John Walker's Electronic House

Television Television Television

by on Jul.01, 2008, under Television

The new TV comes piling in, some for the summer season, some leaking for next season.

Mark Loves Sharon – ten (Aus)

Mocumentaries are increasingly relevent, as everything on television takes on characteristics of the documentary in some attempt at validity. From the lowest lows of Big Brother, to David Attenborough’s Life In Cold Blood having a ten minute behind-the-scenes doc tagged on the end of each episode, we’re increasingly seeing the cameras filming the cameras. There will presumably come a time when the mocku will become over-saturated, inevitably resulting in a behind-the-scenes look at how their made, when someone will create a spoof behind-the-scenes doc of the moc… In the meantime, they’re few and far between, and those that exist tend to be superb. As is the case here.

Mark Wary is an Australian sporting champion (the programme brilliantly doesn’t nail done in what sport or sports, but keeps implying success in an increasing number of fields) who has become more famous for his behaviour out of the field/ring/stadium. He lives in his giant house with his girlfriend Karen Sharon, who likes to kid herself that she stays with him despite his money and success, and yet for someone reason sticks around despite his constant philandering. His manager, Jerry Dabblestein, provides the comic foil, the straight man in Mark’s life, trying to micromanage his every moment, but spending the majority of his time in damage control for the last couple of incidents. Then there’s Sledge and Tomo, two childhood friends who moved in when he became successful.

It’s odd that it’s the only mocu I can think of spoofing the current spate of celebrity fly-on-the-walls. Perhaps it’s because, as a genre, it’s already so deeply salf-parodying that people don’t feel the need. And if anything, Mark Loves Sharon doesn’t even tiptoe toward going as low as many of the for-real versions. Keeping Up With The Kardashians, or Denise Richards: It’s Complicated, are hard to out do. Instead it focuses on a Ricky Gervais-style of naturalistic conversation and hopelessness. Mark’s constant enthusiasm, and his misplaced confidence that his inept lying will ever work, is great. But best is Jerry’s imprisonment in this vapid world. Like the best creations in this genre you feel sympathy for his horrible job, while at the same time having that niggling feeling he deserves it. His being the smartest of the group isn’t the highest compliment, and during his interviews to camera he reveals that he’s about as redundant as the rest. My favourite example of this was the following, delivered as if a profound observation:

First telephone conversation ever: Mr Watson, come here, I want to see you. Alexander Graham Bell. I don’t think he realised at the time the potential impact phones would have. Especially when they became mobile. Of course nowadays he could simple say, “Mr Watson, stay where you are, I’m sending you a photo. Of my genitalia.”

Wipeout – ABC

Everything about this programme is wrong. It’s the world’s largest assault course! It’s entirely based on those Japanese gameshows we see clips where people hurt themselves on camera for our entertainment. It appears to deliberately pick people incapable of walking in a line, let alone bouncing their way across building-high rubber balls. And it has two campish commentators whose job is to insult everyone. Flipping heck, I enjoyed it.

It’s not worth describing when you can watch it for yourself, so see below:

It turns out you can never get bored of watching people slam their faces into padded platforms before falling fifteen feet into water. This programme is going to be on until someone dies, and then it will never be spoken of again. Until then, I’m going to gleefully enjoy it and not care what type of person this makes me. Best commentary line so far: “She stops before this obstacle to gather her thought.”

Black Gold – Tru TV

If you’re going to rip something off, go the whole way. Black Gold is the oil well drilling copy of the mighty Deadliest Catch. And there’s not one aspect of the Discovery show that isn’t mimicked. There’s an opening theme that sounds like a tribute to DC’s Jovi song, there’s three rival rigs competing to be the first to reach oil, each with its own camera crew. There’s danger, death and people getting fired. Well, actually, there’s one thing they don’t have: Mike Rowe doing the narration. And it’s a big loss, on what’s otherwise a stupifyingly watchable show.

Leverage – TNT

A pilot that promises a fantastic amount. It’s Ocean’s 5, basically. A reluctant team of master thieves teaming up for only one job (fnarr), with double, triple, and quadruple crossing going on between them and their marks. It crams so much into 57 minutes, and is constantly enormous fun. FX tried a thieving show last year with, well, Thief. It was a great concept, but focused on just one job after the first episode, and moved far too slowly. Andre Braugher was of course incredible in it, but it never really found a groove. 2006’s Smith was closer to Leverage, but after a promising pilot descended into drivel. I really hope Leverage can keep up the level it sets here, because its pilot is great. Presumably it will receive an editing to get it down to 42 minutes, or perhaps bump it up to 63.

Meebox – BBC3

If you’ve been following Adam Buxton’s YouTube posts the last couple of years, you’ll probably be excited to see the pilot of the TV version. And then be disappointed to find out the result is a very muddled affair. Added to the clips that worked the best, like the Songs Of Praise subtitles and the frightening Sausages song, are some really awkward sketches that in no way resemble the things people post on online video sites, which is surely the point of the programme? If he couldn’t think of enough clips for a half hour pilot, it seems extremely dubious that there’s a series in this. Which is a huge shame. Especially as he couldn’t get clearance for some of the better stuff, like You Say We Pay.

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