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DIRTY FEED

An Archive of Mediocre Television Reviews

Having gone on yet another explosive rant about Sam Wollaston recently, I am reminded that I’ve never linked to any of the TV reviews I’ve written for other sites on here. Part of me, to be honest, is disinclined to do so; some of the pieces I’m not very proud of at all. But there’s some good stuff amongst the dross, and besides: I’m cursed with a bizarre sense of fair play. If I’m going to be slagging people off on Twitter, or writing about poor journalism on here, it only feels fair to actually link to some of the stuff I’ve done which I’m not that keen on, rather than pretend it never existed.

So, here is a full archive of television reviews I have written elsewhere. These are mainly from the now-defunct media blog Noise To Signal, although there’s a couple from still active Doctor Who site Unlimited Rice Pudding!, and one from Red Dwarf fansite Ganymede & Titan. It doesn’t include anything lurking in Dirty Feed’s archive, or reviews of anything which isn’t strictly a television episode.

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■ Posted 25th August 2015 @ 6pm in Comedy, Meta, Television. No Comments Yet.

The Most Important Thing You Will Ever Read About 9/11

The A.V. Club, “Fans discover Friends deleted an airport security subplot after 9/11″:

“For a show set in New York City in the late ’90s and early 2000s, it’s odd how little Friends ever touched on the events of September 11. In fact, the show never once commented on the tragic occasion, with the closest mention coming from an “FDNY” shirt Joey wore in later seasons. And yet recently, Friends fans uncovered a deleted subplot from an eighth season episode that actually dealt with airport security that was cut from a post-9/11 episode. Of course, it had nothing to do with the then-recently upgraded TSA practices; it just happened to be a bomb joke in an airport.”

OK, so let’s take a look at that video. Firstly: “Uploaded on Feb 6, 2007”. Slightly stretches the definition of “recent” in this context, doesn’t it? As in: the video was actually uploaded far closer to 9/11 than to today. Five and a half years on from 9/11; eight and a half years ago from now.

Secondly… what’s all this “fans” thing? That video – official opening scrolltext and all – is clearly an extra on a DVD release. So it’s less a “fans uncovered” thing, and more “production tells everyone ages ago in an officially licensed commercial product”. Sure, glancing around, it seems the video has gone viral recently – but pretending that this is new is just inaccurate.

Thirdly: embedding a video which purely rips off an extra from a DVD release makes me feel rather queasy. True, I did it on this G&T article – but it’s hardly the main focus of the article, and I did a load of pimping of the DVDs before I felt comfortable with it. The video in the A.V. Club article is really the main content of the piece, and it’s not attributed correctly anyway. Bleugh.

Despite my “hilarious” headline: of course none of this is the most important stuff in the world. And yet… it does point towards a major problem with some of the writing of this kind of material online: the pretence that everything has to be new, now, current. There’s an interesting article to be written about how material from 2007 suddenly goes viral, and the author steadfastly refuses to take it.

This article misrepresents when the material was released, and where the material came from. Two very important facts, waylaid in the attempt to make the story seem exciting and new. That’s just rubbish.

■ Posted 24th August 2015 @ 11pm in Comedy, Journalism, Television. 1 Comment.

24 Hours in Channel 5 TX

Recreation of the 1997 Channel 5 logo - with thanks to Danny Stephenson

TX. Presentation. Playout. Whatever you call it, they’re the people responsible for taking the programmes, promos, adverts and continuity, packaging it all up, and making sure you have something to watch on your television… with the absolute bare minimum of breakdown captions. Yet oddly enough, despite the interest in the subject on many forums, there’s really very little writing online about what it’s actually like to work in transmission.

Last year, I left Channel 5 TX, having been there for a year and a half – and I thought people might be interested in a few details. What the bloody hell do we actually do all day, apart from sit and watch telly? Here’s your answer.

