Tuesday, March 7, 2017

REVIEW. M-Net's tatty new update show, The 101, from Red Pepper Pictures is a shabby, mistake-filled mess that shames it's purpose for being.

It's supposed to know better - be better - to help us better ... but The 101 on M-Net with Donovan Goliath produced by Red Pepper Pictures is an eye-rolling, spot-the-mistakes mess that damages M-Net's image and brand.

Does it help viewers?

Well, because of mistakes, you can't really trust it, and that's a big problem.

The 101 will potentially confuse and mislead DStv subscribers more, not make the confusion less about where what shows are.

In that sense, The 101 - judged by its first episode - doesn't really have a legitimate right to be on M-Net, given how its first very poorly made episode looked.

And keep in mind that this The 101 is how it looks after it was already retooled and its format changed to presumably make it "better".

The 101's first episode on Sunday afternoon at 15:30 on M-Net - supposed to help viewers and M-Net and DStv subscribers - was messy nonsense.

And let me be clear: I was desperately ready to love it, and I deeply want a show like this, coming from a place of wanting to serve television itself and the viewer, to be great.

It's unfathomable that M-Net is actually paying Red Pepper Pictures for The 101 when wrong thing after wrong thing went by unnoticed past executive producers Christel Sampson and Cecil Barry ultimately responsible for this new corner-shop production.

Clearly apparently nobody at Red Pepper Pictures working on The 101 production actually watches M-Net, and even worse, it doesn't look as if anybody at M-Net bothered to actually watch the first episode either when it came in to the programming acceptance and quality control department.

How else to explain the boo-boo's it contain that nobody bothered to fix?

Red Pepper Pictures needs to be dumped and production of The 101 to be given to a new production company; or Red Pepper Pictures and M-Net seriously and urgently need to get their act together if they want to continue to make a show about M-Net's own upcoming content and programming that carries any kind of credibility with viewers.

The 101 on M-Net is the child walking around at school with the torn jersey - when you know the parents are wealthy.

Either they don't care, don't care to notice, or notice and are fine with the child looking unkept and uncared for - all of which are wrong, and all of which reflects badly on the parent.

M-Net and Red Pepper Pictures mysteriously got rid of two co-presenters, Virgil Prins and Ebenhaezar Dibakwane who were fired from The 101 before the first episode was even broadcast, leaving only Donovan Goliath.

That by itself doesn't make The 101 look or be a low-rent show, it's just a bit awkward since if you knew about it, you'd expected them.

The 101 set looks okay, the sliding two TV panels are nice and the double bracket desk look great. No problems there.

The raised faux wooden dais is the most oddest of the on-air look and doesn't fit in with the gleaming rest, but still, no really a detracting problem.

The issue lies with the actual content and how little care Red Pepper Pictures and M-Net took to ensure accuracy, and through that credibility.

Donovan Goliath couldn't be bothered in the slightest to look up (and in the YouTube age there's no excuse) to find out that director Gus Van Sandt's name isn't pronounced like "Van Sand en See" in Afrikaans but actually "Wan Zand".

The same with director Jean-Marc VallĂ©e. It's not pronounced like "fillet" as in steak, but "valley".

It's really bad to throw up a photo of Grey's Anatomy, currently in its 13th season, that's years old and in which more than half of the cast had left years ago.

And someone might want to tell Red Pepper Pictures, since they obviously are not watching, that when it comes to The Vampire Diaries, Elena - she's the girl in the middle - left two seasons ago already.

If you've ever watched Carte Blanche ever over literally decades on M-Net you will know its "appointment television" on M-Net (DStv 101) at 19:00 on Sundays - not 19:30.

Donovan Goliath told M-Net and DStv subscribers to tune in for Carte Blanche at "19:30" - and not just once!

Keep in mind that the purpose, it's very reason for being, is for The 101 to help viewers, to guide them, to make sense of the scheduling and programming chaos - not to add to confusion.

M-Net literally pays Red Pepper Pictures to make The 101 which then told them to watch Carte Blanche at 19:30.

It's ironic that Donovan Goliath had to bring up the Oscars and "one of the biggest stuff-ups in TV history", completely clueless that he's standing right next to a photo of McDreamy and McSteamy and Doctor Yang, and making one.

What's with the constant "will be back with a new episode"? That helps nobody.

It's like when you're flight is delayed and the shouldn't-be-allowed-to-use-an-intercom lady - barely fluent in even one of South Africa's 11 languages - goes: "due to operational reasons". It helps the hearer nothing. It brings nothing and adds nothing.

Viewers deserve more credit. They, we, know roughly what and where we are in our shows. We went to kindergarden and can count.

Saying "Grey's Anatomy will be back from such and such a date with episode 5" is what is really helpful. And even adding something like: "If you hear Meredith talk right at the beginning, saying 'Sometimes life is just choices' then you will know you're watching the first next new episode".

Punting Strut and saying "It's like America's Next Top Model but with a twist" was perfect. It helps viewers to know like what a new show is, compared to what they might already know and like.

Showing actual, relevant TV promos is also great.

Not the shows fault but MultiChoice's, I deliberately tried watching The 101 on DStv Now on Sunday, streaming it live.

It didn't work despite M-Net saying beforehand that the show can be streamed because MultiChoice has some or other problem showing it online. MultiChoice showed DStv subscribers a note that "DStv Now doesn't have the rights" for the duration of the half hour the show was on.

The 101 is however correctly placed and playable and downloadable on DStv Catch Up.

If now only the producers of The 101 can catch up too.