Tuesday, April 16, 2002

One of the features of my life since taking my current job is that I am condemned, when feeling idle which is most of the time, to slum about in rags watching some of the most unbelievable crap on daytime television. Yes, DTV is still the preserve of the worst television offerings imaginable. That said, many quiz and soap shows which are either aired or road tested on day time telly are often able to graduate into serious meaningful slots if they are sufficiently bad; bad enough for a large rather than a minority audience. I believe I saw one today. Another from the sub genre of quiz shows with 'attitude' -The Weakest Link has much to answer for - this one called: The Enemy Within.

Every fibre of my body screamed to me: turn it over/off, when it threatened to come on. Refuse to humour the makers of this pap by giving it one cell of your brain room. But, I was seduced by the very awfulness that it seemed to promise,a feeling not unlike stitching yourself up to watch: Fire Maidens from Outer Space, commonly regarded as one of the worst films ever. "So bad, you just gotta see it". Either that or I was too lazy to reach for the remote control. I decided it was worth half an hour of my life.

It consists of a compere and five contestants, one-part ham five parts ham-fisted.
From out of the five contestants one of them has been primed with all the answers to the questions that are going to be asked. By a mixture of guile and strategy he/she needs to keep the rest guessing as to whom the primed person is. He or she is the eponymous enemy. The basic premise is that through the usual process of questions and answers and the awarding of money for correct answers it will all come to nothing for the four non 'cheats' or nothing for the enemy depending on whether he or she is rumbled. A non-rumbled enemy gets all the money won, a rumbled enemy gets nothing. The rest take home what they've accumulated plus a share of the outed enemy's money. I hope I am not making it sound too interesting. It isn't.

A crooked nosed man in a suit who could easily pass as a manager of a local B&Q or estate agents, presents the show. Armed with such a repertoire of hammy stern facial expressions and poorly contrived Robinson -esque put downs you can almost read the script that must have plopped onto his doormat. "The idea is to be cruel, not friendly, forget cheese go for tease". And he does, delivering the kinds of stern looks your mother might make if you giggled in church or broke wind in the company of visitors. Interspersed with mock - angry accusations of "Are you the cheat?" in the hope of confusing everybody.

The contestants today were the usual gallery no ideas. A plump housewife, a mousy little madam who looked as if she wished she were somewhere else, a balding smart arse, a lad not long out of nappies and a geeky twenty something with a piping high pitched voice and gelled, sticky up hair. "Who wrote this first line of a poem," 'Tiger,Tiger, burning bright?' " Buzz!! "Wordsworth," said the geeky hair-gelled twenty something. "No"…Buzz!! This time composed face of the balding smart-arse whose look says he's going to put the young pup in his place: "Kipling". Stern look from the compere showing almost genuine contempt - Christ! he must have thought, I really am cross with these buggers.

And so was I. Don't they make those beautifully illustrated poetry books anymore that I read and read to my children? I'm sure this was one of the first poems I remember learning by heart. Muttering darkly under my breath I went out to mow the lawn wondering whether my life really had come down to this.

If there is anyone left reading this - and I can't be sure that I would be - the plump housewife was the enemy; and she was rumbled. "Plump Housewife: you leave with nothing", as somebody else might say. And I left with nothing, except this dubious blog material.


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