The Life & Times Of
Vivienne Vyle (2007/BBC DVD)
Sound: C+ Extras: D Episodes: B
Jennifer Saunders hits the nail on the head non-stop
sending up the majority of so-called talk show hosts who simply are there to
psychologically exploit and hurt very poor, vulnerable people (think Jerry
Springer, et al) in The Life & Times Of Vivienne Vyle (2007), a
six-episode series about the title character who is the number one
exploiter/talk show host in the country and possibly the world, because she is
so good at being cold and calculating.
The scripts by Tanya Byron and Sanders thoroughly and
totally dissect the sickening money machines that have created a few
generations of self-hating viewers en masse that mark a new low for the
television medium and gave way to the equally hateful and abrasive “reality TV’
cycle. But these so-called talk shows
hide behind the pretense of being “psychologically healthy” and it is a bigger
scam on viewers all over the world than the 1950s TV Game Show Scandals could
have ever hoped to have been.
Miranda Richardson is very effective as her friend and
sometimes supporter Helena, but character actor Jason Watkins (Tomorrow Never Dies, Life On Mars) is especially hilarious
and outstanding as Dr. Jonathan Fowler, a psychiatrist Helena hires against
Vivienne’s will to screen the mentally ill people before they reach the front
of a live camera. Of course, Vivienne
loathed him when they met under bad conditions and as a caring doctor, is out
of place in the madness.
This is so realistic that some will mistake it for a real
show when the videotape-looking footage is shown, but the behind the scenes
sections are just as biting and this may just be one of the bets things among
many Saunders has ever made. Hope Ms. Vyle
resurfaces sometime soon. Enough bad TV
is out there to tear up, after all.
The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 is a little soft, but
some of it is supposed to be that way to look like a raw, live taping of said
talk show from hell. The Dolby Digital
2.0 Stereo is also good, but not great, though that too is to imitate location
audio in part. There are no extras.
- Nicholas Sheffo