Black Mirror: White Christmas review

black mirror White Christmas Jon HammBlack Mirror is not, according to its creator Charlie Brooker, anti-technology. It’s concerned, rather, with technology’s potential to worsen human weaknesses. “I think that’s what Black Mirror is saying,” Brooker said in an interview to promote series two of the show. “What if the pace of change [of technology] is out of control, and we haven’t evolved to deal with it yet in the same way that we as basic apes haven’t really evolved to take responsibility for nuclear weapons?”

In White Christmas, a feature long episode that follows the previous two series, that theme is certainly visible. Utilising a format that seems particularly Christmassy, the film began with Matt Trent (Jon Hamm) and Joe Potter (Rafe Spall) – workers, seemingly, in an isolated location – sitting down to tell each other stories in a cold cabin.

Like most of Black Mirror, Matt’s story dealt with a society more connected than ever thanks to technology, and yet one in which isolation and loneliness remains, and if anything is made worse by that technology. In this world, everyone has gadgets implanted into their eyes, presumably at birth, that opens up a world of possibilities and problems.

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Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe recap and review – Episode 1 Series 2

Charlie Brooker's Weekly WipeThis is the second series of Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, a combination of all of Brooker’s previous shows that takes swipe at everything and anything in our culture but focuses mainly on television and the media.

They made some small tweaks for this series, which is the right thing to do. It’s beneficial for a show like this to try out new bits and get rid of anything that doesn’t work. The show has dropped last series’ segment where Brooker and two commentators – different each week – discussed some recent event. That section was an awkward dead weight that dragged the rest of the show down, and it’s good that the people writing Weekly Wipe are able to recognise these things.

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How Video Games Changed the World – A Review and Recap

Charlie Brooker How_Videogames_Changed_the_WorldHow Video Games Changed the World offered a very rare thing in television – an intellectual perspective and insight into video games. It’s the first television show – TV segment even – on British TV for a long time that didn’t approach the medium like it was some dangerous or baffling alien culture. It wasn’t perfect and suffered from having too many contributors and a – slightly hypocritical – desire to hold the viewer’s hand as if half the audience had no idea what a game was, but broadly it amused, informed and entertained.

The show was structured as a countdown of the most important 25 games, progressing chronologically through the last few decades. Predictably and frustratingly, the first game was Pong and the early section of the show could have been a BBC Six O’Clock News bulletin, full of basic descriptions of games and game mechanics. Does anyone really need an exact description of Mario? There are Daily Mail-reading grandmothers who know what Mario is.

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10 O’Clock Live review – Episode Eight – Channel 4

10 O'Clock Live Episode Eight10 O’Clock Live ended as the series began; patchy, awkward in places but frequently enjoyable. It lacked genuine satire and had only a few outstanding moments, but the bulk of the hour was filled with decent topical humour.

The show could be so much better than it is though, and while I hope it gets another series, I’d want it to be with the caveat that the show refocuses itself on becoming a biting, satirical comedy that plays to the host’s strengths rather than being just a weekly series of jokey conversations about the news.

Week in Review

Jimmy Carr’s monologue this week opened with some good jokes about the Prism revelations: ‘The CIA will never get their hands on my private emails because I’ve hidden them on a bomb making website in a folder I’ve labelled kiddy porn,’ and ‘Edward Snowden said ‘I don’t want to live in a world were everything I do is recorded.’ Well, a bit of good news Edward: you’ll be dead in a week.’

The GCSE syllabus, he said, was to be changed to give less focus ‘on running away to France with 15-year-old girls,’ and the UK remaining in the EU was ‘in the national interest…the national interest of Germany.’ We also got a terrible joke about a gay soldier and another stupid stereotype-based joke about video gamers.

Any new series of 10 O’Clock Live should drop these bits. Carr can be funny, but as I pointed out last week, his jokes about gays and gypsies sit uncomfortably alongside satire. We can get everything shown in these monologues from a thousand other shows; pretty much anything topical, be it Graham Norton’s show or Have I Got News for You. 10 O’Clock Live should strive to offer something different from run-off-the-mill topical one-liners built around double-meanings and stereotype.

Brooker’s Newswipe

Charlie Brooker this week spoke on the Prism scandal. There was a little introduction about the queen’s ‘impromptu tribute to the Night of the Living Dead’ with her visit to the live BBC studio, to see if it had been ‘thoroughly de-Savilled.’ He moved on to mock the TV news’ representation of the internet – ‘furtive typing, matrix style number cascades and scrolling gobbledegook’ – pointing out that they should have depicted it instead using ‘a funny cat video, a pirated movie and a mouse filled with spunk.’

There was some more stuff about dodgy surveillance, and how the US population themselves aren’t being spied on in Brooker’s view because Americans’ conversational skills are so awful ‘even the CIA couldn’t listen to that shit for five minutes without hanging up and joining Al Qaeda.’

