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Humanity’s greatest achievement:Team America, Fuck Yeah (Hell No), Part II

Posted by idetest on June 21, 2010

ALL MY CHILDREN

These are all their children? Are they Catholic?

There are three things I know about this show

a) They have lots of lesbians

b) It’s some sort of sister show to another soap One Life to Live. And it’s the more successful of the two.

c) Susan Lucci. Daytime Emmys.

This show is set in some part of Philadelphia where apparently there are rich white people. Funny I don’t remember them being in the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. From what I could tell from that Philly as full of poor people, who looked depressed and cold and lots of angry black people. Shows such as Cold Case only sought to tell me that, yes, this was the truth (by this viewpoint though: Miami is full of serial killers, Detroit has lots of men obsessed with tools and cars who have shows on basic cable, and God help you if you ever have to go to a public hospital in downtown Chicago).

Aside from this however I know nothing as it has a) never been broadcast in a country I live in b) doesn’t seem to have any sort of devoted YouTube following (a sign your show isn’t clicking with minorities). So I turn to Wikipedia-apparently this epic piece of literature is part of the opening credits:

The Great and the Least,

The Rich and the Poor,
The Weak and the Strong,
In Sickness and in Health,
In Joy and Sorrow,
In Tragedy and Triumph,
You are ALL MY CHILDREN

Well if that isn’t Shakespeare in daytime form I don’t know what is. Quickly let us move on before the lesbians come.

DAYS OF OUR LIVES

Ah, DOOL as it’s known affectionately. I know all about this hot mess as I watched it one school holidays. You’ll know it; it’s the one with the hourglass and the voice over saying ‘like the sands through the hourglass, these are the days of our lives’. Yeah, complicated hidden meanings are not something Americans are big on. Anyway this opening sequence has been oft parodied and is referenced a surprising amount (Gilmore Girls, anyone?) so it’s sort of a joke now.

The show is one of those that changed its location of where it was set. Originally it was set in New England, Y’know somewhere bearable, but is now set supposedly in or around Chicago (i.e. cold and full of Polish people. Yuck). Other than that all I know is that it was often thought to be the first cancelled of the big American soaps because it got it’s ridonkulousness on in the 90s when people started getting possessed and shit. People didn’t like it and its ratings went the way of the Cuban Libertarian Society. However, it’s still around where as others are not.

According to Wikipedia though, the show was originally supposed to marry the popular hospital and Doctors orientated genre with the soap opera idea of having a whole town to mine for characters and storylines. Which I’m sure back in the 60s when this started was very original (maybe?) but now makes it sound like a cut-price Holby City. I jest. Holby City is far too cheap to be called a higher priced version of anything.

Anyway, the show did the usual American thing of focusing primarily on the wealthy and upper class members of a place. This is a confusing American thing-is it because the soaps were originally aimed at housewives with dreams of getting away from a lifetime of domestic drudgery and faking orgasms that they had to focus on the rich? Obviously the answer was yes. I mean soaps only have their name because guess what, soap companies used to sponsor them back when they were on the radio.

It’s still however a primarily American quirk though. True most country’s soaps have wealthy people in them but they aren’t the primary focus usually. In fact here in Britain soaps are usually based around working class areas. This I can attribute to the fact that TV execs in Britain realised something long ago: poor people watch TV; rich people go out, read books, entertain friends or only watch TV sparingly.

If American soaps want to save themselves from dying off like they already are they should look into this.

ONE LIFE TO LIVE

Fuck Sue Sylvester. Dorian is the supreme bitch of the universe. Bow to her.

The last, and yes, possibly least of our daytime pack. This show is set in Llanview, Pennsylvania. A well-heeled suburb (but with a seedy side – don’t they always?) of Philadelphia. I’m beginning to think the city’s tourism board was doing some backroom deals back in the good old days.

The show, at present is languishing in the ratings and may or may not be cancelled soon-ish. Which is a shame as it has some great characters; the writers on this show actually give their characters a personality. An unheard of idea in America’s world of soap. On this show you get egotistical millionaire Dorian who runs around looking like a Poodle mated with some spoilt Jewish heiress –always a plus-demanding to made mayor and that anyone she likes be imprisoned. Also someone got pushed out of a window when she announced her candidacy for mayor and the episode had the word ‘defenestration’ in the title. Awesome.

Other than that-it’s a bit shit. The usual single mother level of brokedom pervades and you realise they only have 10 cast members and that 9 of them can’t act. However, they do get a plus for Roxy. The boozy Patsy Stone wannabe that she is.

Also it got rid of its gay characters (why I watched) because they offended Middle America. Well let me tell you Mister WHEN ALL THESE SOAPS GET CANCELLED AND THE CHINESE TAKEOVER DON’T COME RUNNING TO THE GAYS! Because we tried to help. But noooo. We weren’t god enough. You do realise that when these shows go all the plastic surgeons, dentists, beauticians, laser hair removal business operators go with them?

So go on, get them cancelled and ruin America’s fleeting economic recovery. Now what will that walmart checkout woman watch on her day off? Hmm, that’s right: Ads from the CCCP. As Obama is forced to kiss the Chinese premier’s feet. Well Done American TV execs and your inability to change, modify, diversify or listen to what your audience wants. There’s a reason why anyone with half a brain only watches Showtime and HBO these days.

Even though there is so much more to say I fear I’ll just descend into a frothing at the mouth rant if I’m forced to continue. And while that makes a hiLARious skit on the Tyra Banks Show it wouldn’t work so well here.

So all in all here’s what we learnt:

  1. All American soaps are facing the axe at some point in the near future.

  2. No one on them can act.

  3. They are all carbon copies of each other and have zero originality.

  4. Backlighting can  only get you so far ( I know, I’m shocked as well).

  5. Cheap sets and having ultra bright lightbulbs as the sun do not a convincing outdoor location make.

  6. Everyone is called Brooke, Ridge, Fudge or some such twaddle.

  7. There is about as much realism in them as there in those McDonalds ads telling me that their patties are 100% real beef.

  8. The rich may have more glamorous lives but it really does show your culture for the shallow, vacuous and vapid excuse it has become.