A few points first, however. Don’t expect any dirt to be dished – much as I’m sure it’d be entertaining to hear me whinge on, it’s not gonna happen. Also, there are certain confidential things which I’d love to be able to talk about, but can’t because… well, they’re confidential. Sorry about that. I can guarantee, however, that none of that affects what I have to say too much. Whilst some of the stuff I’ve had to leave out is really interesting, I think the below still represents the job pretty damn well.

Finally, and I can’t stress this enough: the below is just my perspective on the job. In no way whatsoever does it represent the views of Channel 5, or any of its partner companies.

Right, let’s get started, shall we?

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■ Posted 7th August 2015 @ 12pm in Television. 6 Comments.

Listen to the Radio

30 years ago today, “We Built This City” was first released in the US. Many people know that some radio stations tailored the DJ chatter section near the end to add in their own local personalities; scroll down to Special Recordings here to listen to no less than four different versions created by CBS-FM.

A lesser-known fact, however, is that for some markets the front of the song was customised as well. Called a singover, or a power intro in more modern parlance, this involved jingle singers singing the station name over the front of the song. And seeing as every single post about jingles on here seems to come back to JAM Creative Productions, it’s hardly a surprise that they were involved with this little bit of fun over the airwaves – and posted about their part in it recently. Let’s take a listen:

Download “We Built This City singovers” (Original post on Facebook)

YAY I LIKE RADIO I THINK IT’S COOL.

But what I find especially interesting about this is: this is how plenty of people would mainly have heard the song at the time. Their local radio station, playing all the hits. Assuming that the radio stations actually used the audio on a regular basis1 – and I see no reason why they wouldn’t – many people would always have experienced that song with their favourite station’s name sung over the front of it. A memory that fades through the years, with each passing experience of the song on endless compilation albums or later radio plays… until nobody remembers that how they’re now hearing the song is not how they first experienced it.

A minor historical detail, perhaps. But I bet if you played that audio to certain New Yorkers who listened to Z-100 in the 80s, their brain would spark up, and they’d instantly recognise something they’d entirely forgotten – and send them hurtling 30 years back through time. And that’s worth a hell of a lot.

It’s always worth remembering this stuff. It’s so easy for things like this to slip through the cracks. And remembering history in a way which isn’t just endlessly recycled, obvious clips takes constant vigilance.


  1. This is always a concern when dealing with audio coming straight from a master tape rather than off-air. Sure, it was created, but was it actually used? See also: many jingle demos sung with “WABC” call letters… plenty of which WABC never actually aired, or aired in a different form. 

■ Posted 1st August 2015 @ 8pm in Jingles, Radio. 1 Comment.

The Crystal Maze and “Modern Audiences”

So, that’s it – the Indiegogo for the “live immersive experience” of The Crystal Maze has closed, with an absolutely whopping £927,252 raised – a full 185% 85% over target.

If you haven’t heard of the project, this from the Indiegogo page sums it up:

“In the 90’s, The Crystal Maze, was one of the UK’s favourite television shows. Now we’re planning for it to return as a live immersive experience right in the heart of London!

You’ll get to play the maze just as contestants did on the original show – placing you at the centre of the action. What we really want, is for people to live the magic of the hit television programme for themselves.

We will be lovingly recreating the famous set just as it was on the original show. All four famous zones will be present; Aztec, Medieval, Industrial and Futuristic, not forgetting of course, The Crystal Dome!”

But the part I want to concentrate on is the following:

“Modern audiences want to do, not watch. In recent years, there has been a cultural shift towards entertainment that audiences can engage with in a more active way. More and more we are finding new audiences who want to experience, interact, and play as opposed to watch.”

Horseshit.

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■ Posted 19th July 2015 @ 12pm in Live, Television. 2 Comments.

How Journalism Works Part #274952

So, a new series of The Brittas Empire is apparently in development.

The Mirror:

“The show ran for 53 episodes from 1991 to 1997 and regularly attracted nearly 10 million viewers.”

Mail Online:

“During its six-year run, some 53 episodes of the show were broadcast.”

