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I’m no real fan of television. I have access to Sky Digital. 33% of the programming is shit and another 50% is bullshit. The other 17% is probably decent and I watch much less than one percent of it. But i’ve been hearing about this “make your own television channel thing” and was wondering if I created my own TV channel, and can only pick from ten programmes what it would consist of.

10. Friends

Created: 1994 by David Crane and Marta Kauffman. Ended 2004.
Type: American Sitcom, Audience Comedy

Considering the endless amount of repeats on E4, this show alone has probably stolen most useful hours of my life that I have managed to commit every single episode to memory. It features the growth, maturity and life of six “Friends”: Ross, caring but socially clumsy ex-husband; Rachel, the selfish bitch but ultimately likable girl; Pheobe, a very sweet but odd orphan…ish; Joey, a womanizing actor; Monica, an over-obsessive but motherly chef; and Chandler – the funny one. Within the ten years and season the six have been together, each have very relatable experiences about life that evolved throughout the series even though they still kept innate characteristics. Each of the six were unique but the relationships between them is ultimately where the comedy comes from. It was and still is a great series and one of the best ways to kill half an hour if you could memorize an episode, which it is easy enough to.

Chandler: [After being trapped in an ATM vestibule with an attractive woman for hours during a blackout, to a security camera] Hi, um, I’m account number 7143457. And, uh, I don’t know if you got any of that, but I would really like a copy of the tape.

9. Pokémon

Created: 1997/8 by Satoshi Tajari (game), Matsamisu Hidaka and Ken Sugimori. Ongoing.
Type: Japanese Anime, Kids Anime, Cartoon, Adventure

Rightfully deserves a place in this line up. This spin off from Nintendo’s answer for an RPG suddenly gained fame as it took kids hearts by storm. While other video game series have had their spin-off T.V. series including Mario, Sonic, Link, F-Zero, only Pokémon was welcomed into open arms by the entire world. It’s cutesy nature, mild graphic violence, fantasy, adventure and Tamagotchi like appeal made it clear that this was a franchise intended to become a household name and then somehow took the world by storm. While the entire franchise hasn’t had as much popularity as before, it still been effectively killed off. Even so the 600 episodes spawned 13 movies of the titular character Ash Ketchum (a play on the words “catch ’em” which no one seemed to get), resulting in over 300 hours of entertainment from one series! It’s not unclear why this was a great success, the heartfelt warmth of his companion Pikachu (a small cute yellow mouse that can shoot lightning) from the first episode right up to the present day can make anyone almost roll over and watch it. It’s funny, endearing quality sets it apart from other anime as it was more aimed at kids and families (as Nintendo know well enough), and the fact that it could be so interactive as well just adds to this mesmerizing series.

Meowth: [After being hit by a water attack] I hate water! Especially wet water!

8. QI (Quite Interesting)

Created: 2003 by John Lloyd. Ongoing.
Type: Audience Comedy, Comedy Panel, Discussion Comedy (Banter)

Stephen Fry can control the world, there is no real need to say anything else. We all know he is an emphatic know-it-all, extraordinarily quick witted, beautifully sexy and has the uncanny ability to sell anything and everything. Pair him up with a man who seems to struggle with even being half-witted, add three random guests and make them answer questions from the worlds most stupidly hardest quiz, should spell a recipe for disaster. But even so Stephen Fry actually hasn’t done that on his own, despite the fact that he could. The game is simple, Stephen is host, everyone else is a contestant, Stephen asks stupidly hard questions that as he doesn’t expect anyone to get any of them right he awards points (in a scoring system nobody understands) for simply being interesting, points are deducted for being wrong or for pointing out the incorrectly obvious answers. While this is a quiz and a comedy panel show where everything is subject to witty *cough* boring *cough* banter, it’s interesting, educational and funny to see someone get a question wrong with a punishment of being blared at by foghorns and large screens which show the incorrect answer you gave so they hang their head in shame. Despite Stephen’s uprising popularity, the show has had a vast change in both appearance and style since it’s first season to the more recent ones, its a good thing. The show has changed from intellectual humour to relatable smart humour, which has attracted a wider audience, but still keeping the hardcore fans hanging on. What is better, is that it’s not like other panel shows where people have a go at others or comedians just sit there trying to make a better joke than the one before, it’s basically a debating game headed by a professor.

Stephen Fry: It’s in the Bible …
Alan Davies: I haven’t read it!
Stephen Fry: You should—it’s hilarious.

