Screening Calls

09Oct08

With thx to my Twitter friends–I can’t remember who shared this, and that is fail–Yes We Can (hold babies).  Which is what it says on the tin, Barack Obama (and occasionally Joe Biden and Michelle Obama) holding babies and/or posing with children.  I am told this is a primarily American custom, is that true?  I have also seen complaints from conservatives about people getting their kids to say ‘yay Obama’ and things.  Eh.  As an eight year-old Bene, I was a chipper Clinton/Gore supporter, unlike my parents…but still.

As I’ve been sitting here, I’ve been inundated with at least four different TV ads during the evening news for both sides of the campaign.  Most of them are infuriating.  If I see more tonight, I will cry.

Speaking of, tonight being a big TV night here in the US, a sampling…

ER: Angela Bassett playing a tough doctor with a troubled past who volunteered in Indonesia after the ’04 tsunami?  Gasp, how many cliches can we insert into ONE CHARACTER?

Life on Mars and Eleventh Hour: Because apparently the whole ‘no, transplanting UK TV to an American setting doesn’t work’ thing hasn’t set in yet.  Despite USA Today’s three stars for US LoM, I’m snorting.  New York is nothing like Manchester and Random Dude is not John Made Of Awesome Simm.  We all know how well Viva Laughlin worked out.
Also, what’s with all these not-really-SF shows?  What are they so scared of, considering how well BSG and Heroes have done?

CSI: Alas, poor Warrick.  We knew him well, my friends.  But since someone goes to town and someone leaves town (and by someone I mean ‘ho shit we need a minority character stat!’), we’re getting Laurence Fishburne mid-season?  Also, Sara is back for the time being.  I’ll see how broken she seems before I pass more judgement.

Kath and Kim: Because we can’t fucking make new TV here in the US.  Aussie readers, care to fill me in on the original?

SNL Special on NBC: Probably the only thing that’s in the u r doin it rite category.  Bless Tina Fey.  And Queen Latifah was fan.tastic. as Gwen Ifill.

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Also, in the interest of content, it’s Question Time here at attitude problem.  Audience participation!  Ask me a question and as long as it’s not something to give away my sekrit identity, I’ll be answering.



4 Responses to “Screening Calls”

  1. 1 QoT

    Well, I’m not an Aussie but certainly a fan of classic K&K. They’re parodying a very specific subset of Sydney-dwellers, as I understand it, so it’s funny for Aussies who know the type and it’s funny for Kiwis who mentally divide Australia into two classes: the Sydney-dwellers and the Steve Irwins (wait, three: drag queens on buses).

    You may also have to watch out for the Lord-knows-what-they’ll-call-it-but-it-will-be-horrific remake of recent Kiwi comedy smash, Outrageous Fortune. Again, it’s society-subset comedy, which is one of the reasons I CANNOT see a US Kath & Kim doing well.

  2. 2 fuckpoliteness

    Oh…not Sydney dwellers – outlying suburb of Melbourne, but still, yes: points being made are the same and there’d be plenty of Kaths and Kims in Sydney, it’s a kind of tongue in cheeck mocking of class and clacism – there are Kath and Kim the surburban working class women aspiring to magazine culture and never really having a clue, then Pru and Tru who *think* they have become clued in, who are just as cringeworthy as the more affluent middle class snobs – I find it painful to watch. The two comedians are sensational, but it’s too painful – rather like watching a video of an extended family gathering. I cannot see HOW they thought Selma Blair could be a ‘Kim’ type? Yikes.

    I do love Queen Latifah. She’s awesome and she’s totally freaking HOT to boot!

  3. Yeah, I’m getting the idea from you both that’s the same as the one I got from the Wikipedia article–that it’s just not quite translatable to the US without completely changing the culture…and since the culture is the whole point, it’s sorta moot.

    Oh, American television, you make me tired. The only people who should get to make new shows are David Simon and Ed Burns.

  4. I saw the first episode, and thought that Selma Blair actually did quite well with the selfish immaturity of Kim, and Molly Shannon of course rocked Kath hard. There must be a pool of comfortable suburbanites in the US who slavishly follow the celeb-magazine trends despite not having all the celeb-accoutrements, and who think this stuff really matters – that’s the essential culture that K&K satirises.

    What didn’t work for the US show is that the Aussie original depended on a whole lot of wordplay between the characters – little set pieces with malapropisms galore and little catchphrases, often between three key characters. Without those set-pieces to paint the characters fully, the plot rocketed at high speed to finish up after the first half hour at a point that the Aussie original took 3 or 4 episodes to reach. How could viewers start to relate to just the characters and their relationship with each other when the narrative pushes so hard with so much detail?

    Also, where the hell is Sharon? Kim’s BFF from school whom she totally dominates and manipulates appallingly? Who is sports-mad and continually sporting a splint or bandage? Who is also fat?

    One of the other things that made the Oz K&K work was that the two leads were comedy veterans who had worked together for years and who were familiar to the audience as a comedy duo (they both also had solo creds, but the nation was pretty familiar with their work as a pair). The rest of the casting was full of Melbourne comedy legends who have been staple performers on the network sketch comedy shows – the sort of performer credibility that makes an audience willing to go along for the ride and see what develops instead of just switching off they first time they don’t understand what’s happening.

    So, I would keep Molly Shannon as Kath; I would regretfully chuck Selma Blair as Kim and if the network wouldn’t actually let me have someone a little older then replace her with whatsername from Sabrina the Teenage Witch, or perhaps Amanda Bynes; the guy playing Kath’s squeeze did a good job, but is he someone the target audience already knows and loves to laugh at? The guy playing young Craig needs to be someone who can do painfully earnest yet obtuse more effectively, instead of just coming across as a lunkhead.


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