Numéro 37 Du 05/03 au 18/03/14

BOUILLON DE COUTURE

Après la cuisine, la couture. C'est fou ce que la télévision révèle de passion du public pour des disciplines que l'on ne croyait pas faites pour elle, d’un intérêt restreint à l’écran.

Sauf que la télé-réalité est passée par là.

 

M6 tourne actuellement pour la rentrée prochaine un concours entre des candidats d’origines très différentes – un électricien, un architecte, une mère au foyer –, tous fous de bobines de fil et de tissus. Dix anonymes, âgés de 24 à 54 ans, venus là pour s'éclater, se mettre à l'épreuve, fabriquer un vêtement, transformer une pièce en une autre, avec mannequins pour l'essayage et le verdict… Pas venus là pour chercher la gloire. 

C'est ce qu'affirmait récemment dans «le Parisien» Géry Leymergie, producteur de l'émission présentée par Cristina Cordula. Il précisait même que, le casting à peine ouvert, 3000 postulants s'étaient aussitôt manifestés.
Des fourneaux à la machine à coudre, la télévision sublime soudain des arts de vivre avec un sens du jeu et de la pédagogie qu'on aimerait la voir pratiquer dans d'autres domaines.

L’émission s'appellera «Cousu main». Un peu attendu… Attendons. 

M.A.

 

Numéro 36 Du 19/02 au 04/03/13

RADIO GAGA

Programmes dedicated to children’s reactions to current affairs have existed for decades. These programmes usually went out on air during the weekend, in a rest period. 
Since then things have gotten quite serious. These childish sequences have proliferated on the airwaves to the extent that we now get them in adult programming.

So, a minute or two before eight o’ clock news on France Info, right when most parents are telling their kids “hurry up, we’re going to be late”, children’s voices comment on Vladimir Putin, or wonder if a year in prison for the young man who threw a kitten against a wall is “a lot all the same”!, adding that it was perhaps because the cat was ginger. It is fresh as a way to start the day, if that is what the radio station is going for just before the news.
On France 2, every Sunday after the eight pm news, teenagers give their opinions about the events of the week. And this leads to comments such as “It’s no reason to hit him”, about three young people sentenced for beating up a disabled man. Pertinent.

Obviously, these sequences are taped. If they were live, a programme like the “juniors de France Info” might actually be funny… For example, they might have corrected the presenter who announced today “the 12th of January” when it was in fact the 12th of February. Then we could have stated with certainty that the truth comes from the mouths of babes…

M.A.

 

Numéro 35 Du 05/02 au 18/02/13

RUQUIER’S QUESTION TIME

We were as surprised as you were when we found ourselves enjoying Ruquier’s programme. It was during the “programme for everyone” that France 2 has just launched to boost viewing numbers just before the eight o’ clock news. In fact, we don’t love everything, as it is “pour tous”. So it’s only natural that there is something for everyone.

So, let’s take our bit: where they ask the general public questions on current affairs. The idea is excellent. It changes from the usual brouhaha of the studio audience and reveals itself to be highly instructive. There are times when the unknowns in the audience know more than the contributor-jokers of the inevitable Ruquier gang, with Bénichou or Christine Bravo…
This studio audience is calm, it answers quietly, with a smile, it is a good sport and sometimes a really good winner.  The banal, everyday news consumer can come off better than the humourists who are too concerned with their, at times dodgy, puns. And the audience members sometimes know the name of the first single President – Gaston Doumergue – or has already heard of the little van that has been transformed into a mobile beauty salon but two young women in Paris… 

A hundred people come to test their knowledge and it is a pleasure to play with them.
Example:
- Who said: “I’m waiting for the first gat head of state”? 
(Daniel Cohn Bendit)

M.A.
 
Numéro 34 Du 22/01 au 04/02/2014

TELLY-CONSECRATION

It is a well-known fact that we have often expounded on here:  journalism leads to everything, as long as you leave it.
But so does television!
The proof can be seen in the respective and prestigious nominations that have just occurred days apart of Bernard Pivot and Pierre Lescure at the head of two historical cultural competitions. Pivot has been made President of the Académie Goncourt and Lescure of the Cannes Film Festival from next year. 

We are thrilled for literature and for the cinema. The choices breathe legitimacy and merit. A good thing.
Pivot. “Apostrophes”. Five or six authors on the show with one theme. And a gifted presenter who always asked the question the audience wanted to ask at the right time. Bernard Pivot was always on the side of the viewer, as if sitting on the couch. Today, with his presidential double-voice, we can trust him to continue to work in the public’s interest.
Lescure’s career began when he was twenty. He was an early partisan of the “music and news” blend, the inventor of “Les Enfants du rock” then the director of news at Antenne 2 before becoming the brains behind Canal + (with the multi-broadcast of films…) and later on he took over the Théâtre Marigny. His eclecticism is breathtaking and we will no doubt see  proof of it on the Croisette also from the minute Pierre Lescure arrives.

So, two pieces of good news. That we owe to TV. As long as you leave it…

M.A.



Numéro 33 Du 08/01 au 21/01/14

BELLE, SEBASTIEN AND ANGÉLIQUE.

Re-heated!
Maybe not. Not that simple
“Belle and Sebastien” and “Angélique”, two famous sixties TV shows and movies that have just been adapted for the cinema, forty years down the line. And the inevitable complaints are being heard: the same old familiar stuff is being served up, trying to make something new from an old recipe… 
Easy to say. But every remake is not necessarily a repeat.

In fact, neither “Belle and Sébastien” nor “Angélique” rely on the same plot. They retained the essence but changed, for example the historical setting. In short, it’s the same, but not the same.
Then the basic question is, are they good, or not? If the blend works - reworks - or not. But everyone agrees that Gérard Lanvin’s performance in “Angélique” is amazing.

