The relaunched BBC3 kicked into gear last night with an emphasis on shiny bright colours, shiny bright people and of course Web two-point-whatever (surely we should be due an upgrade by now?) that TV really should have cottoned onto two years back at least.
Two shows last night defined the new look channel, the much-anticipated (although in some cases only to smirk) Lily Allen and Friends, more on which later, and flagship 'drama' Phoo Action, and that’s quite the oddest prospect yet.
First up was the shock that Jose Vanders was introducing the programmes. Jose is a fresh-faced (looking particularly well scrubbed last night) and obscenely talented singer-songstress who we happen to have actually met a few times. Last seen supporting GoodBooks just before Christmas, it was a jolt to see her fronting TV, but then letting anyone on the box is what BBC3 is all about these days, and besides she did a pretty decent job of it. To investigate Jose a bit more click here.
Phoo Action is a really, really odd show. And not because of its content: Basketball-headed villains, blue mutant henchman, magic hotpants. These are par for the course. No, what made Phoo Action so odd is that, almost 24 hours later, we still have no idea if it was
a) Bubblegum-fresh, entertaining and cool
b) Absolutly fucking awful.
Seriously we have no idea. One moment you’re drifting along on a tide of eye candy and a great soundtrack allowing your nether-brain to get some sleep while your eyes and what passes for your consciousness are distracted by the bright lights and pretty colours. The next you’re cowering in startled dis-belief that something so brain-rottingly shit could be allowed onto your screen.
For an explanationwe should look to the committee-led scientifically proven box-ticking that went into toddlershaped mindfuck BooBah in 2004 – a show that mesmerised the under 4’s but seemed like a psychedelic migraine to anyone older. Like that show each gurgling voice, each sparkly explosion, each musical chime exists only for the ears of a very specific demographic. If you’re outside it then it seems senseless. So if you’re under 20 Phoo Action was probably quite good, if you’re over 30 it’s bonkers, and not in a good way... and if you’re in the middle it doesn’t quite feel right.
There are things it does universally right: thanks to Jamie Hewlett's unique imagination the whole thing looked spectacular. Jamie Winstone seems like one to watch and looks great in hotpants and a red wig, and the soundtrack was a well-chosen mash of electro-new and stompy-old (CSS and Supergrass at either end). The nightclub dance in particular was a great moment.
On the other hand, for a character who is meant to be an ass-kicking, breakdancing, masked kung-fu cop, Terry Phoo is a disappointingly wet lead. His fighting and his dancing didn’t really fizzle at all.
An interesting and tone-setting start for BBC3, let’s see where it takes us.