BritBox Spitting Image
" Failed Delivery “
The First Promos
It’s Disappointing, Commodified & Americanized !
Almost 20 years ago, I’ve discovered Spitting Image.
It was one of those shows that intuitively “ GOT MY ATTENTION “ !
I’m not talking about this based on statistics of business, demographic, market research,
I’m just expressing my opinion as a Spitting Image fan of almost 20 years.
Today I wanted to talk about the comparisons of the first three promo videos for BritBox Spitting Image in comparison to the original Spitting Image and how it already shows that these are two completely different shows, and not just the time frame which they were made.
ORIGINAL 1980s SPITTING IMAGE
Like just about everything, Spitting Image is still RARE and it does seem to me that the fanbase is either small or just a generation that’s not as obsessed about internet technology and pop culture as I am ? I don’t know ? Maybe it’s just because I’m into comedy tv and movie puppets and mainstream satire in pop culture.
Seriously, Roger Law’s Autobiography and the Network DVD DVDs series 1 - 12 , the Genesis Land of Confusion Music Video are pretty much for the most part the only things of Spitting Image Available.
Ok, there’s BritBox which has Spitting Image series 1 - 3 , and 6 as well as The Sound of Maggie Special.
You know, the not Disappointing, Commodified, Americanized, Original 1980s Spitting Image we know and love.
So with that being said, as well as ITV taking down pretty much anything that mentions Spitting Image on it.
( static )
This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated.
( * Just Kidding * ….. for now ….. )
But seriously, ITV has been taking down pretty much any video upload of Spitting Image.
As an Anarchist, I believe that such “copyright infringement” claims
_ violates fair use , especially educational and research purposes
- limits and gatekeeps discovery
- it deletes history
- and it loses in free “ word of mouth “ from the loyalty of the cult following fanbases regardless of how small they are in perspective.
So what I’m trying to say is,
there’s A LOT OF STUFF in Spitting Image’s history that is rarely seen.
In the 1980s, Spitting Image at most had 15 Million Viewers a week.
They sold T-shirts with the quote by Leftist Bob Crow
“ If We All Spit Together, We’ll Drown The Bastards “.
The Spitting Image Puppets made TV appearances, even occasionally, face to face with the famous people they are satirizing.
Spitting Image also sold out on Television Commercials but they still had an anti-establishment edge to them and they were still for the most part
irreverently funny while selling a product.
The same can be said with how they promoted the show with Bumpers and Promos.
What I’m talking about aren’t just regular commercials but custom made messages of the Spitting Image puppets telling viewers to watch Spitting Image.
The first three BritBox promos tried this approach, but the humor WAS Americanized and in my opinion,
DID NOT “ FEEL “ LIKE SPITTING IMAGE !
The Original Spitting Image promos were Funny.
One Central Television ID card logo bumper advert I remember seeing was
Prince Charlies mentioning how he doesn’t like birds. “ Yuck, Yuck Yuck, “
Basically it was one of the “Monstrous Carbuncle” rants from Charles.
Anyway, I’m here to make my point that the first three BritBox Spitting Image promos ( for now )
where NOT that great in comparison to the original Spitting Image.
Fortunately, I was able to find one of the original promo bumpers from 1988.
The Announcer Voice speaks as Margaret Thatcher drinks a small glass of Whisky.
“ And now a message from your glorious “ misleader “.
Margaret Thatcher asks the viewers to miss the last episode of the series ( “ the season “ in United States English terms ) .
She does mention that “she’s afraid” that it’s going to be funny.
But again reminds viewers to miss it so she can relax.
Then it cuts to a scene with Geoffrey Howe in a Jacuzzi playing with a Rubber Duckie, kicking his bare feet, humming a melody ( and yes still wearing his suit ) .
Margret is right next to him “ Geoffrey, what the hell are you doing in the Jacuzzi ? “
Geoffrey Howe drops his cocktail in the Jacuzzi.
Here’s the points I found funny about this.
- The “misleader” pun and wordplay which express how many people felt about Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister.