We have also been told to expect a new version of the legendary “Un singe en hiver”, but adapted for the theatre. With Eddy Mitchell playing the Jean Gabin role. The news is promising when we remember Mr Eddy’s first foray into the theatre, five years ago at the Madeleine. A roaring success that was broadcast live on France 2.
So remakes are in vogue this winter, without needing to be reheated…

M.A.

 

Numéro 32 Du 24/12/13 au 08/01/2013

FREE VOICE

  • 32- ecran arret

Jean-Louis Foulquier was 70 years of age. He was the free and rebellious presenter of the unforgettable “Studio de nuit” on France Inter, and the founder of the “Francofolies” that went on to be more famous than he. 
He was once forced to give up on presenting a television show because he refused to remove his earring. Free and rebellious.

His wavelength vibrated in another world.

M.A.

Numéro 31 Du 11/12 au 24/12/2013

BATTLE HYMNS

Do that many people really sing in the shower?
More and more seem to, in any case on the television.

There are those who, every day on France 2, attempt not to forget the words when the text goes off the screen.
Then there are those who, on some Friday nights on France 4, sing the same tune with 100 others, with the words in front of them, facing a computer that is supposed to figure out who is hitting the notes best.

From one channel to the next, things are out of tune but it is fun and convivial. Like talent competitions in general.
What is surprising though is the extension of these singing contests. Anonymous singers from all over are showing up to sing, live or in live conditions. Thus confirming Beaumarchais’ theory that “it all ends in song”.
Without knowing exactly what ends. Or what “all” entails.
The world? An era? A wedding? A New Year ’s Eve party? Well, let’s end with a song too, you choose.

M.A.

 

Numéro 30 Du 27/11 au 10/12/13

AN ADDITION FOR CANAL + ?

Those of you who hadn’t already seen it have gotten the chance to watch 2012’s Palme d’Or winner on Canal+. «Amour», Michael Haneke’s masterpiece.
And it brought our thoughts back to the closing ceremony where the film was crowned. Of the emotional unanimity from which we felt excluded, even more than usual.
Then we thought that all of the programmes and shows broadcast on Canal+ from Cannes, all of that noisy buzz stops at the top of the steps, at the door to the “grande salle du Palais”, where the competing films are shown. Where the real Cannes happens. We felt frustrated because we, as viewers, are not part of the profession.

Except, when screens and machines now enable us to access everything, or almost everything, has the time not come to get rid of the “almost” by creating a channel at Canal + that opens only for the festival. It would show every official screening, for a fee of course. This doesn’t necessarily mean that this channel would damage box-office figures later on. Big matches, concerts, operas are often aired live on TV without emptying the stadiums or amphitheatres in the summer.
It would let us make up our own minds instead of being snowed under with comments and criticism every ten days.

Imagine… Every night, on your couch, a new feature film, about which you know nothing.
Imagine… Becoming a jury member in the comfort of your own home…

M.A.

 

Numéro 29 Du 13/11 au 27/11/13

TO THOSE WHO BEAR WITNESS TO HELL

  • 29- Ecran

How should we display our grief?
By lowering our voice for a minute?
Yes, of course, but no.
How are we to be silent, 
to stop talking, stop bearing witness,
stop writing, stop telling,
stop filming, stop showing,
even one minute’s silence,
when the news doesn’t wait, goes so fast,
is so bad,
to the point that it announces the death of those who report it,  
risking their lives, 
with full knowledge, 
but caught up in the action due to their own bravery.
A category of journalists a cut above the rest,
They are the war correspondents,
the “grands reporters”,
the “grands”.

Maurice Achard

 

Numéro 28 Du 30/10 au 12/11/13

GIVE OR TAKE A FEW BILLION…

Given the general level of incomprehension regarding the economy and the extravagant nature of the figures involved that are beyond our ken, can we, should we, be surprised that even on the evening news, there is confusion between millions and billions?
The other evening, David Pujadas had to make a public apology for having stated the previous night that PSA Peugeot-Citroën’s turnover for 2012 was 55 million instead of 55 billion. Huge, from such a reputable presenter.

But who, on the spot, “self-corrected” the error, according to the dedicated formula. Apart from the 10% of French people who are aware of the real figures, the “initiated”, those who listen to BFM Business…
The real pity is that the media didn’t take advantage of the economic crisis when it kicked off in 2008 to inaugurate other ways of dealing with this type of news story that is usually so difficult to translate journalistically.
A daily double page, for example, in the written press, with the same lexicon republished each day listing essential terminology such as CAC 40 (the French stock listings), inflation or, in this case… turnover, with the addition of two or three educational articles, even “dumbed down” to throw some light on the current upheaval.

But no-one rose to the occasion and the never-ending trail of illegible, boring, vague articles continues.
In the meantime, however, the world is changing faster than you can add on a calculator and the economy is ruling over our disarray. Close to… depression. A word that could also feature in the lexicon…

M.A.
 
Numéro 27 Du 16/10 au 29/10/13

SOPHIA AND ANTOINE

They come one after the other, practically, if you change channels. 
What they have in common? A presenting problem, so a viewing numbers problem.