  9. You have to occasionally surprise the viewer. Just once in a while

  10. You’ve got ethnic minorities. Great. Well done. Now why not present the actual America your small town settings represent? Seriously, do Americans not find it insulting that they get TV like this made for them? No? Well then maybe it is your fault that the Chinese will take over.

And on that note. I bid you adieu. That’ll be it with Soap Reviews for a while but don’t worry, I’ll find other things to judge while I sit here and drink myself into an early grave.

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Humanity’s greatest achievement: Team America, Fuck Yeah (Hell No), Part I

Posted by idetest on June 21, 2010

G’day fellow soap fans.

Well after a hectic few days of sitting on my arse playing Sim city and watching the illegal immigrants on my street get carted off in a paddy wagon (I like to make a game of guessing which one will try and run first; the chubby Romanian man or the gangster Middle Eastern guy?) I have decided to enter the world of brain tumours, multiple personalities and secret paternity tests.

Yes, people, we’re going for the big  guns; the one and the only, the land of the free and home of the obese: America.

American soaps were the originals and are often claimed to be the benchmark of all that is good and holy in Soapverse. Some backlot studio in Brooklyn is the Soapworld’s answer to the Western Wall. It is here our people got there first chance to shine and it is from here that many of humanity’s greatest moments have occurred. So join me as I travel around numerous God-awful small towns of America and discuss how the nation that landed on the moon manages to ruin soaps for everyone else.

GENERAL HOSPITAL

It's like Grey's Anatomy. But even shittier.

This show is as suggest set in a hospital (possibly a general one) and is one of the oooold ones dating back from 1963. It is set somewhere called Port Charles. Which confuses me because isn’t there a soap called Port Charles? (That Ryan Philippe got his big break on if I remember correctly?) I’ll Wikipedia this.

Now I must admit I only ever watched a recent spin off this show called General Hospital: Night Shift but I am aware that it is one of the formerly great soaps and still manages to punch above its weight-James Franco guest stars in it whenever he wants to confuse people over which way he swings again. Though frankly if James Franco wants to confuse me with a swinging anything I’ll take it. The man may look like a chimpanzee mated with a squirrel wearing a toupee but he still manages to scream sex with every breath. Phew. Got a bit distracted there.

Anyway, recently the show has had a prison rape storyline. Yeah. But I can’t hate on a show that when explaining the a recent plot included this summary

“18-year-old Michael landed in prison for bludgeoning his crazy stepmother to death with an axe handle after she kidnapped his pregnant mom. Michael’s mobster dad burned all the evidence to protect his son but the court convicted Michael anyway. Once on the inside, Michael’s rapist Carter protected him from an abusive guard and later raped Michael as “payback.””

Prison Rape.

Mobsters.

Pregnant kidnap victims with crazy second wife syndrome captors.

This show has it all.

THE BOLD & THE BEAUTIFUL

This woman knows the surgeon's scalpel like the back of her wrinkly hand

Ugh. Back home in the bayou this show is one the pensioner channel in the mid afternoon. And so therefore whenever I wagged school due to an ‘illness’ (Rikki Lake was having a special episode) I always used to try and avoid this shit as well.

Everyone knows the plot to this-the family that owns a fashion house or some shit (Ok, maybe I don’t) and that’s it’s basically the most clichéd of all the soaps. All the men look like Fabio from a Mils and Boon cover. None of the women can open their mouths because they’re botoxed and sculpted so tightly. Everyone is called things like Brooke, Hunter, Morgan, Rock, Ridge, Cliff, Forrester and Landfill. You will not find an ‘Archibald’ in this show.

Oh, and of course the plot moves at a pace so glacial it makes global warming look like a coke fiend dancing at a gay bar. With a glowstick.

I once watched an episode where some psycho bitch had either shoved or been near some woman when she’d fallen off a balcony. The woman who fell was heavy preggers. About ready for that thing to burst out of her chest, or however it is exactly women give birth. Anyway, the entire episode was literally the camera focused on the woman at the top of the stairs going “Oh, no. She’s not dead…I mean oh, no she fell!” and then cutting to the woman on the floor lying there groaning with her cushion sticking out the bottom of her top. And that was it for the episode. It was like trying to watch people with Alzheimer’s having a spelling bee.

All in all this show is shit. It should be cancelled but America’s economic recovery is so rocky that I fear if it does it’ll put all of LA’s plastic surgeons out of business. And then China will take over the world. And even though I love a bit of communism I’m just not that confident with chopsticks yet. Give me time though, give me time.

THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS

Apparently Eva Longoria used be on this show. Who knew? And yes, that's why I chose this picture.

Ah, yes. One of my favourites. This show is vaguely related to the BATB but is a bit less shit. But only a little bit. It’s the biggest soap ratings wise in the states these days (sometimes getting a whole 6 million viewers. Or about half as many as Eastenders does even when it’s in a rough patch. Like when Barbara Windsor announcing she’s retiring. Again. Bitch is worse than Cher)

The show is set in Wisconsin in a place called Genoa city. Yeah, took a soap opera, which focuses on greed and money and betrayal and good looking people doing dastardly things and set it in Wisconsin. A state famous for cheese and That 70s Show, and not a fuck of a lot else.

This is why the Chinese will be our overlords by 2030.

I watched this show briefly last year (2009) and was pleasantly surprised, I must admit. Because a) there was a Latino. How I love Latino’s in the small towns, b) Danni from Home & Away. Yeah. She’s in this. Go figure and c) it didn’t quite move at the glacial pace that Bold and the Beautiful did. In fact there was a spring in its step. Quite amazing. It was still shit though. It was all about the back lighting and awkward camera angles. But you can’t have everything.

AS THE WORLD TURNS

I’ve talked about my love for a certain character from this show before. But I’ll reiterate. Oh, Lucinda, you complete me. When there comes a time when Betty White finally goes to the sex rehab in the sky I nominate you for her replacement. Only the character though. Not the actress who I know nothing about.

