Review: The People’s Couch

The People's Couch Title Card (screenshot via bravo.ca)

The People’s Couch title card (screenshot via bravo.ca)

C-

There’s something odd about giving my opinion on a show that’s all about what other people think of other shows. It’s kinda meta, but here goes.

So if you’re vaguely familiar with The People’s Couch you may be wondering what the difference is between it and a review along the lines of what you’re reading right now. While you are getting a random guy’s opinion of some TV program on my blog through these reviews, on The People’s Couch the people there don’t really review shows. What you get is something more like the recently cancelled Video On Trial, but for TV series opposed to music videos.

As with Video On Trial, (before it was retooled) you have a few people commenting on something they’ve watched or are currently watching. However, unlike Video On Trial, the program is set in the cast’s homes instead of a barren nearly empty set. Also, the people on The People’s Couch are often seen on-screen with family and friends.
Personally, I think the idea of Video On Trial makes a lot more sense than The People’s Couch as you don’t have to worry about missing important plot details or character background information that are important with TV shows, but may be nonexistent in music videos.

Also, comparatively music videos are only a few minutes long, where  TV shows regularly run between 22-44 minutes (or longer if the series is a BBC or premium cable drama). So with only a few minutes devoted to a single episode of a program, you’re missing out on a lot to be able to make sense out of what’s going on and what they’re watching. Music videos, on the other hand, don’t typically have story lines, but the few that do are usually easy to follow, so you rarely, if ever, encounter that problem on Video On Trial.

It's hard to see why someone would want to watch this show in this day and age (image via Belll Media)

It’s hard to see why someone would want to watch this show in this day and age (image via Bell Media)

It’s also hard to see why someone would tune into The People’s Couch to hear about their favourite series (or a show they secretly hate-watch). Since many people still watch TV live, you can easily find witty comments on a program you’re watching instantly. Just hit up Twitter, search the show you want or its hashtag and watch the comments come in real-time opposed to waiting for The People’s Couch to come on.

When it comes to music videos, they still don’t feel like they warrant live tweeting when they air on TV, and if you’re turning to YouTube to find out what other people think of a video, finding clever comments is trickier than it seems. You have to sift through a lot of “______ is gay” or “some Obama is a communist” nonsense then there’s the spam, flame wars and other garbage as well. So in that regard, Video On Trial at least made some sense.
With both series you also have to put up with segements on music videos/shows you don’t care about or wouldn’t bother checking out. That may be a positive or a negative depending on how you look at it. You may appreciate being exposed to something you wouldn’t have otherwise watched or you may find it’s a waste of time if you’re still not interested in what was featured.

I dreaded The People’s Couch‘s arrival in Canada. In fact, when I saw a bit of the UK version (Channel 4’s Gogglebox) a while ago I immediately said I wouldn’t want a Canadian version and to my horror, I realized one was already casting. I believe I stumbled across the US version online as well and it didn’t do anything for me. However, I like the Canadian version a bit better than the other ones. The folks seem more tolerable than the people in the UK version, who I felt were a bit obnoxious and trying to out do one another with snark and cynicism.

Rookie Blue was one the first non-Bell Media show featured. They didn't blur Global's logo but the manufacture's logos from the TV's are curiously missing (screenshot via Bravo.ca)

Rookie Blue was one the first non-Bell Media shows featured. They didn’t blur Global’s logo, but the manufacture’s logos from the TVs are curiously missing (screenshot via Bravo.ca)

To my surprise, some non-Bell Media series made it onto the Canadian version of The People’s Couch. The second show, right after E!’s Keeping Up With The Kardashians was Global’s Rookie Blue. Maybe they thought they’d throw them a bone since even though it’s a competitor’s program at least it’s CanCon. Actually, the non-Bell Media shows featured outweighed the Bell shows. Besides the other Canadian series, Mom’s a Medium, which airs on CMT (a channel owned by Bell Media competitor Corus), the debut episode featured two TLC programs: Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo and Buying Naked.

It’s a bit surprising as Bell Media had a tendency to never mention a competitor no matter what. It was particularly noticeable during eTalk, which is supposed to be an entertainment news program, but it came across as an infomercial for Bell properties with the way it avoided talking about Shaw, Rogers and CBC shows as much as humanly possible. Entertainment Tonight Canada wasn’t like that, but I don’t know if things changed now.

While The People’s Couch wasn’t as much of a shameless plug for other Bell Media series as I expected, someone needlessly name dropped CP24 less than 15 seconds into the debut episode.
The People’s Couch also surprised me by not blurring the other station’s logos on-screen. That has always been a pet peeve of mine especially when you know what the logo is. It’s worse, however, when you don’t know what the logo is, but it’s so obvious something is blurred out and then you’re trying to figure out what it is. I never understood why shows do that. If you don’t want to have the logo on-screen, why don’t you just crop it out or cut the shot altogether?

Anyway, while The People’s Couch got that right it, manages to screw up some of the more fundamental aspects of the program. Considering the show doesn’t spend enough time on giving you the basics on the series featured and it jumps from house to house to get comments to throw in between show clips, The People’s Couch comes across as frantic at times.

"I got popcorn in my boob" (screenshot via bravo.ca)

“I got popcorn in my boob” (screenshot via bravo.ca)

To make matters worse, what comments they do have aren’t particularly intelligent, insightful or funny. In the debut episode we had the same girl ask “It’s over?” twice, a few people make fun of how the family on Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo speaks, a few comments on how mediums are fake when it came to Mom’s a Medium and of course someone saying, “I got popcorn in my boob,” cause getting popcorn in your boobs sucks and the entire nation of Canada needs to know.

You may notice a cursor o top of some of the TV footage, that seems to suggest that the footage is just super imposed over an image of a screen (screenshot via bravo.ca)

You may notice a cursor on top of some of the TV footage. That seems to suggest the footage is just superimposed over an image of a screen (screenshot via bravo.ca)

Even the production value is shabby for what it is. If you pay close attention, you may notice a mouse pointer over top some of the TV footage shown on the show. That seems to suggest the clips they have are superimposed on images of TV screens when we see them, not that you’d expect otherwise or else if they actually shot footage off the TV chances are it would look awful.

"It's over?" (screenshot via bravo.ca)

“It’s over?” (screenshot via bravo.ca)

Anyway, I can’t see much of an appeal when it comes to The People’s Couch. Apparently, it’s a big hit in the UK, but I can’t tell why. Why do I care about some random remarks that people have about a show especially when it’s hard to pick up what the program is about from their inane comments? If it was at least something like Charlie Brooker’s Screenwipe where the commentary actually meant something, I’d see a reason to watch, but this seems like a giant waste of time.

Episode Reviewed: Episode 1
The People’s Couch airs Sundays at 8:30 on Bravo (and Mondays at 10 on E! and Wednesdays at 9:30 on M3 and Fridays at 9 on MTV—I wish I was joking)

(Featured image via Bell Media)

Advertisements