The transparency of egos

I rarely watch TV anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t spend time in front of the box (or “slab”, perhaps – box doesn’t quite describe sleek flatscreen LCD HD TVs, or whatever they’re called): I watch dvds, and do my daily Wii fitness test, of course, and one or two good series (Dirty, Sexy Money is my new favourite), but apart from that, TV sucks. Still, because I haven’t lost hope completely – or because I refuse to believe that there REALLY isn’t anything somewhere on the hundreds of channels out there – I regularly scroll through the guide and set the PVR to record things that might have value.

Which is how we ended up watching Paris Hilton on the Ellen Degeneres show last night. I’ve watched Ellen a couple of times before, and though she can get too much, she’s easier to tolerate than Tyra Banks, or Oprah for that matter, mostly because she can dance. And also because I imagine her as a straight shooter, so what I was really hoping for was to see her make Paris squirm. But no! The show was so far from anything interesting that it was just nothing at all. No provocative questions, not a single shred of irony as she first indulged Paris (for being Paris, as Paris is), and then went on to promote her bloody clothing and fragrance lines (called? Paris Hilton, of course). When Ellen wasn’t doing that, it was all about her. In fact she should call her show All About Ellen, and can someone then please explain to me then why a show that is all about Ellen, and a bit about Paris, is interesting to anyone, at all? Anyone?

Ditto, I now have to conclude, Heston Blumenthal’s In Search of Perfection. We’re just getting the second season here, which seems to have moved from perfecting classically “British” (bangers and mash) to perfecting classically ethnic British. Naturally he begins with chicken tikka masala, but amazingly begins by going to Delhi (yes, in INDIA, where the dish is NOT from) for “inspiration”. He visits two restaurants where he eats something apparently called chicken tikka masala (I remain unconvinced, we didn’t see any of the menus) and then – surprise, surprise – decides that delicious though they are, they don’t resemble British tikka masala at all. And so he goes to work in his lab-kitchen to perfect the thing that has clearly already been perfected in countless British curry shops, given that it has been declared that country’s favourite and ‘true national dish’.

Some of Heston’s exploits were kind of fun to watch in the beginning, in that wierd science kind of way, but given the sorts of things that are going on in the wider world (for instance that everyone’s worrying about money, and a lot of people are worrying about food, too), I found it both sad and disturbing to watch him on his solitary mission to put chicken breasts through an MRI to see which kind of marinade works best with their fibrous make-up. There’s no question here about actually learning anything from him in a way that is potentially useful in a normal kitchen – this is mad scientist talking to himself, and quite honestly, boring.

I need to read more.