The BBC have had enough of "Friends", "Sex in the City" and "Everyone Loves Raymond". They have accordingly turned to the new force in world television, Al Jazeera who have kindly outlined new programs you can expect to see this season.
Dubai Five O is a police drama which takes place in Dubai. Like all of the Al Jazeera programs it is dubbed into English. The first show is a thriller as Salim McGarret and Danny are called in to track down and, if necessary, eliminate a woman who was caught speaking. You'll love the ending : "Nuke her Danno".
F.r.i.e.n.d.s has been replaced by H.I.J.A.B. It tells the story of 5 Egyptian women who live in Cairo. While it is apparently dubbed we aren't sure if they speak. Mind you we are only up to Episode 72 : The Veiled Threat. So there's plenty more shows in which they might say something. It would be nice to see one of the characters but you can't have everything.
Will and Grace the Al Jazeera version is "Abdul and Fareeda". Abdul is shot (in the reality section) and Fareeda could be out of H.I.J.A.B for all we know.
A movie is also part of the package. It is based on Catwoman but has certain small differences you might spot. Fareeda Onbail is the star of Moggybitch albeit that she had to be promised a speaking part for her next role. She is very athletic, or as much as one can be in Hijab with somersalt and pike.
The big problem in putting Moggybitch together is the total lack of funding for any special effects. Everytime the producer needed to capture a cat-like creature jumping between two buildings all they could do was fling a cat between the structures.
The cat of course wasn't having any of it. It used to cling on for dear life while Achmed was tossing with all his might. Which invariably ended up with the cat falling in between the buildings. So they blindfolded the cats and then hurled the moggy, pulling the blindfold off at the last second. Close but the moggy created so much wind trying to land it missed - usually plowing into the side of the building.
They were running out of cats when they settled on flinging Achmed. They figured as he was so badly scratched anyway....
Of course no package would be complete without a reality, pop idol type show. "Big Bother" is the answer they came up with. It's 16 young hopeful suicide bombers who compete for their day in the sun.
While viewers might imagine that there is no talent needed for the show, they are wrong. There are singing competitions, a poetry corner and a cookery contest.
Apparently those contestants who don't win any of these disciplines consider it quite a blow. Tempers are explosive. For example Ali Husseini of Syria was outraged that he had been declared the runner-up in the Orange Juice tasting final. He was positive he had identified all th correct groves and citrus types. He promised that if he was chosen then the winners village in South Lebanon was dust.
If Ali is not selected to blow up he plans to become an insurance broker in Dubai. In addition he will teach Orange Juice recognition to supplement his income.
One program which has been scrapped by Al Jazeera is : "Blinded by the light". It tells the story of a journalist who becomes a traitor to his country and lives life as a reporter churning out garbage dressed as news, and propoganda posing as analysis.
The studios felt that Robert Fisk would be writing his life story soon so it would be unfair to run a product which would compete with it.
As the BBC spokesman said, with such variety in the package it was almost impossible to accept the American garbage in it's place.