Thursday, 30 October 2008

Dead Set 3 and 4

I'll admit, things were starting to bother me yesterday; not only the fact that zombies can run (in spite of the whole 'different types' argument - in a conversation today my friend pointed out that in 28 Days Later the running is explained by 'Rage' - in Dead Set there is no explanation as to why this whole outbreak has even happened) but my personal rage was getting further than that. I accepted the lady with the big rifle - which she might have plausably found in the country somewhere - as being some kind of Charlie Brooker fantasy woman; angry and ready to kill. However, last night we had BIG GUNS.

The police seemed to be carrying enormous machine gun things which seemed completely ridiculous. Do the police even carry guns in this country? I know there are special armed police - aren't they the ones who drive red cars? Isn't that the rule? Or is it just an urban myth? I frankly don't see why all police patrolling should have guns, no one else has a gun, they'd be better off carrying special police knives if they want an even fight with the criminals.

Anyway, this is all besides the point. Whether the police do have guns or not isn't the issue but, KILLING SOMEONE WHO HAS NOT BEEN BITTEN IS. How could they casually just let one of their own die? I know he was a complete moron but the situation surely could have been dissipated without ensuring his immanent death. Not only that but it mean the subsequent killing of his policeman friend. This thus lead to Winstone stealing one gun and the bloke with her the other. This would be fine if they'd had a little struggle trying to work it, but Winstone managed to use one discarded gun instantly in order to shoot the bloke in the leg and cause said immanent death. She seemed to have no problem working it and even less of a problem shooting one of the zombified housemates (the idiot who couldn't get herslelf out of a pool) right in between the eyes. I would have liked a little more trouble with aim please Winstone. I know you're a gangster hero's daughter but none of it is real.

Then the other bloke tonight was exceedingly comfortable with the big machine gun thing; just flapping it about like he was paintballing, ready, aim and fire...perfect every time. Bollocks.

I'm still enjoying it though, just about. I was a little miffed by last night's uninspiring ending, it all seemed a bit too nice. I don't care that Davina was still outside the door or that being trapped in the Big Brother house with a bunch of undead at the gate isn't a perfect situation but it certainly was rather a calm conclusion.

Tonight, in a lot of ways was no less frustrating. A BOAT?! A CANAL?! RIGHT BESIDE THE LOVELY HOUSE YOU FOUND?! How bloody convenient, especially when there's absolutely no way out of the front gate. I'm glad angry woman died otherwise it would have just been too irritating, boy found it very easy to axe her, probably because she was so nasty to him. Still, I don't like the way he's managed to find the Big Brother house already despite getting to it along water, with trees surrounding him (or at least it looks that way - I suppose we'll find out tomorrow).

Once again, the saving grace is always going to be producer and evictee, the greatest comedy duo I've seen for some time, the 'light machine' especially tickled me. Obviously, once they made it into the house after getting past Davina and Brian (stupid as a zombie as well as a human...what was he eating when they got past? idiot) the producers imaginative heckling didn't stop for anybody, nor did his general wanker-stature.

Final episode tomorrow and they've got a plan - will the boyfriend find them? Will they all get out alive? Might the producer finally stop being a cock and see the others as good people through the valuable bonding and relationship-building only achieved through working together to fight for your life? It's unlikely, especially as that evictee really is a foetus.

Wednesday, 29 October 2008

Day 2 on Dead Set

"Wifi, God knows what that does to your molecules" - the Big Brother answer to how this might have happened.

In fact, I sense a general distaste for technology across the programme: "How do you turn this thing on? (referring to a mobile phone) fucking robot's bollock."

I think I'm going to name my phone Robot Bollock from now on, just like those idiots who claim to call their remote a 'Megatron' (see a few posts back)

Indeed, day two was as magnificent as day 1, namely because the producer cunt was trapped in a room with the latest evictee; whether she is genuinely a complete idiot or not is besides the point (although the little dialogue about 'air' was pretty hilarious) - he thinks she is, therefore she is and subsequently becomes unbearable. With Davina on the hunt just outside the door, there's nowhere to go... and I mean literally, to 'go' and after too much obligatory escapism through the consumption of all available alcohol, evictee ain't best pleased.

Another highlight the boy who got trapped in the train station telling zombies to 'shut it' and then to his solo rescue party "I'm a normalite!". It's just gem after gem.

Of course, there's no point in going through the entire episode blow by blow; but I do wonder (something my flatmate pointed out on Monday) is how and why these zombies can run so bloody fast? I mean they all start running after cars and people with olympian determination. I can't imagine when all these people were alive they could run like that, with that same driven movement in their arms. One even managed to get pretty close to a van; she must have been a marathon runner when she was alive. I had always imagined zombies to be quite slow, and if they can run so fast why are they so incapable of opening doors or climbing over anything? I suppose that would ruin the whole Big Brother angle. I mean the whole point is that they can't get through the fence, crawling and clambering over each other to dog-like whistling and pot clacking. It's a good thing really, I'm certainly considering applying for Big Brother just in case of an apocalypse. Would it work for a nuclear explosion?

They're also lucky, that one of the Big Brother imbociles knows something about medicine; not just a pretty face, obviously. ..

