It has been quite a while since I talked about anything on TV, this is mainly because I haven’t watched anything that I feel is worthy of discussing. However a couple weeks ago I stumbled across a programme that caught my imagination to such an extent that I spent last weekend watching six episodes one after the other. Now I know that this type of practice is normal for people obsessed with box sets, (my youngest son and Game of Thrones for example) but not for me, so why am I so enamoured with Mr Robot? This programme has become compulsive viewing for the frozen northerner, with each episode more riveting than the last, the show’s revolves around a computer engineer called Elliott Anderson (played by Rami Malek) who lives an insecure, lonely life. Anderson is unable to fit into normal society and is only is ever happy (if happy is the right word) when he is sitting in front of his computer in his dismal little apartment, hacking into other people’s computers trying to expose immoral characters from all walks of life. Looking at series in the cold light of day I suppose you could say the programme is your typical good versus evil story with Anderson trying to save the world from the corruption and depravity that he sees on a daily basis. Anderson is a tortured soul and what draws me to our hero/antihero is that I feel his pain I feel his anxiety and I feel his depression, I watch his daily struggle to deal with the everyday world, wondering if he is going to implode or is he going to make it home to find solace on his shabby little couch feeding his ever increasing methadone habit, the more he slides into the dark abysses of his anxiety the more can identify with him. this is a very accomplished piece of work by Sam Esmail about the world that computer hackers live in and at times it seems somewhat surreal. Remarkably I haven’t talked about anybody else in the programme, the plot or Mr Robot himself (Cristian Slater) and that is because when Rami Malek is on the screen he tends to dominate the proceedings (although Martin Wallstrom’s character Tyrell Wellick is fairly interesting), dare to gaze upon Anderson’s face, devoid of any feeling or emotions and tell me you are not hypnotized by his performance, this is the best TV show I have seen in ages, because nobody can take me to the depths of despair quite like Elliot Anderson.
The recent death of Peter Dimmock has brought home to me just how far the BBC has fallen behind sky when it comes to presenting sport. Dimmock was a man of vision and was perhaps the first man in this country to seen the potential of televised sport. This was a time when the beeb reigned supreme, they covered all types of sport and delivered it better than anybody else in the world. Dimmock was the first presenter of the first programme totally dedicated to sport in the shape of Sportsview, a show that would have a profound effect on me and was probably the place where my addiction to sport really started to kick in. Sportsview showed sport not only from home but also from around Europe and sometimes events from even further afield. For a young child it was awe inspiring stuff, my parents realised too late, that this exposure to sport had opened up Pandora’s Box and no matter what they did the lid was never going to be put back on. I was smitten and a total lost cause, any hope of me achieving any kind of academic success quickly disappearing leaving my parents rather distraught to say the least. By the end of the 60’s the Corporation pretty much had it all, with regards to sports and were now at the forefront of any major sporting event, covering each occasion brilliantly by using the best commentators to describe and set the scene. Wolstenholme on football, Coleman on athletics, O’Sullivan on horse racing, Carpenter on boxing, the list was endless and these guys were peerless at their job. Even some of the younger guys that came along were good with people like, Lynham, Motson and Davies easily blending in. Who was the best I have no idea these guys were all so good at their job, but Motson’s commentary on the 1984 European championship semi-final between France and Portugal probably stands out for me, here was a man at the peak of his game totally unable to control himself during the extra time period. At this particular game he is not a commentator, he is just a fan revealing his passion and that is what made all these men so great, they weren’t just commentators they were also fans of their sport. The decision made a few years ago by the BBC to pursue different aspects of television led to the company dramatically cutting back it sports programme, has led to Sky Sports becoming the voice of sport. It has to be said that Sky does it very well and has some good commentators and pundits, although none of them would get a job at the BBC in its sporting heyday. I still love and watch any type of sport, but modern day commentators are just a bit too sugary for my taste, they are all about the money they can make and have no real feeling about the sport they are covering, which is why I long for the days of Coleman and co, those guys really cared.
I have decided to cancel my Sky subscription paying £75 is just not worth it and I am surprised that it has took me so long to realise it. Nobody in their right mind can surely be satisfied by what they are getting from Mr Murdoch. I mean come on, this commercial venture of his has gone on long enough and somebody has to tell it the way it is. The package I currently have involves none of the movie channels and is mainly based on the sports package, which has been severely undermined by the loss of the champions league to BT. So which channels will I really miss, well apart from Sky Sports, pretty much none, what you are currently getting is countless rerun after rerun of series that I can quote chapter and verse at any given moment. How many times can you watch Friends, Frasier, MasterChef, Blue Bloods, Only Fools and Horses, I mean the list is endless and getting longer, added to this any commercial break is now taking anywhere up to five minutes by which time I given up caring. Don’t get me wrong, there has been some truly memorable programmes such as True Detective, Boardwalk Empire to name two but even these shows have been shown to saturation point. As for Sky Sports this has now become a complete joke I don’t want Nick Collins telling me what Wayne Rooney had for breakfast at St Georges’ Park 3 days before another meaningless friendly against some nation who we will struggle to beat. Even if I miss the breakfast special there is always lunch and dinner to catch up on, when there is actually nothing going on at all. Sky Sports is not about the match or event any more, it is about analysis and more analysis, for God’s sake shut up and lets us watch the spectacle. Am I turning into Victor Meldrew hopefully not, but let’s be frank here, Sky TV is the biggest rip off of all time and in most cases people are quite happy to let them do it.