Until recently, I thought this highly addictive programme was only available for those lucky people who could afford Sky. Indeed, the first time I ever saw this programme was at a party at my Sky-owning friend’s house, at which he insisted everybody in the house gather around his television and watch this “ice breaker”. I had absolutely no clue what was going on, didn’t find it funny and instead of joining in with everyone’s banter, I proceeded to gorge myself on nibbles. I digress.
Luckily for me, Virgin Media on Freeview took the initiative and pasted this glorious and quality piece of programming straight into the morning slot. Seemingly impossible assault courses coupled with mad and shouting Japanese people is the definitive way of attracting the hungover student viewer ratings. Or any social category for that matter. There isn’t much to say on behalf of the programme’s formula. The show starts off with hundreds of people running through the Japanese countryside, and then by process of rather violent elimination, they are then whittled down to only a few. These ‘lucky’ people are left to battle it out with guards in strange space ship/go-kart things so as to break into a cardboard representation of a castle…which belongs to a bloke called Takeshi. As no one has ever actually won the game, it is impossible to say what is achieved. The fact that everyone speaks Japanese just makes everything even more confusing. It is therefore my belief that Takeshi’s Castle is made purely for the entertainment of British students, who either smoke way too much cannabis, or are just warming up for the slightly more serious “Ninja Warrior” (“Gladiators” meets “Karate Kid”), which is on straight after Takeshi’s Castle.
Think Jackass, but set in Japan, with less fat people, and more flimsy assault courses. Like Jackass, everyone seems to get up from their twenty foot drop or shin-shattering collisions with big smiles on their faces, so it’s ok to laugh at their pain, unlike “You’ve Been Framed”, in which the footage of a toddler accidentally back-flipping, landing on their heads, and crying is considered hilarious. Oh yes, and did I mention Craig “Robot Wars” Charles commentates throughout? What more could you possibly ask for in a game show? Sense? Structure? A point? Go and watch “The Weakest Link” then, and leave us to wince and laugh at the same time.
At first, I wasn’t sure about this new programme called “Glee”. The adverts paraded what seemed like Channel 4’s attempt to latch on to the “High School Musical” franchise by turning once again to America for quality programming. The channel’s wave of post-OC programs that my girlfriend watches, such as “90210” and “The Hills”, had already turned me off E4, so when “Glee” was held in front of me like a sickly sparkly sweetie, I turned off E4 all together, turning instead to Jeremy Clarkson on Dave. Big mistake.
I’m delighted to say that I was wrong about Glee. It is joyfully unoriginal in terms of its plot, which just makes it even more endearing. One can’t help compare it to High School Musical, in the sense that it is about high school students coming from all of the different social groups over their love of music and performing. However, what sets the series apart from the blockbuster is that you get forty minutes at a time, in which there is a moral to be learnt and at least three glorious songs to be sung. Being an amateur music producer, the range of songs used throughout the series appeals the most to me, with their extremely varied voicings and different arrangements. It’s most popular song (“Don’t Stop Believing” by “Journey”) was the most highly downloaded song on iTunes to this date. Considering all of the illegal downloading currently occurring as you read this, this statistic is a clear indication of the influence of this series.
It’s camper than Alan Carr pitching a tent at a Barbara Streisand concert, and what with all of the doom and gloom of Britain’s teen drama offering of “Skins”, it is a welcome relief. The Shakespearian formula of “boy from one group meets girl from rival group” is timeless, and coupled with the not-taking-myself-seriously attitude nestled within the series’ backbone, Glee comes over as a thoroughly enjoyable way of spending a Friday night in.