The former is a new show on France 2, at 18:20, entitled «Jusqu'ici tout va bien» presented by Sophia Aram. Popular with the public, the comedian was given the reins of a daily talk- show at the start of September. But as early as the second night, a fair share of viewers had wandered off elsewhere: they hadn’t found the girl they were looking for as she was suddenly held back by her new job of handing out roles, getting others to talk. But, you never know, her opening monologues have started to resemble her again over the past few days…

The second is an old show “Le grand journal” on Canal+, at 19:10, now presented by Antoine de Caunes. Philippe Gildas’ unforgettable partner in crime in “Nulle part ailleurs”, this small-screen mover and shaker was given the reins of this reworked version. But, yet again on the second night, many viewers deserted him: they didn’t find the guy they were expecting, often constrained, contained, in his dark arbiter’s suit. Having said that, he seems to have recently changed tailors… However, de Caunes has many programmes under his belt, “Chorus”, “Rapido”, but these were his own music shows. And when he presents the Césars, it’s more of a one-man-show.

A drop in viewing figures = less advertising and the rumours predicted the worst for their ex-favourites. It is true that the “professional professionals” have taught us to accept ruthlessness as a given, on public and private channels, regardless of the casting mistake. They may have the elegance to let their “fallen heroes” enough time to get things under control. 
Even though, time is money.

M.A.

 

Numéro 26 2/10 au 15/10/13

OUT OF TUNE

Things are out of tune between television and music. The problem isn’t so much that the tune is off, there is hardly any tune at all. Neither camp seem to be able to agree on the scale of programming… And the CSA has just reprimanded the big terrestrial channels, both public and private. The basic gist was: do something, “innovate”, so that music gets some real primetime coverage and not in impossibly late time slots. No doubt an allusion to the disappearance of “Taratata” from France Télévisions last spring.

The warning itself is praiseworthy and we would be all for it if only the “light entertainment” genre hadn’t become totally obsolete since the segmentation of viewers with the increase in means of access. It is striking to realise to what extent the big TV “soirées”, or what’s left of them, still rely on the repertoire of older generations, from a time when these big shows still worked: from the annual ”Enfoirés” charity concert to “The Voice”, via the Laurent Gerra show and his real guests (not just the ones he imitates) or the pathetic “Hier encore” co-presented by an entitled-looking Charles Aznavour. Even Michel Drucker was incapable of reinventing a version of ”Champs-Élysées” aimed at today’s artists. The formula backfired, the entertainment is not very entertaining…

Nagui seems to have understood what’s happening as he’s re-launching “Taratata” online on October 18th at 20h (Mytaratata.com), a weekly 26 minute show that will be broadcast the following Monday by RTL2 then RTL2.fr and TV 5 Monde. He’s already signed up Ayo, James Blunt, Thomas Fersen… A slightly varied menu as Nagui, as usual is the only one who knows when to change the record…

M.A.

 

Numéro 25 Du 18/09 au 01/10/13

PAGES UNDER PICTURES

Is a press review a TV-friendly genre?
Since the beginning of September, Michel Field has been doing a review of what’s in the papers every morning at 7h45 on LCI. The formula is not new, we’ve had it for years on the radio. The problem is, on TV, the exercise is more delicate.

You need to be a sort of acrobat to read an article on air without letting the camera go, while constantly taking off and putting on one’s glasses between close-ups of front pages and those behind one’s back, and Field does his best in the circumstances.
The thing is, he wasn’t hired to provide an attraction. Field is an excellent journalist with a passion for current affairs and debate and is obviously not comfortable with this breathless exercise filled with agitation that just serves to distract the viewer.

So, we don’t follow the press review. We no longer listen to it, we watch it. And we must admit that the furtive close-ups on certain articles are of little interest. A few essential quotes and other papers picked out by Field might, for example simultaneously scroll over the screen as is often the case in the news, in order to better get our attention and keep it. But that would probably only make the section even busier…
Decidedly, television is too pressed for time for the press. 

M.A.

 

Numéro 24 04/09 au 17/09/13

THE PRESENT THROUGH THE AGES

The Internet has taken over from television among the 13-19 age group. It might not come as a surprise but it is now official. It was announced on the TV itself, on the eight o’ clock news on France 2. With computers, tablets and mobiles phones, between music, videos and programmes “à la carte”, they make their own listings.
At the same time, Cyril Hanouna, the most popular TV personality with the 13-19 age-group is back on D8 while starting a radio show Europe 1 with Pierre Bellemare as a guest contributor, a veteran French broadcaster who, fifty years ago, was a huge producer-presenter of game-shows and other light entertainment.
At the same time, Antoine de Caunes made his return to Canal+ not without mentioning his previous career on the night of his first “Grand Journal” and his early days, “when mobile phones and the Internet didn’t exist…” In fact, he was the pioneer of a new, rapid-fire delivery on television, a kind of oral high-speed… Before becoming the high point of the totally left-field “Nulle part ailleurs”.

So two ex-avant gardists ringing the changes. Can this be seen as a representation of time flying into the future but without rejecting the old ways, time going forward but not losing its marks, the essential tracks?
We thought that time had no time for old-timers. Maybe it’s not that thankless after all.

M.A.

 

Numéro 23 04/09 au 17/09/13

TRUE LIES !

Issue 12 from 20/03 to 01/04/13

The «intermittents du spectacle» in France (French audiovisual and film technicians and actors) are currently circulating a film online where one of their coordinators screens a report shown on «C dans l'air» on January 29th (a current affairs programme), which covered the specific unemployment benefit system for audiovisual technicians and actors. Each time the report mentions something he considers to be untrue; he stops the film and corrects it. The online film is called «Ripostes», it lasts a quarter of an hour and is quite worrying. Especially if we have preconceived notions about show business workers and their neverending issues. Even Yves Calvi, the programme’s remarkable presenter is corrected on a figure…

In the United States, the «Washington Post» is in the process of setting up an online system that will correct any lying politician in real time. To be more precise, a big red «FALSE» in capital letters will appear on the screen immediately thanks to an application linked to an archive of established facts.

