Monday, March 26, 2007

Honking Box Review: Castaway

It's been a week or two since the re-launch of BBC One's supposed big-money show Castaway, and we were rather hoping for something in the way of activity, so we'd actually have something to stick in a Honking Box column. But with the news that the Beeb are snatching the primetime slot back from beneath its wobbly legs, we figured now would be a good time to address the show, before it's axed altogether (estimation: two weeks tops). So, why is Castaway sinking like an Olsen twin on Morecambe Bay?

What began seven years ago as a bonafide social experiment has been downgraded into an unoriginal, gutter-level reality format. And although the initial project may not have provided the hype 'n' headlines typical of the genre, Castaway achieved exactly what it set out to do. It's like a bar of 70% cocoa Green & Black's (you know it's good quality, but you just can't stomach the taste) left on the radiator, melted into a sticky mush, slithered downwards and gotten stuck in the carpet, then scraped out and dished up in a snazzy 2007 wrapper.

The nomination process, the group divisions, the desertion theme, the makeshift way of life and the ensuing scrimpage and loggerheads are all fundamental components of Channel 4's Shipwrecked. Which, while not exactly the type of show to turn the heads of your average RTS bod, performs pretty damn well all the same. Mainly because a visually-unappealing cross-section of British life in cagouls on a Godforsaken rock doesn't quite cut it the same way as Heat-seeking Abercrombie & Fitch models on a sandy beach, whose average day amounts to a ratings-friendly balance of shouting and shagging.

For instance, instead of Shipwrecked's would-be Page 3 stunnah Lianne, we've got the likes of 19-year-old Alasdair, who, in his introductory VT, announced he "hopes people call him Ali-umbo, as it's a lot cooler", which frankly is akin to someone named Bob saying he prefers to be called Rumpelstiltskin Agamemnon Farquhar-Farquharson because it's easier to pronounce.

It's not totally devoid of plus points. There lurks a fair number of characters on the island, helmed by Jonathan (seemingly some sort of Victor Meldrew/Eeyore hybrid) and lest we forget the marvellously-named Joe Chicken. Meanwhile, Danny Wallace, inducer of inappropriate crushes and all-round mirthmaker, functions more than capably in his role as ringmaster. But overall, the show is clueless as to where it lies, and more importantly, there's simply a major deficiency of action.

Admittedly, we probably wouldn't have tuned in had this series been another televised sociology lesson featuring Ben Fogle. But it's safe to say a rather more intellectual pocket of viewers would have, as they did with the first outing. And as this series fails to enlighten these aforementioned learned folk, or to entertain the Reef-chugging, Anthony Hutton-voting masses, it'll only be a matter of time before Castaway glugs out its last few bubbles of air and sinks to the seabed forever (note to self: lose the maritime metaphors, seriously).

No comments:

Creative Commons Licence
The Sloppy Dog by is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.