- Margaret Thatcher needing to take a drink of Whisky before dealing with this “Spitting Image” stuff which she just DREADS !
- Again, she HATES Spitting Image ! She’s telling people not to watch it !
- The Jacuzzi just looks like a cheap plastic pool or a Kiddie Pool with soap suds and a rubber hose or something to make it look like a Jacuzzi. I know, this was 1988 British television, it was a quick promo featuring puppets, maybe it’s just my observational humor on this part.
- Margaret Thatcher acts like the Authoritarian parent towards Geoffrey Howe which is portrayed child-like instead of the Right wing politician he appears to be in public ….
which makes the very point of WHY IT’S CALLED SPITTING IMAGE IN THE FIRST PLACE !
The whole idea for the show was based on politicians seeming different then they are on television, especially asking the interviewer when the camera went off “How was I ?“
Another one was from 1985,
where Margaret Thatcher talks about when she got a degree for working jolly hard, one couldn’t get one’s sums wrong “ I must have a word with Nigel ( Larson ) about that “.
She then mentions how people shouldn’t just give away free education otherwise,
it might give some Swine to take the Michael out of one ( To satirize ) .
“ And I get plenty of that already on Spitting Image ( Time that the show came on, etc ) “
Margaret Thatcher then puts a cigar in her mouth.
Basically this promo is a political satire on how right wing politics view the privilege of education and qualifications.
As well as going back to the idea that Margaret Thatcher HATES Spitting Image.
Here’s some points I want to make
- Spitting Image at it’s most got 15 Million viewers a week in the 1980s
- It was politically motivated and made by creative and talented people who understood traditional political satire and popular mainstream political satire comedy entertainment at the time.
- It was considered to be not only one of the most expensive television shows to make but also one of the most controversial.
- It was a show which people “PAID ATTENTION”, people would be watching it in the pubs and NO ONE SPOKE WHEN SPITTING IMAGE WAS ON !
- People in power kept their eyes on the show every week.
- It was a show which you either LOVED IT or HATED IT !
- Again, people in power and wealthy established people in the public eye were extremely nervous or even terrified of Spitting Image, probably because it could influence people outside of power.
- It was a show FOR THE PEOPLE, the show that spoke to the masses, not a show that
- spoke down to them.
Some describe Spitting Image as “Shock Value” but to me that’s a vague term.
That’s like calling “trolling” satirizing. It’s not bullying, satirists have morals.
Shock Value now a days just seems like illegal stuff
or Hate Speech, things that offend and upset innocent people for the sake of it
and pointlessly calling it trolling and cringe culture to make it look innocent,
which vibes sound like the target audience of such garbage is
Alt-Right / Fascists / Far-Right people
then Leftists or anyone who’s left leaning.
Satire is anti-reactionary, anti-right wing, anti-authoritarian, and anti-establishment in my opinion.
Satire like humor depends on one’s own politics, perhaps the same can be said with personality type.
In the case of Spitting Image having “ Shock Value “, I like to think of it in a Leftist perspective like punching up, satirically attacking the rich, famous and in power. Besides many people including Roger Law were Leftists.
Spitting Image has been off the air for 24 years, so maybe BritBox thinks it’s more important to reach out to the younger generations rather than the loyal Spitting Image cult following fanbase.
Almost as long as I’ve been a Spitting Image fan, there had been news headlines talking about reviving “ Spitting Image “.
In 2018, it was announced that it was going to be an American Spitting Image.
The puppets would be made and performed in the UK but the voices and writing would be done in America.
I was extremely skeptical about this.
Especially in comparison to the three NBC specials which were made by the original Spitting Image crew in the 1980s.
When I seen the images of the new puppets and heard the Spitting Image revival was going to be on BritBox instead of NBC, I had a little bit of an open mind thinking that perhaps Spitting Image would be respected creatively, better than the American executives at NBC.
In 2013, a documentary called “Whatever Happened To Spitting Image” came out and near the end, Roger Law said the following…
“If we did it ( Spitting Image ) we'd be a cult thing
probably on the net ( the Internet ).