7. Whose Line Is It Anyway?

Created: 1980 by Dan Patterson and Mark Leveson. Ended 2007.
Type: Improvisational Comedy, Audience Comedy, Sketch Comedy

Improvisational theatre is not as popular now as it was decades ago. But that doesn’t mean it is any less good. Despite the odd name for the title, Whose Line? is hysterically beautiful comedy show that retains class and intelligence. All it basically is is improvisational comedy theatre aired on television. The two editions of Whose Line? featured regular comedians such as the witty Stephen Fry, the beautiful Josie Lawrence, Tony Slattery, Johnny Sessions, Wayne Brady, Colin Mochrie, Jeff Davis, Ryan Stiles, Clip Esten, Jeff Davis, Brad Sherwood, Greg Proops, Denny Siegel, Kathy Greenwood and many, many more. Improvisational games consisted of different sorts of games such as rapid fire” Scenes From A Hat” which the audience suggests events, things not to do, or just funny stuff for the performers to act out. The guessing games such as “Let’s Make A Date” in which three performers are on a Blind Date type show with a quirk or charactersitic and the fourth must guess who they are. Then musical games such as “Hoedown” in which each performer sings a rhyming poem on the spot about an audience given subject. Also there are dialogue based games such as “Two-Line Vocabulary” which two performers can only say two different lines suggested by the producers while the third can say anything although all three must act out a given scene. The list of games is endless, and owing to the strong after-following of both shows, awesome.

Colin Mochrie: [Pretending to be a newsreader] Our top story tonight. Rudolph The Red-Nose Reindeer died today at 53. I know, it is sad. Over Barcelona today, the famed reindeer was hit by a flock of seagulls and a 747. Eyewitnesses report that “the reindeer in Spain was hit mainly by the plane.” This just in: Beverly Hills: nine-oh-two-one-oh, Clevland Browns: three.

6. Have I Got News For You

Created: 1990. Ongoing.
Type: Satire, Comedy Panel, Discussion Comedy

The panel show that is the start of every fucking British panel show we see nowadays. Have I Got News For You is in old serial TV show that’s older than me. The show contains four panellists two of which are Private Eye editor: Ian Hislop (which is the only “newspaper” I read), and possibly the most quick witted comedian ever: Paul Merton. They are joined by two other panellists who tend to be two of journalists, politicians or comedians. Or in quite a rare case…Piers Morgan. The show went through two ‘eras’, the first with television personality Angus Deayton (the ‘g’ is silent) who, while very funny and deadpan, was fired because the BBC decided it was too much pressure on them to have someone who had some sort of scandal with a prosititute and did cocaine because the News of the World managed to barge in on someone his life for no other reason than to gather readership. Despite his loss, he has been replaced with a different guest host every week, the most notable being Jeremy Clarkson, Alexander Armstrong, Jack Dee and Kirsty Young. The show is still funny and popular despite it’s wonderfully libellous nature, and that’s why I love it.

Ian Hislop: I should go on Mastermind, answering questions on the life and times of Jeffery Archer. I’d get more questions right than he would!

5. Fillmore!

Created: 2002 by Scott M. Gimple. Ended 2004.
Type: Cartoon, Mystery, Police Procedure, Drama

Despite it’s only 26 episode and two year run, Fillmore! should be highly regarded as one of the best cartoons shows that ABC and Disney managed to put together (rather than the massive amount of shit that they air now). While this is a cartoon and aimed at kids, don’t let that make you think that this was a light hearted show. From the start it took leafs out of the pages of 24, CSI, and Starsky and Hutch, shows taken pretty seriously. The main characters Cornellious Fillmore and Ingrid Third are played by voice actors Orlando Brown and the chameleon-like talents of Tara Strong, two characters who aren’t very by the book cops. While the comic lies in characters Principal Folsom (Wendie Malick), Vallejo (Horatio Sanz, and photographer O’Farrell (Kyle Sullivan). It’s very difficult to describe how good this is because it still maintains its “young kid” dillemas while elegantly ripping off other Police dramas.

Cornelious Fillmore: Ingrid, you have an Abe Lincoln lunchbox. Since when you care what everybody thinks?
Ingrid Third: Hey, Abe Lincoln is cool–oh, good point.

4. Home Improvement

Created: 1991 by Carmen Finestra, David MacFadzean and Matt Williams. Ended 1999.
Type: Comedy, Audience Comedy, Sitcom, Family Sitcom, Physical Comedy, Character Comedy.