It wasn’t great but Brooker’s bits are the best part of this show and are usually always the highlight. The section plays to his strengths as a satirist. There are really only three parts of the show that do this, making full use of the hosts’ ability; Brooker and the Newswipe, Carr and the monologue, and David Mitchell and, to an extent, the interviews. That leaves over half the show that is often scattered and rambling. Before the next series, they should sit down with Brooker and say ‘What else do you want to do each week? A pre-recorded bit? A piss-take of the week’s TV? Something from your Gameswipe show?’ Right now they are squandering the talents of one of the best satirists we have in television.

10 O'Clock Live Episode Eight

Roundtable on Prism

Brooker makes a good point about how the only mistake made with Prism was trying to keep it secret, implying that we are all happy to accept massive violations of privacy when it’s done openly. ‘The only problem they’ve made,’ he said, ‘is making it secret. If I was playing angry birds and it stopped and said ‘I’ll give you another three levels if you stop and let me get a look up your asshole’…’

‘Law abiding citizen have nothing to fear,’ Carr said, ‘but what about me? What about the rest of us?’ ‘Treason has never been less cool,’ Mitchell argued. ‘Treason has never been nerdier.’

The roundtables I think should be scrapped. Have one at the start and one to close out the episode but get rid of them in the middle. Occasionally you get a decent idea or a funny line but it’s too random whether or not they are worth watching. If Brooker’s got an idea about people voluntarily giving up their privacy then work it into a scripted segment, don’t just throw some people together and hope it comes out naturally. The discussions often ramble on and are just…sort of…maybe…funny? Like in this episode, it ended with a kind of funny mock argument between Brooker and Mitchell but it didn’t quite work. I feel like I’m constantly leaning forward with these bits, straining to see something enjoyable which is just out of focus.

Debate on free speech

The debate was good this week. It started with a strong bit that made use of the show’s set-up and talent. Mitchell tried out a Twitter joke that got someone arrested, and handed it to Carr to see if he could make it work with his monologue set-up. It was fun and interesting and it made a good point about that absurdity of the issue; people being arrested for bad jokes.

The debate focused on the issue of free speech on the internet, in the wake of a number of arrests of people who said offensive things online. Mitchell was clearly passionate about the subject and it came across and made the debate livelier. The panel was decent too, with comedian David Baddiel, Richard Bacon – who was on the receiving end of some abuse from trolls – and a social media lawyer, Rupinder Bains.

Mitchell argued convincingly that allowing offensive abuse is the price we pay for having real free speech, and the debate was nice and gentle, with guests willing to defer to each other and ask questions. I did have all the humour sucked out of it by one point but Mitchell brought it back with a joke about an OXO advert actress being targeted by people working for Bisto. The debate wrapped up, and Mitchell cued the adverts with a customary little dig: ‘Anyway, buy some of these products please.’

I like the debates. Others don’t but I think its something we don’t really get on other shows; a mix between serious debate and comedy with some satire from Mitchell. The best bits though are usually Mitchell’s intros, or when he’s really enthusiastic about something and his own opinion comes through. Which is why any new series needs to give Mitchell his own section, one similar to Brooker’s Newswipe. He excels at little satirical and intellectual rants and confining them to debate intros and awkward roundtable conversations is a waste.

10 O'Clock Live Episode Eight

Good Week/Bad Week

This section each week has been pretty feeble. Here, we had some jokes about Simon Cowell having eggs thrown at him, all of which were poor, and some funny exam answers that you probably read in a chain email in 2005. It’s just topical and really insubstantial humour. Think back to previous episodes; can you remember what the good week/bad week bits were about? Or what any of the jokes were? Now, think about the Newswipes; can you remember those? Those stick in the memory because they are good, funny satire presented in an interesting style; these roundtables are completely forgettable.

Reporter sketch

Kayvan Novak was back this week doing his American journalist bit. It was a little better than it has been in previous episodes, with little jokes about the hypocrisy of the (US) commercial media and their often embarrassing attempts to report on counter culture.

This show desperately needs new segments but I don’t think these sketches are really strong enough. Novak’s character is too broad. If there is another series, I’d hope they’d try various different things out before episode one, and then come up with a structure for the whole series: ‘Okay, we’ll do these four regular segments each week and have one different one each episode. And these are what we will pencil in for those slots.’ Something like that. This series, everything seemed a little unstructured – Novak one week, no Newswipe the next, lots of roundtables, some stand-up. I’m glad they tried new things but another series should build on that experimentation.

Closing roundtable

The show closed with a light bursting in the studio. ‘Worse case scenario we set fire to an audience member and it’s not the end of the world,’ Carr said. We got some throwaway jokes about some nonsense and then the last paper review of the series. Mitchell and Brooker drew some dicks on the newspapers. ‘Jizzing on The Times,’ Laverne said. ‘That is satire,’ Brooker replied. End of the show; end of the series.

