Ep 168: Bam Boom! Entertainment, Lie to Me, Underbelly 2

Gillian Bartlett and Donna Lyon from Bam Boom! Entertainment join us to talk about their very unique television jobs. Also there’s a review of the new Underbelly season premier, and the new US show Lie to Me. Also we look at coverage of the Victorian bushfires in a special Raywatch.

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9 Comments

  1. John, I was the same as you with the shot of the house exploding, probably because there could have been people in that house. I also struggle with the aerial shots that clearly show the blue body bags, but maybe I’ve not got the right constitution.

    As for the Ch9 Sunday extra news coverage, yes, I agree, I thought it was excellently done, poor Hitch looked very upset, and I don’t blame him, he knew he’d lost a friend and mentor, but to their credit, Ch9 didn’t play up that angle at all. My only criticism of the coverage was one of the reporters standing in front of the flames at a Kinglake? petrol station. I mean really, the flames were clearly in the background to evoke emotion, but what idiot stands out the front of a burning petrol station?!?!?!

    And although this is certainly a rarity, I must also praise A Current Affair’s coverage on Monday, ordinarily if I somehow see any of this show I’m ranting at the tv along the lines of ‘this is current affairs’ or ‘that is so biased it’s not funny’ etc. etc. but they did a story with the guy who had videoed just after the fire front had passed, and then checked every single house, and you could tell, he knew how many and in some cases who, had not made it… but they didn’t sensationalise or force the point, it was really well handled and edited, especially when his wife realised he’d seen some people that she was still unsure about how they were. Really excellent coverage, and something that ACA should aspire too more often. (But I know that they won’t).

  2. Darren Boxcutter says:

    Your comments about the Bushfire News Coverage was spot on. Why do they have to raise other so called sensations when the story itself is a sensation.

    For instanstance the “rumour” of looting is outrageous. I have yet to here of one surviour say my home was looted.

    In fact the other day i saw one of the TV networks go live to a reporter on site who when asked what about these stories of looting he answered that he had just spoken to a resident who had heard from someone that looting was occuring. Thankfully the reporter shifted his story to something more subsctantial.

  3. ActualChad says:

    Throughout the whole interview with Gillian and Donna, I couldn’t work out if this was a serious interview or whether it was a giant pisstake.

    One minute, Gillian and Donna were explaining the ridiculousness of what they do and how vacuous the output seems to be, yet at the same time they repeatedly mentioned that they couldn’t do a project without “integrity”.

    Even after the interview finished, I kept thinking, “Was that an early April Fool’s prank? Some comedy bit?” The occasional silences, followed by bursts of laughter kept me thinking that someone was going to let us in on the joke.

    I apologise if it sounds like I’m denigrating your jobs, Gillian and Donna (although, you yourselves mentioned that you were doing it just to pay the bills and seemed to have a fairly dry sense of humour about the ridiculousness of it all), but it was such a odd choice of interview subject for a podcast that, in any other situation, would deride “filler TV” such as this.

    Josh, I think Brett is right, in that you should look at Underbelly from a different perspective. Comparing it to the Sopranos is unfair, because The Sopranos is about Tony’s two families and how they intersect. Its core is the relationships between the characters. And for many of the characters, crime surrounds them.

    Underbelly is more like an extended Crimestoppers re-enactment. Its focus is the crime, and part of that crime are the characters that inhabit that world.

    Personally, coming from WA, I didn’t have the background of knowledge regarding the characters in the original Underbelly, so I didn’t come to the show with any knowledge of events. And I really enjoyed the first series. I thought it was a step up from the usual local shows that Australia produces.

    I watched most of the first episode of Underbelly: A Tale of Two Cities (or U2 for short), apart from an ill-timed phonecall from WA, and while I enjoyed it, it didn’t grab me like the first series did.

    It nothing to do with the story (which was also new to me – apart from knowing the names like Trimbole and Mackay, etc), my problem was that so many of the actors looked similar.

    Whereas the first series had recognisable faces that I could diffentiate, I don’t recognise many of the actors playing what are currently bit parts (which will possibly be expanded on as the series progresses), so it started getting a little confusing, although I must admit it may have been the 20-minute phonecall in the middle that did it.

    While I realise that character is key in storytelling, I think it must be remembered that this story is all about the crimes, in the same way that “Air Crashes Investigation” is about the crash, but always tried to give the people involved “character”. U2 owes as much to the re-enactment program as it does to the standard dramatic narrative series.

    On a lighter note, I watched enough of “Lie To Me” the first week and like it enough to be interested in seeing it again. As it was, I turned it on later in the second episode to see Tim Roth et al looking at a picture of two smiling people:

    “Zoom in of her face.”
    Zoom.
    “See her eyebrows? That’s a textbook fear eyebrow. she may be smiling, but she’s really scared.”

    Firstly, the look was so obviously staged that only ACTUAL dog’s balls would have stood out more.

    Secondly, rather than being a pivotal moment in the case, the supposed “look of fear” could simply have been the result of a badly-timed photograph. (Can’t wait for “See how it looks like she’s blinking in this photo? She’s not blinking, she’s pretending to be temporarily blind!”)

    Thirdly, yes, she had a look of fear on her face. In a photograph taken on a battlefront. WTF?