The show is the second oldest in America, before Guiding Light was cancelled, and started back in the days when poodle skirts and lynch mobs were a la mode. It’s set in Oakdale, Illinois but don’t hold that against it. Like all American shows it deals with the very upper echelons of society and only has a few token poories-in this case it seems to revolve around Holden and Lily and their never ending divorces and reunifications. Thank God these people are all millionaires because otherwise they might have to stay married to each other (can you imagine the lawyer’s fees?).

Anyway-the show seems to be made on a budget of about $2.54 an episode and so therefore looks worse than Amy Winehouse after a night out. And I’ll choose hear to rant about the acting in American soaps. Seriously people-you have Daytime Emmys: why? If this is the calibre of the acting that shit just surely must be a subtle joke we’re all missing?

There are quite often painted trees in the background (American soaps don’t do location shoots. No everything is on a set. Half the reason no one will ever watch them: they just look so bad and fake. Or is that just me?) which are less wooden than the actors (see what I did there?), especially the men who are usually hunks (of the waxed chests variety. No thanks. I want someone who could pass for a truck driver. Called Brent. Who drinks beer and eats steak for every meal. Call me if you’re out there) but lack any sort of talent…or brain cells to be honest.

The women, in their botoxed brilliance are usually goods for histrionics and screaming but not much else.

Anyway, As the World Turns time on the street corner is over now as it’s getting cancelled in September and will be of our screens and laptop monitors forever. Hopefully they wrap it up nicely-but that would require some sort of talent by the writers and I just don’t think they have it in them.

The two gays OBVIOUSLY had a storyline with Cyndi Lauper (Jealous? Me? Yes.)

Part II out in paperback soon.

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Humanity’s greatest Achievement: The Dutch ruin everything.

Posted by idetest on June 11, 2010

Ugh.

So here we are continuing our journey across the continent that gave us steam engines, the common cold and Eurovision and we find ourselves in my least favourite of all the glorious former empire-makers of the world’s bitter and twisted shells; Holland (The Netherlands, Whatevs. Pick a lane, bitches).

Yes, for a nation famed for its tall citizens, lack of ability to differentiate between throat clearing and an actual language, windmills, wooden shoes, tulips, pot and anti Islamic revelry it oddly enough has about as much creative presence in the world of soap as Amy Winehouse does in coming up with excuses for being back on the crack (Sheila needs to go and become friends with Lindsay ‘I dropped a drink on my leg’ Lohan for a lesson how to maintain a lie despite all evidence being to the contrary.)

Anywaaaaaaay.

Honestly I’m not sure what we were expecting for a country that prides itself on being built on the edge of land they managed to piece together after they bunged up the water ways with used spliff’s and bits of old clog but there you go.

The Dutch’s exact thoughts on soap are this; campy, American inspired shlock with the usual European ‘wild abandon’ attitude towards swearing and whatnot but with far less sex than their Eastern neighbours (boo) but still a tad more advanced and less tryhard in terms of their teen soaps than the Spanish (wee-ho(?)).

Thus Dutch soaps come in two forms: Teeny bopper shite with moral messages and roll-your-eyes at the Brady Brunch do The Hague moments and the more grown up version with the usual bad plots that wouldn’t let them be screened somewhere they respect soaps (The UK) and over the top campy ‘my brother’s back from the dead and now she’s my sister, also she had a baby what got switched at birth with the son of a gangster who is paralysed’ type shite.

Anyway. Let’s get down to business.

Goede Tijden Slechte Tijden:

https://i0.wp.com/www.hanry.nl/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/goede-tijden-slechte-tijden-logo-2009.jpg

Y’all remember how I said the Eurozone was big on Australian soaps? Yeah well I weren’t lying. This is the Dutch remake of the soap. It’s nothing like the German remake which went to down the path of ‘grim, hyper realism with IZZUES’ and rather intense acting and humour, intelligence and other such things. This is campy backlighting with zero character development or realism to help you through the rough patches.

It’s set in some place called Meerijk which is your usual soap clichéd hole. i.e. Barmen know your name, there’s a local shop where people know your name (only local corner shops-supermarkets are unknown in soaps and won’t be invented for several more decades), everyone knows your damn name in these places.

It’s also, according to its Wikipedia (I am all about research), the longest running soap in Dutch-land and has been going all the way back the Jurassic age: 1990. Which begs the question of what the fuck the Dutchies were watching before this marvel of modern television dawned on them? Probably an all night paedophilia channel (oh wait, that’s Belgium) or endless game shows involving women in bikinis and zany catchphrases (oh wait that’s Italy. What the fuck is wrong with this continent?). Anyway.

Why I’d buy it a pair of dancing clogs: One word: Lucinda. It’s a little known fact (for reasons soon to become apparent) that the American soap As the World Turns is quite well-known in Holland. In fact it’s one of the few countries that it is shown outside Obamarama land. And thus for some reason they have the amazing Liz Hubbard who plays Lucinda the grand dame of Oakdale, a bajillionaire be-yotch that could kill a slag with a glare at fifty paces and calls everyone darling like she’s a cut price Illinois version of Patsy or something, occasionally guest starring. She plays an aunt of the matriarch of the main family. Or maybe she’s the mother. Or grandmother. I don’t know I was watching a Dutch soap opera how much attention do you expect me to pay?

Anyway sister ho goes round cutting bitches and saying all her lines in English (they don’t even have to subtitle her. People are too scared not to understand) and making this shit they dredged up from the bottom of the sea (I mean prime Dutch farm land) halfway watchable.

Why we should blow up the dykes: Did you not read the rest of the rant? Well if not here’s another reason. Have you ever heard Dutch people having a conversation? Do you know what Dutch for ‘I love you’ is? – No it’s not ‘I’m drunk, let’s shag’ like it is in modern English- its ‘Phlegm, gob, spit, throat clear, sinus clearing nasal spray’. Dutch is the most unattractive language on the planet. If Spanish is like having your ear licked then Dutch is like seeing the waitress spit in your drink before being forced to drink it. Seriously clearing your throat should not be a syllable in any language.

Seriously: sort that shit out. It’s rank.

