Monday, December 03, 2007


It's been a while since I last did a review. Too tired and busy to blog. However yesterday, there I was too lazy to move to get my remote. I painfully subjected myself to the local drama that is COBRA SQUAD. Written, produced and directed by Alfred Mutua- a fellow couch tato, as he claims. Actually I've seen him plenty of times at the Junction catching a movie. So one couch tato to the other, this critique will be of utmost respect and cut to the point.

I have hated local drama since way back, simply for many reasons:
- bad acting
- bad casting
- bad dialogue-thats the screenplay
- bad storyline
- limited budgets

Now, Cobra Squad looks like it has a massive budget with numerous sponsors. They have managed to shoot in excellent locations. Which is about the only good thing this show has.

1. Writing!! Writing!! Writing!!

Any real Tato knows that the secret to a good show is the writing. Writing writing writing. Writing has two components story and screenplay.Plot and words.

-What people dont realise that for good writing you need more than one writer. You may have one head writer, but a successful show has tens of writers. Too many cooks are needed for this kind of broth. As much as Alfred is trying I think he needs to recruit a whole army of writers to salvage this show.

-dialogue is so poor. Why do people not write as normal as they talk. Whats the difference between real life and tv? Theatrical talk should be eliminated. One word or one sentence lines should be removed. I don't know how to put it but...when writing you should actually verbalise your writing to see if it even makes sense. People don't talk in sentences. Many people interrupt...keep talking...stammer...speak incoherently...mumble...mix and match that dialogue.

an example of common talk on Kenyan TV

"Goodmorning Mr Tato?"
"Goodmorning Sir."
"How are you doing?"
"I am doing fine."
"That is good to hear."
"How are you doing"
"I am also doing fine"

-story line. It is adviseable to have many running storylines at a go. Not one basic storyline that drags on incessantly. Characters should have a past present and a future. So should the multiple storylines.

2. Advertising.

Shameless and blatant advertising is present on this show. Surely is it a drama feature or a running advertisement. Just because a certain product sponsors the show its endorsement should in no way interfere or be inclusive of the plot or dialogue. I think merely being in an LG shop itself is mere marketting but for a salesman to actually unleash the advantages of an LG fridge or TV is outright uncouth.

3. Editing.

This is supposed to be a fast paced drama. So why do we still have useless footage like a 2 minute chase scene that has no baring on the plot whatsoever. Priorities have not been determined obviously as a result of poor writing. Poor wriing ends up with poor editing.

4. Casting and Acting

I won't criticise acting...because of the bad writing. Good writing sells itself you dont even need good actors when you have great writing. Heck writing creates the actors. So we have a case of bad writing reflecting out as bad acting.

But casting. I am tired of seeing the same faces on Kenyan TV. Especially those who do TV commercials.

Take a fresh cast and make celebrities out of them. Take a fresh cast and make a unique brand from your product.

5. Action Sequences

-Fight scenes: my God the obvious choreography in this scenes is almost embarrasing. If one cannot have right camera angles or editing skills or computer no-how I suggest omitting such scenes entirely. TV is fiction as it is...we need not be reminded of this fact. There is a fine line between ridiculous and lack of technology.

Gunshot scenes are laugh out loud horrendous.

In a nutshell COBRA SQUAD ends up being bad/crap simply as a result of bad writing.

So one day this Couch Tato will create his own TV show and will show you what makes a good drama-supersaturation of good writing with an unknown cast

Shows like West Wing. OZ that had an unknown cast. Sopranos. Friends made it big simply cause of good writing. Sisters...E.R... all these shows started with unknown actors.

Until Kenyan TV producers realise this, Kenyan shows will always be substandard, an viewers will be dissatisfied left wanting.

A show that actually comes close is Tahidi High. Watch an episode and see the difference. It's probably the best thing we have so far...but it too needs oxygen but not a complete rescusitation in the I.C.U.