I am being hounded at the moment.
Having recently discovered that one of the best ever sitcoms, ‘Community’, is currently being streamed for free via All4’s beautiful service (I know you’re not keen because of the shambles with ‘Whose Line is it Anyway?’, Chris) I have been stuffing my face into it as much as I can. I don’t remember when I started but I am now three seasons in and ready to start the fourth. The only problem with a free service though is that you are repeatedly beaten about the head by adverts, noticeably the same four or five adverts over and over again. In particular you get one advert with some berky babies twatting about in a field, one advert about some airline that sponsors the channel and one for the new dating program ‘Personal Dater’. Every 12 to 15 minutes these sonic pieces of filth are thrust direct through your eyes into your brain and there is nothing you can do about it because you’re poor and can’t afford to buy the boxsets yourself.
‘Personal Dater” in particular looks, on the surface, completely revolting. The premise is that society has broken down and people can’t think for themselves anymore, so a new dating program appears on the horizon. Two friends are tasked with picking between nine candidates as a potential date for their lovelorn mate who is struggling with life. As well as this, a computer picks the best person using complex algorithms and other such spindly IT nonsense. The person then goes on both dates and has to choose which they like the best, whilst their mates hide under a shoe and watch everything like the perves that they really are.
The individuals in question you barely see on the advert; all the focus is on the friends who, based on the thirty seconds you see of them, look and sound like morons. I was sorely tempted to put my fist through the television on more times that I can count on a standard pair of hands. Perma-tanned, muscle-bound, millennial dimwits in one episode and some brightly illustrated, shocked-at-every-instance gurning woman with her tiny male friend, who never gets a chance to say anything in the advert. I lost a full pair of teeth grinning in loathing thinking about it.
In order to offer a balanced review though, and against my usual process, I watched both episodes. Each is only about 25 minutes long so easy enough to fit in between my high octane lifestyle. What you realise pretty quickly is that, like with most adverts, it pulls the absolutely worst in the hope of squeezing your attention so that you do watch them. The two male dimwits, searching for a partner for their best mate, are actually really nice. They do spend a lot of the time grooming the potential dates for leftovers for themselves (nice) however you do warm to them. They have a kind of cheeky charm, normally reserved in advance for the next decade by permanently attached comedy duo presenting mega team Ant and Dec. They’re not dimwits, they’re only made to look like dimwits in a half a minute slot between scheduled programming. The too bright for my eyes girl who gasped her way onto my screen, again eyeing up male bits for any that wouldn’t suit her globe-trotting friend, was actually less annoying with a bit of screen time. They genuinely cared about finding the right person and despite some heavy exposure for Citroen at the beginning (are the candidates chosen on the basis that their mates drive the right car?) all in all it was a light and fluffy affair.
It shows how wrong you can be with first impressions. I had my feet up, pen in hand, ready to tear the whole set up a new hole only to sit, watch, shrug and leave with a blank set of notes. It’s not the most original concept yet it’s nothing to get worked up about. Judging people, I know, is so much fun but I don’t want to judge these people and this program. I don’t think I’m going to watch any more so I will safely leave it as a ‘good for you, not for me’ concept and move on. Hopefully the next time I see the advert (no doubt they’ll stop bloody showing it now I’ve written this) I’ll allow a little smile and try not to get as irate over nothing. Maybe I could do with more fresh air, a little less caffeine?
Ian McIver (writing as a diluted version of Charlie Brooker)