Square Eyes #5

Posted in TV
By Mansoor Iqbal on 10 Feb 2010

A Family Guy spin-off show!? I haven’t been this excited since they announced Joey (i.e. not at all). I’m not really that big a fan of Family Guy, which stems from the fact that I’m not stoned or drunk (for the time being), and although I would never be so bold as to completely deny I was an idiot, my idiocy is not of the frat-boy variety. Watching The Cleveland Show (C4, episodes 1 + 2 4od until 01/03) was therefore about as appealing to me as a sit down meal with Gary Megson. Cleveland as a lead character!? Really? Isn’t his raison d’être being exceedingly dull and having a grating voice?

The theme tune didn’t do much to allay my fears. The theme from Family Guy is one that has many searching for the mute button, but this is a joke, and not the funny kind. Have you ever made up a little theme song for yourself as you go about your business? That’s what this is like. I guess that’s the point, but it’s hard to see anyone wanting to hear this more than once. At the end of it, Cleveland laughs. It’s hard to emphasise how horrific this laugh is. It haunts me in my sleep, and makes me want to punch a baby or piss on a tramp, so at least someone else will feel as bad as I do. The show itself is pretty much the same as Family Guy. You got your talking animal, bland wife and of course a wisecracking toddler, although this time instead of a Bond villain he’s based on a gangster rapper. I wonder what made the writers make that inspired choice. The whole things plays out like that ‘white guys, they drive like this, but black guys, they drive like this’ stand-up on The Simpsons. The Cleveland Show isn’t going to win over anyone who isn’t already into Family Guy, and even fans might find it a tad hard to swallow, as it seems a watered down version. Could have probably reached these conclusions without bothering to watch it…

You might have heard it’s an election year. As a nation cringes at the thought of the near inevitability of Cameron (or at least everyone I know), Channel 4 decided it was time for some politicians to do a reality show. Thus Tower Block of Commons (C4, episode 1 4od until 25/02, I think) was born. The idea of sending politicians to blocks of council flats in deprived areas is actually quite good, just so we can fully comprehend the chasm between the world of politics and the lives of those who live in these blocks. It works both ways; for every gormless politician struggling to disguise how helplessly out of touch they are, there is a young person who doesn’t know what the Houses of Parliament even are. It’s a shame Iain Duncan Smith was obliged to leave early, as it would have been entertaining to see the crown prince of darkness slowly reveal his lust for human flesh. As for the others, they once again reveal what we already knew. The Conservatives are dodderers who find the poor amusing at best and inconvenient at worst, Labour have grown soft and flabby and confused from their years of power, and the Lib Dems remind you of your friends, and probably have about the same level of influence.

Generation Jihad (BBC 2, episode 1 iPlayer until 01/03) highlighted one of the most salient facts of the modern age – the internet is a cess pool of idiocy. Of course, we all vaguely know how radicalisation happens, it’s more important to work out why. In this case, some young men who have fallen foul of our terror laws are allowed the chance to explain. This is all fine and good, but remains limited, as they are idiots. Some proper external analysis of why it happens is what we need. This is of course problematic, as to do this we in the West are going to have to own up to great deal of mistakes (beyond aimless yelping of ‘bliar’ and ‘illegal war’), and it’s unclear whether we are yet ready to do this. There was an excellent episode of Dispatches on lately (C4, 4od until 01/03), in which an Afghan journalist followed some insurgents in North Afghanistan. It is telling that they perceived our presence there as being no different to that of the Soviets.

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