Tune in tonight for more! Where hopefully we'll get to see whether they make it to Tesco before it's too late.

edit: I have just discovered that there are in fact, different types of zombies. Those depicted on Dead Set are a bit more modern than the old 'Night of the Living Dead' types. So, I suppose I'll have to retract the above question because, I was a bit wrong. Although, it still stands that if zombies have evolved since movies of old then could it be that in later incarnations they will be able to get through doors? Or over gates? Or even out of pools?

Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Dead Set

A show about zombies? The only survivors being in the Big Brother house? Charlie Brooker wrote it? I'm not sure there's anything NOT to like about this concept.

This show no doubt appeals to fans and despisers of Big Brother alike. On the one hand the excellent use of a real eviction night and Davina to 'get Pippa out' and on the other a total mockery and acknowledgement of just how miserable post-apocalyptic life would be if Big Brother house-mates were the sole survivors. Well, them and a couple of TV people though it's arguable whether they're useful (my flatmate would disagree).

I'll admit right now, I don't know a thing about zombie movies; if there were any references, I didn't spot them. Apparently the bit where the runner smashed a zombie over the head with a fire extinguisher was a rip off of 'Irreversible'? I have no idea, anyway who cares! It was amazing!

The gore!
The outrageously disgustingly sickeningly hilarious gore!
The unsentimentality when the runner stabbed the other runner she got fruity with minutes before the 'attack'.
The zombie in a wheelchair?! What?!
Davina zombie! I particularly enjoyed Davina zombie going after that arsehole; was he the producer?

He really was an arsehole, leaving everyone to die as he shut the door on them, what a shit. I like it though; I like that he has survived thus far, it makes it all the more awful. We've got the oblivious Big Brother air-heads and a selfish narcissistic bastard who has absolutely no desire to save anyone but himself at any given moment. Yes, he must live.

Obviously, the runner is a true hero; not only did she stab that guy in the neck with the scissors but once she got in the Big Brother house her fear, her threats and her eventual vomit-inducing repeated smashing the head of a zombie intruder with a fire extinguisher was suitably courageous; if only that had happened on actual Big Brother. I'd be much more inclined to watch that - imagine the headlines!

Though I'm sad that it'll all be over in a week, it's pretty exciting too, give in to the true nature of Big Brother - bombard the audience! Every night! Until we get so sick of these idiots we want to smash their faces in! Except, they might die, so you want to watch, you don't care that it's on every night because it will be really entertaining. Unlike recent Big Brother years...

This is definitely the best thing to happen to Halloween in ages. It's a night almost as pointless and depressing as any other, except you have to dress up in stupid clothes. So, stay in and watch zombies try to destroy the very base of our dispicable society - reality fucking television.

Monday, 6 October 2008

The Story of Maths

Tonight, I got excited. I got excited because a programme called 'The Story of Maths' was on. I like maths, I am fascinated by it and I loathe myself for not taking it at A Level (it was, I'll admit out of pure fear of inadequacy and thus failure so I did easy things instead). I got yet more excited when I found cool things out about the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians who discovered and used a lot of clever things which were actually put into theory much later by the Greeks and beyond. I like the philosophical element of maths which can fit comfortably with the practical; making two pieces of a whole. I like how the 'Story of Maths' demonstrated all these things with enthusiasm, encompassing the history and progression of civilisation as it is linked with maths.

Thanks to some of the things I've been reading and learning I found myself thirsty for more on the practical application and uses in Egypt. They mentioned taxation of land being calculated through measuring the area of a farmer's land. I wanted to see what mathematics and its uses gave to the formation of what we see as civilised society. I didn't really get to see that relationship, though that bit about land was an interesting point.

It concentrated (naturally) much more on the development of mathematical formulae, patterns and uses of patterns. The Egyptians discovered binary through their multiplication system. The mesopotamians figured out a way to establish the area of a circle; figured out pi. The use of Pythagoras' theory 1,000 years before it was written down in both camps and the teaching and fondness for a playful use of maths, tactical maths in old board games like Backgammon.

I might sound ridiculous for getting so excited, but maths really was one of those oddly enjoyable subjects. It was horrific when you couldn't figure it out, but once you had it, that was it, it was a rule, you could stick to it and work through the problems. The fact that maths was always about one answer and finding a method in order to achieve that answer is so appealing when so many other things are chaotic and inconclusive. The axioms that help to build up those rules are fascinating in the way they can be hidden and forgotten purely because they are axiomatic, unless you're clever and good at figuring things out.

The show has a lovely charm to it because it explains things and informs the completely useless and unknowing like me, whilst probably make actual mathematicians smile at the very idea that someone is willing to contextualise something a lot of ordinary people find terribly frightening.

It's just a shame that perhaps, because it was on BBC4 ordinary people might not have watched it. Thankfully, I'm very ordinary so I learnt a little bit at least.

See the second in the series (there are four) next Monday, 9pm, BBC4.