Possible what almost every sitcom was based on since the 90’s. Tim Allen stars as Tim Taylor, a middle aged man who hosts a DIY show called “Tool Time” with his assistant Al Borland (Richard Karn). Tim is very accident prone, maschimo-masculinist, witty, overconfident, ambitious and boisterious. These charactersistics provided much of the humor and is what made the show successful and relatable to typical American men. Al on the other hand, is introverted, knowledgable, shy, slightly fat and non-fashionable. Just as witty as Tim, his use of dry humour and typical anti-Tim style is what make this relationship between the two men work. Al seems to do “all the work on Tool Time” while Tim simply uses the show to vent, present, and get into a vast array of accidents. At home, Tim has an attractive wife named Jill, who has obviously more common sense than Tim, shown in almost every episode. Unlike Tim, Jill is a girly-feminist type, which contrast well with Tim especially during the ‘dysfunctional family’ moments. They have three kids, who are all witty and charming in their own special way, which matures over time of the series. Tim also lives next to a neigbour named Wilson Wilson (Earl Hindman R.I.P.) who is knowledgable, philisophical and knows a never ending list of proverbs, which a running gag maintained throughout the entire series was that his whole face was never shown at once. Add all these contrasting characteristics together, and some odd situations and you have yourself a damn good comedy.

[On Tool Time, Al is showing how to get a broken bulb out of a lamp using a potato]
Al: Here’s a safe way to take a broken bulb out of its socket, simply take a cut potato, jam it into the socket, twist –
Tim: And in minutes you have thousands of curly fries!
Al: You twist and pull the broken bulb out of the socket, [walks into the background] but first you must –
Tim: [Slams the potato into the broken socket] Jam it in the light! [Get’s a huge electric shock, and in clear pain walks off set grabbing his coat]
Al: [Walks back towards the camera holding something obvious…] …unplug the lamp.

3. Bremner, Bird and Fortune

Created: 1999 by Rory Bremner, John Bird and John Fortune. Ongoing.
Type: Satire, Political Satire, Comedy, Audience Comedy.

A proper political satire that isn’t only intellucually funny, but also informative. This small budget show consists of three parts. The first part is usually Rory Bremner explaining and ridiculing current affairs and politics. Usually performed infront of a small audience and sometimes containing props showing graphs or statistics, the key that makes this work is not only how clear and simple Rory Bremner makes everything, but his masterful array of impressions, ranging from journalist Huw Edwards to politician George W. Bush (I say politician, I mean the worlds best paid actor). Using a bit of your own imagination and pretending it was actually these people saying these things, like Gordon Brown saying “It seems that the economy was not made much better by buying a year’s worth of haggis”, this is hilarious. The second part is an interview between the ‘two Johns’. One takes on the role of George Parr – a fictional person who seemingly is very powerful, wealthy or has high exposure in some company or organisation – while the other makes a serious interview with him. The comedy here derives the exaggurated defensive interview style that many powerful, wealthy or notable people take, often exagguarting to the point where George Parr looks almost childish or stupid. The last part consists of a variety of sketches between the three performers and two other women (played by Pauline McLynn and Frances Barber). Often the dinner party sketch consisting of the two Johns and the two women, gives a good reflection on an exaggurated British view of current affairs. Often the two couples will take a wildly left-wing or wildly right-wing view of the situation, which is both very funny and offensive (I say offensive, I mean ‘other people are likely to get offended’). The hour-long show is usually wrapped up by spliced videos taken in the past week, or a refreshing musical number.

[John Fortune is interviewing John Bird who is acting as George Parr – an investment banker, and are talking about the ‘credit crunch’, bankers bonuses and the government bail-out.]
John Fortune: So you are saying that success as a banker should be rewarded, and that failure should be rewarded?
George Parr: No-no-no! I’m saying that-that success should be rewarded and that-that failure…should be compensated!

2. Xiaolin Showdown

Created: 2003 by Christy Hui. Ended 2005.
Type: Cartoon, Anime, Action, Fighting-Combat, Comedy

