14 May 2008

"i dunno, maybe we should have let them win the war after all," part 1205

My raging case of Anglophilia is pretty well known, I think; it is a disease for which I have found no cure, a disease I often fear is terminal. When a person is sat on a tube platform at four in the morning, staring at rats and thinking how happy she is to be in London, there's really no hope for her. (I often wonder how the English, being the parents of the language, can so horribly mangle the English language and its grammatical rules. And I also wonder why I pepper my own natural south of the mason-dixon dialect with other countries' shitty slang.) And while I certainly understand that my Anglophilia causes me to have blinders about some things - are sausage rolls really the ne plus ultra of breakfast foods? Actually, yes, yes they are - there are some ways in which it is QUITE CLEAR that the land of Her Majesty the Queen has it all over us poor American slobs.

Okay, one way. Well, two, but Magners is actually Irish and thus doesn't count.

That way? Television.

I'm sorry, but it's true. British TV wipes the floor with American TV, almost all the time. Sure, America's capable of producing some shows that England couldn't imagine in their most fervent nerdy wet dreams - The X-Files, for example, could never have worked over in England. They aren't nearly paranoid enough about their government (I mean, CCTV! And NO ONE questions this?? People, rise up!) to relate to Mulder, and also I don't think the British Parliament is so loose-fisted with their security budgets as we are - how else do we explain Scully's season 4-and-later wardrobe? Plus, no offense, England, but I've seen your iconic sci-fi show, and apart from the charming and hot Scottish fellow playing the titular character, it kinda blows.

Also, England could never produce something like Gossip Girl, because all of their soap operas are about really ugly, middle-class, downtrodden people. I don't get that. If I wanted to see ugly people's ugly problems, I'd go outside and make friends. No! I want to see pretty people's glamorous problems! From the safety and comfort of my couch!

But apart from sci-fi metaphors of our search for God in a godless world, and shows about Blair Waldorf being awesome, I have to say that England tends to do it just a bit better than us. Here are three examples, from three different genres, that wipe the floor with any sort of American counterparts:

Surreal Comedies:

This is The Mighty Boosh:

Pretty much everything you need to know about The Mighty Boosh can be summed up by this photo: two men, one has great hair, the other a great mustache.

No, really, The Boosh is an amazing surreal comedy about two friends, Howard and Vince, and the trouble they get up to going about their daily lives. Vince befriends polar bears and is worshipped by aliens and loves Gary Numan and has an amazing assortment of hats. Howard loves Jazz and accidentally gets taken to Monkey Hell and is hated by the Wind and had his first kiss on a rooftop on his 32nd birthday. With Vince.

Okay, so there's really no good way to explain The Boosh, except to say that it's like watching someone else's pot-and-ecstacy-inspired daydream, and that there's singing involved. Singing, Mod Wolves, people with heads made of cheese, a mystic shamen who has an ape as a familiar and a villain called Betamax.

And while The Boosh does air, edited, on BBCAmerica and has gained some popularity over here in America, the truth is that we just can't deal with such a strange, surreal comedy. The most surreal comedy we have is probably Flight of the Conchords:

And they're from New Zealand.

Reality TV:

No, Anne, I'm not going to mention ASBO Teen To Beauty Queen, even if it is possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen in my life. :)

The truth is, we steal a lot of reality tv from the Brits. You can blame them for Dancing With the Stars (aka Strictly Come Dancing, a title that makes no sense to me no matter how many times people explain its origins. Yes, yes, Baz, I know.), American Idol (aka Pop Idol, originally, and now in the form of the fantastic The X Factor, which is so much better than AI, I cannot even tell you), America's Got Talent (we do?), Trading Spaces, What Not To Wear; NBC has even picked up the terrible Baby Borrowers and will be airing the American version this fall.

But for the most part, these reality shows have about the same level of quality (if any) across the ocean. Only one really stands head and shoulders above the rest, only one is so far superior in its UK version than in its poor American imitation, only one can tempt me to actually BUY A HARD DRIVE to store it on during the summer.

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, Big Brother:

(Hi, twins! Hi, Chiggy! Hello, Emily, you racist slut! Cheesy Quavers! Oh, all my old friends!)