Dark days for lying on TV?
After having a free rein for so long, is it about to be found out by the new screens ? Is it soon to be caught out at the slightest sign of party politics, post-electoral u-turns or dodgy dealings… Isn’t the war on lies more of an angelic utopia ? Sport, health, food, religion… Is there a resistance in the making ? By injecting high doses of truth serum. The truth will out eventually…

M.A.

 

Numéro 22 Du 07/08 au 20/08/13

DEAR THIERRY…

  • 22- Ecran arret

Happy “summer of 2013” as the title of your summer show on Canal + goes. Because you have decided not to take a holiday. Obviously, you can never do things like everyone else. That’s how you changed TV forever.

Maurice

Numéro 21 Du 24/07 au 5/08/13

FOREIGNER’S WORDS!

France is best described by foreigners.
By foreign correspondents based here who comment on French current affairs, to be more precise.

In «Vu d'ailleurs », every week on LCI during the year, they take turns in taking an English, German, Spanish, Italian, American, Belgian, etc. look at us.
And every time, the same thing happens: these diverse viewpoints, analyses, observations, enlighten us differently, in a language that is the total opposite of the party line, of the expected commentary.
The reason being that international foreign correspondents obviously have a certain distance that our journalists cannot have with their noses pressed against the window, trapped in their bubble. 
And it works both ways… Foreign journalists are conditioned by their practices and customs in their domestic political sphere, by the way difficult situations and crises are handled so these journalists are in a position to pinpoint the differences with the way they do it, what they notice first of all, and things that we have stopped noticing for years.

So we get an impression that the debate is fresh. The same issues are covered but differently. From a perspective that takes us on to higher ground, it would seem.
So it’s not a question of «Vu d'ailleurs » (As seen from elsewhere), it is more a question of “As seen from above”.

M.A.

 

Numéro 20 10/07 au 23/07/13

FOLLOW THE GUIDE

It’s the audiovisual starter’s gun for the annual summer holidays and has been for many years. And this, the hundredth edition of the Tour de France was all the more important as it wasn’t clear that the summer had actually arrived. The Tour was even clever enough to start from Corsica which assured us of a summery image: the sky, the sun and the sea. The «île de beauté» complete with close-ups of the essential sites to visit, with running commentary from Jean-Paul Ollivier and music to set the mood. 

It must be said, the Tour de France is also an actual tour of France in a helicopter, for the benefit and pleasure of viewers.
It is true that the broadcast of a complete stage can feel never-ending, the race bearing striking similarities to the previous day’s race (breaks by cyclists that are caught just at the finish line or the long wait for the final, fatal climb…). Above all, the cyclists seem to be less interesting than the surrounding countryside (or the pre-race advertisers).
So, along the course of the race, we contemplate the beauty of France, listening carefully as Ollivier tells us about these magical places, reading his notes conscientiously without missing a date or an anecdote. 

Jean-Paul Ollivier is like a primary school teacher, or a history/geography teacher. In the middle of July. And the Tour has strangely become France’s favourite homework.

M.A.
 
Numéro 19 du 26/06 au 9/07/13

BONUS

«Dallas» fans are in luck with a new «season» thirty years on! The credits include the same JR at eighty (Larry Hagman died just after wrapping series one), the same Bobby, the same Sue Ellen… And their children carrying on the flame of course. A mean mini-JR, a nice mini-Bobby. 
So since last Saturday on TF1 we were treated to a rerun of the famous merciless universe.

Of course, we have already had the honour of the 2012 version of «Champs-Élysées» with the same Michel at seventy, Nana Mouskouri and her daughter, etc.
It is true that Maya l’abeille, the cute little bee from the seventies is back on Tfou with ultramodern animation techniques.
It is also true that Nagui took over «Que le meilleur gagne» which launched twenty years previously.

But imagine our incredulity if other TV shows were to be reborn before our eyes like…
- a new version of «Les Enfants du rock » with its founder Pierre Lescure still at the helm. And grand-children in the line-up.
- a new lock-in of the ex-celebs from the first «Loft Story» from 2001. Everyone on board in the same pre-fab next to M6, the same pool, Loana, Jean-Edouard, Steevy, Kenza, Laure, Aziz, all of them, Christophe and Julie, the show’s married couple and their two kids, everyone, locked up together again to see how low they can go this time.
- the reappearance of Casimir on the île aux enfants of today singing it’s time for laughter and singing with the same bouncing lightness of the eternal dinosaur. But this year’s model would be green, to give him an ecological bent.

The real revival, with real flesh and blood heroes is the opposite of a replay. It lets the viewer relive the story without going back to the past, taking the effects of time into account, a moment of pleasure, or emotion, that the viewer thought was filed away in his or her memory. A continuation of sorts, live.

So, in thirty year’s time, what programme will get the treatment ? 
«Desperate Housewives» ? It might be deliciously merciless…

Maurice Achard

 

Numéro 18 Du 12 au 25 juin 2013

LET’S TWEET AGAIN

he small screen is obsessed with even smaller screens. Those on computers, smart phones and tablets. The reason for this obsession is the growing number of viewers who tweet while watching. Over half, according to Libération. The big channels refer to this as «social TV» added to the traditional viewer number calculations from Médiamétrie. In fact, the systems are complementary: Médiamétrie is quantitative; Twitter is qualitative. And this «social TV» provides immediate access to what people normally save for the commuter train chats or water cooler moments the next day. Precious.

They have become television critics. We are a long, long way from the «specialist» writers that were all over the press without worrying whether their viewpoint or demands reflected the general opinion, that of the «France profonde» as it was referred to, but who nevertheless did provide some reflection on the relevance of programming. However, the programmers rarely took this into account.

