TELEVISION / Morley means less

Click to follow
ON A Paul Morley Show (C 4), the big question was, what is television entertainment? And the big answer was, well, not this, for starters. We had the guests (Leslie Crowther, Debbie McGee) and we had the set. But we also had Paul Morley, a journalist bent on deconstructing our pleasures for us. What is more stimulating? Leslie Crowther, or a Paul Morley deconstruction of Leslie Crowther? The answer lay in these tedious 60 minutes. Get better soon, Mr Crowther.

The show was one of those slap- dash montages of fast cuts and collisions of image with text which people used to find exciting and challenging about 10 years ago, but which these days are outpaced by the average lager advertisement. And all the while, we kept jumping back to Morley and his list of 'subversive' questions. It was like being at a party at which a keen aircraft-spotter is dominating the conversation. 'Can you tell what I'm thinking?' 'What are your dreams? Am I in them?' Viewers probably had more pressing questions: like 'Who's that prat with Leslie Crowther?', and 'Will you wake me up if he says something interesting?'

You wouldn't want to say life was getting the better of Paul Morley, but he does appear to have given up facial expressions. Watching those sad jowls turn themselves to considerations of entertainment and enjoyment was about as spiriting as watching a tortoise work its way through a lettuce. Paul Morley likes the pop group Daisy Chainsaw not because of how they sound, but because they 'utterly compress the popularly acceptable'. As Baloo said to Bagheera, 'Come on, baggy - get with the beat.'

When he wasn't asking questions, Morley was emitting stray guffs of hot air, non-thoughts, selected, perhaps, from his student diaries. 'Our neuroses are the only thing left that we have to call our own.' That sentence doesn't mean anything, and only the presence of a camera flattered it with the brief illusion of content. This is an act more fraudulent than any committed on television by Lionel Blair - rather cruelly set up here - who can at least sing and dance. And if we're counting evident talents, that's Blair 2 Morley 0.

Still, let's not overlook the one significantly cheering moment in the show. JG Ballard came on and told us that, in our time, 'fiction and reality have been reversed'. Which is good news, because it means JG Ballard doesn't exist and we can ignore him.

Comments