I've only watched one season of America's Big Brother: last year with Evil Dick and his fascinating rape fantasies. And it took me approximately one week to cycle through all the stages of Reality Show Depression: shock that this show made it to air, obligatory old-man comment about how it used to be different in my day, guilty facination despite myself, outrage when someone is kicked off before their lamer/viler/uglier/dumber co-contestants, oversaturation, total boredom.

Big Brother US is just not fun, guys. It's missing - well, it's missing everything that makes Big Brother UK so great (and it is so great) - Julie Chen's weird bobblehead in no way bests Davina McCall's excited shrieking, the US tasks aren't nearly ridiculous enough, and no blonde, vapid US villians will ever be as amazing as Nikki:

Oh, Big Brother. I can't wait until June, when you're back in my life! Like an old friend, you always know just what to do to cheer me up. And it usually involves someone shrieking about ass herpes.

Dramas About Time-Travelling Mancunian Cops

Okay, so this is a bit specific, but it was brought on by mere forwarding me information about the ridiculous, blasphemous, sure-to-be-shitty David E. Kelly remake of one of my very favorite shows, Life on Mars. ABC picked up the series for this fall, and guys, I know I am the girl who cries wolf about this stuff, I know that I basically threatened people with bodily harm if they watched the US remake of The Office, and yes, I can admit that that ONE TIME, I happened to be wrong (although to be fair, based on the first six eps of the first season of The Office US, I was still right. And how was I to know the appeal of Jim Halpert?), but PLEASE BELIEVE ME when I say that the US remake of Life On Mars is going to be one of the shittiest things on television. I can say confidently, without hesitation, that David E Kelly will fuck that show up so very bad that you'll want to throw away all your Bowie albums just because he'll remind you of this soon-to-be show. Trust me. Because, friends, you may be able to, if not upgrade, at least pay loving homage to Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant, but no one, NO ONE, will be able to upgrade these two people:

This? Is Phillip Glenister and John Simm, better known as Gene Hunt (Trust the Gene Genie) and Sam Tyler. They make Life on Mars. They are Life on Mars. They elevate it from the quasi-spooky, vaguely hokey drama that it could have been into the witty, cutting, quasi-gay, heart-wrenching, edge-of-your-seat-must-see-more SUPERNOVA OF A SHOW that it turned out to be. Please do yourself a favor and watch the original (read: BEST! ONLY! TRUE!) Life on Mars series. It's only, what, 16 episodes long? I watched all of them in a week. In Mississippi. If it can be done there, it can be done anywhere. Because, I promise you, if you happen by this shoddy American remake on ABC this fall, if you accidentally catch a few minutes of its watered-down, sentimental claptrap, you will have spoiled yourself; you will have ruined what could have been the greatest relationship between you and a television show you'll ever have. Love yourself, people. Watch Life on Mars before it's too late.

Also, if it helps? The soundtrack's amazing. And that fellow on the right gets naked.


poshdeluxe said...

ok, erin, before i say this, please sit down. are you sitting? do you have a snack? ok, good.

so... i've never seen any of the british shows you're talking about. and i feel kinda bad about it. it's not that i don't want to watch them, i just don't make the time (dude, i'm even two weeks behind on GG. that's how bad i am).

in my defense, i have seen all of the british office, and i did love it. and i don't feel the need to compare it to the american version, cos i feel like the forces behind the shows, as well as the tones, are wildly different. which made me glad, cos i could never choose between them.

there are lots of things i love about the british, but HELLO, what is UP with their food choices. i'm sorry, but no. english breakfast?! more like "i just ate a cow and two pigs." although i do love their obsession with cadbury...

Meredith said...

Hee, reading this blog is what it's like to e-mail with Erin all day every day. Oh UK Big Brother. I'm so terrified of your return, b/c it turns Erin into this crazed one-track-minded fanatic.

BOOSH BOOSH BOOSH BOOSH!!!! Oh Vince. Marry Erin and be my bestie. And Howard, how can I not love you when you're married to the writer/director/star/tour de force behind MY favorite UK show, Nighty Night?

I pinkie swear I'll watch Life on Mars and will never give one little peep to the Crapid E. Crappey remake.

gingerbiscuit said...

and then watch Ashes to Ashes!

i think our apprentice is better than yours too. it came second but it's great advantage is that Sir Alan is not completely reprehensible. If anything, he is endearing.

