December 13th, 2006


watching bad television so you don't have to

Last night caught new reality show Extinct. Series concept: eight b-list celebrities champion the case of eight critically endangered species, and at the end of it, you the viewer, decide which animal is most worth saving. As the title sequence faded and Sir Trevor MacDonald stepped up to the mic I had a real future shock moment. This is the future, and we're saving the environment with game shows.

Fear not, though. The WWF are series partners, and have already navigated the moral maze for you. Money goes to all participating species, projects are clearly definied and acheiveable, and every ad break is accompanied by personal actions, urgings to donate money and educational facts.

Last night was birds vs. apes. Lucky Hyacinth Macaws, championed by two-fisted dirty tory boy Michael Portillo. Gasp! as he abseils up a tree, birdhandles tiny parrots, looks bemused when a Brazilian lady tells him pirahna soup is an aphrodisiac and effortlessly grasps the free market economics that have caught the bird in a double-sided twattage of illegal pet trading and habitat destruction. Not that the Hyacinth Macaw really needs much help as it clearly is the best parrot, three feet of chatty, sociable, sweet tempered gleaming blue plumage that will happily live with a human for sixty years. No wonder it's on the verge of extinction. Not as badly off as the poor, poor Orang-utans, though, championed by a vacuous Sadie Frost who fluffs her lines and whines while hugging orphaned orang-utan babies and saying how much they're like human children. Winsome with the emphasis on the wince. Planes are grounded by forest fires, so she has to drive to the various locations. We don't hear the end of it. The forest fires seem to be the major problem (well, clearing of native forests by human populations seems to be the major problem, quelle surprise) but the projects we visit are all about rescuing orphaned Orang-utans. It's not my idea of conservation.

I text MACAW to 63334 (30p of my 50p* gets through) and am rewarded by a return text thanking me and offering me the chance to buy Blue Macaw wallpaper for my phone at the amazing price of £3, 50p of which will go to charity. Welcome to the brave new world of conservation; don't forget to visit the sponsor's pages on your way out.

Coming up we have Anneka Rice chasing Polar Bears (isn't there a song about that?) odd celebrity interactions with tigers and turtles and some actor I've never heard of Poirot visiting the mad Chinese Panda breeders. It's survival of the cutest, but I'm not sure I'll be watching. After all, I've already done my bit.

* Network charges may vary.
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