Author Topic: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.  (Read 4236 times)

M-CORP

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Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« on: January 13, 2021, 09:24:58 PM »
Stuff it. Been watching some bits lately from TV Offal, Victor Lewis-Smith's old archive sketch show from the late 90s, which was basically You've Been Framed for bitter cynics who hate everyone famous on the telly box. And I feel like talking about it.

It's a mixed bag for sure. A lot of it is dependent on soft, easy targets like student TV and Lena Zavaroni. A lot of it is scatology and tastelessness for its own sake (Tubby The Tumour, anyone?). A lot of it is gag-repeating and recycling from VLS's past efforts for TV and radio.[1] (His critics were less generous, what an original and unobvious homage that was.)

And yet... while it may not be the best show ever made, there's something about it. When it works, I think it really works. I like how - in certain parts, at least - it doesn't take itself too seriously (the post-title voiceovers from Stephen Hawking, the sketch on Irish dancers in the pilot, plus VLS mocking the show's critics in episode 5), and I just can't help but like the outrageousness of segments like the Queen Mother song, and the Gay Daleks who ex-sperminate.

Oh, and there's Assassination Of The Week - 'Did he miss?!' Victor cheerily asks despite the gun being pressed right up against the head in episode 1. I like how that segment feels like a TV Go Home-style parody, where elements of TV, such as commercial break quizzes, are taken to demented levels. It's just a shame that most of the show is less like that and more like someone talking over old archive clips not adding much, or holding a grudge against celebrities just because he doesn't like them for no good reason.

But enough fantasising over what we didn't get. What are our thoughts on what we did get every Friday night at 11pm in June 1998? (and no, I wasn't there.)
 1. I remember VLS saying on his since-deleted Twitter account that the production of TV Offal was rushed and arduous due to Channel 4 bringing the TX date forward while episode 2 was still in production. I think this is worth mentioning, though given VLS's history of recycling I'm not sure whether it counts as a defence of the programme.

Shit Good Nose

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2021, 09:51:26 PM »
Well I enjoyed it.

Cream of Coniston Soup.

Was his De Kuyper redub (which ALWAYS gets removed from YouTube) in that as well?  I can't remember.

Mister Six

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2021, 10:15:06 PM »
I really enjoyed it at the time, and had liked VLS's stuff on Week Ending (?), but I was also a teenager so primed to laugh at edgy guff like the "dog called Syndrome/'Down, Syndrome!'" gag, which I think I'd find a bit cringey and try-hard now.

Still, his bad lipsync video to Boyzone had me doubled-up with asphyxiating laughter at the time, so it's hard to begrudge him anything, and I do wish TV channels still made offbeat, chaotic, densely packed stuff like this. Only Adult Swim comes close, I think, and a lot of its shows plough the "long pauses" furrow dug by Sealab 2021 rather than try to cram in as many ideas and gags as they can.

Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2021, 10:18:38 PM »
Hit and miss, but the hits were fantastic.
Preferred Ads Infinitum though.

petrilTanaka

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2021, 11:30:16 PM »
one of the few places you'd get stuff about idents and presentation and general ephemera so I'd accept the edgy stuff and the pish alongside. plus he went after the standard mid hates TV hate figures

daf

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2021, 11:33:48 PM »
I really enjoyed it at the time, and had liked VLS's stuff on Week Ending (?)

Loose Ends - saturday mornings with Ned Sherrin [cue : speeded up tape-spool]

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2021, 11:36:22 PM »
I really enjoyed it at the time, and had liked VLS's stuff on Week Ending (?)

You probably mean Loose Ends. The one where Ned Sherrin always seemed to be distancing himself from what VL-S sent down the line from York (I don't think he was ever in the same studio as the rest) - "Yes, well, that was typically Victor, don't blame us".

SLOW TYPIST'S EDIT - As Daf said above

daf

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2021, 11:40:58 PM »
I seem to remember 'Neddy Baby' being quite a good sport during the intros - and was, of course, balls-deep in the Satire boom of the 1960's, so wasn't averse to working with envelope-pushing comics.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2021, 12:07:10 AM »
Yes, I doubt he was anti-Victor, and it was more a case of lightening the mood, if not trying to pre-empt complaints from listeners or BBC management.

I revisited a couple of episodes of the first R1 series recently, and obviously it wouldn't stand a chance of being put out today. Apart from the gratuitous sick humour which I think he was deliberately trying to push to the limit - Moors Murder joke in the Christian record company song, Lockerbie joke in the Summer Holiday parody etc - the jokey racism would get canned - eg Dr Dreyfus, Mr Lao Tzu, and his imitating the band Take Six. I think this has all been said before, but I wonder what they made of it, if they ever knew.


Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2021, 12:08:46 AM »
cuh you couldn't have gay daleks cumming everywhere anymore! political correctness gone mad!!

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #10 on: January 14, 2021, 12:13:33 AM »
I'm not complaining about it not standing a chance today. A lot of it was horrible in the first place.

Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #11 on: January 14, 2021, 12:22:16 AM »
sorry wasn't replying to you in particular just being silly. but ultimately i echo your assessments. it was pushing it at the time

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #12 on: January 14, 2021, 12:35:35 AM »
Misread you innit.
I found the sick jokes more beyond the pale than the Dreyfus and Lao Tzu stuff, which seemed too silly to be offensive (but then I'm not Chinese or Jewish, and I'll fight anyone who says I am).
The That's Life spoof call - as heavily edited as it must have been - is one of the few of its kind that I can still listen to and find just as funny as I did the first time.

Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #13 on: January 14, 2021, 12:56:47 AM »
I had a couple of TV Offal episodes taped off the telly back in the day that I really loved at the time, but it was very disappointing to finally catch up with ones I'd missed on youtube and realise the series as a whole didn't hold up that well. For one thing it was really disappointing how much repetition of material there was in just that short run. The mean-spirited sniping at fat and ugly people just rankles a bit now especially consider Victor is hardly an oil painting himself.

I suspect VLS on TV has always been best experienced in short bursts, e.g. Ads Infinitum, Buygones etc.

"There's a man with absolutely no sense of humour, but he does have a pig on his head..."

"What the golly gosh is Shaw Taylor doing in Milton Keynes? In fact, what the fuck is anyone doing in Milton Keynes?"

non capisco

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #14 on: January 14, 2021, 01:22:20 AM »
the "dog called Syndrome/'Down, Syndrome!'" gag

Jesus christ that is weak.

Never really got on with VLS's stuff at all despite him being hallowed on here back in the day by lots of posters whose opinion on comedy I respect. It's all so overwhelmingly charmless to the point where there's no 'in' for me and I find myself wanting to side with his unctuous showbiz targets over his own juvenile sneering. Yeah, you really stuck it to Derek Nimmo there, mate. About time he was taken down a peg or two.

The flop sweat on him and Paul Sparks dying in front of an early evening Jonathan Ross audience is quite compelling. It's not like a dumb mainstream audience is unable to handle their edgy comedy, they just instinctively take against them because they seem like a couple of wankers. Same with this Clive Anderson appearance where they're brutally unfunny straight out of the gates and the host is having none of it.

Guessing it's a 'your mileage may vary' thing and happy to be pointed to any material that might change my mind about him, I guess radio stuff. Not that Jimmy Savile song, heard that, it's shit.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 01:33:59 AM by non capisco »

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #15 on: January 14, 2021, 01:40:39 AM »
In the Ross clip in particular you can sense the audience clocking them as a pair of smug bastards and not warming to them at all.

I think with a lot of his stuff it's the cumulative effect that makes the not particularly hilarious bits seem funnier than they are. That's stating the obvious really as that was his MO, what with the hyper-fast speech and symbolic tape winds.

I'm quite partial to his not entirely fair Chas and Dave song, one of his better musical pisstakes, but I can't find a link yet.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2021, 01:58:42 AM »
Who was Ross referring to when he received a big round of applause for describing his previous guest as a small-minded bigot? Are Graham was only a fledgling comedy sketch writer at the time, so it can't have been him.

And for what it's worth, VLS has always struck me as a total wanker.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #17 on: January 14, 2021, 02:04:38 AM »
Oliver North, I think. Confirmed in the comments, but I have a vague memory of it coming up here before.

Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #18 on: January 14, 2021, 02:06:04 AM »
Oliver North, I think. Confirmed in the comments, but I have a vague memory of it coming up here before.

Ah, right. Ta! I should've read the comments, but that would've involved reading YouTube comments. And you know how that usually goes.

EDIT: Just watched the rest of that excruciating interview (I've seen it before, but ages ago) and, yes, VLS confirms that North was on just before them.

Twonty Gostelow

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #19 on: January 14, 2021, 02:09:02 AM »
Ah, right. Ta! I should've read the comments, but that would've involved reading YouTube comments. And you know how that usually goes.

"Like if you're still discussing Victor Lewis-Smith in 2021."

buzby

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #20 on: January 14, 2021, 08:02:40 AM »
I always preferred his other more structured stuff like Buygones, Ads Infinitum, his contributions to TV Hell and his BBC2 series Inside Victor Lewis Smith (where in the 'Revenge' segments he basically invented the 'shred' video). I still occasionally find the Frank Sinatra song about employers not liking Oxbridge degrees popping into my head.

The 'rushed production' excuse for joke recycling doesn't really hold up though, as he was recycling jokes from Buygones even in his Daily Mirror TV review column (speaking of which, his Inside The Magic Rectangle book of of his TV review columns is worth a read if you are a fan).
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 08:23:56 AM by buzby »

Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #21 on: January 14, 2021, 08:22:56 AM »
I did watch it at the time and found enough of it is amusing that I made an effort to tune in when it was on - but my main memory was that he used shots of my hometown whenever he needed to show off a decrepit building in some nothing place in the arse end of nowhere. I always wondered if he got them from some library or took them himself. 

Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #22 on: January 14, 2021, 09:28:18 AM »
'Here's some interesting archive material, but you're only allowed to view it through my curated veneer of witless mean spirited humour and petty personal vendettas': that's how VLS's house 'style' has always come across to me. Very frustrating, In that respect he's a bit like the SOTCAA lads, except to be fair they at least kept a fairly clear delineation between their more academic archive stuff and their snidier comment pieces.

I will always relish the irony that the desperately unfunny and oh so turn of the millennium Gay Daleks (who VLS justified at the time with words to the effect of 'The Daleks are old hat fit only for a cheap laugh now') were within 5 years overwritten by the proper return of The Daleks bigger than ever on proper Dr Who, masterminded of course by the man who had been behind one of the first ever mainstream primetime gay dramas at the exact same time that VLS was bequeathing pink spunking Daleks shrieking 'white wee wee' to humanity.
« Last Edit: January 14, 2021, 11:15:14 AM by ajsmith2 »

Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #23 on: January 14, 2021, 10:05:02 AM »

The flop sweat on him and Paul Sparks dying in front of an early evening Jonathan Ross audience is quite compelling.

VLS really reminds me in attitude here of a Patrick Marber character from KMKY.

Absorb the anus burn

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #24 on: January 14, 2021, 10:19:00 AM »
Honest Obituaries still makes me laugh, especially Andrew Lloyd Webber - I was an usher on one of his West End shows at the time and the takedown was much appreciated.

TV Offal feels like Channel 4 gold now compared to the following decades of dross, but even at the time I was aware of heavy recycling of material from Inside VLS / Loose Ends... You get even more recycling in The Magic Rectangle, but that's a work of joy I will long keep in my library.

Petey Pate

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #25 on: January 14, 2021, 10:37:22 AM »
VLS did a more recent (albeit already dated) Honest Obituary of Boris Johnson for Sam Delaney's News Thing.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GtZ7FK2xbUU

Jockice

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #26 on: January 14, 2021, 10:38:44 AM »
Jesus christ that is weak.

Never really got on with VLS's stuff at all despite him being hallowed on here back in the day by lots of posters whose opinion on comedy I respect. It's all so overwhelmingly charmless to the point where there's no 'in' for me and I find myself wanting to side with his unctuous showbiz targets over his own juvenile sneering. Yeah, you really stuck it to Derek Nimmo there, mate. About time he was taken down a peg or two.


My thoughts exactly. I tried really hard to find him funny but in the end I just had to admit I didn't.

Jockice

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #27 on: January 14, 2021, 11:08:23 AM »
In the Ross clip in particular you can sense the audience clocking them as a pair of smug bastards and not warming to them at all.


I'd never seen that before but it is one of the most excruciating things I've ever seen, up there with Collins and Maconie sitting on a platform on some music show trying to be funny to total silence from the audience. I mean, I can't stand Jonathan Ross but I'm so glad he got the only big laughs on that clip.


Ballad of Ballard Berkley

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Re: Ermmmm...... TV Offal.
« Reply #29 on: January 14, 2021, 11:59:03 AM »
I'd never seen that before but it is one of the most excruciating things I've ever seen, up there with Collins and Maconie sitting on a platform on some music show trying to be funny to total silence from the audience. I mean, I can't stand Jonathan Ross but I'm so glad he got the only big laughs on that clip.

It's just so funny. Ross sizes them up as a couple of staggeringly unfunny twats within the first ten seconds, then proceeds to call them out on their hypocrisy. He doesn't even try to take the piss in a witty, chummy way, his disdain is palpable. They're just wasting everyone's time.

The young Jonathan Ross was great. He later became a twat himself, but such is life.

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