Top critical review
6 people found this helpful
Exercise for your eyes, not your brain (or laughter muscles)
on 24 October 2010
This is an odd one - and I'm tempted to suggest that's odd in a bad way, not odd in an interesting one - All In The Best Possible Taste is neither a full enough memoir of growing up in the Eighties told via TV viewing habits to fulfill that brief, nor is it a detailed enough over-view of what television actually was or amounted to during that decade to land on that shelf, either.
I'll give the author his due, it's a nice idea to tell the tale of one's youth via their TV tastes, but in order for that remit to work there has to be some story there to read. But Bromley's autobiography is hardly present (unless he did absolutely nothing between TV shows) and the TV analysis side of the outing is so utterly (and frustratingly) threadbare that you end up feeling less like you're actually reading a book than merely taking your eyes for a walk. There's no brain feed on offer, no decent laughs; just that sinking, sullied feeling akin to the guilt of having just wolfed a Big Mac.
Granted, I wasn't expecting, nor looking for, Open University here, but neither was I looking to get fudged over by a barely concealed lesson in nostalgia-hued exploitation. To me, Bromley's ode to the cathode reads more like the frustrated scripting of a wannabe, touting yet another no-brainer TV nostalgia clip-show; one that gets rejected even by Five. For the puns are sub-tabloid, the choice is utterly pedestrian, and the hurt is finally rammed home by an author that feels it more important (like some drunken mate) to endlessly describe the very thing you're seeing (or once saw in the TV shows in question) than actually provide some kind of helpful context or background information.
Rather than actually place, say, the Young Ones and its players in to something approaching a useful frame, we just get a wiki-light skim of Ben Elton's step from Soho stand-up to Young Ones, and on to Black Adder (and that was almost as fast as the analysis in question). No real information, no insight, and far less context that you'd get on a rush-job fan site. I mean, you do have to question the intentions of a book about TV dealing with such a contentious era, when the author spends not even a quarter of a page discussing Only Fools & Horses, quickly followed by almost two pages describing cut-by-cut the opening title sequence for Dallas.
In short, All In The Best Possible Taste is a trashy, quickly knocked together cash-in. You'll know no more coming out of this book than you did going in, so I would avoid unless your life depends on it, or your accountant reckons you need to throw away some cash on 'research material' for fear of getting slapped with a huge tax bill.