Sunday, February 15, 2009

after the watershed.

Just come across this (snigger) in my drafts folder....pity to waste it really.


Skipped reviewing it first time round (due in part to finding it appalling) but seeing as I got it given me on DVD (plus it's recently - I say recently - aired on terrestrial Teevee) I thought I'd give it another shot.

For the love of God why?

Dead Set (2008)
Dir: Yann Demange (I'm using 'directed' in the loosest possible way).
Cast: Jaime Winstone, Andy Nyman, Kevin Eldon, Davina McCall, Riz Ahmed, Adam Deacon, Warren Brown, Beth Cordingly, Kathleen McDermott, Raj Ghatak, Chizzy Akudolu, Liz May Brice, Elyes Gabel, Shelley Conn and Krishnan Guru-Murthy.

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Seven and the ragged tiger.



It's an eviction night on the hit Teevee show Big Brother but the country has more important things on it's mind, there are nationwide reports of violent disturbances and riots breaking out in every major city causing the shows porn-alike, pudgy producer Patrick (Nyman, sans his horns) to stomp around swearing and insisting tomboyish tottie Kelly (square headed Winstone) fetches him coffee.

Inside the house the contestants are also swearing and arguing (as is the norm) unaware of the growing panic outside.

Taking a break from frowning and serving drinks, Kelly decides to have sweaty, tabletop sex with a co-worker in a cupboard whilst her boyfriend, Riq (Ahmed) desperately tries to ring her.

You see, he's stranded at a train station after having his car nicked by an angry mother carrying a wounded baby (or something).

Anyways, he loves Kelly and is on his way to see her.

Back in the house, harsh faced Scottish harridan Pippa (the scarily horse faced McDermott) is in the process of being evicted when the studio compound is over run by what looks like rabid tramps (tho' it's hard to tell seeing as the director has equated excitement with making the picture go all blurry).

Inside the BB house, those remaining; Marky (ex-Hollyoaks rapist Brown), Veronica (ex-dead copper from top Brit Teevee show The Bill, Cordingly), transvestite nurse Grayson (Ghatak, not playing Bruce Wayne's ward), Joplin (rubber faced comedy rat-twat, Eldon), the faceless and destined to die first Angel (Akudolu) and trendy hip type Space (the ferret-like Deacon) continue their drinking, swearing and farting, oblivious to the carnage outside.

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"Fuck me....a wasp!"


The tramps meanwhile have broken into the studio and decided to eat the harsh faced, half woman, half crow presenter Davina (McCall, playing herself).

Which is a blessing frankly.

Kelly manages to survive the attack by running away before barricading herself inside cupboard, leaving the bloke she just shagged to a grisly fate (aw, what a romantic girl) whilst good old Patrick, in a move that would make Bruce Campbell proud, legs it out the control room (throwing various production assistants to the zombie hordes as he goes) and cowers inside the disabled toilet.

After first kicking a man in a wheelchair out of it.

What an utter bastard/genius (delete as applicable).

It's the next day and life is pretty much the same as always in the house as the housemates continue arguing over who ate the last Cheerios whilst away in the studio Kelly is still stuck sobbing in a cupboard and Patrick, feeling hungry decides to leave the relative safety of the toilets for the comfort of the green room, where alongside the flat Champagne and volovants he finds a shot to fuck (yet still incredibly horsey) Pippa.

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Pippa: A mooth made for shite-in (in).


Kelly, meanwhile manages to make it to the camera rooms that runs thru' the walls of the house (narrowly avoiding a tramp) before entering the relative safety of the diary room and banging on the door shouting (and swearing) loudly.

Rushing to the door thinking a new contestant is joining the competition, the housemates are surprised to see a female Ray Winstone (but with smaller breasts), covered in blood and brandishing a pair of nail clippers blabbering on about flesh eating tramps. Between her screeching rants she occasionally goes "Shush! there's a tramp behind the door!" before swearing again and threatening to trim someones nails.


Davina: Oniony smells.


Marky the date-raper thinks that it'd be for the best if he just opened the door to prove that it's all a big joke (if only it was) but before Kelly can swear at him any more, a blood caked zombie cameraman bursts into the house and bites Angel.

Everyone stands around screaming until Kelly beats it to death with a handy fire extinguisher.

Back in the outside world Riq is hiding out in a petrol station snacking his way thru' the Doritos when the screech of tires and sounds of gunfire alert him to the presence of a fellow survivor, the butch, yet strangely attractive Alex (Brice, better known as the luscious lesbian Pat Kerrigan in the teevee prison panto Bad Girls), who forces him, at gunpoint, to load up her car with pop, crisps and sanitary towels before offering him a lift to the coast.

After driving around for a bit (well enough time to fill in some back story) the car runs out of petrol and our dense duo, after trying to fill it up with Ribena decide to hide out in a convenient country house just up the road.

