TV REVIEW: Health Freaks, Monday 8.30p.m., Channel 4

Let’s not beat around the bush – homeopathy and alternative medicine is really stupid. We can’t even bring ourselves to write a facetious opening paragraph about how TOTB once “cured a fungal foot infection by sleeping on a pillow filled with crystals and bathing it in marmalade.”

So the idea of a show dedicated to looking into the home remedies of ordinary people sounds, on the face of it at least, a ridiculous exercise.

Health Freaks (Mondays, 8.30p.m., Channel 4) features a panel of GPs (including Embarrassing Bodies’ Dr Pixie McKenna) and members of the public who are attempting to convince the doctors of the merits of their home remedies – which they then vote on to decide whether they are going to put them to trial.

The show kicks off with two builders who are convinced that WD40 is capable of curing both arthritis and smoker’s cough. They both swear by it, but they are treated with understandable incredulity from the three doctors and shown the door. It’s kind of like Dragon’s Den – except with glass stairs instead of a lift, alternative medicine instead of business propositions and absolute fucking lunatics instead of entrepreneurs.

The show follows a similar format to that of the BBC reality show too, with the main featured participants separated by short montages of other unsuccessful entrants, including a man who believes singing can ease his snoring, and a guy who thinks his garlic sandwiches can cure impotence.

Amber bead necklace

A cure for teething pain? No. Really, no.

Now if anything is going to give a man impotence it would be the thought of having children with the squeamishly earnest mother-of-two who thinks that an amber-bead necklace tied around a baby’s ankle can ease teething pain. You’d think that her claims would be treated with the same condescendingly raised eyebrow that the blokes slathering themselves in WD40 were, except much the opposite, with Dr Pixie declaring that she “loves this”, as she is currently going through the same thing with her own newborn.

Ultimately though, the GPs don’t put the “remedy” through for trial due to the safety concerns over a child choking on one of the beads (rather than it being absolute horseshit), although frankly the biggest danger to her kids is choking on their mother’s overwhelming smugness.

That’s not to say that Health Freaks is completely without merit, and there are brief moments of interest when they look deeper into the science of certain ailments, but it is very brief.

The home remedy that was eventually sent through for trial was duct tape for verrucas, which was actually shown to have some truth to it, with 100% of the subjects showing at least a 1mm reduction in size. It was a result that moved Dr Ellie Cannon to declare that she was going to recommend the treatment to her own patients.

It’s a remedy that we’re going to use on our eyes and ears the next time Health Freaks is on.



Think Outside the News: Desire to “become Spider-Man” blamed on recent False Widow attacks

British people are purposefully seeking out false widow spiders so that they will bite them and imbue them with super powers, it has been revealed.

There have been numerous media reports of the spiders – who bare a close resemblance to the deadly black widow – biting unsuspecting members of the public who are just going about their business, but the victims have admitted that they deliberately aggravated the arachnids in a bid to become Spider-Man.

Anaphylactic shock: not a super power.

Anaphylactic shock: not a super power.

“I’ve been mocked all my life for my unusual name and the fact that it makes me sound like a shit super-hero. I just thought that if I could scale walls and swing around people would see me differently,” said Barry Beardman, 32 from Coventry

However, scientists have advised people against allowing the false widows to bite them, instead recommending splicing their DNA with that of the spider in a similar way to that of Jeff Goldblum in hit sci-fi movie The Fly.

Peter Parkinson, a newspaper photographer from Croydon said: “I have the same job and basically the same name – just not the great power and subsequent great responsibility. I thought the false widow might be my ticket to awesome ninja skills and upside down kissing with hot women.

“Turns out all I’ve been left with is a slightly saw hand.”


REVIEW: Prisoners

It’s fun to eviscerate bad movies. You get to feel all smug and clever and use creative similes, such as ‘watching this film was like spending an hour and a half in the company of Nigel Farage’, or ‘it was like being made to eat your own balls. And then having your eyes put where your balls were’. Yeah… witty things like that.

You also get to avoid putting yourself out there for ridicule over liking a movie that everybody else has deemed fucking terrible.

TOTB liked a film once. We gleefully pronounced Dune as the next Star Wars and that Sting’s performance would blaze a trail for a prolific acting career. It wasn’t, it didn’t, and we can still hear the laughter ringing in our collective ear.

Never again we vowed, which is why it is with regret that we now come to review a film that is actually quite good.

Menly Men Being Men

The Dover’s are your typical all-American family. The sort of family where men chop wood, kill things with guns and have beards. It’s the American dream, until their young daughter Anna is abducted along with her friend, Joy Birch.

The opening scenes are punctuated by an ominous and oppressive atmosphere that are reminiscent of Scandinavian noir. The sun never shines and the elements are constantly making their presence felt – heavy rain and snow falling relentlessly on the two families consumed by grief and stomach-churning dread.

Jackman is great as the father driven to desperate measures in an attempt to find his daughter, but it is Jake Gyllenhaal’s Detective Loki who is the star of the show, putting in a quietly powerful performance that ensures you can’t take your eyes off the film whenever he’s on screen.


Everyone’s feeling a bit glum, to be honest.

Yet Prisoners isn’t as straight down the line as just two families trying to deal with child abduction, instead contemplating some pretty weighty moral ideas, most notably that of evil begetting evil.

Desperate to track down the two girls, Keller Dover kidnaps chief suspect Alex Jones (Paul Dano, Looper) with the aim of making him reveal the girls’ location, resorting to increasingly extreme measures – but is he guilty? Parallels with the US’ policies on dealing with terrorism suspects is obvious, though the film doesn’t quite deal with the issue comprehensively once the plot picks up pace in the third act.

It’s a shame a film that, for the most part, displays an emotional and intellectual depth unlike many in its genre regresses to the mean towards the end, and the finale is arguably somewhat anti-climactic. Nevertheless, Prisoners doesn’t lose any of the intensity it so effectively builds at any stage – an impressive feat given its 153 minute running time.

So does Prisoners deserve the privilege of being the first movie that Think Outside the Box doesn’t point and laugh at like you would at a fat kid falling over? Probably not to be honest.

There are a few fantastic performances but it isn’t going to change the world, win any Oscars or even warrant a second viewing. But at least it doesn’t have fucking Sting in it.