of place on Vic and Bob's insane Shooting Stars. We're pretty sure the show would have caught on eventually, but I guess we'll never know, as the show gets sidelined once more.

It's become part of our daily routine to such an extent that Canyon had a total flameout earlier, complete with profanity, and I back her 100% in that judgement. So, somehow we're going to have to find some other way to watch our hero Dave, not to mention Alan Kalter's Celebrity Interviews, Great Moments In Presidential Speeches, Fun Facts, Will It Float?, etc. etc. etc. Perhaps we'll use magic! It's worth a try. Diva TV may still be showing it, but if they're going to ignore some of the more US-slanted nights in favour of nonsense like the recent embarrassing interview with that excruciating foppish twerp Russell Brand fidgeting in his seat like a greasy tube of electrified Goth hair, we'll avoid, thanks, partially as a fuck you, and partially because it will be nice not to have to put up with the insipid and overplayed Diva TV jingle, which haunts our dreams. Even the cats meow it to us, it's on so much.

It's off our Favourites list, and as we now have a gap, I guess we can add something. It's going to be either Anime Central, FX (until it gives up on The Colbert Report and renders itself utterly useless), or Supreme Master TV. My love of whales and not dying because of the end of the world means I might plump for the latter. While I ponder my options, here is Dave interviewing his "nemesis" Richard Simmons, an interview that wouldn't fit Diva TV's criteria and would therefore not be broadcast.

Stupid TV channel.

No comments: