Monday 19 March 2018

No big loss to our TV screens

the biggest loser (TV3) alcatraz (watch)

MY wife nailed me with one of her famous killer frowns the other week. "Why," she said, "are you always slagging off fat people?"

Actually, I'm not always slagging off fat people.

I've never slagged off fat people -- although I have slagged off people who happen to be fat, but who deserve to be slagged off for other legitimate reasons that have nothing to do with their size or shape.

What I am always slagging off, however, are television programmes that take overweight people and delight in bullying, embarrassing and humiliating them for the purpose of entertaining the masses less generously endowed in the waistline department, and then pretending that it's all for their own good and nothing whatsoever to do with anything as vulgar as ratings.

I've also slagged off the contestants who collude in the deception by taking part, and then spend most of their time in the spotlight whining and bitching about how awful and cruel and unfair the whole thing is, despite being 100pc aware from the very start what they were letting themselves in for.

That said, it's nice to see nice things happening to nice people.

The winner of this year's series of The Biggest Loser, a chap called Kevin, appears to be one of the nicest guys you could ever meet.

Being the heaviest person ever to take part in the programme and destined for an early death if he didn't change his lifestyle, he had a lot to lose in every sense.

Kevin lost a total of 13st -- or 40pc of his original body weight -- to claim the £25,000 prize, which is an incredible achievement.

More to the point, he did it without once complaining.

A good result, then, and a rare case of a nice guy finishing first.

And yet . . . for all the feelgood buzz of last night's final show, there's still something bogus about The Biggest Loser.

Even more extraordinary than Kevin's weight loss was the miraculous transformation wrought upon Jessie.

From day one she was a thoroughly nasty piece of work, backbiting everyone in sight, sulking like a child when she didn't get her own way, and gobbing on about how all she was interested in was the £25K prize.

Last night, having bagged a nice holiday in Antigua for being the best eliminated contender, Jessie was reborn as a self-styled "role model for other young women".

Call me a sceptic, but not even three gym sessions every day will turn a sod into a saint.

At this point, some clarification: Alcatraz, the new paranormal series from Lost creator JJ Abrams, made its debut on Watch on Tuesday night, but because the documentary Pyjama Girls was so good, I didn't have space to feature it in yesterday's review.

Luckily, Watch -- a channel that's increasingly worth watching -- repeated it last night, which gives us a second bite at the cherry. Sarah Jones is Rebecca Madsen, a rookie detective who discovers that the closure of the notorious island prison in 1963 was a cover-story to hide the truth: 256 inmates and 46 guards vanished into thin air overnight, never to be seen again.

But now one of the cons, Jack Sylvane (Jeffrey Pierce), has suddenly materialised, looking not a day older, in modern-day San Francisco.

Enter FBI agent Emerson Hauser (Sam Neill), who was a young guard at Alcatraz back in the day and is heading up a special unit dedicated to tracking down these flesh-and-blood ghosts.

To add spice to the story, Rebecca also discovers her late father, who she'd always believed was an Alcatraz guard, was in fact one of the missing cons -- and, would you believe it, he's only turned up as well, and murdered her partner.

Alcatraz, which also stars Lost's Jorge Garcia as Rebecca's scholar/comic fanboy sidekick, would make a good mini-series. But this being JJ Abrams, expect it to be spun out forever, probably into alternative universes and different timelines.

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