MOSTLY FILM: 32 Short Films About Brian Limond

Choose now!That title's a terribly obscure reference, especially since the original movie was nearly two decades ago. But my view is this: if it was good enough for The Simpsons, then it's good enough for Limmy's Show, the subject of my latest article for Mostly Film.

At this point, some of the regulars may be throwing things at their computer screen and complaining that it's all repeats nowadays. And it's true: I did write about Limmy's Show here about a year ago, in a piece comparing it with its contemporary Scottish sketch show Burnistoun. That was at the end of Limmy's first season, and I reached certain conclusions about how funny he was. This new piece was written following the end of season two - and things have changed. You'll have to read the full article to find out more.

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Except For Viewers In Scotland...

Limmy at the top, the Burnistoun brigade at the bottom (Cornell and Florence to the left) "...who've got their own programmes." It was such a cliché in the old days before digital TV that Armando Iannucci wrote an entire sketch about it.

As a Sassenach who remembers hearing that phrase crop up in continuity announcements, I'm coming to it from an entirely different perspective. Iannucci rightly complains about all the good stuff he wanted to see, but couldn't because BBC Scotland had decided to replace it with "a Paul Coia quiz show about hills". But what about all that Scottish programming that never gets shown south of Hadrian's Wall? Surely there must be some good stuff in there that the rest of us are missing?

Well, so far in 2010 there've been two comedy series - Limmy's Show and Burnistoun - that have only been shown on BBC Scotland, but are definitely well worth a look. And thanks to digital telly and the iPlayer, they're not just Scotland's own programmes any more.

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TV Burp Australia

TV Burp Australia. What are the chances of that happening? The Taliban: hardline religious extremists who back their beliefs with bullets. The Irish Republican Army: unstoppable urban guerillas who waged a bloody savage war for Irish independence. WHO IS DEADLIEST? There's only one way to find out. FIGHT!

It's a joke that's been made several times since Deadliest Warrior started on TV in the UK. For those of you not watching Bravo at 10pm on Tuesdays, this is a show that uses computer simulations and re-enactments to compare fighters from different periods in history, to see who would win in a scrap. Rumour has it that the series finale, the IRA vs Taliban face-off alluded to above, has been deemed a little too close to home for UK transmission. So one lunchtime, I lashed together a quick video that rammed Deadliest Warrior's macho posturing up against Harry Hill's whimsy, topping it off with a ten-second montage of landmine and flamethrower killings edited to the Riverdance music.

Sadly it was rejected from YouTube (for reasons of copyright rather than atrocious taste), so you won't be seeing it here. But here's a funny thing I discovered while searching for relevant clips on YouTube to cannibalise: for the last month, an Australian TV channel has been showing their own adaptation of the TV Burp format.

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Nihongo Quick Lesson

Mr K and Rena don't know what you call it. Do you?It's all very well for The Belated Birthday Girl spending several years of her life studying the Japanese language, including three months last year at a college in Sapporo. Most of us don't have anything like that level of dedication, and are looking for quick-fix cheaty solutions. So each time we travel to Japan, I usually try to find some crash course method of learning Japanese beforehand: be it the Lonely Planet Japanese Phrasebook, Japanese for Dummies, Teach Yourself Instant Japanese or Earworms Rapid Japanese. All of them have taught me a couple of phrases apiece, but weren't much more help than that.

But why did I assume in a post-literate age that books or CDs could do the job, when a ten-minute TV programme is probably more my intellectual level?

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Sarah Palin, 13/09/2008 - 04/11/2008

'...just try 'n' wait until after Tuesday to wear 'em, okay?' Because I fancied having all of these in one place, as a memento. Or a warning to the future. Acknowledgements to Tina Fey and the Saturday Night Live people.

September 13th, 2008 - Sarah & Hillary
September 27th, 2008 - Sarah & Katie
October 4th, 2008 - Sarah & Joe
October 18th, 2008 - futile damage limitation exercise #1
October 23rd, 2008 - Sarah & George
November 1st, 2008 - futile damage limitation exercise #2

(NB: all above links are to streaming video on the NBC site. If you think they're running slowly, you should see what the bastards look like embedded.)

REPOST: Wonderfalls

Michelle Forbes as Miranda Zero in the (currently) doomed pilot for Global Frequency. Nothing to do with Wonderfalls at all, I know, but bear with me. Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 03/07/2005.

I think Sky's run of Wonderfalls slipped after, ooh, four weeks from primetime into a post-midnight slot: still, at least it got shown, and we still have the DVDs.

Showrunner Tim Minear has continued to curse any TV show he's associated with: since Wonderfalls, he's seen both The Inside and Drive pulled from the Fox schedules before their time. Meanwhile, co-creator Bryan Fuller is currently having considerably greater success with the similarly whimsical Pushing Daisies.

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Augustus Hill tells it like it is Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 01/07/2002.

Oz eventually ran to six complete seasons. All of them are available on DVD in the US, and they're still slowly being released in the UK (season 5 hit the shops on June 30th 2008).

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REPOST: Martial Law

Sammo Hung from the Season 1 opening titles. Which piss all over the Season 2 ones, if you ask me. Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 20/06/2000.

Producer Lee Goldberg wrote me a very nice email about this article - "I laughed my ass off" - and he even had it reprinted on his website for a while (don't look for it, it's not there any more). Series 1 of Martial Law still turns up on TV now and again: series 2 tends to get repeated less frequently, mainly because the climax of the season involves a villainous plot to crash a passenger jet into a building. It seemed cooler back in 2000.

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REPOST: South Park

Oh My God! They Imported Kenny! Originally posted on The Unpleasant Lair Of Spank The Monkey 18/07/1998.

Bugger me, this is terrible, isn't it? It's not like I was particularly ahead of the curve on this one: the article originally coincided with the terrestrial airing of season 1, long after it had premiered on Sky One, and partway through the screening of season two on Comedy Central in the US. If I'd written about South Park back when the only way you could see it in the UK was via dodgy internet copies, it might have made more sense. Still, even though it's totally lacking in any sort of original insight, here's the piece anyway.

Meanwhile, of course, South Park is still going, currently into its twelfth season on Comedy Central. As far as UK transmission goes, both Sky and Channel 4 gave up on the show years ago, but Paramount Comedy Channel have been reasonably good at picking it up in their absence. DVD sets are widely available, as are those dodgy internet copies.

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