The Express:

“At the height of its success, The Brittas Empire would draw an estimated 10 million viewers for the BBC, running for 53 episodes between 1991 and 1997.”

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■ Posted 10th July 2015 @ 4pm in Comedy, Journalism, Television. 4 Comments.

Beyond a Joke

Another month, and another set of articles I’ve written over on Ganymede & Titan – the Red Dwarf fansite where Rob Grant’s daughter once posted the immortal words “John is a whore”. This month, I’ve been posting a few joke history investigations:

You will note from the update at the end of that last article that I am currently making my way through the entirety of The Burkiss Way. As punishments go, it’s not exactly a severe one.

■ Posted 25th June 2015 @ 12am in Comedy, Television. No Comments Yet.

Unforgettable

I try my best to make Dirty Feed a proper blog with actual commentary and shit like that – but sometimes you just want to chuck a great link out there, then cut and run. So it is with Unforgettable – published this month, it’s the latest in a long series of jingle montages from Ken Deutsch. This particular selection all come from jingle company PAMS between the years of 1960-1974 – a time which has a special meaning to Ken:

“For me this era represented my teenage years and early 20s, a time I fell in love with top-40 radio and its jingles in particular. People have come and gone in my life. I married, gained a stepson, watched the world change in many serious ways, but the PAMS jingles from the 60s and early 70s will always remain “unforgettable” to me.”

Not that you need to have grown up in the US during that era to get something out of this collection. There are few better ways to dip into the world of radio jingles than listening to material of this vintage – some of the very best jingles ever made. Give it a try. A glorious slice of Americana.

Even if the start of Track 7 may make you wince somewhat.

■ Posted 11th June 2015 @ 9am in Jingles, Radio. No Comments Yet.

Mouthbox

Having spent yesterday praising a blog about television, today I thought I’d slag one off instead. Always a dangerous game when in the past you’ve published things like the top post on this page, but never let it be said that I am not courageous.

On one of my random click-anywhere-and-see-what-happens jaunts on which I waste most of my life, I came across Mouthbox, a “TV reviews & media blog”. Oooh, a a review of House of Fools – I’ll give that a read. I disagree with most of it – especially the part about being “protected from the truth”, also quoted below – but that’s not the point of this post. The part I want to concentrate on is the second half of the following sentence:

“Reeves and Mortimer also have enough friends in high places at the Beeb to be protected from the truth, and a second series has probably already been commissioned despite the glaring problems with this pilot.”

Which is a very odd thing to write, as this piece was published in March 2015… in the middle of the show’s second series.

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■ Posted 10th June 2015 @ 10am in Comedy, Internet, Television. No Comments Yet.

Pillar of the Community

If I can tear myself away from the latest opus from Sam Wollaston, my current favourite piece about television is this absolutely magnificent post by Jason Hazeley: is there a missing episode of Ever Decreasing Circles?

“For many years, British television series were produced in runs of six, seven or thirteen weekly episodes. There was a good reason for this: a 52-week year divides nicely into thirteens, and thirteens split into sixes and sevens. Often, that seventh episode was a bonus – say, a Christmas special. Currently, series length is more fluid: fours are common, and there have been some very good (and shout-about funny) series that have only run for three episodes: Cowards, for instance, the first series of Getting On, and the first two series of The Thick Of It.

Series one of Ever Decreasing Circles (1984) has five episodes. That’s odd. (And not just literally.) It’s one short. The second series has eight. That’s one over (even with its bonus Christmas episode). Was one programme lost from the first series and cashed in on re-commission to make up the shortfall? And if so, why?”

It’s a tale which will take you through half-remembered actor’s recollections, to cold hard facts with scanned scripts and programme numbers. Crucially, however, it also sheds some light on what the show was perhaps intended to be… and how differently it turned out. What looks at first to just be about an unproduced script actually turns out to be about the entire heart of the series. It’s one of the best investigative pieces on sitcom I have ever read.

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■ Posted 9th June 2015 @ 11am in Comedy, Internet, Television. No Comments Yet.

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