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on 29 December 2004
Charlie Brooker is the man behind the infamous TVGoHome site, where he invented television programmes such as Get Hen!, where contestants had to get a hen, and Daily Mail Island, where single mothers, asylum seekers and other targets of tabloid ire were torn to pieces by rabid Middle Englanders. Proving that life often imitates art - or at least, arse - even more bizarre programmes were actually broadcast, and in his new role as TV critic for the Guardian Guide, Brooker had to review such pinnacles of popular entertainment as Big Brother, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, and the truly bizarre Touch The Truck. Screen Burn is a collection of these reviews, spanning the last three years.
Whether you'll enjoy Screen Burn depends on your attitude to life. If you're the sort of person who has a sunny outlook, believes that people are fundamentally decent and greets the dawn of a new day with a big smile, Screen Burn will make you weep hot, salty tears. If on the other hand you're a twisted misanthrope with an abiding hatred of pretty much the entire human race, the book will make you laugh until your eyes bleed. Brooker doesn't pull his punches: while other critics might suggest that a programme is below par, Brooker demands that the presenters be locked in a barbed wire cage with angry hyenas and rolled down a mountain. If - as John Lydon once sang - anger is an energy, then Charlie Brooker could power the national grid.
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on 13 April 2005
You may not think reading several years' collected columns one after another could sustain itself for the entirety of this book, but somehow it manages to work. To buy it isn't just to read some extremely sharp and extremely amusing observations about television (I was in stitches at one description of Jim Davidson), but to be forced to take a step back and look at society, feeling Brooker's pain as he attempts to hold on to his sanity and intelligence in an insane world of bleating, porcelain drones. It's got to the stage where the piss-take show concepts he dreams up are actually SHOWN on television, and as a result no-one is safe from his venom if he thinks they deserve it, regardless of class, age, pastimes, nationality, wealth, fame, looks or intelligence. Jim Davidson, Simon Cowell, football fans, the Daily Mail, neo-conservatives and Middle England get a particular pasting. This isn't to say that Brooker's without a sense of fairness; perhaps unexpectedly, he sticks up for a few people commonly pilloried by both the media and the public, including John Leslie, Sharon Osbourne and Jamie Oliver, and even some marginalised groups like drug addicts and asylum seekers.
Profane, angry, venomous, heartfelt, intelligent - but above all, EXTREMELY funny. Especially considering the bargain cover price, this is a must buy.
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on 26 November 2007
This man's grasp of language, his misanthropy and his FURY make him the funniest non-fiction writer there is. "Screen Burn" is an absolute masterpiece of bile, wit and (in fact) refusal to burp along with the "It's just a bit of fun, innit?" mentality that poisons so much modern TV.
His reviews also prove just what an assured judge of quality he is, as he comes out in favour of programmes which have since been hailed as classics.
He is compulsively readable and magnificently, blisteringly funny.
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on 7 March 2008
I am always a little suspicious when a book tells me I will "laugh out loud" because often as not I find myself reading it stone faced waiting for nuggets of wit that never seem to come.

This book genuinely does what it says on the cover. Due mostly to a hugely funny use of over the top metaphor and comparatives.

Similar to Clarkson but funnier and ruder. Buy it, you won't regret it.
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on 8 October 2012
Wish I had realised this was just a reprint of the 2004 Screen Burn book rather than the latest installments of the Screen Burn columns (which I assumed it was when it popped up for pre-order).

It is a funny book originally, but now comes with a more grown up cover featuring Brooker with an expensive haircut.

I guess with winter drawing in I can chuck my spare copy on the fire to keep me warmer for a few more minutes...
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on 1 March 2005
Charlie Brooker loves television.
He just hates the way it is now.
This book is a passionate, scathing, vicious and occasionally scabrous attack on the dumbing-down of television over the last five years or so; the rise of interminable reality programmes, lowest-common-denominator "talent" shows, and incessant downmarket soaps and violent dramas.
Put that bluntly, it could be seen as a depressing book. However, Brooker is the man who gave us TV Go Home and Unnovations, and is the creator of the odious Nathan Barley, so there's a savage, excoriating wit there - this is appallingly funny, and full of well-directed ire.
As television fragments into thousands of channels targeting ordure at the masses, Brooker's book is a powerful scream calling for sanity and some artistic integrity. It's also filthy and hilarious.
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on 29 March 2011
Every bit as entertaining as the later, 'The Hell of it All' and 'Dawn of the Dumb'. Fascinating to look back through Brooker's sarcastic comedy eyes to TV shows from early in the 'noughties'. There is a belly laugh on almost every page and one is constantly left wondering how an Earth he managed to come up with a particular metaphor or ludicrous exaggeration. You'll find yourself actively searching for opportunities to describe someone as looking like 'a dish cloth hanging off a door knob' and many, many other classics. There are other reviews which interest because they were the very first show of a series which subsequently became part of the cultural landscape, such as the first Big Brother. Most of the time his criticisms hit the nail bang on the head. If you have a sense of humour and enjoy comedy writing you'll love this as much as the other collections of Charlie Brooker TV reviews.
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on 2 May 2010
A collection of Charlie Brooker's TV Column writings from possibly 2002 - 2004 (I'd go and look but it's over 50 metres away), this book had me in snorting fits of chuckles. The way in which the columns are written mean that even though he is talking about TV from a bygone era, you still understand and can relate to everything he's saying.
Brooker is clearly very intelligent and has an excellent grasp of the English language coupled with unashamadely immature musings. Some of the images he managed to conjure in my mind were absolute gold!

I started this book about 5 hours before going in to surgery to have my widsom teeth removed and sat in the waiting room snorting and wheezing like a fool. 8 hours later I was out of surgery in a fair amount of discomfort but on picking the book up I was back to giggling like a fool. That's how good it is, it surpasses pain! Buy it!
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VINE VOICEon 7 December 2012
Charlie Brooker is quite a different figure now, compared to when he wrote this.

Unlike other reviews, I had realised that this book is actually quite old, and actually goes back to the beginning of Brooker's writing columns for newspapers.
In the same way that all those Jeremy Clarkson compendiums compress several years of articles together, this covers 2000-2004 and if you read it now, it throws up some interesting flashbacks.

Firstly, there are the reviews of TV shows that you simply don't remember, mainly because they were late night trash. Secondly there are the reviews of programmes which are "on a hiding to nothing", such as little-known shows as Pop Idol, featuring unknown sneering lunatic Simon Cowell.

The language is always fruity, frequently surreal, and always highly entertaining. The perfect night time read as you try and forget about your own troubles. Reading this is like watching Eastenders. There's always someone less fortunate than you out there...
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With further hindsight, Charlie Brooker will probably be able to pinpoint the beginning of a peptic ulcer at some point in this bilious journal. This is a window into hell; it is a collection of all the television review columns he did for The Guardian G2 during the aforementioned period (when it was still a relatively good newspaper and not the grovelling organ of the state that it's now become), and charts his emotional state after prolongued exposure to Jim Davison (was he really on prime time TV so recently? Astonishingly, yes he was), Simon Cowell, Simon Bates and other such luminaries.

I found out recently that he co-wrote Nathan Barley with Chris Morris, as well as having a contributing role with Brass Eye. The language he uses is very reminiscent of Chris Morris's lines so if you found those programs funny, no doubt you'll love this.

His words shoot angrily off the page like the hot salty fluid from the blowhole of an indignant whale - bathe in the bile and enjoy.
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