Back in the greenroom, Patrick is tired of having to shit in a bucket whilst listening to Pippa neighing and banging her hooves but any attempt to escape is thwarted by an undead (as opposed to ungodly) Davina banging her head against the door whilst screeching like a really screechy thing.

No changer there then.

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Insert cock here.


After a bit more swearing, the housemates decide it'd probably be better if they put Angel in the greenhouse at the bottom of the garden so that if she does become a zombie she'll have to fight her way thru' a load of rose bushes to get to them. Grayson, being the next less developed character and token homosexual reckons that being a nurse means that he should sit with her and mop her brow whilst whispering "You'll be OK" in a really camp voice.

Kelly, Marky and Space agree (without swearing) that they need to leave the house to go find supplies (and sticking plasters for Angels bitten out throat), leading them to make a daring attempt to travel to the nearest Asda.

On arrival, Kelly and Marky head straight for the tinned peaches, Muller Corners and copies of Heat magazine whilst Space, ahem, watches the van and looks mean. Which really doesn't impress the two cockney coppers that turn up.

Being nice policemen tho' everything is going swimmingly with chat ranging from who might win Big Brother to the nasty stains you get on your shoes when shooting the undead. But all this goes tits up when Kelly and Marky run out of the supermarket with a couple of zombies chasing behind (yes, unfortunately the undead here do that shite running whilst the camera goes all wobbly thing Ala 28 Days Later).

Suffice to say there's a wee bit of drama, shooting, stealing of guns and swearing resulting in some dead coppers and a lacklustre chase scene.

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"Housemates, you've failed your task of doing
anything
new or unique with the zombie genre....
so now you have to rape a turkey."


Back in the greenhouse Grayson (not dressed in a red tunic and green cape) decides to untie the recently deceased Angel resulting in a swift neck munch and much blood, mortally wounded he pushes her into the swimming pool before turning undead himself and starting to lick the patio doors.

Veronica and Joplin, taking a break from swearing at each other stab Grayson in the face just as, Kelly, Marky and Space arrive with a big bag of Pot Noodles.

Boiling the kettle, Joplin makes an interesting discovery. Angel is still in the pool, ergo zombies aren't intelligent(!)

Well, it's either that or her arse is so big she can't stand up.

Kelly shoots Angel in the head before giving one of those 'we can beat this' speechies that folk always do before they get killed in stuff like this.

Liz May Brice indulges in a wee bit of lesbianism.
Unfortunately not in this show.



Riq, on the other hand has made himself at home in the deserted mansion, sipping coffee and munching Hob-obs whilst watching the Big Brother live feed on E4 (makes a change from endless Friends re-runs I guess), Alex, on the other hand, is scanning the radio frequencies for any news updates.

And listening to the Adam and Joe Show podcast.

Almost immediately (which is very quick) Alex comes across a French radio broadcast and determines that the rescue boat (what? just the one? for the whole UK? well they are French) has just left port, leaving her stuck in a big house with Riq, but just as she's about to give him the news (about the lack of rescue, she's not going to sit in the corner of the room with a cardboard box on her head going 'Hello, I'm John Humphries'.) Riq spots Kelly alive and well (yet still strangely manly) in the Big Brother house.

Deciding that he must attempt to rescue his fair maiden and win back her heart (he's either a true gentleman or he's gagging for a bit of rough) he promises to buy Alex a box of Drifters if she'll help him.

As we all know, women can't resist chocolate so she takes him to the boathouse in the garden.

How lucky is that?

Adam and Joe: 'Steven!'


Sailing down a canal and looking for all the world as if they're scouting for locations for a remake of Zombie Lake (which to be honest seemed a preferable option at this point) it's not long before Alex is attacked by a dyke.

Or should I say a zombie whilst she's fiddling with a dyke.

Anyway, Riq knowing that a bite by a dyke can turn you into one of them axes her to death.

Patrick and Pippa finally manage to kill Davina (about fucking time), leave the shit stained green room and head towards the studio control area where they use the PA System to chat with the housemates.

By chat I mean that Patrick threatens to turn all the lights of and play crappy dance music turned up to 11 all day and all night till they come and rescue him.

Kelly and Space, slowly turning into council estate versions of Peter and Fran from Dawn of the Dead, set off on a daring rescue mission.

Nyman: horn.


Patrick, reckoning that having a huge porn 'tache puts him in charge and (quite sensibly) wanting to spend as little time as possible with the merry band of losers who take part in Big Brother has a cunning plan to leave the compound and head for 'the coast', using dead housemates as bait to distract the tramps. Everyone else balks at the idea and sits around swearing whilst Patrick starts hacking up bits of Grayson. All that is except Marky, who is perched on a roof with an assault rifle wishing he was in a Romero movie (or by this point possibly even a Fulci, who can tell?)

