Monday, February 25, 2008

Ben Fogle's Extreme Dreams.

For some reason I was exhorted by Invisible to watch Ben Fogle's Extreme Dreams on BBC2; being the doormat I am I complied :-)

I don't normally watch this type of thing, it used to be that such shows at least attempted to educate and inform the viewers now they've become a platform for C-list 'celebs' to go on a paid vacation and spout inanities.

So who is Ben Fogle? From his bio we get this

Ben Fogle was born in 1973, the son of actress Julia Foster and broadcast vet Bruce Fogle. Educated at Bryanston School in Dorset Ben went on to study Latin American Studies at the University of Costa Rica and University of Portsmouth, where Ben enrolled as an Officer in the Royal Naval Reserve, as a Midshipman.

Ben spent several years in Latin America, working on a turtle conservation project on the Mosquito coast of Honduras and working in an orphanage in Ecuador.
So someone who's pretty much never had a 'real' job, I'm regretting this already, and now the show has started -
I've climbed mountains, crossed jungles and trekked across the planet's toughest terrains.
But nothing prepared him for his quest to cross London by Tube in the rush hour, well no, anyway here's the man himself bounding up the hill with the raw enthusiasm of a puppy dog and my first thought is 'Who let Prince William out without any minders?' an impression that's reinforced every time he says anything. I just wanted to add a 'Gosh' or 'Golly' on to the end of every sentence and it was also not helped by his constant repetition of certain adjectives.

Anyway he's preparing for an "ultimate" personal trek up "mysterious Mount Raraima" the [mysterious] setting for The [mysterious] Lost World that sparked his imagination as a [mysterious] child, but "I can't do this alone, I need a team" and a camera and a fat budget. Now something that needs to by noted here is that it's his childhood quest, his team, and his route; except when the going gets tough and may "shatter our summit dreams"; just watch for the switch in pronouns in quotes.

Onto the team selection and to make this more exciting the screen switches from 16:9 widescreen to 2.35:1 moviescreen oooo! All this to show a montage of clips from previous treks and, confusingly, the one we're about to watch.

First up we have [brave] widow Sarah who trekked with him in Papua New Guinea "bravely battling" the loss of her husband and who has "bravely accepted" this all-expenses paid vacation, sorry trek.

Next a Cockney cabbie "Darren's dug deep" to quit his unhealthy fags and booze lifestyle in order to live longer for his kids. And if there's a better way to live longer then signing up to jump into rivers and climb mountains then I don't know it. Amusingly his montage featured him sitting on a mountain telling the camera that he's "the first black cabbie" to sit here, amusing as he's white [Yes I know what he meant]

Up next is "Feisty model and mum" Lindsey, we know she's feisty because the montage shows her laughing and getting everyone to dunk their heads into a river. Sadly the montage doesn't show one of the team having their heads bitten off by a crocodile. Apparently her son has/had cancer and has/had chemo; sorry about the ambiguity, but it wasn't explained very well. Anyway she's trying to "rediscover herself" yeah who wants to hang around with a sick kid anyway.

Finally to round out the group we get Lupus sufferer Yona... and I can't say anything bad about her, partially because she's the only one I think should really be there and mostly because the programme seemed to keep picking on her. I'll explain later, but first…

Coming up in this entry - How tall is this mountain, Ben's worst fears, and picking on Yona. Yep less then ten minutes in of a half-hour programme and we get a 'coming next' and no this isn't to keep you hooked over the adverts as there aren't any.

So how tall is this [mysterious] mountain, well it's 3000m, except this bit is 1000m, then they reach the [treacherous] halfway point of 2400m with either 500 or 300m to go. It is possible to work out exactly what is meant, but should we really be having to?

They've reached [ultimate] base camp, we seem to have skipped over around 2000m of this trek, perhaps because it was boring, nevertheless the question must be asked -

Ben: "Did you believe in yourself that you'd get this far?"
Yona: "Not really"

With that inspiring conversation it's time to set up camp for the night where Ben tells us his dreams will be filled with "dinosaurs and pterodactyls". Come morning and Ben's worst fears have been realised - "fog and driving rain shroud the menacing peaks" and this may hinder "our dreams" which I thought were about dinosaurs?

Now forgive me, but having woken up on the side of a mountain I don't think my "worst fears" would involve fog and rain, a landslide careering down and taking out the tents of "my team" to leave them dead at the bottom would probably rank higher. It's just that with this statement I could imagine Ben coming out to find his teammates killed in such a manner and turn to the camera to tell us that it'll make the trek more difficult; completely unfair on him, but still.

Ah well time for the "snake-infested" forest where they "risk exposure" on a "treacherous route", but "the stakes are so high... I hope my team is ready... our summit dream will end" anyway "We're entering the forest so this is where you have to be so careful of snakes... and also slipping".

Yes the deadly slipping compounded by the rain and the fact the [treacherous] route, as determined by Ben, crosses several streams something that Ben is at pains to point out. As he leads the team they head across one stream and once he reaches the other side he stops to talk to the camera "Rivers can rise in a matter of minutes" he says pointing back at the rushing water. Yeah nice point now would you awfully mind moving out of the bloody way to let your teammates cross it. He does this twice by-the-way pointing out how dangerous or "treacherous" something is while blocking the route for anyone to continue past said danger.

Anyway they're doing well and have got out of the forest Ben warns his teammates about hypothermia. Now two of the team have constantly worn hats, two have had the hoods of their jackets up, so who do you think is the only member of this team who seems to appear before the camera bare-headed all the time? Yep it's Ben; we do get some quick shots of him hooded, but most of the time he lets us appreciate his boyish good-looks in full.

