herald

Saturday 25 November 2017

Reality TV? It's La La Land

Tallafornia (Friday, TV3) Putin, Russia and the West (Thursday, BBC2) Horizon: Playing God (Tuesday, BBC2) Megashark vs. Crocosaurus (Friday, Syfy)

Like Teletubbies, TV3's reality-show Tallafornia is about strange beings living together in a familiar, but simplified, world (it's certainly not Tallaght).

Like the Teletubbies, the Tallatubbies are brightly coloured (orange), they look funny (the one called "the Corminator", for example, looks like a bouquet of balloons in a tight T-shirt), speak funny ("We got some tuneage!" says someone as music plays) and dislike wearing clothes (six-packs are bared at regular intervals).

Like the Teletubbies, the Tallatubbies stumble around like toddlers (largely because they're drunk in six-inch heels) and express themselves in simple words and phrases. "Everyone was f*ckin' hammered," drawled one Tallatubby, recalling a night out in Tamango nightclub.



Upset

Also, like the Teletubbies, in each episode they learn practical life skills (Nikita/La La, reveals that she cannot use a knife and fork) and moral lessons. The Corminator gets upset when La La kisses Po (Phil) because he doesn't like sharing. "He's a f*cking sh*t-stirrer," he says, his little eyes darting sadly around his big muscley head. But he draws on his sense of self-worth to get himself through.

"I could mooch 20 f*cking birds here if I want," he says, revealing the kind of ambition this country needs right now.

In a further resemblance to the Teletubbies, the Tallatubbies also form a surrogate family. "I feel like I'm the mammy bear," says Kelly/Tinky Winky. "I look out for the two girls" (Is this why she keeps removing her clothes? Because she thinks she's a bear?).

In the same episode they all eat a big, fried breakfast cooked by one of the Tallatubbies' mammies, they lounge about in bikinis some more (Telly-Tallaght is very warm), go rock climbing (the director was clearly desperate for footage) and some of them (Tinky Winky, La La and Dave) get into the hot tub, clearly the most expensive thing in the whole production.



Decadence

The hot tub will probably turn up on The Vincent Browne Show once Tallafornia runs its course (a hot tub was what Vincent's ill-fated Friday chat-show was missing).

Anyway, at this point the big baby-faced sun was long gone from the sky, and the 400,000 people who tuned into the pilot episode before Christmas (clearly a national cry for help) were realising that there's nothing more grindingly boring than watching someone else's night on the pull/piss. "Bye-bye Tinky Winky!" they said. "Bye-bye La La! Bye-bye Corminator! And bye-bye Dave!"

Another way to look at Tallafornia, is that it's evidence of Western decadence and decline. It's probably the sort of thing that makes ex-KGB operative Vladimir Putin wish the Soviet Union had stuck around a few more years.

Putin, you see, is more than just a tiger-fondling calendar model. The first episode of Putin, Russia and the West demonstrated how, in a little over 10 years, he successfully took on Western interests, Chechnyan rebels and his nation's oligarchs at the expense of democratic values. A host of international figures, including Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell, explained how his chilling big-picture thinking trumped the short-termism of his opponents.



SQUID

On Horizon: Playing God, stud-boffin Adam Rutherford (made in the same "sexy" lab as Brian Cox) explored a brave new world of biotechnology: spider-goats (goats who lactate silk-proteins), diesel-producing yeast bacteria and camouflaging squid genes (sounds like a typical panel on Vincent Browne!). The message was cautiously pro-innovation. "It's much easier to fixate on the threat than to embrace the opportunity," said one biotechnologist.

He clearly hadn't seen Megashark vs Crocosaurus, which shows how meddling with creation can lead to giant rampaging megasharks and crocosauruses ... not to mention other problems. "I once felt the breath of a 1,500lb white gorilla," said Nigel, the moody tough-talking hero, "and I've wrestled with lizard creatures." But enough about Tamango, Nigel, where are you going tonight?

Tallafornia HHIII

Putin, Russia and the West HHHHI

Horizon: Playing God HHHHI Megashark vs Crocosaurus HHIII

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