SLOUCH POTATO

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Tom Pheby enjoys a TV dinner.


GOKZILLA SERVES UP A DUFF LUNCH
When I saw the title on TV, 'Gok's Lunchbox', I immediately feared the worst. Thank god there was no need to avert my eyes in another direction or seek counseling because Gok Wan remained fully clothed in his new culinary challenge show.

Gok, who sort of looks like the end result of an experiment which combined the DNA of Thunderbirds 'Brains' and 'The Hood', appears on your TV when you least need or expect him. He's like an evergreen, smiling genie, trapped inside the tube until a really poorly conceived, utterly shit format arrives that requires someone inoffensive and with more teeth than a thoroughbred racehorse.

Fashion is normally Gok's thing. In particular, getting people to rid themselves of the contents of their wardrobes, encouraging them to strip naked and flash the flesh in a shop window to improve low self esteem. Elsewhere Gok can often be found talking with Fern Cotton about what some pinheaded actress was wearing at an awards ceremony. Yet Gok has long wanted to go more mainstream and has been in search of the perfect vehicle for his unique talent for some time now. He pitched a music quiz show called 'Never mind the Buzz'Goks'. Then he toyed with the idea of fronting a popular motoring show by the name of 'Gok Gear', and nearly managed to get the funding for his own exercise programme featuring the music of Status Quo, 'Goking All Over The World'. There's no rest from Gokzilla in his quest for fame, fortune and his own 24 hour TV channel.


Gok's Lunchbox is full of succulent mystery ingredients (stop it!). Every episode he offers three contestants the chance to cook the dish of their lives for a prize of £250. Gok is most definitely in Carry On mode announcing "The next person to get their hands on my Lunchbox is..." like we didn't see that coming! Melvin, Samir and new mum Vicki were met on the doorstep by the exuberant Gok. When he turned up at Vicki's he demanded to see the new arrival, "I'm virtually lactating" he declared. Let's hope not!

Gok not only has a lunchbox but he now has a doorstep basket. Now there's limited innuendo value in that, but good old Gok waited ever so patiently for an opportunity to arrise. As he revealed the contestants were allowed to lose one ingredient from his lunchbox and swap it for one from his basket, he shrilled "I'm going to flip my flap". I groaned and the cat stared at me wondering if I were trying to communicate with him in some weird and wonderful new way. Thank god Gok didn't have a sack!

It didn't stop there, though, as there was more cooking comedy to come with Melvin who confided that he was going to cook for Gok ...in a wok.

So, who's going to judge the food? Only the friends and relatives of the contestants, and... wait for it... they will be judging the meals whilst blindfolded. If you could squeeze anymore fake surprises into one show I'd be genuinely..... surprised.

In the absence of tension, Gokzilla decided to create some of his own in Samir's kitchen. He looked at her concerned and as if he was going to call for a medic. "I've noticed a change in your personality" Gok said as Samir remained perfectly still. "You've become manic. Whats going on in your head?" Whats going on in Gok's? Why did he agree to appear in yet another rubbish programme? Leave the poor girl alone!

Undeterred, Gok's next step was to advise the budding cooks on how to execute their dishes, which is a bit like Scooby Doo entering Crufts. Far be it from me to suggest that Gok was advised by someone who could actually cook before the cameras rolled but.... that's exactly what happened!

He nips in to Melvin to suggest the addition of black pepper and Olives, then pops into Samir to remind her that she was supposed to be in a panic, she wasn't yet Gok still insisted "She's gone into a complete meltdown!" She hadn't. On to Vicki and Gok was able to helpfully instruct her on how to work the appliance she had owned for years. Gee thanks for nothing.

Gok's Lunchbox is yet another lightweight, fluffy bowl of worthless, whipped waffle with the affable Mr Wan. It's a show built around innuendo, which Gok laps up, but despite his best efforts to entertain this dish is not fit for consumption.


LOVE ME
In this Netflix documentary we follow a number of Western men who travel to the Ukraine to meet their mail order brides with the intention of finding love and happiness. Each of the men we meet are taking their chances and parting with their cash in the hopes of marrying that someone special and living happily ever after. Well, that's the plan, but this type of business has recently exploded as more and more lonely men who have found that love has eluded them look towards the 'mail order' brides option.