It’s quite possible that was the last ever 10 O’Clock Live. Viewing figures for previous series’ were ‘uninspired’ and the first episode of this series opened with the lowest launch audience to date and failed to meet the 12 month slot average for Channel 4. It doesn’t bode well that for this episode the channel was willing to bump the show to 10:30 to make way for Dates. Normally, a channel schedules new shows to start after old ones end; Channel 4 apparently didn’t give a fuck about screwing the last episode of this live show in such an absurd manner.

It’ll be a shame if we never see this again, but it’s kind of understandable given that the show never reached its full potential. There were times this series where the programme was just a rambling, awkward conversation.

10 O'Clock Live Episode Eight

If it does come back – and I hope it does – I wish they’d make some major changes. I pointed out in a previous review the many different and excellent sections a show like Brooker’s Newswipe has. There is no reason 10 O’Clock Live can’t be like that. They need to come up with new, original segments. They need to give Mitchell his own section, and give Brooker more to do. Get rid of the filler, like the roundtable discussions and Carr’s monologue. Take risks. Many, many more risks. Look at the heat programmes like Brass Eye took. It’s a damning indictment of this show that nobody at the Daily Mail or the Sun hates it. If you can’t even piss off the tabloids then you need to sharpen your satire.

10 O’Clock Live should be – could be – an irreverent, edgy, risk taking live show that people watch every week because it’ll probably be a taking point the next day. Instead, too often this series it was just bland. I did enjoy watching it, but it feels like a massive missed opportunity and a waste of some very smart and funny people.

Choice lines:

  • ‘The debate over privacy: is it privacy or pryvacy? It doesn’t matter because it’s defunct.’ [That joke doesn’t really work in print]
  • ‘So let’s get this straight granddad; you took all your personal information and you gave it to a giant corporation called Apple because they said they’d keep it safe inside a cloud? A cloud? No offence granddad but you sound like a fuckwit.’
  • ‘What does that mean ‘he’s got the codes to enter your anus’? My anus doesn’t have any coding system.’
  • ‘Maybe the reason people who use computers are shy and look down a lot is because the rest of the world is so horribly judgmental.’
  • ‘The internet has been great for trolls because there are so many more servers than bridges.’

10 O’Clock Live Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, …………………………….Episode Five, Episode Six, Episode Seven

10 O’Clock Live review – Episode Seven – Channel 4

10 O'Clock Live Episode SevenEpisode seven began with David Mitchell saying he would be hosting a debate on whether we should be able to sack MPs ‘if they seem lazy, or ugly, or just generally, twats.’ Charlie Brooker indicated that he’d be talking about hidden cameras – like the ones recording his private conversations each Wednesday evening – and Jimmy Carr said he’d be speaking about the Bilderberg group, with Rich Hall making an appearance doing stand-up.

It all sounded pretty promising. Rich Hall was a new addition and in Bilderberg Carr would have something interesting to talk about, something in fact that most of the media ignores. It didn’t quite work out that way though, as Carr barely spoke about the secretive meeting and Brooker had no Newswipe at all. Lauren Laverne in fact asked Brooker ‘if anything caught his eye this week,’ – prompting the hidden camera comments – rather than, as per-usual, what his Newswipe would be about.

It really is a problem for 10’Clock Live to lose its best bit by far, but I enjoyed the episode all the same. It is quite strange though that there was no Newswipe, considering Brooker was presumably okay – appearing on the show and all – and I would have thought he writes the bulk of the bit himself. If I was to guess, I’d say it was a legal thing, cut from the script at the last minute, but that is just a guess.

Week in Review

Carr made some jokes about the MPs lobbying scandal and Tulisa Contostavlos’ cocaine arrest, before discussing the necessity of the queen’s coronation because without it ‘there’d be millions of people watching a soap opera called         street.’

The celebrations were deliberately low key ‘because the queen wants to keep her powder dry for Prince Philip’s funeral next week.’ Next, a joke about lesbians having ‘nut allergies,’ one about fines for driving offences – ‘Hundred pound fines for bad drivers? It’s a bit sexist,’ – and one about the elderly, with Carr saying ‘of course, a good way to warm up pensioners in winter is cremation.’

I was reading a Guardian article about 10 O’Clock Live this week and someone in the comments pointed out the problem with Jimmy Carr. His jokes are funny, but his controversial shtick sits uncomfortably alongside satire. Or, as the commenter wrote: ‘I think he’s often funny on the show, but he’s not needed. He’s not a satirist at all and he tends to trample all over the more thoughtful comments of the other three with his gay/rape/gypsy jokes.’ He does try and do more thoughtful material a couple of times an episode, but it’s just not his thing.

Roundtable on political sleaze

The hosts then sat down to discuss the politicians caught whoring themselves out to business. ‘I think if MPs were paid more they would not be grubbing around,’ Mitchell said, which as I pointed out last week, I completely disagree with. Carr made a nice visual gag, promoting a Fijian bottle of water, and Brooker said we should get a Kickstarter together to get an MP to ask ‘who’s the biggest, most corrupt shit in here.’