Why I’d get it drunk and go play on a windmill with it: I wouldn’t. I just wouldn’t.  And to quote Destiny’s child ‘you need to chill out with this mess.’ One way of doing so? Cancel this shit quick – before it ruins soap operas good name.

Spangas:

This show is set in a high school somewhere in the Dutch plain states. It’s a weird nickname derived from the proper name of the school they attend. I’m sure it makes sense to them.

Holy hell. It’s like Degrassi: The Amsterdam years. Except less cool. However this soap that seems to be aimed at the 12-16 age group does get points for something- which it needs because it’s shit otherwise- is that it’s our first soap in continental Europe that has ethnics! Woo!

I know Alles Was Zaehlt and a couple other German soaps have Turkish characters. But seriously: potential EU member states do not count. Spangas, has not one but TWO black characters (who are unrelated and in different age groups as well! Quelle shock!).

However, this show is shloppy shit and also deserves to be whipped, beaten and locked in dungeon (but not gagged. They can’t have all the fun stuff) as it really is like an after school special from the 1970s someone decided to rejuvenate and turn into an ongoing serial.

Y’know that shitty cartoon from the 90s Arthur? It was on TV when I was young. It was set at an American elementary school and followed Arthur and his bunch of ho’s and bros as they dealt with their usual issues of suburban kids (binge drinking, heroin addiction, international terrorism, going on the game to pay for the mother’s abortions-the irony-and homework) except they were all animals. Arthur was an aardvark, his best mate/handjob partner Baxter, was a rabbit. I forget what everyone else was because I hated/loved this show. I preferred Hey Arnold. Hell they day they make a live action version of Hey Arnold set in some Brooklyn public high school with drive-bys and crack heads I. AM. THERE.

Moving on-Arthur was the most obviously moral show I have ever watched. Y’know that great little trend of the most obvious hokey shows having a coded subversive message? Yeah. Arthur didn’t. In fact in one episode (the tipping point) Arthur smacks his bitch of a sister DW around the head. Not even a proper backhand across the room just a polite punch to the face. Anyway, you’d think from the rest of the episode that something of importance had happened-every other character treated Arthur like he’d admitting to pouring booze down the sink and couldn’t believe he’d do such a thing.

Maybe it was because my own brother used to rain down beatings on me like there was no tomorrow and I had some sort of Stockholm Syndrome thing going on, but I laughed hysterically at the thought of someone getting a smack from their sibling as being anything more than the trifling, insignificant shit issue it was. The fact that they dared made all our parents out to be neglectful and unloving just because they wouldn’t stop this (unlike Arthur’s faggy dad and lesbian mom) and made us clean up our blood stains was shit. And for that I hate all TV shows which broadcast the perfect families and show children as having to care about dull shit.

This, as you may have guessed from that sudden and unexpected pouring of bitterness, is kind of what this shit show does. There are politically active students who in one recent plotline decided to storm a chicken coop because the hens didn’t have nice conditions. First of this entire plot sucked because not one teenager should ever have such little access to drugs, porn and booze that they have to resort to this for fun, but secondly, and more importantly I don’t think any teenager ever would. Thirdly, one of the student’s classmates parent’s owned the chicken farm. Yeah so that’s cool and not at all a bitchy, vindictive thing to do. Also, they shave their heads and do other ‘righteous’ stuff. Oh, fuck off and go get pregnant or shoot something.

So yeah. Once you’ve waded through all that read this: This show is insulting and talks down to its audience despite it think it’s being current to teen’s issues. I mean Really? (There are some topical issues discussed but it’s mostly very clean and sanitised problems which come up)

Why I’d present it a bouquet of tulips: black characters are not exactly ten a penny in European TV. So kudos for that. Also there’s a Muslim character who wears a headscarf. OMGZ.

Why I’d run their goddamn bicycles off the road with a hummer: Ugh. Dutch men’s hair? Can we talk about this for a second? What is with that ugly type of blonde hair they all have? It’s very thick and wiry and quite curly. But it always seems to make them look like they have a strange receding hairline, even when they don’t. Maybe it’s the strange mullet-esque style it gets worn in, I don’t know. But I saw a Dutch guy on the tube the other week with this hairstyle and it reminded me one of the main characters on this show (chicken coop boy to be exact) who wears his hair like this. German and Scandinavian men are guilty of this as well but the Dutch are most prevalent. It’s ugly and it’s unsettling.

Why I’d buy it a shot: Oh, no they’re underage and besides alcohol can cause cancer, make you pregnant and lead to a lifetime of selling your arse on the street to pay for your next hit if you even so much as look at it. Motherfuckers.

There are at least two other Dutch soaps I know of. One has been cancelled so I won’t even bother, but the other-well, does it look like I enjoy Dutch TV? Do you think I’m going to go and seek it out? Hell no.

I need a lie down and stiff drink.

Next up: we finish up Europe with a whirlwind tour.

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Humanity’s greatest achievement: Spain’s poor showing. I blame Franco. And Alejandro.

Posted by idetest on June 8, 2010

Hola! Buenos Dias! Buenos naches! (Nachos? Whatevs.)

Continuing on our whirlwind trip around the continent that gave us the great plague and the railway we stop off in sunny fascism loving Spain. Ah, Spain a land of donkeys and windmills, beaches and herpes, sangria and terrorist attacks.

Now I must admit my threshold for Spanish soaps is low. Very, very low. So I’ll need help in this one.

The reason being that, to me, Spanish just sounds horrible. It is an awful language and makes me feel like I’m having a tongue inserted in my ear (only fun while drunk) and then being sandpapered at the same time. I didn’t know it was possible for noises to give you chaffing but apparently it is.

Anyway-our trip will have to be short and more varied to have a high enough word count to justify positing.

We start with a trip to beautiful Barcelona.

El Cor de la Cuitat:

Ah, Barcelona. What a shit hole. This soap is set in some inner city suburb (The show’s name means ‘The Heart of the City’) of the city commonly referred to its haggard ex-junkie lookalike residents as ‘Saints’. If you have ever seen the movie The Spanish apartment and expect this soap to be similar then guess again. True everyone does seem to live in cramped tiny apartment that look like they might collapse at any moment but it’s not in the bright, sunny Barcelona of the film.