Today, things are totally different. Tweeters are taken very seriously indeed, and are not aware of their influence which is bound to get stronger with the current obsession with referenda and opinion democracy.

If  the base has the last word now, then the lowest common denominator will find itself in a very strong position indeed.

M.A.

Numéro 17 29/05 au 12/06

TELE-PATERNITY

Father’s Day is looming but it seems to have already started on France 4. Since May 21st and for four consecutive Tuesdays, the channel is broadcasting a series that involves putting four fathers and six children aged from 6 months to 4 years (their own kids) in a house together. Without their wives, who watch and set them tests from time to time : go shopping, go to a restaurant, go to the park…
So there is one doting Daddy, one that doesn’t bother, a distracted one, and one who can’t seem to cope… A blend of reality TV and documentary, the programme of course brings to mind «Three men and a baby», (1985), a sort of manifesto for the new paternity at the time.

What’s missing from the groups is one type : the gay Dad. The woman-father from a lesbian couple would have also been interesting to observe in order to check if there really are behavioural differences relative to the other participants (or not).

It is true, that things are still tense on the subject of gay marriage, and this absence at least avoided controversy. A female husband would have been seen as needlessly provocative. France 4 probably preferred to forever hold its peace…

M.A.

Numéro 16 15/05 au 28/05 /13

SCREEN FAST

The name of the operation is «Dix jours sans écrans» (ten days without screens). A challenge set out for primary school students from CP to CM2: no TV, computer, telephone, video games for the duration, or, for as long as possible. The initiative comes from Quebec and is tempting more and more schools over here. Recently in Nanterre, there was a prize giving ceremony in front of 180 participants! They didn’t all make it, it’s hard to hold out against «The Voice» - but many claim to have gone back to reading and board games, talking to their family, going for walks, etc.

In 1986, an identical experiment was organised by «Télérama», accompanied by a documentary on Antenne 2. In this case, everyone was involved, adults too. The term «addict» was not yet being used for young people but the objective was the same: to try to live without it, TV that is.

Obviously, these tests are popular. They aim to detox young and old from the bad screens in favour of culture and beneficial pastimes. Even though 25 years later, nothing has changed so they were all a waste of time. There are more screens now that we could have imagined in 86…

The real issue is not to get back to a life without screens, as if «the old ways were best», but to live with them, knowing which buttons to press. Those that retain links to things that haven’t disappeared, but have changed shape: books, films, history, geography… And, knowing when to switch off when the programme is over.

In fact, and on the other end of the scale, a lack of TVs or video games does not guarantee a better environment: apart from the screen that linked the inhabitants to the presenter, there were none in M6’s famous «loft».

M.A.

 

Numéro 15 01/05 au 14/05

NEWS STRIKE

When France Info, the all-news station and website loses 550 000 listeners in the space of three months (January to March), according to the latest Médiamétrie survey, and at the same time the local radio network France Bleu gains 471 000 listeners, reaching fifth place, it is hard not to make the connection between this upheaval and the extreme, overly dark and negative news that surrounds us every morning. France Info brings what's happening on the entire planet into your home. France Bleu brings what's happening in your neighbourhood into your home.

So hundreds of thousands of people have decided to boycott bad news in favour of a less uncertain, more peaceful, more liveable proximity. Even Europe 1's listening figures are at an all-time low.

For some time now we've been hearing here and there from people who admit they no longer wish to be woken up by the sound of Kalashnikovs or bombs, nor by the announcement of dismal figures or by empty speeches. They just want to hear some music or the simple ringtone of their mobile phone, they are easier to take.

And the trend is being confirmed by the results of this new wave of audiences. As if "Here is the news" was being replaced by "No news today".
Current affairs turned upside down, public opinion has them in its sights, and it is fed up! We should point out that the facts themselves are walking backwards as the fact of trains actually arriving on time has become the news...

M.A.

 

Numéro 14 17/04 au 30/05

THE FUTURE'S FUTURE

Science has caught up with fiction. Not as fast as reality that, due to the various acts of folly committed by humankind went well beyond the unimaginable a long time ago. But it is getting closer at its own speed, carried by another folly, the genius of man.
We walked on the lunar surface many moons ago and the Internet and the mobile phone have become part of our daily lives. Being able to make a call in the street incarnated the move into the 21st century just as we imagined it in the futuristic imagery of the fifties.

It included robots too. Another image that keeps progressing, in «Terminator» and other artificial intelligence. And now on Arte. The series «Real Humans», shown each Thursday gives us a glimpse that seems to speed things up. So that’s what they’re like? They will look so like us? Perfect aesthetics as well. Too perfect?  Helpful, submissive, but not only… Why shouldn’t robots, that clearly show their ability to rebel in the Arte series, some day use their digital dexterity to derail a system like the internet ?

A few weeks ago, the serious media like The New York Times and the BBC covered a powerful attack that could have shut down the internet. An exaggeration according to other news sources. Still… Something happened. A clandestine organisation moved into action, provoking a « digital slowdown ». Real Humans?

M.A.

 

Numéro 13 03/04 au 16/04/13

TALK-SHOW OR NOT ?

Ever since «Ce soir ou jamais» moved from France 3 to France 2, to replace «Vous trouvez ça normal ?», the presenter Frédéric Taddei stands out from Ardisson or Ruquier’s rowdy programmes to an extent. He irritates those who find him pretentious. And on D8, Cyril
Hanouna was quick to point out that his viewer figures are lower than the Bruce Toussaint’s programme.