A lot of commission editors have never made television, ever.
So they really want to cover their
bottom. There aren’t people that can take a decision.
Anything that might fail miserably is
avoided and that must be to do with
budgets and it must be to do with the
fact that they've kind of Americanized
_ Roger Law ( Whatever Happened To Spitting Image , 2013 )
When the articles started to come out mentioning how people who worked on Family Guy and Non-Classic Simpsons episodes were going to be involved, even though I have much more respect for the those who worked on Futurama ,
WHAT IS GOING ON HERE ?
That whole American Spitting Image plan NEVER WENT AWAY !
It’s a production company working on all this, a production service building the puppets.
Roger Law may have sounded excited in the articles, but he already explained why he was involved.
According to an article on BBC News in March 2020,
Roger Law said the following,
"I've refused to resuscitate Spitting Image
for years but when my pension ran out and
my palm was crossed with silver what could an old man do?”
If you ever read the out of print ( aren’t they all ) book
“A Nasty Piece of Work” ,
Roger Law explains everything back in 1992
( During the time Bill Dare changed Spitting Image ) .
Even a little bit in the book Tooth and Claw.
Even slightly in “Whatever Happened To Spitting Image”
If Central Television executives allowed them too, Spitting Image would be more politically “ leftist “ !
And when it comes to Les Guignols De L’info ,
the show's authors have admitted “ leftist “ leanings .
Spitting Image was still able to be very anti-authoritarian.
BritBox just seems like a commodity parody comedy show that is making 1990s Spitting Image look really good.
BritBox Spitting Image looks like it’s more closer to Headcases, A current version of D.C. Follies, Family Guy, Current Simpsons, Saturday Night Live, Ellen Degeneres, American comedy talk show commodity stuff.
You know, THE ESTABLISHMENT !
The very thing like That’s Life and Paul Daniels which Spitting Image satirized all the time.
OK, it’s time for me to talk about these first three promo videos.
The opening of these videos which look like the opening to the new show looks
interesting even if it is slightly strange and irrelevant.
It looks like a spooky dumping ground at night featuring toy puppets of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan ( with a cut out head aka The President’s Brain is Missing from Series 1 ) on the ground surrounded by junk, garbage, traffic cones, and toxic waste.
There’s also a third puppet in the background which I’m not sure if it’s Richard Nixon.
The new logo is police crime scene tape “ Spitting “
and stenciled text with red spray paint “ Image “
which logo in it’s original promo image alone was placed on a concrete wall.
But in this video, it’s on a black wooden crate.
Is some of their puppets missing ? ( Reference to a series of sketches from one of the series from 1990. )
And of course the BritBox logo ( who knows if that’ll be changed to NBC ).
So it just creeps up from the toxic waste , bubbles and all, like a horror movie…
And this looks really cool.
It looks like a horror movie.
And that’s the only good thing I can say about any of these promos .
- Strange sound effects, a strange one note music sound
- and just a typical “ AMERICAN “ voice over says in a not very horror sounding way “ It’s Back ! “
( That’s with all three of the promos, technically there’s four but I’m just going to say that Boris & Trump in the White House is the same one. )
( 1. Prime Minister Boris Johnson & President Donald J Trump in a Sauna.
They are shown overweight eating bucket fried chicken like KFC.
Trump : I wouldn’t worry about some dumb tv show Boris. How are they going to make us look stupid ?
Boris : Can’t be done. ( eats the fried chicken leg )
- Where’s Jon Culshaw ? He’s the impressionist who should be voicing Boris & Trump. It’s not enough to just sound like the famous person you want to impersonate but also to caricature vocally as well. That’s something that Jon Culshaw does very well, especially with Trump and Boris.