We follow Ron from North Carolina who was married for 28 years. Frustrated by his lack of success now he is single, he turns to a company called 'Foreign Affairs', a so called 'International Introductions agency'. Ron subsequently parts with his cash, which is believed to be up to $12,000, and jets off to the Ukraine where he will travel with a group of other guys and tour manager Bob Wray.

Tour Bob announces that the road trip will stop off at Odessa, Kherson and Nikolayev as they seek out the perfect woman for each man. Ron can't wait, and at the first location in Odessa, which had 210 women to just 20 men, he did the rounds. Busily introducing himself, pointing at his name badge and pressing the flesh.
Tour Bob says that the women in Odessa are not like the American women back home.
"It's not about career first, it's about family first. It's like dating in the 50's, it's like dating my mother."
Dang Bob! Can you rephrase that please?


Meanwhile, Ron is sharking the dance floor for his future squeeze. "I'm Ron", he announces, which then ecame "Ron!' and later diluted it's way down to just "Hi". Well if you was to do that to 210 times you wouldn't have the energy for anything else.

Ron opened up his heart when he said
"I want someone to love me when I'm not so viral."
He was nervous and obviously meant virile.
"When I'm falling apart, I wouldn't mind falling apart with someone."
Hmm, if that's a chat up line Ron, I'd start over.


Bobby is 46 and works in human resources. He has a collection of sci-fi model lasers and zombie memorabilia and is looking forward to the last location in Kherson. There he was hoping to meet Juliyana, 26, who he had established regular contact with via email. He dressed in a suit, shirt and tie, bought her a 'forever rose' and stood waiting in the club....

She never arrived.

Bobby noted that he did everything he possibly could, that he even stood on his own so that he didn't have to "fend off women" but Juliyana was not there. The tour manager claimed that he wasn't responsible for any expectation management and that "sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't". But Bobby had other ideas. He deduced that it was all a scam based on the fees for the emails going back and forth.

Just then, suddenly and unexpectedly, Juliyana showed up, clearly underwhelmed and overwhelmed at the same time. Bobby wasted no time in telling her he wanted to go further with the relationship...
"Do you want to go to America and get married?"
Slow down fella! Buy the lady a drink first.

By the end of Love Me we learned that Ron wasn't impressed with his tour of the Ukraine. He returned home brideless. Would he be back for another tour? No! Did he enjoy the experience? No. Which is remarkably similar to how I was feeling about it all.

Oh, and Bobby never saw Juliyana again. Should've at least got her a Babycham before proposing.


DVD HEAVEN OR HELL
Pierce Bosnian never really became the James Bond he could have been. He was alright, sure. He looked the part, absolutely. But he never got the chance to be remembered in the same vain as Connery and Craig because the producers behind the series felt it was time to reinvent the part and change direction, and that was a great, great pity because apart from Goldeneye Brosnan was saddled with possibly the worst scripts, production values and decisions during his tenure as 007.

On the matter of his dismissal, Brosnan said he received a call informing him that his services were no longer required and that he was "disappointed". One can certainly sympathise and understand his position, it was not the way to end the association with the star and he deserved better. He recalled,
"I was sat in Richard Harris’ house in the Bahamas and Barbara and Michael were on the line —‘We’re so sorry.’ She was crying, Michael was stoic and he said, ‘You were a great James Bond. Thank you very much,’ and I said, ‘Thank you very much. Goodbye.’ That was it. I was utterly shocked and just kicked to the kerb with the way it went down."
Still, there are far worse places to get bad news than in Richard Harris' house in the Bahamas! Brosnan added,
"I have no desire to watch myself as James Bond. 'Cause it's just never good enough. It's a horrible feeling."
Brosnan shouldn't have worried too much, because that underlying feeling of inadequacy seems to have driven him to make the sort of spy movie that eluded him and that we all knew he was capable of.

After leaving Bond, Brosnan set up his own production company to make films that he considered to be of artistic merit. One suspects that the frustration he felt from the Bond series made him want to have more control. Apart from Mamma Mia, which we will gloss over, he has made some interesting choices to reflect his undoubted talent. November Man is surely the strongest choice of all.


Brosnan plays Peter Devereaux, the mentor to a young hot head CIA assassin, David Mason (Luke Bracey). The film opens with a failed mission where Devereaux is shot, the asset is killed, and sadly so is an innocent young boy, caught in the crossfire. Five years pass before Devereaux is persuaded to help extract a deep-cover agent with whom he had a close relationship.

