Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Andrew Reads, February 11, 2009

Work on the latest spec and the mind-numbing effects of insomnia or the current medicinal detour around insomnia have combined to pretty much kill my blogging this week. I have much I want to say, but I don't want to say it as much as I want to get this bloody script done before the conference call next week when I'll be getting my managers' notes on the last script, which was a teethpuller and will require a lot of work (or a chainsaw) to get in order. In the meantime:

CHART THROB, by Ben Elton: You--or I anyway--might think a satire revolving around a television talent show in the vein of WhateverCountryYou'reIn Idol would write itself, but Elton manages to keep things interesting in this bleak comedy. Partly he manages this by fleshing out a fairly large supporting cast of would be Chart Throbs to be manipulated and destroyed for the entertainment of the viewing public. There are occasions when the reader can really feel sorry for the morons deluding themselves--or letting themselves be deluded into thinking--that they've got talent when they are inevitably crushed by the "celebrity" judges the book spends most of its time focusing on, esp. Chart Throb "creator" Calvin Simms, who finds himself not one, but two reasons for trying to elevate the least likely person in the world to pop superstardom. The audition sequences become a little strained occasionally, as the judges repeat their catchphrases ad nauseum, which I suppose is the point but makes it a bit of a slog sometimes. The great thing about this book (and most of Elton's stuff that I've read) is that there's nothing remotely Hollywood about it--the biggest bastards prosper because they are the biggest bastards, and nobody learns anything they didn't already know, or at least anything they shouldn't have known already. The only character who is consistently portrayed in anything resembling a positive light is, strangely enough, Prince Charles (never mentioned by name but the title and mannerisms are recognizable even to someone with minimal knowledge of british royalty.) Chart Throb is a deeply cynical book, one that might only be entertaining to someone who is himself a cynic--naturally, I enjoyed it.


No comments: