25 August 2009

One4Review = One Four Star Review for Everyone!

I noticed a poster for a show that got ripped into by Steve Bennett at Chortle, giving it 2 stars and almost hoping it stopped playing, with a fresh white banner over it saying '***** one4review'.  I was perplexed.  I have stated before that Steve Bennett is a tough reviewer (possibly the only person who can genuinely say that three stars from him is "good") but 2 stars from him and 5 from one4review - shurely shome mistake?  The show in question is Domesti Goodi 2: How To Cope to which Mr. Chortle opens with "If you want something funnier than a range of broadly-sketched characters in search of a punchline, look elsewhere" and closes with it being at risk of closing due to the recession and "Few would probably mourn it".  Compare and contrast to Geoff Evans (whose name appears across the top of one4review) and starts about "...last years show and have to admit they blew me away [this show is] as good, if not better than last year’s version" and in the following paragraph (which is only one sentence long) notes they have "a selection of some of the funniest sketches you will see anywhere". I need to investigate further...

The first thing I did, before reading the review, if check out what was going on with my browser when the page loaded.  It turns out all of their reviews *intentionally* have no images on the page and practically no colours.  The site is written with "Microsoft FrontPage 4.0" which was released in 1999 and subsequently the product has been discontinued.  Take a look at this screen grab for yourself:

I took a closer look at the vast list of shows they had been to see (about 15 per day between the five people) and noticed a common theme:  they were all 4 or 5 star reviews!  I obviously didn't look at every show but everyone I clicked on, even ones other websites said stunk, received 4 or 5 stars.  Eureka!  That's what the domain name refers to -  One 4 (star) Review guaranteed!  This doesn't bode well for all the posters with their asterisks over them, unless they are just using shift + 8 as a text separator instead of multiple carriage returns...

One more thing bugged me - if you are going to give everyone high scores and see so many shows, why is the content so light and almost personal experience rather than reviewing the performer?  I haven't quite worked out my answer but I have got a better understanding of Geoff Evans's style from his closing remarks when commenting about his experience of seeing Lucy Porter "the tickets for her shows are flying out of the door [snip] get your ticket while there may still be some available", John Bishop " If there are still some available then get yourself a ticket now, ‘cause there won’t be any available if you delay much longer" and Newsrevue "[their] tickets soon become like gold dust so my advice is to get your now or there soon won’t be any left".  At least you can't fault him on consistency!

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