Saturday, April 6, 2013

Day Ninety-six - Stephen Fry's 100 Greatest Gadgets, "Look! Even Fry can make VH1-style crap docs!"

Alright, yes... I'm a Stephen Fry fanboy.

I find his debate footage intimidating, love his documentary where he tours all 50 American States, and pretty much adore every film role he's ever done. While his early television work with Hugh Laurie doesn't really thrill me as much as it does the rest of the internet, I still enjoy it to a decent extent.

The same cannot be said for the 100 Greatest Gadgets special.

To be sure, I wasn't kidding in today's title... this two part special that counts down Fry's favorite gadgets of all time feels exactly like an episode of 'I <3 the 80's" but swapping out "gadgets" for a specific decade. Most of the segments are all minute long mini-features that montage promo and demonstration shots of each particular invention in its various incarnations set to brief, vapid interview monologues with mostly generic British television personalities.

Swap out Breakfast Presenters for American Comedians and it's just another day block on VH1.

It's also annoying that some of his favorite gadgets are decidedly obscure UK tchotchkes from across the Empire like the ZED-X, a British designed game station from the early 80's (as opposed to the more famous and recognizable Atari 2600) or the Australian invented electric sandwich press.

Not exactly the freaking WHEEL, now are they... though, to be fair, I only watched the first hour so perhaps the wheel IS on his list, I just haven't gotten that far yet.

I can't say I'm all that happy with the weight he gives some inventions over others... I have no clue why the Aibo is even on this list, let alone the Sodastream (which is apparently used to make cheap, fake champagne). It's nice to see the Can Opener made it, but the Curling Iron? And above the Scissors, no less?

This is a crazy, arbitrary list that combines both useless junk and actually practical devices in a mish mash of pedantic interviews from useless Brit Icons (not to include Mr.Fry). If I had to see one more "Presenter" title as an interviewee's job description, I was going to scream.

To add to the monotony are the countdown slides which feature a rotating cast of the lists' actual inventions numbered to keep track of where one is in the program's trip down Fry's ghastly gadgets. The gimmick wouldn't be so annoying if they didn't reuse them every five or so. You'd think they'd be able to spring for this sort of insert based on every gadget, but no.

Sad. Boring. Ineffective. LCD.

The final straw for me, I think, was when the entire segment on the Walkie Talkie revolved around stock footage of the Royal Wedding that everyone went gaga over a while back.

I mean, honestly, what the heck is the point of showing footage of the motorcade and Kate and whatshisface's nuptial reveal as part of a feature on radio communicators? Oh, the 5000 police organized using them? Whoopdeedoo! Show them using the Walkies, not lingering shots on some pretty little thing marrying into figurehead status.

The Brits and their Royal obsession. Yeesh.

I can't really recommend this cheesy little pseudo-doc whatsoever, even if it is hosted by the esteemed Stephen Fry. I'll stick it out for the second episode to see where he goes with it, but I have the almost certain feeling that this will never again darken the door of my Netflix queue.

Until tomorrow, Potatoes~

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