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Post by APE on 2017-03-05, 15:25

Little Big Shots review:
Dawn French’s cheap and cheerful talent show for children.
There are no judges or prizes – just precocious little people showing off. Plus, survivor stories in Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook

The show is on British TV ITV1
This is the brand new show where the biggest talents come in the smallest, gorgeousest packages,” said Dawn French in the opening seconds of Little Big Shots (ITV). What she meant was, this is a year-old format that got big ratings in the US and is now being repackaged all over the world.

To look at Little Big Shots, you might think it was a good deal older. It’s a talent show for children: tiny dancers, mini-singers, karate kids. There are no judges or prizes, just precocious little people showing off, preceded by a chat on the sofa with French, during which the kids can be relied upon to say the darndest things. Twenty years ago it would have been hosted by Michael Barrymore and, to my eyes, this looks not one whit more modern. It is particularly weird to see French take a role you might expect her to lampoon – a fixed-smile, hyper-enthusiastic ITV variety hour presenter, dwarfed by a glitzy set – and do it for real.

Where you stand on Little Big Shots probably depends on where you stand on talented kids in general. I feel the same way about talented kids as I do about crows: I admire them, but if one was standing in a hotel lift when the doors opened, I wouldn’t get in.

In addition, not all these kids are talented in the traditional sense. Some have merely gone viral – a YouTube video of them doing something weirdly compelling has brought them to the world’s attention, alongside cute kittens and guilty-looking labradors. Balang, from the Philippines, for example, was described by French as “the online dancing sensation whose moves have literally broken the internet”. Balang’s original viral video was posted two years ago. He’s since been on The Ellen DeGeneres Show three times (DeGeneres is the creator of the Little Big Shots format). I’m a wee bit worried about Balang.

The bulk of the show is made up of the beforehand chat, which French handles with a certain aplomb: she doesn’t patronise the kids, nor does she ignore the fact that they are under 10. And kids, of course, are funny precisely because they are kids: they don’t hide their emotions or their bewilderment; they might smile when they’re told to, but they only laugh when they mean it. When French asked ballroom dancing partners Joshua and Kerry if they were boyfriend and girlfriend, a look of genuine horror passed across both their faces.

That turned out to be a rare moment of spontaneity in an otherwise tightly choreographed hour. The interaction between host and child followed a strict formula: the child demonstrates some aspect of personal talent; then French has a go, to show how terrible she is at it, mugging at the audience all the while. These bits are pretty dire. Kids can tell when a grown up isn’t even trying.

Little Big Shots appears to be the kind of cheap and cheerful fare designed to be broken into viral chunks and slapped up on YouTube afterwards: heartwarming moments from a sickly-sweet box of delights. I’m sure many viewers will find nothing objectionable in it, while a significant minority will think it exploitative and shameful. I mean to take up an uncomfortable position in the middle: I think it’s disturbing we have returned to this allegedly wholesome TV of yesteryear, as if we’d all forgotten how creepy it began to look in hindsight. Its reappearance seems to be a harbinger of bad times to come, like a crow in a lift.

In her new series, Dr Gabriel Weston investigates some of the world’s strangest medical one-offs. Episode two of Incredible Medicine: Dr Weston’s Casebook (BBC2) concentrated on survivors; people who are lucky to be alive, and some cases of people who don’t really deserve to be. Take Steve. His particular talent is a bit niche. “I can withstand the venom of the world’s deadliest snakes,” he said. The reason he knows this is that Steve has been injecting himself with snake venom for years, although his motivations remain obscure. As a young man he met someone who did the same, who believed the venom held mysterious healing properties. It doesn’t – and Steve has gone a long way to disproving that – but he has built up antibodies to the toxins of several species. His weird hobby is now helping scientists develop better anti-venoms – the old sort, made from horse blood, trigger unwanted immune reactions. So I applaud Steve, warily. As with those talented kids, I am not sure my encouragement would help.

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Post by Bill and Ted on 2017-03-18, 16:34

Good funny little show THUMBS UP
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