They showed a screenshot from a corrupt lord’s website where he compares credibility to virginity: once it’s gone you never get it back. This is what I’d like to see more of from 10 O’Clock Live – original research. Not to make the obvious Daily Show comparison, but that show is really good at this type of thing. As is, there’s too much content on 10 O’Clock Live that we’ve already seen online.

Rich Hall’s letter from America

This was good. They’ve found a new bit that works, I think. I’m not a big fan of Rich Hall, but I enjoyed it, and there was some actual satirical content. At best, it could be 10 O’Clock Live’s version of the Doug Stanhope bits on Brooker’s Newswipe (only not as good, because Hall is no Stanhope). If they changed it up, using different comedians each week, it would be even better, assuming they got the right people.

Hall said the ‘reason there isn’t a Daily Show in the UK is that there isn’t enough daily news… when I left Hugh Grant is pissed off and when I get back Hugh Grant is still pissed of.’ Outsiders can often have a fresh perspective on a country, and it’s good to see it here. This type of humour from a foreigner is actually kind of flattering though, sort of compliments wrapped up in gentle teasing. It’s like when British people talk about how we’re all miserable, cynical sods – it’s a kind of false criticism.

Hall went on to do some good stuff about terrorism, gun culture in the US, and advertising. It was a welcome addition to the show, and I’m glad they are doing new things.

10 O'Clock Live Episode SevenGood Week/Bad Week roundtable

They spoke about Tulisa’s cocaine arrest, with Laverne saying ‘for legal reasons we can’t speculate on whether she’s guilty or not, but for a bit of context, David, as our pop music expert, can you give us a little bit of background?’

Mitchell decided to decline the debate and instead went off on an extended joke about the tricky legality of the discussion which is pretty funny. ‘All I really know about her is that we mustn’t speculate about her guilt or innocence. I am very much afraid that there are people at home now who are speculating as to her guilt or innocence. And those people are terrible people who are in contempt of court.’

(I wonder if that was the reason Brooker had no bit this week – because he spoke about Tulisa, and it had to be cut, hence Mitchell’s rant. Watch it back and you can see Brooker giggling, and Laverne closing by saying ‘and that’s that.’ This is pure speculation though, and I think I remember someone saying we’re not supposed to do that).

The badger cull is the next talking point, with Brooker getting some good lines in. ‘It’s a very high contrast animal. It’s easy to aim at from a distance,’ he said, adding that the cull isn’t actually a good thing for cows because they’re ‘still going to get a bolt in the forehead by a guy who’s probably listening to the new Daft Punk album on his iPod.’ They also showed a clip from a Brain May song protesting the cull.

Debate on recalling MPs

Mitchell introduced the debate with a great bit on Patrick Mercer, the MP in the lobbying scandal. The discussion was on whether or not people should be able to recall MPs, by which Mitchell didn’t mean ‘remembering who the hell they are but sacking them.’

Diane Abbott, the very annoying Labour and Hackney MP was against and Old Etonian Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith was in favour, a match of opinions and people so incongruous Mitchell wondered if he’d mixed his cards up.

It was an enjoyable discussion this week. Goldsmith made a lot of sense, which is annoying because he’s another son of a millionaire, Eton educated politician and I feel I should hate him on principle. Abbott’s arguments on the other seemed to be basically arguments against democracy. She has a very elitist view that supports reinforcing concentrated power. It’s the view of someone with a massive ego: ‘I must be allowed to have my brave and noble opinions without being voted out by my constituents, who aren’t as smart as me, bless them.’

Goldsmith argued against the idea that the system would be abused saying that ‘if you’re a half-way decent MP you should have built up enough political capital to survive a recall,’ and that there is not one example in the world of a recall later labelled vexatious.

It was interesting and well controlled by Mitchell. Some people really don’t like these bits but I enjoy them when Mitchell handles them properly, and he did here, before throwing to the adverts: ‘I present to you some products you can buy.’

10 O'Clock Live Episode SevenClosing roundtable

The episode closed with a discussion on an absurd exam question, before we got the tiny bit about the Bilderberg meetings we were promised at the start. There’s a delegate there with the name Mustafa Koc – Chairman of Koc Holding. Mitchell said this was all part of the plan: ‘We get distracted from the fact that they run the world with their hilarious names.’

I wish they’d done a larger bit on Bilderberg. I saw someone online suggest that maybe there was no Brooker bit this week because he didn’t have any decent ideas, but surely he could come up with something about a secret meeting of the world’s most powerful people being held outside London while the media barely covers it (although, to be fair, since the meeting didn’t start till Thursday, it might have been difficult to do much more than a little bit).

Episode seven was the second last in the series. Next week’s episode is on at 10:30, and with the previous week containing further exposure of corruption in parliament, the Bilderberg meeting, and The Guardian’s revelations about mass spying by intelligence agencies and companies, it has the potential to end the series on a high.

