Did we like it?
The latest slovenly intrusion into the schedules of Hate TV in which nine ‘participants’ summon up every last ounce of loathing from the very pit of their souls to snatch the £1m prize money. For a show in which the central tenet is to reward kindness and pleasantry with fiscal reward, there is so little altruism and humanity on show they may as well have transplanted each brain of the ‘participants’ into starving wild dogs and unleashed them in a pseudo-technological arena to watch them tear out each others throats.
What was good about it?
• It’s not as bad as Space Cadets.
• We actually quite like the big god-face controller as we sympathise with the fact that he’s just an actor forced to play out the role of a simpering megalomaniac.
• In a world temporarily starved of senseless, directionless reality shows the goings-on should be enough to bring famine relief to the surfeit of gossip magazines acting as the grey squirrels usurping shelf space away from other titles.
What was bad about it?
• Throughout the slog. the big god-face of the ‘controller’ sneers at the ‘participants’, a term that suggests they have the free will to leave at any moment. But this is as much a euphemism as Saddam Hussein’s human shields ‘guests’ in the 1991 Gulf War. With the producers having analysed each ‘participant’s’ character down to the very marrow of their indelible avarice before selecting them for the show, internees would have been a more apposite accreditation as they have no intention of leaving while their potential bounty is still available.
• The incessant soundtrack that loiters throughout the entire hour and is never silent. Occasionally, the pitch will shift from an ominous, trite hum that’s been pilfered from a stodgy 1980s CBBC drama and looped ad infinitum and cumbersomely alter into a dull thud after the controller has made some banal revelation. Even something mundane as eating food is soundtracked by a pressure-building surge in the music.
• The big god-face controller that appears periodically on a big screen to sneer at the ‘participants’ has some of the most melodramatic dialogue this side of Home Secretary John Reid’s alarmist rants. “Failure has dire consequences,” he sonorously intones, as though one of the ‘participants’ will have their seat dropped into a pit of rabid Big Brother rejects who will tear them to shreds in a frenzy of envy.
• “Each of you has a secret,” the big god-face controller states. “Something you wouldn’t want anyone else to know.” Except of course a TV researcher who each of the ‘participants’ blabbed to within moments of meeting them.
• And: “With so much money at stake, is telling the truth really an option?” While the big god-face controller has also been ordered to insert risible pauses to try to enhance the drama that make Pinteresque Pauses seem like lightning flashes: “Cast your votes… now!” “It’s time… to count the votes!” Take out the unnecessary pauses and the whole show would be so small and compact it could be sent into ant nests to observe their behaviour.
• The editorial stance, which dearly wants to coerce the viewer into a definite perception of each ‘participant’. For instance, when Pip revealed he was gay the camera seemed to switch to Alexander, the other gay ‘participant’ as though all gay people automatically fancy all other gay people; and when Kelly disclosed that she was a lap dancer, we got a shot of hunky athlete Andrew leering excitedly at her. Both of these incidents may well have happened as it was edited, but there is a suspicion it was sequenced like this to manipulate the viewer.
• The ‘participants’ are cynically divided into their occupations – “the law student”, “the lap dancer”, “the property developer” – as though they were episodes of Mr Benn.
• The ‘participants’ are utterly unremarkable people who debate without any sign of insight or intellect. “Bev’s a bit sly,” confides Sian with absolutely no evidence. “Anna wants to be the boss,” mutters Kaman, for no good reason.
• The pseudo-futuristic language that is meant to exacerbate the inhumane conditions of a hi-tech prison. “Sleeptime has expired,” the soft computerised female voice commands. While the big god-face controller uses pseudo-religious language as though he is sanctimonious deity standing in unforgiving judgement over his cowed followers: “Whoever’s secret is revealed will be immediately cast out!” Anna’s secret, she slept with a friend’s lover, was deemed the worst in the dubiously pious eyes of the rest of the ‘participants’ so she has lost the chance to win the prize.
• One part of the show that could have been fun – guess whose secret was being debated – was ruined when each of the ‘participants’ were revealed before the debate took place. As everyone gushed forth on how bad lying to get out of paying a debt was Kaman switched the focus to the person banned from a town. Sensing elimination, Kelly became vindictive over sleeping with a friend’s lover. While Anna couldn’t reverse the wave of hate as it swamped her and “cast her out” of the contest.