This show seems to be filmed with a brown gauze over the lens and makes it impossible to tell whether they all just need a scrub or if the entire city is covered in a thick brown smog caused by a heavy tortilla based diet (or is that Mexico? Whatever. Same place)

Anyway.

Why I’d give it a flamenco dancing lesson: It’s so camp, low-budget and shit that it’s endearing. It’s made by the Catalonian region TV channel so I’m not sure if it’s actually shown in all of Spain. That said I did once watch some that had Castilian subtitles so maybe it is. But if it was shown in Catalonia only it might explain the sheer broke ass-ho nature of the show.

Also despite being Spanish they have no idea what to do with good-looking cast members. All the men have ugly haircuts (see more on this in the next show’s review) and all the women dress like it is 1985 still. And not in the good ‘new romantic’ sort of way.

Does however get experimental with big dramatic storylines and tries some interesting techniques.

Why I’d throw it in a bull fighting ring: Ugh. Eventually cheap arse production makes you tired even if it is like watching the underdog nerdy kid score the football captain’s girlfriend. Sometimes you just want an expensive and well designed set (the cafe in this show looks exactly (to me) like the one in the early 90s classic Allo Allo) rather than high school play’s attempts.

Take a shot of sangria every time: Someone uses over the top hand gestures or the subtitles are translated as something like this; ‘Well, fuck, I need to go to the fucking shops as I am late to fuck and the fuck needs to fuck. Shit. Whore.’ Either they have very strange ways of swearing in Spain that don’t translate into English very well or I need to move there now because those foul-mouthed bitches are a skank after my own heart.

Fisica o Quimica:

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If you can’t guess what the name means then you deserve to die. Not technically a soap, but I told you my knowledge of the Spaniards was a little low. Anyway this show is Spain’s answer to Skins or Gossip Girl (I know. I salivated at the thought as well). So basically this is the set up: Inner city ‘academy’ type school in Madrid. Everyone is very urban-i.e. they’re teenagers and yet dress like they walked out of a catalogue-and not in the skanky way they do on American TV shows-no this lot think lime green skinny jeans, 80’s bouffants and an acid wash denim jacket with ear stretchers and a nose piercing is a hot look (for men and women).

Also in this fantasy world all the teachers are gorgeous and none seem to be older than 25. Including their PE teacher, who used to play Iago the common criminal with a heart on El Cor de la Cuitat. On the former he never cut his hair and his undeniable hotness was dampened by his mullet. In this show they know to keep his hair short, and by God, the man just screams sex. Even though his acting ranges seems to start and end with ‘confused look’. Not the most talented of guys but he’s soooo pretty.

Why I’d give it back Gibraltar: The show is amusing and depicts teens as being fairly mature and doesn’t trivialise their problems (like most shows do). Also the guys are so pretty and it seems to be that in Spain this show is quite unusual in that it actually depicts things such as teen pregnancy, drug use and being a homosexualist while in high school. Also they all take drugs, drink and fuck around with only vague consequences. Loves it.

Also everyone’s parents are self-absorbed, heartless and useless. Which is refreshing in its honesty.

Why I’d leave it for dead while running with the bulls: Completely unrealistic school (one of those places where school assignments get invented to fit the plot. Yes because there are no such things as curriculums which teachers have to do otherwise the schools lose funding because exam scores go down. Or however it works. All I remember was that when I was in High School (we’re talking mid noughties. Years ago) teachers constantly stressed about there never being enough weeks in the term for them to be able to fit in the mandatory course requirements in let alone inventing shit to make us do.).

Montages. Need I say more? Everyone is obsessed with relationships. Also like all of continental Europe (except Holland and France) its supposed depiction of modern inner city youth is the most Caucasian thing you’ll ever see. I thought Spain’s population was growing solely to an influx of migrants? Are you telling me not one of those has a teenaged child and lives in central Madrid? Hah. This is very much a fail. If ethnic minorities in the English-speaking world must be insulted by the stereotyping and be depicted in a weird twist of the whore/virgin (now known as black best friend/gang member syndrome) thing then the rest of the developed world better play ball as well.

Take a shot every time: Someone loses their virginity or does something sexually experimental or ends up naked at school and get’s humiliated despite having the body and looks of a model.

And I’m afraid that’s it for Spain. That is literally all I know of with this wacky little backwater (Portugal doesn’t even exist in this world), so if anyone has any ideas on other Espana soaps then please feel free to hook me up with an English subtitled version.

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Humanity’s greatest achievement: The ex-communist’s attempts at perfection.

Posted by idetest on June 7, 2010

Let’s take a trip to the land of communist and straight men wearing day-glo vests and leather. Yes it’s continental Europe. Where the men are fey, the women are hairy, everyone is either a king or a peasant and it’s always vino o’clock.

We’ll start our continuing journey around soapland in a country that shares my motto in life (‘When in doubt, invade France’ if you were wondering).

GERMANY: I’m not 100% sure on the state of German TV; I know they only got it a few years ago when they stopped trekking around the mountains all day in lederhosen mocking the Swiss (‘Heidi? Totally did her behind the bike sheds. What a skank. Hans says she’ll do anything for a bit of knockwurst’), but I’m sure they’ve progressed past that. They must have-they are now home to many a soap opera. Always a sign of a civilisation’s advancement.

Also it’s a fun way to learn German. Which no one learns anyway these days because it’s a dying language (want relevancy in the 21st century? Should have once had an empire in the 3rd world bitches. Them bitches breed like rabbits and you can export things. Although this does now mean we’ll all have to learn Spanish soon. And the ‘maid’ look just does not work with me. But no. Where else speaks German? Austria. Yeah, that’s right the country that gave us Hitler and Arnie. Well done Germany-would a trip to Africa have been so hard?)

Gute Zeiten, Schlechte Zeiten:

The biggest soap ratings and budget wise in Germany. The title means ‘Good times, bad times’ (Justin Lee Collins is that you?). Deep.

Is this the annual Loose Women appreciation conference or something?

