So my computer picked this week to go (possibly, hopefully not) to the big motherboard in the sky. It currently languishes at the computer GPs, awaiting prognosis. It would pick the day I rented Magic Mike and On The Road from the library to pack up. Ah, the law of the Sod, the law that has by far the most impact in my life. It’s also stopped working soon after I’d been advertising my blog in various unvconventional manners. I would say “Fuck You computer” but I’m irrationally superstitious about technology and don’t want to annoy it further lest it refuses to recover. So I’ll just say get well soon computer. Its lack of turning on means I’ve had all this pent up verbosity bereft of an outlet. Even my Mum, who could talk a glass eye shut, wanted to get off the phone with me – a first.
To (what else?) this week’s TV.
First to Hair (Tuesday, 9pm, BBC Three). There has been an explosion of craft competition shows across the BBC, probably informed by the success of dough behemoth GBBO, the pastry – faced ratings assassin. Now there is baking, hairdressing, sewing and interior design shows. The host Steve Jones was incongruously serious, which is of course the only way to approach high camp. The show had a variety of amateur tress enthusiasts compete in three challenges: quiffs (yaay!), a straight cut and a fairytale “freestyle”. Annie won the quiff challenge with an exemplary showing. One of the judges, Alain, believed there to be a lot of illegal sideways quiffs going on, aka barrel rolls, and was not happy.
The last task was where the real money shots shown in the trailer came in. The fairytale theme set Dominika on a “Thumbelina in a flower” trip – fashioning petals out of fake hair and plastic that would be dropped to reveal Thumbelina in the middle of the model’s head. “Very brave” said the judges. The look on the model’s face is hard to describe, it was a mixture of fear, embarrassment and disbelief. I would expect nothing less from a woman who looked as though she’d lost a battle with a race of pom poms. Further outlandishness was to come from 16 year old Kobi’s “unicorn horn”. It was nothing like what it stated to be: it was a four foot tower of florist’s foam covered in hair extensions and facing the wrong way to be a horn. The poor model couldn’t lift her head properly. Annie produced a look I can only describe as “electrocuted albino spirit of the 80s” and won. They used so much fake hair in the task that it ran out and the camera discovered one contestant grappling with a spherical tangle of extensions saying “you weren’t meant to see this.”And… I’m hooked. Kirby-gripped if you will. Sorry about that.
I’m less enamoured of the Great British Sewing Bee. I love clothes but they do this tricksy camerawork that means you can’t see them properly and they use what I’d call “worthy, folk” material in oatmeal colours that do not make for the most exciting of clothes.
I approve of these craft shows in general though, more than the ubiquitous singing competitions. Of course there is technique in singing, but the best artists transcend that. I feel like music, the most accessible yet mysterious of art forms, should be left alone in the formative stages. The wailing primetime has proven that art by consensus does not work. The public picks their winner then resolutely refuses to buy their records, a perverse response worthy of the French taking to the streets to demonstrate against a democratic vote. I would prefer it if Simon Cowell were shipped elsewhere to peddle his brand of scorn- banks or parliament perhaps. He has single-handedly made pop music a lot more shite. I can only salute his thoroughness but hope that he goes away and stops commodifying magic. With craft, the technique is a lot more definite and objective so criticism can be constructive and judges can pick apart stuff that is not so personal.
Having said all that I watched some of The Voice last night (7pm, BBC One). I’m a massive hypocrite but I can’t deny it’s entertaining. Most of the song choices weren’t for me. Sally managed to make an Olly Murs song sound good so she’s got talent. The battle round always produces some, ahem, challenging notes. Kylie’s choice of Lee was confusing to me, he sounded like he was singing on a power plate. The format feels a bit top heavy, too many stages and not enough live shows. Too much process.
Jonathon Creek‘s (Friday, 9pm, BBC One) return was a little disappointing. Charming as ever but the plotting was weak and implausible: who would really be so forgiving if they got stabbed? I hope it improves next week.
Superstar Dogs were having more fun, with “Sad-eyed” Sidney “showboating” on the goal line with a spectacular leap off a medicine ball and the mighty rottweiler Zeus getting all mincey in the water. Friday was the first of the semi finals and I was rooting for Rex, a 9 year old Search and Rescue dog who was the oldest guy in the competition, but he came a gallant second in the end. The commentators excelled themselves describing “Dave steering Rex round the course like a hairy motorbike.” I loved that.