The powers that be at France 2 want to make this Friday night time-slot between ten thirty and midnight more culturally reflective and poised. Meaning less superficial, less confused, less broken up than «Vous trouvez ça normal ?», the talk-show where even the formidable
debater Philippe Tesson couldn’t get a word in edgeways… «Ce soir ou jamais» is not a talk-show. And this is the point. There is talking and that’s enough because people really talk. Their names are not necessarily well known but they know a lot about their subject and they are allowed to finish their sentences. Well…

You only need one Daniel Cohn-Bendit on the programme for confusion to reign and answers to overlap in the inevitable brouhaha. Even the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut, who was constantly being interrupted lost his cool and let rip : «I can’t believe it ! He really can’t help himself ! He thinks he’s still in some student rally… Wake up, May 68 is over ! Shut up !» It is true that this all happened on Friday March 22nd 2013, forty-five
years to the day after the creation of the «Mouvement du 22 mars» that started the whole movement.

Taddei managed to remind us of this but seems to have forgotten that for the past forty-five
years, Cohn-Bendit is a one-man talk-show …

M.A.

 

Numéro 12 20/03 au 01/04/13

TRUE LIES!

The «intermittents du spectacle» in France (French audiovisual and film technicians and actors) are currently circulating a film online where one of their coordinators screens a report shown on «C dans l'air» on January 29th (a current affairs programme), which covered the specific unemployment benefit system for audiovisual technicians and actors. Each time the report mentions something he considers to be untrue; he stops the film and corrects it. The online film is called «Ripostes», it lasts a quarter of an hour and is quite worrying. Especially if we have preconceived notions about show business workers and their neverending issues. Even Yves Calvi, the programme’s remarkable presenter is corrected on a figure…

In the United States, the «Washington Post» is in the process of setting up an online system that will correct any lying politician in real time. To be more precise, a big red «FALSE» in capital letters will appear on the screen immediately thanks to an application linked to an archive of established facts.

Dark days for lying on TV?
After having a free rein for so long, is it about to be found out by the new screens ? Is it soon to be caught out at the slightest sign of party politics, post-electoral u-turns or dodgy dealings… Isn’t the war on lies more of an angelic utopia ? Sport, health, food, religion… Is there a resistance in the making ? By injecting high doses of truth serum. The truth will out eventually…

M.A.

 

Numéro 11 06/03 au 19/03/13

SELF-SERVICE

With the arrival of the TNT (digital television) and the proliferation of little channels, television has become like a sort of kiosk. Young viewers, notably the 15-25 tick box are having fun with the new system, catching programmes on the hop that become big hits, for a time anyway. 

These spontaneous choices, for some of them, become real «obsessions». For example «Les Ch'tis», on W9, who travel the world over (Las Vegas followed on from Mykonos) is the very example of the type of reality TV that people get addicted to. Even though they are aware of how useless it is. And when they talk about the programme among themselves, the tone is one of in-jokey complicity, they take it as pure entertainment, a break from school or college headaches.

Others – mainly girls – never miss Cyril Hanouna presenting «Touche pas à mon poste» on D8, a daily show about what’s happening on…TV.
Then, another genre is the series, like Gossip Girl. The finale went out on HD1 last week much to the chagrin of the faithful (who are already consoling themselves with the DVD).

These «new TV watchers» have a totally different relationship with these programmes compared to previous generations. Above all compared to the sixties-seventies generation who considered there to be such a thing as «bad» TV (all American series except «Colombo»…) and «good» TV («drama», literary programmes, cine-clubs…).

These teenagers and young adults hop from one thing to another, from the TV to the computer. Podcasts encourage them to put together their own viewing programme. They blend everything, without  worrying about dumbing down or intellectual posing, carried by a flow of images, stopping to watch whatever they like, according to the moment and their mood. They learned to swim early… And to keep their head above water.

M.A.
 
Numéro 10 20/02 au 5/03/13

20H ELSEWHERE

To start with, there’s the title: «Vinvinteur», a cheeky reference to the high mass of the «vingt heures» nightly news on the big television channels. A Sunday news from the Web programme on France 5 at… «20 heures».

But this bawdy humour is to be found all the way through the half-hour programme, even though before seeing it we thought it was more about clear information rather than sketches and rapid-fire commentary. With an Antoine de Caunes from 25 years ago-style delivery and some seriously rushed visuals: yet again, just like other channels that deal with what’s happening on the internet, we get the impression of a forced, superficial and clownish modernity, on the pretext that the medium is new and this is the television of tomorrow. Screen clash?

This is unfortunate as there is so much to be done with subjects that deserve time for the pleasure of those truly interested and those that need it. But here, we retain nothing.

All this despite the fact that the programme is split into totally traditional sections: press review, file, guest, the week in… A schedule that doesn’t give «Vinvinteur » a score of 20/20… for now.

M.A.

 

Numéro 9 06/02 au 19/02/13

WHAT ARE WE PLAYING AT?

First of all, let’s agree on the terms. This is a reality-doc and not just reality TV. Reality-docs are reality TV with a higher standard of content. Less entertaining, more instructive.
Since 2011 in Australia, there has been a programme entitled «Go Back to Where you Came from» and France Télévisions is seriously interested.

Six people, both men and women, with differing but equally strong opinions on foreigners, are given a chance to walk in the shoes of an illegal immigrant or refugee. They go through various «trials» - holding camp, constantly moving house, police raids…- at the end of which they are asked if they have changed their minds. 
The producers insist that the aim of the game is to make people think, to make people realise the truth. As if the news programmes and reportage weren’t doing their jobs properly.

