Rotten TV - Episode 1
review by Scott
M, March 2000 (First published F&F 12)
© 2000 Fodderstompf.com / F&F Publishing
Like 'Rotten Radio', and virtually everything John is involved in, 'Rotten Television' has no strict format. It's not a celeb chat show, it's not a music show, it's not a comedy sketch show. Though it could be, it'll be whatever John decides at the time...
Episode 1 was
split into four completely unrelated segments. All linked together by
footage of John on a battlefield sipping tea with soldiers(!). I knew
from John's comments, and just by the fact that he was involved
at all, that 'RTV' wouldn't be just another VH1 show.
Like almost everything John does it's very difficult to describe.
It jumps quickly from segment to segment. One test viewer (who is featured
at the end of the show) even compared it to 'Sesame Street'!
And that'll do for me! If the first show has any theme, it's
showing up celebrities as the fools they are...
The first segment features John getting booted off Roseanne's talk show last October. He turns up, with RTV camera crew in hand, only to find out that he will only be allowed to talk to her if he agrees not to say anything 'derogatory' about her, "within reason". Surprisingly John disagrees!! He says that if he did say something rude, it would be because she deserved it. Around about this time the Roseanne production staff decide that they don't want RTV filming, even though JL has written permission to film backstage. As you'd expect this really sets things off. The best bit has to be when a producer orders John to come over to speak to her, "No you come to me, do you think I'm a lap dog" he responds. Eventually communication completely breaks down and John and crew are 'removed' from the building by security...
The second segment, 'Cleansing the Century', which will be the only segment to be featured in each show, will probably interest Pistols fans the most. This is the much talked about feature where he destroyed various rock and pop memorabilia, including Sid Vicious' suicide note (the same one featured in both 'Sid's Way' & 'Satellite'), "Sidney will understand" he comments. Honest, you've got to see this to believe it! John takes a blow up doll that's dressed in Cher's trousers, a signed 'NMTB' T-shirt, Motley Crew's boots, and even Grateful Dead underpants, and then stuffs Sid's suicide note in its mouth and blows in up with a tank!! A fucking tank. John Rotten in a fucking tank! Excellent! As John says, "It's what these people have done that is relevant, not what they wore while doing it." Couldn't agree more.. Sadly the footage of John burning the Pistols memorabilia (see F&F7) from the pilot episode never made Episode 1, but John does hope to put up parts of the pilot on his official RTV web site, so maybe it'll turn up there. I have seen stills of it on the internet, so I know he did do it, can't wait to actually see it properly though...
The third segment is hilarious. John's auditioning potential VJ's for the show. He's sat behind a desk with a megaphone, one guy comes in and blurts out, "My name is Dwight, and I have to say, first of all, I am the biggest fan of Britney Spears." John's one-word response: "Next!" They're all hopeless wannabes, who as John proves know absolutely nothing about music, they only want to be loved! I bet they didn't know what hit them. The third segment is probably the most bizarre and pointless, John getting his hair dyed bright yellow - he looks like a cross between Alan Rickman & Max Headroom!
For segment four John tried to interview the likes of Axl Rose, Courtney Love (or as JL called her "Courtney love Kurt's money"), Ozzy Osborne & Neil Young. Every one of them turned him down, which as you'd expect results in John having a right go at them. It has to be said he does a good Neil Young impression! Instead he ends up interviewing this alleged Hollywood Madam called 'Baby Doll' who's starting a singing career. Parts of it are pretty funny, but I really wish he'd got one of the others instead...
As mentioned earlier the show closes with (mostly negative!) viewers comments from test screenings. Throughout the show it also flicks back to the battle scene or John sitting smoking a fag, where he comments on what we've seen, and on top of it we get a selection of John's music, everything from 'GSTQ', to 'Socialist' to 'Armies'...
All in all I enjoyed the show, especially the first half. It's a very promising first episode. Some it is very funny. This is exactly the sort of thing John is good at. He's a natural on TV and it's great he's getting exposure to a mainly new audience. Hopefully the show will continue to improve and gain some recognition. My main criticism is that there is no way half an hour is long enough. In fact, when you take all the adverts out, it only clocks in at around 20 minutes. But I suppose that's down to VH-1, not JL.
I'm actually surprised VH-1 are showing it. It's totally unlike anything you'd expect to see on that channel. Though that said, they did broadcast it at midnight on a Sunday night, so it's not exactly prime time! The series will have seven episodes, but there is no regular broadcast date for the show. John will do them, as and when, he has a subject he wants to deal with. I actually think that could work against the popularity of the show, it'll be hard for it to build up a following if people don't know when it'll be aired. But that's John. He never does things the easy way!
Picture Credits: (Top to Bottom)
Rotten TV Promo pic 1998 © AP / Michael Lewis