    That was the only scene I watched.

    Huzzah,
    ActualChad

  4. John Richards says:

    Great comments, Chad (and Darren and Bolden)!

    One of the reasons for talking to Gillian and Donna was that Bam Boom! have such an odd niche in the television world that we thought it was worth exploring – it’s not many guests that we have to start by saying “what do you actually do?”. I also was interested in the idea that it’s an international product that viewers would have no idea was put together in Australia, and alo that it’s programming that couldn’t have existed even ten years ago, being so dependant on digital technologies (internet, editing, music) being affordable enough to make it cost effective.

    Are the shows actually good? Well, not really – it’s wallpaper television, and while we probably wouldn’t review the finished product, we thought it was worth discussing the making of it, and the slightly terrifying thought that this may well be the future of television in a multi-channel world.

    I guess that with the idea of “integrity” Donna and Gillian are saying that while it’s cheap and disposable television, they’re at least trying to make the best cheap and disposable television possible – it’s a pride in the craft, rather than a pride in the art.

    Incidentally, someone else who does low-budget news-footage-and-voice-over shows, for somewhat different effect, is New Zealand’s Jeremy Wells. It’s well worth having a look at some of his Kiwi history shows, such as The Unauthorised History Of New Zealand (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xY2_I1Wu3OU) and Eating Media Lunch (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xZUxg5utRtU).

  5. As far as the bushfires coverage is concerned, the thing that really shits me is that Channel 9 feel this need to give their broadcasts a name: Victoria Burns appeared on Saturday night; then it became Hell On Earth on Monday or Tuesday (also taken up by The Hun); and finally we got Australia Unites for stories about relief efforts. puh-leeeese….

    A small point of order regarding viewing Carla Cametti (yep, I'm banging on about that again): SBS offer most of their programs online for 7 days after broadcast. No, you can't download it through their site, but I just hook the lappy up to the TV via a TV-Out cable and the resolution is fine. I do the same thing when watching iView.

  6. gillianb says:

  7. gillianb says:

    This is the very first time I have been inspired to post a comment on the web. Thanks for that Chad. It's a very weird feeling. I suspect I shall be rambling away to myself, much like a diary entry, but here goes.
    In reference to your comments on the Bam Boom interview on Boxcutters Chad, it's great to read your feedback. Let me say I do understand your confusion as to where and Donna and I were coming from. Of course, it seems contradictory to admit that the shows we produce don't satisfy our creative sensibilities and at the same time claim we approach them with integrity.

    I'd like to suggest however that at least 90 percent of television programs are written, produced and broadcast by people who are just doing it for the money and don't give a rats about its artistic merit. It's just that they lie about it. You don't have a problem with the Boxcutters discussing a hackneyed, fomulaic show like “Lie to Me” with its predictable twists and turns and insistence on splitting up huge slabs of patronising exposition and calling it dialogue (a la CSI). I find the fact that the network then has the nerve to try and pass it off as ground-breaking TV insulting to what little intelligence I have left after watching an episode of the show.

    At least we are honest about the realities of making a living in TV. Of course, in the meantime we are doing everything in our power to get our high-brow love projects up. Unfortunately however, if you are in the TV and film game yourself, you know just how much of a long, arduous and treacherous task that is. In the meantime, we are honing our skills and craft and managing to make a good living out of being creative rather than having to support ourselves with an unrelated day job.

    Our integrity comes from having no illusions or pretensions about what we do and doing the very best job at it we can. I'd prefer to do that than make rubbish like Carla Campetti and try and pass it off as art or entertainment.

    Wow, it's quite liberating this posting lark. Thanks for that Chad…

  8. gillianb says:

  9. gillianb says:

    This is the very first time I have been inspired to post a comment on the web. Thanks for that Chad. It's a very weird feeling. I suspect I shall be rambling away to myself, much like a diary entry, but here goes.
    In reference to your comments on the Bam Boom interview on Boxcutters Chad, it's great to read your feedback. Let me say I do understand your confusion as to where and Donna and I were coming from. Of course, it seems contradictory to admit that the shows we produce don't satisfy our creative sensibilities and at the same time claim we approach them with integrity.

    I'd like to suggest however that at least 90 percent of television programs are written, produced and broadcast by people who are just doing it for the money and don't give a rats about its artistic merit. It's just that they lie about it. You don't have a problem with the Boxcutters discussing a hackneyed, fomulaic show like “Lie to Me” with its predictable twists and turns and insistence on splitting up huge slabs of patronising exposition and calling it dialogue (a la CSI). I find the fact that the network then has the nerve to try and pass it off as ground-breaking TV insulting to what little intelligence I have left after watching an episode of the show.

    At least we are honest about the realities of making a living in TV. Of course, in the meantime we are doing everything in our power to get our high-brow love projects up. Unfortunately however, if you are in the TV and film game yourself, you know just how much of a long, arduous and treacherous task that is. In the meantime, we are honing our skills and craft and managing to make a good living out of being creative rather than having to support ourselves with an unrelated day job.

    Our integrity comes from having no illusions or pretensions about what we do and doing the very best job at it we can. I'd prefer to do that than make rubbish like Carla Campetti and try and pass it off as art or entertainment.

    Wow, it's quite liberating this posting lark. Thanks for that Chad…

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