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i was always a big fan of Charlie Brooker's Screenwipe and Newswipe, so i thought during this lull of all of my normal shows that are in between season I'd take a gander at his newest series How TV Ruined Your Life.

The first episode, "Fear", wasn't that spectacular; for those that know what Brooker's typical MO is, it feels like a lot of recycled material with less edge and youth to it than his older stuff, and for those that don't know about him, i imagine it would feel like a lot of obvious material looked at from a limited perspective with odd meant-to-be-funny-but-not-really-funny cut scenes that have no context. The idea that TV trains you to live in fear isn't an old one, and this episode didn't do much more point it out with example after example that anyone could just figure out on their own if they took a couple steps back, and i started to wonder if maybe Brooker has jumped the shark.

The second episode, "The Lifecycle", by contrast, was a pretty great episode. Even though it too approaches a topic that a lot of people may already be aware of (how TV targets age groups), it does a good job of surveying and highlighting aspects of telly from a broader perspective in a way that *aren't* always obvious and bringing it out to the forefront. It also did a great job of doing a compare and contrast of 60s-70s telly vs modern telly that "Fear" tried to do but failed at, maybe partially because there isn't much contrast to the way that telly tries to promote fear between then and now, but there is a great deal of contrast to the way that telly targets age groups between then and now. It's one of those episodes that i would recommend to someone who wants to know what Charlie Brooker is all about, although i'd still probably point to some of his better episodes of Screenwipe or Newswipe first.

it's also a good reminder of why i don't have a real broadcast telly at home. i don't want to know that half of these shows actually exist. They're pretty ludicrous and horrible.

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girfan
Oct. 21st, 2011 07:02 am (UTC)
I really liked his limited series Dead Set, which I have on DVD. It's a "what would happen if a zombie invasion occurred and the people in the Big Brother house didn't know".


Have you seen any shows by Adam Curtis? Genius!

lifeofmendel
Oct. 21st, 2011 04:07 pm (UTC)
yeah, i remember when Dead Set was out - i didn't pay it much mind because i'm not too into the whole zombie thing and i figured it would make a bunch of references that i wouldn't understand since i've never seen a lick of Big Brother.

I don't know anything about Adam Curtis. I'll have to go look him up now. :)
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