Choice lines:

  • ‘We meet here for these private meetings…that guy there, behind that machine, could have a Smartphone in his pocket.’                                                                    ‘None of the people at the other tables seem to talk as much.’
  • ‘No one knows what’s on the agenda [at Bilderberg] but I imagine pretty high up is ‘what the fuck are we doing in Watford.’’
  • ‘I heard that Hampstead Heath was a hotbed of anonymous gay encounters. So I did a little bit of investigating, went up there, and you know what? Inconclusive; I’ve got to go back.’
  • ‘‘I have an assault rifle because I’m an avid hunter.’ Really? How many deer are coming at you?’
  • ‘People know the difference between what they see on screen and real life. Really? Then why is there advertising? You people will go out and buy insurance because a meerkat told you to do it.’
  • ‘Patrick Mercer loves Fiji. The only problem is that he’s not MP for Fiji he’s MP for Newark. But maybe in Fijian politics there is a massive arsehole who’s forever going on about the hopes and dreams of the people of Newark. But Mercer has decided that his Fijian obsession has so consumed him that he’s now too shit a human being to be a member of the Conservative Party. Wow. I think that puts him in the category of people who Amnesty International says are allowed to be tortured.’
  • ‘Do they do that in maths exams? ‘If it takes Jim 58 tugs to achieve orgasm and it takes Tommy 26 and they both set of at three how long will Tony be waiting on his knees patiently with his mouth open?’’

10 O’Clock Live Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, …………………………….Episode Five, Episode Six, Episode Eight

10 O’Clock Live review – Episode Six – Channel 4

10 O'Clock Live Episode SixEpisode Six opens with a summery of what’s coming up in the show: Charlie Brooker is doing a bit on hate preachers, David Mitchell is hosting a debate about equality for women, and Jimmy Carr is talking about, er, a kettle that looks like Hitler. But first…

Week in Review

Carr this week told us he’s nostalgic for the good old days when all preachers wanted to do was fiddle with our kids, and then made some much better jokes about the debate over selling arms to Syrian rebels, or ‘operation petrol on barbeque.’ If we send them arms now, he says, then later we’ll have to send them legs and wheelchairs.

There weren’t too many good jokes, but I did like the line about increased deaths at weekends in hospitals: ‘My Nan died…because there weren’t enough staff on duty; there was no one around to stop me finishing her off with a pillow.’

Brooker’s Newswipe

A week after the attack in Woolwich, Brooker started his Newswipe criticising the media for giving hate preachers and extremists the oxygen of publicity. Because of how harrowing the footage of the attacks were, the news ‘took the sensitive decision to only show this footage a mere 50,000 times a day, in slow motion, on a loop, 24-7, for 3 days.’

There was a little bit about Islamic self-promoter Anjem Choudary, whose representation of British Muslims is like ‘Fred West representing the British patio industry.’ We can’t ban him from TV though, because he loves the telly ban.

It was a little light on laughs this bit, but better was the mockery of the English Defence League’s idiocy. ‘As an English man, I don’t feel very defended by the English Defence League,’ Brooker said, wishing they would defend instead English values like kindness, which lead into a funny bit where thugs chanted aggressively sweet songs: ‘I’m going to shake, I’m going to shake, I’m going to shake your fucking hand. I’m going to learn about your culture, I’m going to shake your fucking hand.’

I usually always like the Newswipe, and I did this week, but I feel like it could have done more. Brooker could build a whole show about the attacks in Woolwich and the various reactions to it. Instead we get a short 10 minute bit. And what did the rest of the show discuss? Little bits and pieces from the news that will disappear in a few days. I’d like the show to take more risks; to really dig into weighty issues and rip them apart. Right now too much of the show is like an 8 Out of 10 Cats discussion of the news; light and jokey but without much intellectual satire.

Roundtable on Politicians

The hosts next sat down to discuss David Cameron’s holiday break. The discussion doesn’t really go anywhere, and it’s followed by a bit showing holiday photos of each of the hosts on the beach.

It’s not really satire; it’s just discussion with one-liners. That’s okay for a topical comedy show, but this is a satire show, right? Or maybe I’ve got it wrong all along and it is just a topical comedy show. I hope not though, because in Brooker and Mitchell they’ve got two great satirists and they have an hour of live prime-time TV each week. It’s a waste just to lightly discuss the news.

There was a bit about MPs second jobs that was a little better. Brooker says he’s okay with it, ‘as long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to do fuck all the rest of the time.’ Mitchell proposes that we pay MPs more money, and the general consensus is that it’s a good idea. I’ve always fucking hated that idea though. MPs get paid £66,000 a year. That puts them in the top 10% of earners in the country (probably top five actually, but it’s complicated). For more than 90% of people an MPs salary is a huge pay rise; if our democracy can’t find MPs from 90% of the country’s population then our democracy is flawed, not MPs remuneration.

