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Category:    Home > Reviews > Comedy > Satire > Talk Shows > BRitish TV > The Life & Times Of Vivienne Vyle (2007/BBC DVD)

The Life & Times Of Vivienne Vyle (2007/BBC DVD)


Picture: C+     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


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