Bitchin' Channels

A blog about television and radio with Paul Casserly

Paul Casserly: Hook Ups: How Sky's reshuffle drove me into the arms of an evangelist

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Paul Casserly had to conquer his incandescent rage before finding a few silver linings in Sky TV's recent channel reshuffle.

Pat Robertson.
Pat Robertson.

There's quite a few Bic Runga lyrics that have stayed with me over the years - the "concrete coloured skies" of her breakthrough hit Drive is there every time I look up at the bruised clouds that frequent the city at this time of year.

There's another from Listening For The Weather I've thought about at times of minor turmoil - "Never be afraid of change."

I thought of that line again this week as my muscle memory failed me as I tried to find my usual channels on Sky. In the week I'd been out of town, away from my beloved TV, the buggers have done a reshuffle and everything had moved. "Where are the movies? WHERE'S THE RUGBY?" Anger began to rise in me, as these days even a micro moment of inconvenience easily becomes a tsunami. How dare they, the bastards, and they're charging us more too, despite their healthy bottom line.

What about MY bottom line? I've got a good mind to chuck it in. If I were less afraid of change I'd drive out to Mt Wellington and douse myself in methylated spirits. If more Sky subscribers sacrificed their lives in this way surely they'd back down. (Mind you that monk who torched himself didn't exactly stop the war did he?) I tried to calculate how many corpses would need to pile up for Sky to pull their heads in, because I can tell you one thing, charred remains don't pay their bills. But what if you've got a direct debit set up? Damn, it could be years before they stopped the payment.

As you can see I got myself in a bit of a tizz and all over 91 extra cents a month. In my defence I've been chilled about the new milk bottle that seems to have sent everyone else into an angry frenzy.

Luckily the red mist dissipates as quickly as it rises. And then there are the silver linings. As I searched my usual channel haunts I came across my old friend Pat Robertson on Shine TV's The 700 Club. Robertson is an American evangelist who comes across as very sensible. The word 'sensible' being the version used by our own Sensible Sentencing Trust. It's the same spelling as the commonly used 'sensible', but it kind of means the opposite.

The 700 Club used to be a firm favourite as late-night stoner viewing in the early days of Sky, before Comedy Central and broadband provided better options. I like Pat, he's an entertaining old bigot and he's occasionally unpredictable. Of course he reckons that satan is real but I was surprised to learn that he judges oral sex (within marriage) to be okay. He even had a glint in his eye when he discussed it recently with his blushing co-host.

Last week the show was running a story on Hook Up Culture and "the growth of immoral activities on college campuses."

Sadly, I was not stoned as I watched this so I didn't get the full comedic effect, but still it had me in it's grip. As with most stories on the show it feels like a parody. Put a laugh track on it and you have a segment that would slide easily into The Daily Show. The story wheeled out a Christian guy - who was actually called Christian - who said he was "pushing back" against all the sex that he's not having. Then comes the author of a book called: The End of Sex. How hook-up culture is leaving a generation unhappy, sexually unfulfilled and confused about intimacy.

This makes me want to write a book called: Books: Why the flipping hell are the titles to books getting so crazy stupid long these days, you know what I mean mother freakers, and what are you going to do about it? Nothing, just as I thought, you just sit there like a pudding while these book titles get out of hand and why is that thought giving me a headache? And, what's for dinner? Anyway the author of The End of Sex... reckoned that things are getting pretty bad.

She was armed with a mean looking mouth and some dubious statistics to back up her claims. As the narrator said:

"Donna Freitas surveyed more than 2,000 college students across the country. Forty-one per cent of those students used words like "regretful," "miserable," "disgusted," "ashamed," "duped" and "abused" to describe their hook-up experience. Twenty-three per cent of them expressed ambivalence."

So that leaves thirty six per cent who are sweet as then?

Expressing my own ambivalence I eventually returned to my remote and the search for the missing channels.

Of course if I were to sever ties with Sky I would have to rely on Freeview and the Internet. This is actually becoming more viable - if only I could tear myself away from the rugby and the cricket, and Soho, Rialto, UKTV, BBC World, and CNN.

But you don't need Sky to enjoy the new animated local show Hook Ups. Nothing to do with aforementioned 'Hook-up culture' of college campuses, this is about a band called Hook Ups comprising of two siblings, Kowhi and Monty Hook. The look is a little Brotown and even a bit Scooby Doo via Beavis and Butthead. It began life as a strip in the now defunct Volume Magazine. The cartoon version is an online only venture with new episodes being posted weekly via the Herald Online, thanks to a funding hook up with NZ On Air. It's written by local hip hop song-smith Coco, from Coco Solid and it's a bloody good watch, sharing as it does, the unpretentious style, black comedy, and social commentary to be found in her music. Coco (Jessica Hansell) also provides the voice of Kowhai while Frankie Stevens is strangely brilliant as her super macho dad. It wouldn't have been out of place in MTV's 1990s animation showcase Liquid TV.

There's more info on the series here. And you can watch episodes here. FYI they're only 3 minutes long.

If you're a fan of Southpark you might like to have a look at the sort of spinoff series Out There. Created by Southpark animator Ryan Quincy, the show also show features the voice of Portlandia's Fred Armisen. And like Hook Ups, it has a bit of slacker vibe. The New York Times calls it "Dreamy, charming, and deeply personal."

In other animation news the children of the late great Notorious B.I.G are set to feature in a venture called House Of Wallace, in which they battle to save their dad's recording studio from the evil corporate music industry. Believe it or not it's been 16 years since the rapper was shot to death during a drive-by shooting. His kids C.J. and T'yanna Wallace will play themselves while Biggie will make ongoing appearances as a ghost. No word on who will provide his voice. Frankie Stevens would be good.

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