Anyway. They moved on and discussed Boris Johnson’s comments that £250,000 a year in extra income is chicken feed, and Lauren Laverne said ‘You can’t stay cross at Boris, because he keeps doing adorable shit.’ I could have used another Brooker rant about Johnson’s shield of buffoonery at this point.

10 O'Clock Live Episode Six

Debate on Women and equality

Mitchell opened the debate with a funny summery of sexist attitudes and some sarcastic lines about how women are completely equal to men now. With him to debate the issue were three woman ‘and no men. But at the end I’ll decide so it’s like society.’

Feminist Laurie Penny, non-feminist Angela Epstein and Christine Hamilton make up the panel. The debate wasn’t that well structured, and became a discussion largely on feminism rather than the role of women in society. It was interesting though, just to see Penny and Epstein passive-aggressively throw daggers at each other. They did that awkward thing where two people try to be all civil and friendly while attacking each other.

The rest of the debate wasn’t great though, and Mitchell soon closed it down and cut to some ‘adverts from the patriarchy.’

Sally Bercow memorial guide to internet etiquette

A new bit this week, which I was glad to see. I’d rather it was Brooker or Mitchell getting some more air time, but I’ll take anything different over the increasingly unwelcome roundtables.

It was okay; basically a more structured version of the opening monologue. He advised people not to use Twitter to play ‘spot the paedophile,’ made a terrible joke about Jimmy Saville, and warned that there’s no point reading YouTube comments unless you want to see ‘how much your mom loves sucking dick.’ You should always use an accurate photo on Grindr, he said, so some poor guy doesn’t ‘go all the way to Swindon to give you a handjob with my eyes closed – with his eyes closed.’

Good Week/Bad Week Roundtable

A quick discussion about Bercow’s idiotic libel defence was followed by a clip of a former Australian prime minister downing a beer, and an attempt to get Brooker to comment on a clip of a politician fucking up a speech received a mock-angry reply: ‘I don’t think that’s fair. You’ve cherry picked one clip. What do you want me to do; call him a stupid foreign idiot?’

10 O'Clock Live Episode Six

Closing Roundtable

They closed the show discussing Ed Balls, and Mitchell went on a nice little rant about how false politicians are. That’s how 10 O’Clock Live seems to work; Laverne gives a prompt, and then we hope someone comes up with a funny and satirical reply. But wouldn’t it be better to sit Mitchell down in a room before the show and say: ‘Ed Balls said this thing. Write five minutes of the outstanding satire you are clearly capable of and then later we’ll film you saying it straight to camera. Maybe we’ll add some animation, or something.’

I’m not a TV writer, so my animation idea is probably shit, but surely the hosts can come up with something innovative and worthwhile between them? And if not, just put Mitchell or Brooker in front of a camera to do some scripted satire. I’d much prefer that than hoping something worthwhile will stumble out of the roundtable discussions.

The episode ended with a review of tomorrow’s newspapers, and Brooker revealing he’d drawn a penis on an illustration of a dinosaur. ‘It’s not the first Prehistoric predator we’ve seen on the front pages of the papers recently,’ said Carr, which is a pretty good joke to come up with off the cuff, but not one that can cover for the lack of insightful, scripted satire on the show.

Choice lines:

  • ‘I quite like sitting in the sun…It’s not an interesting anecdote, but it reveals a level of normality…I also eat meals…this water? I need it to live.’
  • ‘And if we can’t trust the views on feminism of a man who’s unable to enter the United States in case he’s arrested for rape, who can we trust.’
  • ‘I think Wayne Rooney has quite an ugly face; I’m sorry.’
  • ‘Do you enjoy finding out about what politicians get up to in their spare time?’                                                                                                                                ‘I don’t, no. I resent their attempts to present themselves as normal human beings.’
  • ‘I’m a likable guy, I’m not tremendously conceited about my singing voice, you might want to make me in charge of all the country’s finances.’

10 O’Clock Live Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, …………………………….Episode Five, Episode Seven, Episode Eight

10 O’Clock Live review – Episode Five – Channel 4

10 O'Clock LiveSatire thrives when things in our society go wrong, and satire of the media is particularly good in these circumstances, because the media in these circumstances tend to go fucking insane. It’s a shame then that 10 O’Clock Live decided to forgo any discussion about the attack that took place in Woolwich around eight hours before the show broadcast. I imaging most people watching were looking forward to the episode specifically for this reason.

The argument against talking about the attack is that it would be in bad taste. But this is a satire show; its job is in part to discuss uncomfortable things. And it’s not automatically in bad taste to make jokes around such events; it all depends on the context. Take, for instance, this outstanding clip from Chris Morris – of Brass Eye fame – in which his newsreader character conducts an interview supposedly on 9/11 with a journalist in New York. It’s hilarious, and mocks the laziness of journalists. Jokes, and especially satire, about horrendous events can be legitimate if done right.