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Politics on TV

Jamie Oliver doesn't really do it for me and it has been a while since I've watched one of his bothersome programmes. I cook for myself a lot of the time, try to eat well, yet he still manages to make me feel shit, in some way. There's never any sense of pride when watching Jamie, he just goads and goads. So, last night I watched Griff Rhys Jones getting angry on BBC2. I missed the first episode and I wonder perhaps, if I missed him getting really really enraged? Last night he was reflective, trying to hone his anger with boxing and the like (a little bit like the kids and that ex-con on The Wire).

On a personal level, it was great. It taught me that I'm not as angry as I think I am. I mean, I don't proper lash out at anyone (even though I think about it). I don't have the physical onslaught of anger, the 'seeing red', the boiling up inside. I think, actually, I only ever get angry at myself. I certainly have the insecurity problem of anger. However, I don't direct it at anyone. I'm acutely aware of my low self-esteem, the way I can change it, the things I should be doing, I just don't do it. I get frustrated at myself, I often vent and complain and whine but I'm pretty sure I don't actually get aggressive towards anyone else. Good one me.

Griff however, isn't like that. He gets pissed off, but then, I found it rather amusing and ridiculous when he talked about the way he got angry; the things he got angry about. So petty, for example - the problem with getting to GMTV (or whatever) for 7am only for Ben Fogle to be on the earlier slot and for him to be waiting around until after the news. His story at the group therapy session in LA about some director in a theatre production annoying him because he knew what he was doing, he'd done it before. It all seemed so pathetic. What is there to be annoyed about? He doesn't have to work, sure he probably wants to, and no doubt he works incredibly hard, but as he complained about not having the time for this and that I think: surely Griff, surely you can just quit something? I mean, there are people out there stressed out, on low wage who can barely keep up with daily expenses and children and problems and they are very much entitled to lash out. It's probably those exact people pictured on CCTV lashed and really aggressive. Where do they hone their anger? Except on the streets, on strangers, in booze.

Anger, I think, is culturally dependent. Depending as well, of course, on you as a person and your individual behaviour; whether you're passive aggressive or indeed simply aggressive. Those who are aggressive, I believe in this country are more likely to direct that aggression, as they've got the freedom to be, in some ways. I think, there are a lot of things that happen more in countries like ours because of the freedom and wealth that we have. Even if we're not all that wealthy. It's the notion that we expect so much yet do so little about it, I think, that makes us angry. We expect it all to happen and when it doesn't, when it's a bit hard, we get frustrated. I always go for this theory, with just about everything that is a bit wrong in this country but I do believe it plays a part.

I'd like to compare and contrast anger in different countries, different worlds. Has capitalism helped to make us angry? I wonder.

Jamie got angry, I saw that, because I did watch it in the end, albeit after reading G2 today. The article on class and food was really not a surprise and if anyone read it and was surprised then they obviously live in Jamie's bubble. It has clearly been an issue in all his crusades, in all these health freakouts and not to mention environmental ones. Organic this and that; why do you think all these guys are on Channel 4? People like me watch it; people with money (or parents with money) who have been taught to cook and know good recipes and delicious food and are willing to spend their money on it. Channel 4 is not there for those benefit folk from Rotherham, young mothers with no time or money. Those people that deserve to get angry but probably don't because they've got too many other things to worry about.

It's interesting how G2 referred to the programme as being an important comment on our culture because I'm pretty sure all the other programmes have alluded to the same issue; You Are What You Eat for one. Didn't that constantly demonstrate the type of people facing this food/class struggle?

It's funny, thinking we live in a classless society when clearly it's there in red, been there all along, it's on Wife Swap and all those other Channel 4 reality/documentary crossover shows. This is not new, this is simply giving the issue its worth.

Yet, I don't think it is enough. Aside from the part where the woman was crying about her debts Jamie did nothing to try and comprehend the real financial strain these people are under. Not just that, but time constraint. It's a real life problem and what the programme needs to do is focus on money, focus on the price of the food they are using and keep going for simpler, disgustingly simple ways to cook decent hearty food. I don't know the answer, if it was up to me I'd give them a slab of mackerel (ready to eat), a few fillets are less than £2 in Tesco but then that's not something kids would enjoy and goodness knows is probably still too expensive. How Jamie got them to buy salmon I don't know. He really should have been giving them something cheaper like Rainbow Trout to cook with. Even I don't buy salmon and I'm a big fan.

It's still brushing over it really, this is not the social food revolution, this is not the working class struggle. They were showing the good a little more than the bad, and no doubt they'll continue to show the good but then when the show is over it will all go back to normal. I just don't think it has the depth it ought to have.

I also think it could do a lot to show the rest of the working class - the immigrant class. The great majority of Jamie's pupils were white, partially because it was in Rotherham but partially, I think because there is a very different culture in many of our immigrant communities in this country. Whether working or middle class the relational culture is hugely related to food, having dinner together, cooking decent meals and passing that recipe on. Why is it such a white British issue? Why is the family so prevalent in other cultures but not the white British culture? Or at least not anymore.

I've been learning about individualist capitalist societies in the West in relation to relational Eastern ones; they are the growing success, they are emerging out of the economic crisis. Is that individualism part of every aspect of this culture? Including food and meal times? That's a scary thought, that even family has lost out to capitalism and its greed.