Oops time for another break. Still to come - Yona's confidence, and a moral boost.

They're closing in on "The Ramp" the main entry point to the summit, but Yona's suffering, Ben tells us in VO that "her confidence crashes"; cue shots of the other members all standing around looking bored and then down to Yona talking to camera "I'm absolutely exhausted". Yeah see confidence, exhaustion same thing really, amazingly she manages to get her 'confidence' back after a short rest stop and it's on to "The Ramp". It looks bad, everyone's tired and it's time for our fearless leader Ben to step up and deliver a much-needed boost to everyone.
"Now this is where many of the early explorers went wrong, this is where many of them perished, this is where many of them fell off the edge"
Go Team Fogle! Yay?

For such a dangerous and exciting bit we don't really see much of them climbing "The Ramp" and instead meet them at the top.
"I can't believe I'm finally here and best of all my team has made it too and can take a moment to reflect on what this intensely physical and emotional journey has taught them"
Cue lots of shots of the team all standing by themselves on the edge of the plateau. It's nice that Ben acknowledges the team; though again note the shifts.

Now time for them to make the descent… ha; no I'm betting a helicopter came to pick them up. So why bother with the climb in the first place? Ah well see it's not the destination that matters it's the journey; hmm odd that saying only seems to get used when you're climbing mountains or crossing deserts and never when you're stuck on a motorway heading to Alton Towers with two bored kids in the back?

Ah well I laughed myself silly so it wasn't a complete waste of time.


Invisible said...

Ah yes, you didn't see them cross the "deadly" swamp with the "deadly" snakes. Apparently every swamp or forest these guys have ever crossed is "home to the deadliest snake in the world". Interesting…

Also gotta love how the "non-swimmer" on the team has so far swun unaided across several very large rivers. I mean, sure, she's clearly terrified of deep water. But she can swim a damn site better than me!

I just love the number of times the word "deadly" appears. I mean, Jesus, if it's so damn deadly, why do you have a bunch of inexperienced n00bs wandering across it?

Also, at the start of this uber-adventure, Ben tells the people "but this time, we're going to be completely on our own". Oh yes, we're not talking a guide with us this time. Everybody looks sucked and afraid. Oh well, I guess the 25 camera technitions, sound recordists and dubbing editors standing next to you just out of shot don't count, eh?

Seriously, this is a freaking joke… but I must say, you explained it way better than me. ;-)

FlipC said...

Oo deadly swamps eh? Ah dear Ben does like to latch onto a word and flog it to death.

So why have these inexperienced explorers... because if we had a bunch of experienced people they might be able to, you know, educate and inform us about what's around them. Besides how could we plebs relate to the team if they were all like Ben?

All on our own, ah yes I forgot that bit though I do recall Ben in VO having a whine that if Yona couldn't keep up they'd all have to go back and they'd fail this "ultimate trek" [ultimate being one of the words du jour]. I did feel sorry for the cameraman [Luke Hallam as the first name in the credits] he did seem to be treated solely as an ambulatory system for the camera and got to go up all the "treacherous" routes first.

Still we shouldn't laugh, we're paying for all this rubbish.

Invisible said...

“Still, we shouldn't laugh, we're paying for all this rubbish.”

Hahahhaahaha…GAH! >_<

I may be a delusional old hack, but I swear there used to be good stuff on TV sometimes…

FlipC said...

Well as I said at the first once upon a time we used to have presenters who knew what they were talking about and were employed on that basis.

Now we get footballers' wives, reality show 'stars', models and newsreaders. Bring back Alan Whicker.

Okay in all fairness it's the rose-tinted memories, we remember the good and forget the bad; the teens of today will be remembering Life on Mars, Never Mind the Buzzcocks, and QI; and forgetting Holiday Reps, and Fat Teens etc.

That said it really is getting worse oops hold one this is the fifth paragraph and you might stop reading so Coming Up in this comment I discuss the annoyance of interrupting every programme with either a preview or review.

It's getting worse I've made fun of the fact that this 30-minute show has two "Coming up" features, but now we're even getting the national ITN news interrupting the local ITN news with a preview followed by a "still to come" on the local.

Just stop it, stop treating us as it we all have ADHD.

Invisible said...

Ah yes… Anybody can say that something sucks, but only FlipC can come up with a carefully-reasoned, articulate and thorough analysis of precisely why it sucks! ;-)

I think QI is probably the one show on TV that truly lives up to it's name. It's really quite interesting…

My dad has Sky. My mum now has Freeview. Over 400 channels, and still nothing freakin' good! The secret? Well, the extra channels just show repeats of old stuff — usually stuff nobody wanted the first time around. Sure, cheap way to run a channel. But really not very entertaining…

Dan H said...

FlipC: Have you listened to 'Recorded for Training Purposes' on Radio 4? It is a sketch show about "modern communication", primarily focusing on the internet, blogs, podcasts, and such. It has a regular "Attention Deficit News" sketch, which is exactly what you describe.

FlipC said...

@Invisible - Thanks, I think it's important to detail such things lest I turn into The Sun newspaper. As to Sky I know my aunt and uncle are considering moving away from it and just getting a Freeview box, exactly the same shite without the excess monthly bill.

@Dan H - No I haven't, but I've just watched the video clip on the BBC website, shame you can't listen to the old shows from the site it looks like I've have enjoyed it.

Invisible said...

The Sun is a newspaper? I thought it was a comic book… oh, wait…

FlipC said...

Ah The Sun; home to so many readers who can't quite lower themselves to buy the Daily Sport, but still want a good dose of boobies with their 'news'.