So, let’s play !
Why not a reality-doc in which the participants are asked to experience life as a hostage ? It would be called : «We haven’t forgotten them», we’d see them in captivity, we’d follow their daily lives, witness the way they are treated by their kidnappers, the pressure, the blackmail… And, in the end we could ask them if they’ve changed their minds about hostage victims. Should the ransom be paid or not…

In the end, when they are freed, they would get to come back to Paris as stars… A bit like  
Florence Aubenas, Ingrid Betancourt or Florence Cassez, even though the latter was not really a hostage as such. Cassez ? When asked if she had really realised that she was out of the woods by Gilles Bouleau in his newscast, she answered: «Yes, seeing as I am on TF1!» .
Right answer!

M.A.
 
 
Numéro 8 Du 23/01 au 05/02/13

FUTUR PAST

 

It’s exactly what we need every night. Three minutes of palaeontology, like three drops of a homeopathic cure. So we’re not so scared of the future. On Arte at 20h45.

We feel better straight away thanks to the title of the cartoon adapted from the famous strip of the same name. «Silex and the city». Nicely put. 

The action takes place 40 000 years before Jesus Christ. We find ourselves in a sort of village from back then. But at a time when, strangely, they already had 20th century problems. With an adolescent that looks a lot like ours, in hair and speech terms anyway. His name is Web…

Fire, the only energy source, is suspected of over-heating the planet. Hunting creates executive training issues. And the birth of the wheel is seen as the start of a technological revolution. It is hilarious and, above all, it relaxes the mind, a mind tormented with the uncertainties of the future.

«Silex» is like a lesson about the evolution of the species, society, the world. On the irreversible movement of progress, on progress as an obvious move…

This daily clip, drawn with clear lines, has the knack of wearing down our little resistances, our little conservatisms, linked to change in general.

It is a trip «back to the future» showing usthat we are already in our own pre-history and it was always better way back when. Until it gets good, at last…

M.A.
 
 

 

Numéro 7 09 au 22/01/13

LITERARY ENTRY

It reopens on Thursday January 10th at 20:35 on France 5.
And we will be queuing outside the door as we are each week, the impatient faithful.

François Busnel’s  «La Grande Librairie» follows on from it’s prestigious literary forerunners and has done for some time. It is even the worthy successor to «Apostrophes» we were all waiting for, except it is not on a hugely popular channel even though it does go out in the early evening slot.
Times have changed, the best formulas remain: a thematic link between the guest authors, a presenter who has actually read the books, a choice of writers that is, every time, like a bouquet of words, of phrases. We were even treated to, Patrick Modiano, Jean Echenoz and Pascal Quignard, three Goncourt winners, together on the same programme! You can’t put a price on it.

François Busnel does not do «Pivot» however. He has his own way of listening, acting, reacting, going from one to the other, flicking through his bookmarks, and starting all over again. Without ever losing the flicker of a smile that seems to be already enjoying the next question…

«La Grande Librairie» is not long enough. Each of the four writers gets a quarter of an hour, which makes about a hour-long programme. Pivot had easily an hour and a half.

So to the decision-makers at France 5: we want more Busnel!

M.A.

Numéro 6 26/12/12 au 08/01/13

FACTS OF «LIVE»

It was just the other weekend. Live television reminded us, not once but twice, to what extent it truly characterises television.

It enabled Bruce Toussaint to change his second-to-last issue of «Vous trouvez ça normal ?» on France 2, at the last minute following on from the events in Newtown three hours earlier. Normal reflex? In any case, not that easy: the presenter, who is also a journalist, was able to integrate this impossible subject into his usually noisy and entertaining talk show. The studio audience were as silent as the grave, listening carefully to the guests’ calm contributions. Proof yet again that anything can happen on live television.

Another unexpected event, less fundamental but just as exemplary : on the RTL-LCI-LE FIGARO jury, with guest Christian Jacob, President of the UMP group at the Assemblée nationale. During an interview, news came down the wire from AFP to say that François Fillon had responded positively to a proposal from Jean-François Copé, who was present in the studio. He was immediately asked for a reaction… Sitting in the audience amongst other friends of Jacob’s he was no longer exactly the same, less on automatic pilot, not as stiff, embarrassed. Providing the programme nevertheless with a nice and unexpected moment of life and spontaneity.

So, we wonder how Christophe Hondelatte, a highly strung journalist, agreed to tape his weekly Sunday debate programme on one of the new TNT channels - «Numéro 23» ! Between the day it taped, Monday, and the day it aired, Sunday, we had the Depardieu affair and the tragic events in Newton… An epic fail for it’s first outing. He took the same risk last week of missing the end of the world. Except, he didn’t miss anything. But that’s no excuse.

Live television is an art. A tightrope walk. Without a net. A change from the pre-recorded clowns.

Maurice Achard
 
 
Numéro 5 12/12 au 25/12/12

WEATHERING THE QUESTION

 

The weather has become a serious business. «Talking about the weather» doesn’t mean you have nothing to say anymore. Season breaking, hurricane-producing climate change has something to do with it obviously. We mistrust the weather, the changing skies from one region to another. This has encouraged television channels to give more and more detail before and after the news. There is no longer just one weather report, we now have a multitude. Resulting in a wider margin of error for Météo France and contradictions from one media to another. In any case, the French have always thought that «the weather forecast was wrong again…»

This hasn’t stopped France 3 from spending three quarters of an hour on this «à la carte weather forecast» since September at lunchtime. In fact, you have to wait for the last ten minutes to ind out what tomorrow’s weather will be. The rest is given over to unusual reports – a palm grove in the Gers region -, to videos or photos sent in by viewers of the suddenly snow-covered view out of their windows. Sometimes you would think you were watching Jean-Pierre Pernaut, sometimes you would think you are talking about everything and nothing with your television. As if to kill time…

Catherine Laborde, TF1’s weather forecasting star went even further. She began her career as an actress and got back onstage for a one-woman-show entitled «Avec le temps» like the Léo Ferré song. And this time she doesn’t mean the weather, but time passing.
With no forecast about what’s going to happen tomorrow…

 

 

Numéro 4 28/11 au 11/12/12

BOARD GAMES

 

They are two popular TV quiz shows orchestrated by two little television geniuses, jingles and all. They look as alike as two flat screens but they are far from flat: their respective contents complete each other.