Of course, it could be that they just didn’t have the time to put something together, but as the programme is live and covers current events it needs to be able to talk about something that happens on the day. The Daily Show in the US wouldn’t ignore a developing story. Neither would a newspaper or a current affairs show like Newsnight. 10 O’Clock Live shouldn’t ignore one either.

But they did, and so episode five opened with a George Michael gag instead, which we probably heard the last time George Michael crashed his car. I liked this week’s episode, especially two outstanding straight-to-camera bits from Charlie Brooker and David Mitchell, but I feel that they missed an opportunity.

Week in Review

Jimmy Carr made some decent jokes about the swivel-eyed loons of the Conservative Party and followed it with a bit about Google’s corporate tax avoidance, prefaced with a coughed acknowledgment of his own tax avoidance. Carr really can’t do these jokes. It is not at all credible to have someone who avoided tax for years satirising someone else avoiding tax. They need to keep him away from this subject if the show is going to keep its integrity.

Then we got some jokes about how Scotland is full of tramps and heart disease. As I said in my first review of the show, this is incredibly lazy comedy. A story about Scotland? Heart disease. Liverpool? Thieves. Wales? Sheep shaggers. Ireland? Potatoes (and Carr actually makes this joke later in the show). These are the first things that come to mind when trying to make a joke about a city or a country and it so weak to go straight to that completely drained well.

Likewise, we get a joke about people who play video games being lonely virgins which is equally overused and equally as idiotic (the average age of people who play video games is 37). The review did end though with a decent grammatical joke about ‘fewer and fewer’ teachers.

Brooker’s Newswipe

It would have been great to have Charlie Brooker rip apart the news coverage of the attack in Woolwich, and the media’s masturbatory excitement as they began to realise it might be a terrorist attack, but they decided not to cover the story. We’ll probably get something next week at least.

The Newswipe was good this episode all the same, discussing Nigel Farage’s trip to Scotland, and showing a clip of a ‘spluttering major in a UK gold sitcom’ on the BBC defending UKIP and its leader. Brooker also mocked the Tories stance on gay marriage, reading from the ‘aggressive homosexual agenda’ which included lesbian wind farms and Tom Daley on a £10 note, and then showed a clip of Jeremy Irons saying fathers will marry their sons next, which won’t be stopped by incest laws because it’s not incest. Brooker disagreed though, saying it was incest, ‘but only in three ways: morally, legally and actually.’ The Newswipe ended with a great rant from Brooker about the evils of Google, which you can find below.

10 O'Clock Live Episode Five

Roundtable with Gyles Brandreth

They added someone to the roundtable again, and this week it was former MP and comedian Gyles Brandreth. I still think there are too many people around the table but it is better than just another discussion between the four hosts. They talked about the Tories stance on gay marriage and Gyles let us know what MPs really think of their constituents: they have contempt for them.

The gay marriage discussion was a bit lightweight, but they moved on to a better bit where they picked apart the various Conservatives trying to wrestle the PM crown from David Cameron. David Mitchell says Boris Johnson is like a mascot of a sports team with a cartoon name – ‘we shouldn’t make him a centre forward’ – and then they showed a clip of journalist Max Keiser calling George Osborne a liar over and over again, before Gyles defended the chancellor as a ‘wonderful human being.’ ‘Is he?’ someone asked. He’s not, no; he’s a cunt.

Scottish independence sketch and Good Week/Bad Week roundtable

A light blew out in the studio, leaving Lauren Laverne struggling with the autocue, with the rest of the hosts getting a huge kick out of it. It was quite funny to see that because usually when something goes wrong on a live show everyone panics, but these guys are all comedians so they thrived in it.

To cover, they cut to a sketch on Scottish independence, from Facejacker’s Kayvan Novak, playing an American reporter. It was okay. Other satire shows – The Colbert Report, say, or Brass Eye, – uses these types of character interviews to mock the people they are interviewing, or to ridicule ideas by bouncing their ridiculous character of the guest. This sketch was really just ‘look at this funny character!’ They could definitely be doing more with it.

Next they had a debate about Google’s tax, with Carr saying he’s not sure if he’s the ‘most qualified or the least qualified’ to talk about it. Most qualified, Jimmy; least credible. There was a nice little bit from Brooker bemoaning the ‘fun’ atmosphere at companies like Google, saying that ‘work is supposed to be shit and you make your own fun.’

Debate on gay marriage

Mitchell opened the debate this week with an outstanding, insightful excoriation of David Cameron, New Labour and cynical politicking, before introducing his three guests: journalist Milo Yiannopoulos, businessman Ivan Massow, and Amy Lame, who is a number of things according to Wikipedia, but I normally see her on shows like this, so I’m going with TV person.