It’s based on some Australian pap from the 80s. I think. As you may have noticed I don’t bother to double check things. Lady Gaga has a penis and Lindsay is pregnant with a crack dealer’s baby. See?

Anyway that remaking Australian soaps things is a bit of a recurring theme in Europe. They love it. And this gross, dirty, cheap looking Berlin-set soap is no different. It went to the Eastenders school of making the cast look like they don’t bathe very often and never buy new clothes. Also another perverse thing in German soaps is that everyone lives in HUGE apartments. No idea why-but their bedrooms in particular are IMMENSE. Weird fact for the day.

Why I’d buy it some schnitzel: It’s all quite well acted and has fairly down to earth plot lines and seems to be filmed in a proper cityscape area rather than in a set with occasional on location scenes. It could be a huge set…I’ve no idea. But Berlin looks cool. But very dirty.

Why I’d demand reparations: Ugh. Did I mention the dirty, washed out looking cast? They need some gayer set designers on this show. Keep it bright, keep it light, keep it gay. As I heard somewhere. At the moment it looks a bit cold war-ish. Also it’s depressing as a dead kitten in winter.

Take a shot of schnapps every time: Someone says something angry and menacing in German (“like Kittens! Unicorns! Rainbows!”) and the camera does an annoying zoom in on their face.

Verbotene Liebe:

Based on the Aussie show Forbidden Love (See! I told you!) this camp hunk of closet case junk’s been on since he mid 90’s and my God it looks like it. It’s a walking, talking Ricky Martin video.

Them camp bitches

Anyway-the show is set in Dusseldorf and centres around the aristocratic Von Lahnstein family(they actually own a castle) and the never ending amounts of children, illegitimate and proper, children the father seems to produced through fucking everything that moves over the past quarter of a century. Seriously there are hundreds of them.

There’s also an enclave of peasantry in the cast who do menial jobs like run nightclubs and other things merely designed to entertain the gentry when they deign to leave their castle. I had to get an actual German person I know to explain this to me as Germany’s a republic-why the fuck do they still have lords and princesses running around? Answer; they aren’t  titles anymore they’re actually just part of their names.

Also it taught me Germans are just plain difficult; almost all the cast have names that could also be English names (Rebecca, David, Oliver, Laura, Sarah). But they pronounce them ridiculously; the name “Judith” is, in German, pronounced something along the lines of “U-ditz” which is just rude.

Why it deserves some sausage: Everyone’s attractive (particularly the actor who used to play Gregor the bartender-he should be in the next Sex and the City movie. The man is a walking advert for SEXY special times), the plots are ridonkulous and unashamed of it. Everyone’s bisexual, Olli and Christian (aww) and Olli’s evil cousin (named Olivia. Yeaahh) are all just wonderful.  It’s the most soapy of all European soaps. There is backlighting. And bad sets. And everyone walks around in the latest uber colourful H&M knocks offs looking like a troupe of back up dancers in a music video.

Why it deserves to have a wall built through it: There are princesses, lords, earls, counts, dukes, queens, intergalactic space invaders. And Joan Collins. Yes that grand old right wing devil bitch turned up in it a few months ago. Forever souring my enjoyment of this show. A pox on her shoulder pads.

Also the couples on this show get together, fall in love, break up, reunite, break up, reunite, die. Repeat. In the space of about a MONTH. It’s exhausting AND disheartening.

Alles was Zahlt:

Translates as ‘All that Matters’ in English. It’s set in Essen and centres around the Steinkamp family (very loosely) but more so the Fitness centre they own which houses an exorbitant

Posing for thier lives

number of chiselled jawed hockey players and swanlike ice skaters all trying for the limelight. It’s like Fame meets Mighty Ducks. Seriously-the cast (particularly the men) could give them stick insects from 90210 a case of the body fugly.

Anyway, the show has only been going a few years and seems to have wild swings in quality: it’s been up and down and therefore remains pretty low, ratings wise form what I understand. But when it’s good it’s super addictive. Seems to be able to hire pretty and talented actors which is amazing in soap-verse and manages to make even the sex emotional and angst-riddenly brilliant.

Staying on sex (ahem) its biggest plots seem to about it. They don’t cut away until about 1 second before penetration on this show so if you ever find yourself lonely and with a block on porn websites just YouTube some clips. You’ll be fanning yourself with a copy of das Spiegel and hoping for a cool stein of beer to calm yourself.

Why it deserves a trip to the opera: It’s funny, well written, well acted, and all the actors are naked. The villains are great, it’s not overly clichéd but still knows when to ramp up the soapiness factor, and did I mention the villains?

Why it should be made to bail out the Greek economy: Ugh. Very little character development that STICKS. They manage it for about a month before the writers get bored and make someone have an affair or revert back to their old self. And the plots are at times to bizarre to even think about. There was once a killer virus which meant the sports centre had to be quarantined.

Other soaps:

Apparently telenovelas are quite big in Germany (maybe they’re plotting with the Spanish? And we’ll all end up speaking some weird Spanish-German hybrid language? Possible) and clog the daytime TV schedules. The biggest is (or was) called Sturm der Liebe (that’s ‘Storm of Love’ for those still keeping track and aren’t drinking to escape the thought of a Nazi-Hispanic controlled future. Still, don’t worry this new world will be VERY organised and VERY, VERY clean) and yeah. It’s as good as it sounds.

Also a factoid for you: Germany was one of the few western countries where the American version of Ugly Betty was not a hit as they already had a big version of their own (however since cancelled. Ironic because we all know what happened to the American one as well. RIP Betty Suarez Wilhelmina Slater). Huh.

If anyone knows of any other German soaps do tell. I am aware that Verbotene Liebe has some sort of sister show but can’t be arsed to look it up. Also if they can add anymore information I’m missing /correct any shit I got wrong it’d be much appreciated. YouTube comments in German really aren’t that informative.

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Humanity’s greatest achievement: The British, Irish and Aussie ones.

Posted by idetest on June 5, 2010

Hola Bitches

I’m sweating like a Jew at an Al Qaeda rally (I stole that line. 50 virgins for the person who guesses where from) and am refusing to leave the house until sundown. So let’s chat.