In «Une Famille en or» presented by Christophe Dechavanne on TF1, two teams have to get as close as possible to the previous answers by a panel of 100 French people. So they need to show how intuitive they are in comparison with the «average» general knowledge of the population. So, what does the word canteen make you think of ? The answer was school. Not necessarily that easy, a lot of people eat in canteens at work too.
In «Tout le monde veut prendre sa place» presented by Nagui on France 2, you need to really know your Corneille from your Racine. Not so easy, it’s been a while since French literature class…

In both cases, the candidates tend to break down our hard-earned prejudices about this type of entertainment. As if we had to learn about ourselves with them. Because, of course they are addictive, you end up testing your own general knowledge «from top to bottom». Just to know…

So, you inevitably find yourself trapped by one of the «tests» on the programme… You take your time, try to answer… But in this case, the complementary timing – one late morning, the other early evening – is particularly instructive.
Even both presenters have gained a certain finesse. Their wit and repartee is lighter than of old. The way they accompany the contestants is more convivial. They don’t treat them as objects to be pigeon-holed.

We didn’t see that coming.

M.A.

 

Numéro 3 14/11 au 27/11/12

JUST ‘AD’ MUSIC

 «One, two, three, four…» The choir of kids singing the Beatles tune in the ad for the new Fiat 500 is delightful. «All together now». Not the most famous of the Fab Four’s output, it comes from «Yellow Submarine», but the air comes back to us immediately. Nicely done.

All the same, not that long ago, adverts on TV had their own original soundtracks that often contributed greatly to their success. Won’t Dim tights be forever associated with their «ta ta ta ta ta ta», the jingle that provided a backdrop for women’s liberation? And didn’t Gotainer’s song for «Infinitif» end up being released as a single? Not to mention the «soleil qui va se lever» for Ricoré…

Today, ad agencies go straight to the charts when looking for soundtracks.
There are three categories. Cover versions like James Brown’s «It’s a man’s man’s man’s world» by Joss Stone for Coco Mademoiselle. Then there are the adapted versions. It’s been years since Polnareff’s «tout tout pour ma chérie» became « plus plus» for LCL bank. Or that Caroline Loeb’s «c’est la ouate» mutated into «c’est la MAAF»… And then some brands actually pay for the original version like the Banque Populaire with Stevie Wonder’s «I’m free». Téléphone’s «Un autre monde» is used regularly too, but we forget by whom.

It must be said, things can get confusing. The same «Da da da», the thrilling refrain of a certain Trio, is to be heard on the soundtrack of two adverts that have nothing in common. One for Berocca vitamins, the other for Citroën’s C4 Picasso …
Stereo. Or cacophony. When TV ads are all «inspired» by the same music, they all seem to be singing the same tune. All together now!

M.A.

 

Numéro 2 31/10 au 13/11

SHOW BUZZ

The name is «Politiquement show» but it isn’t a talk-show.

The term talk-show conjures up an image of those noisy programmes where the presenter feels the need to shout or to go for the cheap joke over the slightest interesting comment from one of the far too numerous guests, washed down with far too much audience participation.

 «Politiquement show» is something else. Another tune, another light… Words are given room to breathe, to fly.

There are three or four well-chosen contributors around the table with presenter Michel Field. The three permanent guests play their part with unbridled precision. Olivier Duhamel, a lecturer at Sciences Po, plays on the left; Jérôme Jaffré, an opinion analyst, plays in the centre; and Alexis Brézet, the editor of le Figaro, plays on the right. The ball flies around the pitch, well-aimed with plenty of tackling. Duhamel’s blood rises, Jaffré outlines his point meticulously, Brézet sends missiles with a smile: the script is always complete and the sparkling dialogue is written live on air. Pure pleasure. There is no «party line», much to the dismay of the weekly political guest, always surprised by the programme’s refreshing liberty.

In fact, this little gang of relevant but irreverent contributors seems more like a travelling theatre group, and they don’t get enough credit in the press, because who has time to watch ?

See it Thursdays at 19h10 on LCI.

M.A.

 
Numéro 1 17/10 au 30/10

PROOF BY CASTLE

It has to be said, the writers of «Castle» are good. After last season’s finale left Kate hanging between life and death with a bullet-wound, she wakes up with amnesia as far as Castle is concerned!  So he thinks she has no recollection of him declaring his love when she was at death’s door… Every now and again he says «You really don’t remember anything?» baiting the impatient audience.

But seriously, what choice did they have? The show must go on, and so it does on France 2. You can’t possibly understand our girlie fixation if you haven’t seen every episode. «Castle» is a sort of anti- «CSI», the detective work happens in Castle’s imagination. He is a successful crime writer, she is a gifted cop. It is warm, human and glamorous, light years away from the high-tech, clinical shows we are used to.  France 2 are cleverly broadcasting only one new episode weekly on Mondays: last season, they beat TF1 in the ratings (up against «Une Famille formidable»), and the new season is going strong.

The irony is TF1 bought the series first and didn’t know where to schedule it so they passed it on to France 2. Nice one.

M.A.