- It’s 2020, Humanity should be progressing towards equality and social change positively , in other words, sizeism / fatphobia IS NOT FUNNY anymore. Also words like “Stupid”, “Moran”, “Dumb, & “Idiot” is ableist language and we really should be using alternatives. However, in terms of satire perhaps it would work with a character or a satirical caricature like Trump because he’s far right , fascistic and prejudice against anyone who isn’t a White CisHet Man. BritBox Spitting Image had controversy just like The Simpsons regarding white voice artists imitating black celebrities.I don’t think this situation , generally in itself , is racist. Black voice artists can imitate white celebrities. It’s focus really should be on the voice talent regardless of who it’s coming from biologically. Also leftists know that racism just like any prejudice comes from capitalism. Could the same be said regarding this situation ?
- Boris Johnson was already on a show where he was satirized to his face. Especially one of the original Spitting Image writers “Ian Hislop” on “Have I Got News For You”.
( 2. Trump & Boris at The White House
The promo is split into two promos. One has Boris’ line in the beginning and the other has Trump’s line in the end. So in this case, I’ll just review it as it’s own promo.
Boris : It’s a sketch show with puppet caricatures.
Trump : Puppets ? That is the very most moronic thing I have ever heard.
( Turns to the camera )
Trump : My puppet is going to be the best puppet and I love it.
_ Still not laughing over here.
_ The sets look really cheap.
_ The briefcase with the nuke button looks interesting ( and the only thing that has humor that I can really find in any of this. )
In an interview in 2018, relating to during the discussion of Private Eye Magazine and Satire in general, Ian Hislop said this about satirizing Trump.
“ The problem with Trump is you have to find the things that he doesn’t find funny. I mean, this is the job for satirists. If you say you’re ridiculous , overblown, fat, blonde, groper , you know his core vote loves that. You Know, that’s why they vote for him , It’s true. That stuff won’t do , you have to find the stuff that hurts. A lot of people found this.
You say to Trump that you were always a flop at business, you’ve got a lot of money from your dad, you’ve invested it badly, you’re the only man in history who lost money running a casino. Trump failed , that’s the stuff he finds less amusing.
And that brilliant Michael Wolf book is filled with suggestions that the attributes that he claims about himself aren’t actually true.
He’s very successful with women except the ones who know him. “
( 3. The NEW ANDY PUPPET
Prince Andrew : It’s rubbish, I mean, do you really want to see me brained on the noggin with a piece of lumber ?
( Someone hits NEW Andy with a flat piece of wood, hitting him on the back of the head )
Prince Andrew : ( weakly ) Waaaw. ( still standing )
- It doesn’t look or sound like the Andy puppet from Spitting Image.
- There’s no caricatured personality, not even in the voice.
- I love the slapstick comedy of Spitting Image but it doesn’t deliver the gag well in my opinion.
Andy’s satirical caricature was being The Royal Family's Playboy.
And of course with the recent news of him groping an underage girl with
HIS SPITTING IMAGE PUPPET which someone bought at an auction for him in 2001,
I would expect the satire to having a more creepy, darker, predator edge to it.
Concluding Thoughts :
If I were to describe my sense of humor, it would be creative and or satirical.
The original Spitting Image I would say meet those requirements.
BritBox Spitting Image according to my observation on these promo videos alone lack creativity other than the puppets themselves, and it lacks satire.
Kind of like The Happytime Murders or Crank Yankers.
As a loyal fan of Spitting Image of almost 20 years, I think BritBox Spitting Image is going to alienate the biggest of Spitting Image fans.
Sure the puppets will always be cool but Spitting Image was much more than just that.
Writing is just as important as the Art.
Telling by these three promos as well as the articles I’ve read up to this point,
I’m not feeling the same excitement which I’m expecting from Spitting Image.
So to me, it’s a failed delivery and disappointment.
The satire doesn’t seem as razor sharp and punchy like what Spitting Image is known for.
There’s no pun humor or any humor which is similar to Mad Magazine.
The humor style seems Americanized.
Some might be just satisfied having famous celebrities and some politicians made fun of by becoming a Spitting Image puppet and that’s good enough for them.
But what I’m trying to say is Spitting Image was much more than parody, IT WAS SATIRE !
Even having political roots in Leftism.
1980s Spitting Image and BritBox Spitting Image look like completely different shows.
It almost makes me forget that 1990s Spitting Image even existed.
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