Soaps. Who else goes gaga for them? I think they’re amazing and cleverly match man’s base instinct for conflict, drama, romance and back lighting with a higher social commentary and endearing instances of love, friendship and catfights.

Because I love soaps more than Rush Limbaugh loves underage illegal migrant girls (maybe) I’m going to tell you all about them. The ones I watch anyway. Which is a lot. It’s frankly amazing I ever leave the house. That said the only reason I do is because I handpicked my social circle on their back stories and ability to emote while doing a dramatic break up scene in the middle of the street.

Anyway, let me show the world of soaps…by going around the world…(it’s like the amazing race but instead of fat Americans gawping at foreigners you get me in a wifebeater dancing to Kylie in my bedroom as I type this shit out)

NEW ZEALAND

Shortland Street:

If he could act at all this would be a great redeeming factor for the show. Alas.

New Zealand. My homeland. A land of sheep, chickens, plebs and incest. It’s like Ancient Greece without the sophistication. New Zealand can only afford to make one soap at a time so in my youth we’d gather around the neighbourhood wireless to listen to that familiar theme tune and watch as a bunch of doctors and nurses played doctors and nurses in an oddly small Auckland Hospital

Why I’d lick it: It races along at a fair pace and never leaves you bored or hanging out to know what happens. And despite what many thought its epic 2007-8 Serial Killer storyline managed to double its ratings and left everyone guessing-i.e. a success. Maybe it was the over the top marketing campaign, but still it was pretty crafty. Also it occasionally does social realism and ‘issues’ that I’ve not seen other bigger, better soaps tackle. Ka Pai.

Also the character of Alice was awesome. She drank, she fucked around, and if it was illegal she ingested it. She turned up to work hungover and yelled at the half-dead gunshot victims. I had a bit of a crush.

Why it’s a bit shit: Um, it’s a hospital in a major city in a first world country and there’s one Asian in the cast at a time. Have the writers ever been to a public hospital? You can’t move for 4 foot 10 Filipino nurses and Indian doctors.

Also it suffers from the soap classic ‘forgetting what we did 6 months ago’. In example Justine faked her own death to escape from a hitman hired by a corrupt pharmaceutical company…and is never seen again. Despite her husband and two children being the main characters.

There is never any character development, and what there is in only to bring in an addiction storyline. The cast is also tiny because they’re broke ho’s in New Zealand TV and so everythong just gets piled on the same characters/victims.

We won’t mention the truly shocking youth actors, or the fact that they kill characters with wild abandon even though it makes the plots make even less sense.

All in all it’s as shoddy as fuck but it is good fun when it gets it right.

Take a shot when: A character just dies for no reason. You’ll be off your arse by the first ad break.

AUSTRALIA: Australian’s do a lot of soaps for a reasonably small country. They’re a bunch of whiny chav pricks though so I’m not surprised. Also they have a lot of blonde people. Blonde people are like a homing beacon to bad television. Also I’m ignoring Mcleod’s Daughters for the sake of my sanity

Home and Away: Set in some shit skanky town in the middle of nowhere (though filmed in Sydney) this show is full of nothing but good-looking blonde people. It’s like it gets taxed on brunettes. All the plots are either teen romances or things to do with cults, conspiracies or gang murders. It’s completely shit yet oddly every girl at my school watched with the obsessive fanaticism of a proto-twilight slag.

Why I’d lick it: Google the cast. The guys go shirtless every episode and are prone to wearing board shorts very, very low. For this it wins.

Why it’s a bit shit: Everything else. The acting, production values and storylines are shit. It’s got the most obviously ‘moral lesson’ plots you’ll ever see. Anyone who drinks more than once a month or has even looked at a spliff is portrayed as having sodomised a kitten-Gossip Girl it ain’t.

Also it’s had only two non-white characters in the 10 years I’ve been watching it on-off. No fatties. And one gay guy for all of three episodes who was portrayed as having ‘issues’ and needed to leave as he was a mental cause he liked boys which completely fucked up the equilibrium of blondes fucking other blondes and then getting pregnant, dropping out of school and going to live at Irene’s house (Irene is the local former alcy foster mother. She sounds hoarser than Amy Winehouse after a quiet night in with her crackpipe and routinely fucks guys half her age who look like models; I love her a little).

Take a shot when: Colleen says something stupid. One of the brain-dead 12 year olds is told by their teachers ‘they’re really smart and being put up a year’ Apparently every child in NSW is so smart they can skip year of school with wild abandon.

Neighbours: Finally a show I can totally get off on. Admission: I used to fucking love Neighbours with a passion I usually only reserved for lonely Billy goats wandering alone down country lanes late at night.

But be warned; nothing happens on this show. Every six months the producers take a look at their ever decreasing ratings and go ‘Shit. Bring in a psycho boyfriend for the token busty blonde.’ And the show is renewed for another season-and we can go back to Karl and Susan fighting and adopting children, Harold being jolly (though he’s dead/left now). When I started watching in the early 2000s they introduced Skye. Skye was alternative and she was the most realistic depiction of both a teenager, and a non-conforming teen I’d seen on TV. I loved her. And then she got a butch, Canadian lezzie friend. And I loved her even more.

Why I’d lick it: hot guys, silly hijinks, suburban ennui. Occasional beatdowns by housewives on the pavement.

Why it’s a bit shit: Nothing happens. It’s is the most G-rated sack of dull as shit you’ll ever see. I’m sure there’s an episode where someone spilling milk was a major plot development. Also it’s set in middle class suburbia. Yawn.

Take a shot when: Someone has to skirt around the word ‘sex’ because Aussie TV won’t let you say that word in a show aimed at anyone under 40.

EUROPE:

UK: These motherfuckers take their soaps serious. It’s a billion pound industry around these parts-every channel’s schedule is clogged up with them because they know that the only way to get the chav underclass to tune in (unless the words Simon and Cowell are involved) is to bring out a soap.

Basically every different region of the UK has its own and they all get screened in primetime. If I was to bitch and moan about them all we’d be here till Ryan Seacrest comes out so I’ll just do the biggies.

