You may recall back in March when we told you about Mr Biffo’s tremendous Kickstarter success for Digitiser: The Show. Less than nine months later and the series is in the cutting room, getting ready to delight YouTube viewers aplenty. I say cutting room, but it’s 2018 so it’s probably just Biffo sitting in front of a computer with a copy of Premiere Pro and a dozen Red Bull cans. That’s not the point though, the point is that the show is debuting at 9pm this evening (That's the 11th of November if you're reading this after initial publication), and I’ve been lucky enough to get a look at the first episode of the series.
There’s a lot of retro gaming content on YouTube, but from the outset, this was designed to bring something new to the table, with the tagline “the return of proper gaming TV” being featured heavily in the initial marketing for the show. With televisual gaming content being largely restricted to the occasional bit of eSport coverage on Ginx and that thing with Dara O’Brien on Dave, it’s no wonder that over a thousand backers did their best to make sure that this show became a reality.
Biffo has pointed out that the episodes were filmed largely in broadcast order, so this first one isn’t as polished as some of the later ones. A few minor audio inconsistencies aside though, this is definitely one of the slickest looking productions that I’ve seen on YouTube. It’s well-written and informative, but it never takes itself too seriously. In fact, it rarely takes itself seriously at all. I defy anyone to show me another programme where the final outcome of a contest is decided partially by a conversation between the host and a plastic lobster for example.
Our five main hosts comprise of Mr Biffo himself and YouTubers Paul Gannon, Gameplay Jenny, Guru Larry, and Octavius Kitten. Although this is Biffo’s project, it’s never an ego trip. He might get a little bit more screen time as the main host, but all of the hosts add their own personality and uniqueness to the show. There’s a clear chemistry between them too, which is vital for a format like this, as we’ve seen with the disaster that is Top Gear post May, Hammond, and Clarkson. I’m using that analogy very intentionally too, as the anarchic irreverence of that particular presenting team isn’t entirely dissimilar to what we have in this program. Although I’m pretty sure that none of the presenters have punched anybody over a sandwich.
There’s clear inspiration from shows like Gamesmaster and Bad Influence evident, but also from more modern formats like panel shows. There’s nothing derivative though, this is clearly and obviously Digitiser from the very outset. That randomness of humour and tangential absurdity that I remember from the 90s is here in abundance, and it’s made the transition perfectly. The random fake adverts between pages survive as little cutaway segments akin to Adult Swim’s bumps, and Mr T is back to warn us away from his bins. They’ve even managed to get “press reveal” moments in, which I hadn’t expected, but I was delighted to see. If you never actually read the original Teletext magazine, then you might not get some of the references, but even without, you’ll soon get the idea. It’s accessible to newcomers, but with a few nods and winks for veterans.
What we have here is ultimately something that has the potential to be very special indeed. It’s a gaming show that actually “gets” gaming culture, crafted and presented by someone who genuinely cares about it. Gaming TV has been phoning it in since Thumb Bandits got cancelled, could this finally be the show that we’ve been waiting for? The show launches on youtube this evening, so click here to subscribe to their YouTube channel.