Riq by this time has finally arrived at the studio and cautiously approaches the Big Brother house to be greeted by the resident Marky's-man (see what I did there?) taking pot shots at him. Luckily the fact that the sun is shining brightly off Riq's huge brow means that Marky is dazzled long enough for Kelly to scream "It's mahhhh boyfriend! Dahn't shoot 'im!" before Marky just climbs down and beats him to death.

Re-united with his true love, Riq endears himself to Patrick by persauding the others that he's a mustachioed mentalist and should be tied up in the toilet.

Patrick disagrees, but seeing as he's covered head to toe in blood and clutching someones severed genitals they do in fact, tie him up.

In the toilet.


McCall: Nice flat tummy,
face of utter fuckness.





Veronica thinks that this isn't enough and that they should shoot him as well (just in case) which causes a huge moral debate (with swearing obviously).

Whilst all this is going on Joplin excuses himself and goes for a wee, where good old Patrick tells him that the whole country hated him (as opposed to now, where they just want to eat him) and the other housemates think he's a boring old pervert. This comes as a shock to Joplin, tho' why I have no idea, seeing as earlier he'd been tempted to crack one of whilst Veronica was having a shower but there you go, so he unties Patrick and the pair burst into the dining area and take Kelly hostage.

The moralising turns into a dirty scrap as Riq fights to save Kelly and Patrick waves a big gun about as everyone falls into the garden, the sound of stinky tramps growing ever louder....

And no-one has noticed Joplin slowly making his way to the gates with a bucket of offal....

Brooker: Zombie obsessed, gurning man child.


Originally broadcast in the UK over five nights leading up to Halloween in 2008, Dead Set seemed an exciting prospect; zombie gut munching on prime time teevee written by the countries leading wit, comedy masturbater and pop culture commentator Charlie Brooker.

So what went wrong?

I was looking forward to being able to vote on who would be eaten next or a drama where intelligent zombies use the house as entertainment, fattening up the housemates before eviction; a tottering undead Davina moaning 'I'm coming to get you Barbra' as the evictee is torn limb from limb by plackard waving skeletons.

Maybe my expectations of Brooker (a self confessed zombie fan) were a little too high but I think the audience deserved more than a few reheated 'best of' scenes from Romero's Dead saga (haphazardly delivered with the aid of nausea inducing editing) stretched out over a week.

But your average viewing pleb (sorry, viewer) seemed to enjoy it so what do I know?

Well, I know enough that if you're going to have a character mention Night of the Living Dead then you might as well be post modern enough to have him follow it up by pointing out how entirely similar the situation is and play against that, not just have him forget about it then look surprised when the biting starts.

The thing is tho' that it has all the hallmarks of being a great show, not just an average one; for every shoehorned Romero reference we get a really subtle Living Dead At The Manchester Morgue one that will no doubt go straight over most folks heads yet warm the cockles of a jaded horror fan and for every crappy 28 Days Later style running zombie (that film has so much to answer for) there's a comedy undead cripple slavering from his wheelchair.

Art or arse? YOU decide!



Ultimately the show seemed to be aimed at those it was parodying; the Heat reading, reality teevee obsessed, crap haired culturally unclean. You know, the types that put Jade Goody where she is today (I mean they made her famous, not gave her cancer before you start to write and complain).

If you don't believe me check the comments on the E4 website.

It's not all bad tho' (only mostly) with extra special kudos going to Andy Nyman as the fantastic Patrick, the kind of cynical bastard that would only be as likeable as he is in a good, old fashioned British drama. He might have been a total arsehole but he was the only person able to see the gravity of the whole situation and be true enough to do what was needed, and I for one was rooting for him. His scenes alongside Kathleen McDermott were worth tuning in for alone and would have quite happily watched the pair of them arguing in a cupboard for five consecutive nights.

With or without zombies.

But more likely without.

The rest of the cast did a fair job to flesh out their characters beyond just swearing ciphers (some managed it better than others) but director Yann (director of the missing penis comedy Incomplete and a couple of episodes of Secret Diary of a Call Girl) Demange's (over) use of drab filters and the aforementioned shaky-cam killed any tension quicker than a bullet to the head.

I mean it's hard to feel involved when you can't see what's going on then when you do struggle to get the full picture you realise you've seen it all before.

Which is a pity really.

1 comment:

BlueAzure said...

Genius review sir. I agree on everything you have said about Deadset. I thought it was only me that felt as if I was watching some badly edited 'best of Romero' homage, whose re-staged footage had been given to the Junior Editor with a penchant for '28 Days' films which unfortunately had led him to be overzealous with the Final Cut filters. I will say though, Kevin Eldon is a genius, although why he took this role on is still to be understood.

Keep up the good work Ash.

Just think, few more months andyou can go rip-roaringly crazy on the new Terminator film, which, if you go by the trailers, looks like a right ol' bunch of bio-mechanical sweary arse biscuits!!! And you can quote me!