Oh, erin, I hate to break this to you, but sausage rolls are not breakfast food. they are a lunch thing. you just had them for your breakfast.

Erin said...

that's okay, Sarah. I understand. Remember, you'd never seen Veronica Mars either until I forced you and Mere to watch it. (sorry about how that one turned out, by the way. How was I to know he was a one-season wonder?) I will just do what I do with meredith - get you drunk and force you to watch these things so that you understand what I'm talking about when I say "crunchy friends in a liquid broth."

Mere - I am not one-track! I have layers! I have tracks! It's just that they're all devoted to Big Brother. I'm sorry, but there are A LOT of twists and turns in that show! One has to be aware at all times!! (And when I marry Vince, he'll totally be your bestie. We'll go fly away on Gary Numan's plane!)

Anne, they're a breakfast food if I say they are. And being that they're portable, warm, and filled with sausage, what else would people possibly have them for but for breakfast??

I need to finish Ashes 2 Ashes, actually. Is it coming back for a second series?

Moody said...

I hope that sci-fi icon you refer to is not The Doctor but if it is different strokes. I have not yet ventured to the US Office. In all fairness I have not seen all of the second season of the BBC version. (I own it though.) I do agree with you about Life on Mars. It's Brilliant and I think the fact that it was 16 eps was perfect. Have you heard anything new about the spin-off with the Gene Genie himself? It was supposed to take place in the 80s. I will also admit to enjoying David E. Kelley on occasion so I will be interested to see his take on the show. Just hope it's too much of a farce.

Anonymous said...

forgot to say Not a Farce

Erin said...

Moody, I do in fact mean The Doctor. I just can't help it! It's so fucking cheesy, dude. Although I like Martha tons better than Rose (yes, I have actually watched almost every episode of the current show, because EVERYONE BUT ME loves it, so I keep convincing myself that MAYBE it's just me, but . . . no dice. I sort of actively hate it. Except when John Simm was on. That was amazing. I could watch that every day.)

As for the US destruction of LoM, please see this, and then proceed immediately to the nearest safe place to VOMIT:


Cat said...

You forgot to mention our dominance in the field of hospital drama.

I really want to be able to argue that Torchwood matches US sci-fi in quality, because I love it so. But I can't. Damn you, John Barrowman and cheesy CGI.

Be nice about FOTC or else.

Sarah said...

Hi, I'm finally catching up on your blog!

See, what you say about our soaps and then Gossip Girl tells me you have never seen Hollyoaks. And you need to! Everyone is cast because they are models and it's really not important if they can act or not. But it's totally awesome! It's like Sunset Beach! Ok, JUST THIS WEEK, Niall ran over Max on his wedding day to Steph because Niall and Steph were sort of together while Max and Steph were on a break but then Steph went back to boring Max and Niall was sad but he only ran him over because he was upset and Max jumped in front of the car to save his little brother from being killed so even though Niall is kinda-sorta-evil he DOESN'T WANT TO BE and he didn't mean to kill Max! And THEN he got all angry at Tina for saying she wanted to give her baby up for adoption (she is being a surrogate for her sister Jacqui and her husband Tony, although the baby isn't actually Tony's or Dom's (Tony's brother who is also Tina's husband) it's Russ's, because they had a fling! And Jacqui knows but she's totally pretending it's all fine and it's not!) because she thinks the whole thing is complicated, or something? I don't know. But then he pushed her down the stairs and now she's in hospital but the baby is fine, and everyone thinks it was Fletch who is all addled with heroin. But it wasn't! It was Niall! Who is ACTUALLY Tina's brother (along with her other six or so sisters and one gay brother) and was given up at birth by her slutty mum because she was only 14 and he's wormed his way into the bosom of the family to wreak his revenge on them for being neglected! But no one knows!

Hollyoaks is AWESOME at the moment. I love Niall! He's also kind of hot and lovely, and I don't really want him to be evil. You should download it.

I've avoided all of BB so far and I'm so proud. AND HAVE YOU WATCHED GAVIN AND STACEY YET? IF NOT WHY NOT!

PS: Noel Fielding was mine first.