TV review: Vice is too shallow

Mundane: Vice is interspersed with clips bordering on the cartoonish.

It's not often that we review documentaries.

Yes, we review reality shows and reality shows pretending to be documentaries, but not shows with facts and figures.

Getting younger eyeballs on current affairs shows is close to impossible these days, unless you sugar-coat it with comedy like The Daily Show does.

But then there's Vice.

The show with a cool, edgy name is by a lifestyle magazine of the same name, which claims to be the "coolest magazine in the world".

Welcome to hipster-reportage.

Cue fast-cut stock footage of explosions, marching soldiers and missile launches. Action snippets with no real value. Then overlay it with cool typography and graphics.

This gets repeated quite often. (Did they need to use that missile-launch footage so many times?)

But if you have a short attention span and absolutely no knowledge about the world beyond your own borders, then Vice is the show for you.

Billed as a provocative and new-age journalism-type documentary, this series purports to throw the spotlight on absurd situations around the world.

Executive producer Bill Maher describes the journalists as "the bravest correspondents in the world".

What that means is they visit the most dangerous parts of the planet, such as the India-Pakistan border, to get stories.

Danger, risk, death and infrared footage. A reporter's dream job... until you see the material they scrape together.

Given the chance to follow four North Koreans who have fled their homeland and are embarking on an arduous journey through China, Laos and Thailand, the correspondent wastes his time with frivolous questions.

Designed to hit you in the gut, the questions (and therefore the answers) appeal to the audiences' emotions rather than give insight into the situation.

A real wasted opportunity - especially with the access they get to people. Not just refugees, but people like the "father of the Taliban", Hamid Gul.

At the end of an episode, I felt like I hadn't actually learnt anything new.

Yes, people in North Korea have it bad. The border between India and Pakistan is a tinderbox.

But isn't this just general knowledge?

Okay, so I took history lessons in junior college, but anyone who reads the newspapers regularly should know these things.

Worse, the show essentially treated me like a child. The information was over-simplified and interspersed with short clips bordering on the cartoonish.

Safe to say, I've definitely seen better.

This approach probably works better on American youngsters.

The younger reporters deliver to the camera in a more natural tone. Much in the same way Jamie Oliver changed cooking programmes to be less formal.

I have to admit, its heart is in the right place - to educate an apathetic audience who have no interest in the news and are apparently so ensconced in their own bubble that they have trouble finding their own country on a map.

This frightening lack of curiosity about the outside world could explain why Vice spits out - what I would consider basic - information, in bite-size chunks.

But it's too shallow. All that effort for two 15-minute reports. No solutions offered, no look at the next step.

It's the same information that many other news services have - except in hip packaging. If it spurs someone to want to know more about the modern condition of the world, great.

Otherwise, it's just another way to share the absurdities of the planet to the Internet generation. All that's missing is the emoticons.

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