Coronation Street: If this soap was a person it’d be you alcy great-aunt who never married and who sits in the corner at family gatherings asking everyone ‘When did you get so fat?’ and every time someone new walks in she’d finish off her sherry and announce ‘God, I wish I’d have died young to avoid you people.’

Basically it’s been going since Queen Victoria was a virgin and has done everything. There are no plots left to write about.  But even when they just stop writing it it’s got such momentum that it will continue for at least two or three more decades with just the actors turning up every day and going to stand around the rover’s bar chatting. And still 20 million people would watch it.

Why I’d lick it: It’s actually very good and is probably the only soap any TV reviewer worth their shit wouldn’t bitch about. The characters are all quite well written, the plots are only OTT so they can compete with Eastenders (we’ll get to those slags in a minute). And also if I insult it my Mother will find out and come yell at me. She goes ape for this show. You’re not allowed to talk in my house when this is on. And if you do, so help her God you’ll get a box of wine to the face! (And then you pick it up and carry it back over because my Mother separated from her ‘coping juice’ is not a pretty sight).

Why it’s a bit shit: Aimed at older audience and therefore hasn’t had a radical plotline since 1964. Is so stereotypically northern that even pigeons and whippets feel like southern dandies.

Take a shot every time: Someone does something northern. Ain’t no one going to eat sushi or drink wine around here!

Eastenders:

My love for Dot knows no bounds. Except that she's old. And a girl.

Y’know Little Britain with its Vicky Pollard character? (The one Matt Walliams and David Lucas deserve to be shot for) Yeah. Well this is all but her life story. The only reason it’s any good is because it’s so ridiculous with it’s never-ending list of Eastend gangsters, stroppy women, stereotypical ethnic minorities, and single mothers who all seem  to go out of their way to be as bad as possible.

Why I’d lick it: I love the version of London they’ve created. It’s terrifyingly still better than the real one. If it ever does a real plotline it’ll die. And yet for such a ridiculous show it still doesn’t often have to rely on the ‘we’ve forgotten what happened six months ago so this plot makes perfect sense *fingers in ears can’t hear you nyah nyah nyah* that an American soap would have.  But when it does, it’s terrible.

Why it’s a bit shit: Have the writers been to East London recently? If they had they would know they you can walk for miles without seeing a white person and yet here in Walford there’s a strict policy of only one black family and one Asian family at any time. London is the most multi-cultural city on the planet.  My own street is like the UN (with more domestics and police call outs) and yet Albert Square is the whitest street in Greater London. Huh, that’s not awkward BBC. Not at all.

Also did I mention the never-ending gangsters and the fact that no one on the show even made it to high school? Let alone finished it. However the show has recently succumb to the American style ‘our smart character is so smart they can go to one of the world’s best universities’ hence two of the characters (interestingly: one from the token black family, one from the token Asian family. Neither ended up going) battling it out for a place at Oxford. A school which takes about one state school child every decade. If they wanted the characters to go to university but keep them in the show why not send them to one of the millions of school here in London? Maybe the University of East London (a real place!)? Fucktards.

Take a shot every time: Some chav opens their gob and yells obscenities in a public place. You’ll be off your arse by the time the opening credits have finished.

Emmerdale: Every grandma who lives in a council flat’s favourite show. Nothing realistic has happened on this show since 1992. And even before that it was a skewiff (it’s Yorkshire and not one lonely teenage boy-sheep incident? Pish tosh) but now it’s basically a telenovela in Northern techincolour. Don’t watch it unless you like your storylines ridonkulous.

Why I’d lick it: Despite this all characters age appropriately, no one is employed as a brain surgeon despite leaving school at 12, it actually has the odd bit of character developments and there are even back stories.

Why it’s a bit shit: For what it is, it’s not bad actually. I have a soft spot for this show.

Take a shot when: They do something stereotypically RURAL to remind people that they’re not Coronation Street.

Hollyoaks: Holy shit y’all this is the mofo’ing motherload of Soap shit. This show centres on a small uni somewhere in a middle class enclave of the north. It tries so hard but the acting is terrible, (The set’s however are very stable), the storylines far-fetched but usually somewhat original and always, always completely fucking deranged. It used to be OK but lately I’m surprised every day I don’t hear of it being cancelled.

Why I’d lick it: Hot people being hot. The cast is all models. They had the best gay couple ever. Even the older people are doable. They have great music-the only British soap to try to do dream sequences, fantasies, montages, split screen and every other 3rd year film school production technique they can think of. Original storylines that are actually realistic in length (Hannah the anorexic? Was actually anorexic for over a year and it was constantly mentioned and referred back to for the two years she was in the show after the main storyline about it had finished. For that alone it deserves some sort of Soap Opera lifetime achievement award.)

Why it’s a bit shit: Have you seen some of the acting? It also falls into the ‘if you do drugs you will instantly become addicted and steal from your own mother to fuel your habit’ school of stereotypes. This is ironic because every other scene takes place in a pub and its main characters are all STUDENTS.

Take a shot every time: A blonde actress attempts to cry while drunk and alone in the 10 seconds they always show at the end of the closing credits. It’s like clockwork in its ability to help you down your first of an evening.

Other soaps: There are a lot in this land.

Doctors: A daytime soap. Apparently it’s ave. I watched a few episodes and wasn’t hating it. I didn’t want it to be put on primetime though.

Night & Day: Bat shit insane brilliant soap on in the early 2000s. Sadly deceased.

Crossroads: Bat shit crap soap that made Dynasty look restrained on in the early 2000s  (originally from the 60-80s). Deceased thank fuck.

Family Affairs: Set in west London, with no Indian characters? Ok…was 1 part good and 2 parts very lazy acting (all the actors scuffed their shoes in their scenes. It was very distracting). Didn’t deserve to die so young but did deserve to be punished.

River City: A Scottish soap that is apparently absolute shit beyond all believability.

Pobol y Com: It’s a Welsh soap. Don’t expect too much

Fair City: An Irish soap. Think the Welsh one but with more money and debt (there’s also an Irish Gaelic language soap. I kid you the fuck not.)

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