The female agent gathers photographic evidence of wrong doings by a potential Russian presidential candidate and heads off at speed to a rendezvous with the gun happy Americans. Devereaux appears just when things look bleak and rushes to the aide of his former squeeze, unfortunately she's shot by none other than Mason, who is acting under orders.

Yes, the story is slightly dated in terms of what's currently going on in the world, but it's entertaining, slick, well directed and jogs along at a decent pace. As they used to say, 'a good story is a good story', I don't care if it's on trend or not. Brosnan is definitely on form, hell bent on making amends for the Bond failures, and I think he makes his point. Loud and clear.

November Man gives an aging Brosnan the opportunity to show what might have been, and I am extremely grateful for that. Some may claim that the Bond or Bourne films have the edge but I say that November Man earns its place alongside those two. It's certainly far superior to the desperate Die Another Day, which effectively ended Brosnan career as the superspy. Invisible cars my ass!!

Is this DVD heaven or hell?

No prizes for guessing that November Man is absolute heaven for me. It more than makes up for the crap Brosnan endured as Bond.


BBC THREE'S ART OF THE CROCKUMENTARY
I wondered for a brief spell why BBC Three had become an online only channel but once I returned to a host of prerecorded material I soon found the answer. In 2015 the channel decided to broadcast The Marilyn Monroe Story - A Life of Love, Glamour and Darkness (catchy title). From this programme alone it's clear to even the most impartial observer that the demise of BBC Three wasn't too far away and that the great art of the factual documentary was as effectively dead as Monroe herself.

It claimed that it was going to reveal the illnesses that destroyed Monroe and that it was going to regenerate that famous body to show it's secrets. Yes, I know. Tacky! But it didn't really do either. Instead we were blinded by the contributions of a psychologist, neuropsychologist, clinical pharmacist and a couple of biographers, none of whom met or knew the star.

It wasn't long before I noticed the apparent absence of fact and lack of detail. This was highlighted by a series of words that implied the content, was at best, speculative or the product of someone's assumptions. Words such as "perhaps", "possibly", "likely", and my own personal favourite inconclusive combo "may have" were thrown around freely.

The 'crockumentary' was full of dumb moments solely based on gossip, rumour and hearsay (not that awful band). As if to illustrate this point, Donald Wolfe, author of The Last Days  of Marilyn Monroe revealed,
"I talked to some people that used to see her in the park, there on the East river, where she used to watch the children play."
No names, no connection and no relationship to Monroe. A handful of seemingly tempting morsels that even the parks pigeons would ignore.

Producer Robert Chandler took the programme to even lower depths by revealing details about barbiturates, the stars uterus and Fallopian tubes, and that during her first year with Twenty Century Fox she spent most of her time on her knees. No doubt she was auditioning for the role of a curvaceous cleaner or searching for some relevant information for an upcoming 'crockumentary' on her life.

As if those revelations weren't enough to shock, the show also had a slightly odd, voyeuristic feel, as we were repeatedly shown the semi-naked body of an actress who, one assumes, was meant to be Monroe on what resembled a mortuary table. Yes, we get it - she's dead.

After the so called 'expert opinion' and some grainy footage of the star we returned to the same semi-naked body only to find that the hair was longer or lighter. Fascinating! This 'corpse' could go to the hairdressers in between, yet it couldn't find a bra. It's this type of cheap titillation (pun intended) and lack journalistic content that "probably" helped the BBC suits to pull the plug, or "perhaps" that was always the intention. Yes, I too can use fluffy unsubstantiated words instead of facts in a sentence, it's not just the preserve of scurrilous television production companies and producers.

There was a similar programme to this on Channel 4. It performed a paper autopsy after the genuine autopsy and bases very similar deductions on the actual evidence and facts. Are we that hard up for ideas? Is television becoming a visual representation of the red top newspaper? "Perhaps" the BBC can do its own autopsy on BBC Three and I can provide the 'evidence' of a man that knew a woman who looked through a neighbours letterbox and saw ten minutes of a truly dreadful documentary.

Script Writer, Poet, Blogger and junk television specialist. Half English, half Irish and half Alsatian, Tom is well known for insisting on being called Demetri for reasons best known to himself. A former film abuser and telly addict who shamefully skulks around his home town of Canterbury after dark dressed as Julie Andrews. Follow Tom on Twitter

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