This is a pretty difficult TV show to explain, however despite the short three season run, it has become one of the best cartoons ever made. Xiaolin Showdown (mocking the correct spelling of Showlin), takes place possibly in China with Omi (voiced by Tara Strong) an Xiaolin Monk who trains at the Xiaolin temple with Master Fung (Rene Auberjonois/Maurice LaMarche) as his teacher, and Dojo Kanojo Cho (Wayne Knight) a shapeshifting dragon. He is joined by three other Xiaolin monks Raimundo Pedrosa from Brazil (Tom Kenny), Kimiko Toho from Japan (Grey DeLisle), and Clay Bailey from Texas (Jeff Bennet). The four monks go around the world with Dojo searching for Shen-Gong-Wu, artifacts which look like they’ve been taken out of Antiques Roadshow but supposedly give the user certain mysterious powers, such as the Shroud of Shadows which allows the user to turn invisible. They fight for these against the ‘Heylin’ side fronted by techno-geek Jack Spicer (Danny Cooksey) and his ghostly witch Wuya (Susan Silo) because they want world domination. During the entire series the monks and Jack fight end to end for these things, during which the monks progress in fighting ability and Jack progresses in resourcefulness. Along the way, each make friends and enemies who may or may not be involved with the collection of Shen-Gong-Wu, but all are integral to every episode. The show gets its name from the main part of every episode where (usually) two combantants go head-to-head in a ‘Showdown’ for a neutral Shen-Gong-Wu, the action during these segments is merciless and clear while still maintaining a cartoon anime style very influenced by Japanese animes. With all this action though, there is never any shortage of comedy. In fact every show lays it on pretty thickly, and each character has their own quirk to add to this. Omi consistently mispronounces proverbs and as the series progress becomes more arrogant. Clay is a simple (but biggish) cowboy who has a list of metaphors longer than a pork sausage from ‘Fat Al’ the pig. Raimundo is the wit of the group and usually mucks around. Jack is sore loser, a sore winner and a ‘momma’s boy’. Dojo is…undescribable. Master Fung’s dry but powerful wit put’s him in a league of his own and Kimiko is a hothead along with being the only girl of the group. The comedy continues to progress as the series does and never once does it forget that it’s a cartoon. The reason why it was so good? Imagine a funny action-anime with all the boring bits taken out!

Master Fung: “The journey of a thousand miles beings with but a single step.”
Raimundo: “Where do you get this stuff?”
Master Fung: “I have a desk calendar…”

1. Tom and Jerry

Created: 1940 by William Hanna and Joseph Barbera. Somewhat ongoing.
Type: Cartoon, Mild Violence, Animated Short Film, Theatrical Short, Silent Comedy

Two chatacters I have consistently enjoyed since I was little. Tom Cat and Jerry Mouse were made in 1940 by two animators, but inadvertently they made the second longest lasting animated characters in history (the top spot is currently held by Mickey Mouse). These themed five-to-ten minute theatrical shorts focused on Tom and Jerry’s rivalry and antics, and usually had different themes and settings for each short. Tom, a blue domestic cat, often tried to capture Jerry, a little brown dormouse, in which Jerry would often escape. However the physical and non-speech based comedy was wildly entertaining, with each character often resorting to extremely violent tendencies to hinder the others progress. The most mellow being one of the charaters being hit by some household item (such as a frying pan), or some food item (such as a cream pie, which has probably had too much influence on me) while the most violent meant each character using lethal firearms, dynamite and trinitrotoluene. While this is considered a friendly ongoing rivalry, neither character never ‘went easy’ on the other and both are portrayed as oppurtunistic, romantic, energetic, determined and sadistic. Despite this, Tom usually loses the battle and sometimes depediticed as dead (I’m sure South Park stole that idea). As the series of shorts progressed, the animators of Tom and Jerry went through different hands, and more characters were introduced, and only added to the mayhem. These characters also included a third party, in which Tom and Jerry would also team up to take this menace out, who usually had the same violent tendencies as they did, the most common of which was Butch, a black alley cat. Toodles one of Tom’s love interested, but Tom usually failed in romancing here because of Jerry’s or Butch’s efforts. The only frequently vocal characters Spike a grey bulldog and his son Tyke. Spike often initmidated Tom mainly of the fact that he was a very temperemental dog who was very protective of his son which Jerry often used to his advantage. In 1958 Hanna-Barbera gave up the reins of Tom and Jerry after a long and successful 18-year run after making 114 shorts and the rein was passed to Gene Deitch and Chuck Jones for another nine years. Each kept the style that was Tom and Jerry often revisiting old shorts and giving it a ‘fresh’ look. Since the shorts ended in 1967, Tom and Jerry has spawned numerous TV shows and their own films, each with high commercial and critical success. So while this may have the kid-based tendencies, its violent appeal was fun for the entire family. I defy you to find any other show that was made since 1967 that had this family appeal.

Spike: “That’s what I’ll do, pound you to pieces! Like this!” [Proceeds to pund Tom to pieces using his fists and the ground giving Tom an enlarged black eye] “Are we clear?!” [Tom nods]

I think that ten hours of this programming is better than ten hours worth of programming on ITV or E!…But then that is just me.


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