It was an okay debate, without much shouting. At one point, Mitchell summarised a point about churches maybe being forced to marry gay couples, and moved the debate on. I’d rather have heard more about that point actually, but I’m glad he’s willing to take hold of the debate and keep things controlled. He also introduced some good talking points, like the hypocrisy of libertarian conservatives on gay marriage. ‘And now some adverts,’ Mitchell said, ending the debate after some reasonably interesting discussion. I like his commitment to mocking the commercial break each week.

10 O'Clock Live Episode Five Lauren

Closing roundtable

Laverne closed out the show with a final roundtable, discussing David Beckham’s retirement from football. ‘Bowed out on a high,’ she said. ‘Are you saying he’s on drugs?’ Mitchell asked. Carr said Beckham shouldn’t have retired, and instead should have just gone ‘in goal for a bit, get your puff pack…you don’t need to go home.’

Laverne then went to Booker to discuss the new Xbox One launch. Brooker could do a whole fantastic bit on this. He clearly loves games and there is so much to take the piss out of. I really wished they’d cut down on the debates and play to the hosts’ strengths more. ‘I’m tying to shut out the fact that there is a world out there with other people in it,’ Booker said about the console’s new social functions. And then Laverne ended the show as they ran out of time.

10 O’Clock Live really squandered an opportunity this week. A live satire show, broadcast just hours after a terrorist attack; this could have been the episode that made the series, which had newspapers talking about the worth of the show. I mean, they might have fucked it up, but it’s worth the risk surely. They could have satirised and criticised the media and discussed the nature of the attack – is it, for instance, in anyway helpful to label it a ‘Terrorist Attack!’ and make it a huge national event? There are also lots of uncomfortable facts about the attacks that the show could have addressed.

Even if they’d just done a little bit it would be worthwhile tuning in. It was a good episode, and maybe it’s more responsible to wait till next week to cover the events in Woolwich, and maybe the attack will lead the news all the way till next Wednesday and give them time to prepare, but I feel like this was the opportunity for the show to realise its potential, and it missed it.

Choice lines:

  • Nigel Farage got ‘the kind of hospitable welcome only a reincarnated Jimmy Saville might receive.’
  • ‘Margaret Thatcher; give me a break.’                                                                      ‘She has now given you a break.’
  • ‘Charlie, do you think crying makes him less or more of a man?’                            ‘Less, but only in strict physical terms; he’s cried a little bit of fluid. There’s less of him.’ ‘So you think that drinking would make him more than a man?’ ‘Yes… Defecation: less of a man.’
  • ‘What could possibly be evil about Google? They are only a huge multinational, controlling our access to information while collecting data about who we are, what we buy, what our emails say, who we’re friends with, who we sleep with, who we really want to sleep with, our hopes, our fears, our innermost dreams, and what you – yes you! – masturbated to at precisely 2:13AM last Sunday. The cynical fuckers even know were we live because they’ve sent ominous little buggers with giant cameras on top down ever road in the land to take photos of our front doors like a mad blackmailer would. Not that cameras on wheels are enough for Google, no. They recently shat out a load of terrifying promos for the eerie new Google Glass system which means you can now put Google on YOUR FACE and give them access to everything you see and hear so even your firstborn’s first fucking memory is going to be a parent looming over them with a machine on their face monitoring their every move. You know, that baby should count itself lucky Google Glass doesn’t automatically push a cookie through its eye socket directly into its little infant brain so Google can harvest its first impressions of the world and feed them into its fucking database.Having said that; Google is better than Bing.’

[Typed that whole fucking thing out, just for you dear reader, for you and for future historians looking for information about the inevitable Google Apocalypse. Also typed out, below, another whole fucking thing, just for you dear reader, and because it’s a perfect, hilarious summery of modern politics and is everything I wish 10 O’Clock Live could become, for 60 minutes rather than in small, short bursts.]

  • ‘When David Cameron became leader of the Conservative Party he thought it was very important for him to try and seem nice. ‘How should I do this?’ he thought. ‘Abolish tuition fees? Increase the welfare budget? Keep the libraries open? But those wouldn’t just be seeming nice, he realised, they’d involve actually being nice… ‘He wanted to be sincere, so he stared into the depths of his soul and found several thousand fathoms down in the inky gloom, a tiny glimmer of light. ‘I don’t hate the gays!’ he realised with a shock. ‘I really don’t. I’ve tried but it turns out I don’t. Well that’ll do. I’ll make the Tories pro gay marriage. It’ll seem so incongruous and modern it’ll completely scramble everyone’s preconceptions about us. It’ll be like the Green Party proposing tax breaks to foie gras importers, or the Lib Dems getting into power. While we are pro gay marriage, all our policies of burning pensioners to help heat Google’s offices and making blind benefit claimants prove it by throwing darts at them and taking away their welfare when they flinch, will be ignored. This is the cleverest political idea since Tony Blair banned fox hunting instead of having socialism. But enough of my rigorously impartial summary of the situation.’

10 O’Clock Live Reviews: Episode One, Episode Two, Episode Three, Episode Four, …………………………….Episode Six, Episode Seven, Episode Eight