Thursday, December 21, 2006

The drug of a nation

A very fun TV meme from Elsewhere (and picked up up by Kate before me):

1. Earliest remembered television?
The first thing that pops into my head is coming home from school and watching Bewitched with Mum. How I loved Bewitched … But sensibly, I think Play School and Sesame Street were my introduction to television. I have a brilliant 1970s-era record of the Sesame Street cast album, with everyone boogying on a New York Street. Lots of afros and flares. I was so excited when F was old enough that I could pass it on to him.

2. TV series you would want on a desert island?
If I landed there tomorrow: Veronica Mars, my current TV obsession. Series 2, because I haven’t seen it all. My cousins gave me a downloaded version of Series 1 as a ‘joke’ wedding present, because they knew I was incredibly jealous that they had it (I’d managed to grab the odd episode last summer). I actually squealed when they gave it to me! I’m slightly ashamed to say (because it’s so unromantic and kinda wrong), but my husband I watched the whole series in two (or maybe – hopefully – three?) days on our honeymoon, with the odd trip to the beach in between. Veronica is like a cross between Buffy (whip-smart, kick-ass cute blonde who ends up taking of everyone around her) and Agent Cooper (eccentric detective extraordinaire) , with a *tiny* pinch of Donna Hayward (who I never liked all that much) - just with the whole solving-your-best-friend’s-murder thing. And her dad is brilliant. And love a good love triangle/URST (unresolved sexual tension). I have proved that I can watch Twin Peaks over and over again, though.

3. TV that made you laugh
Frontline. You gotta love a show that actually managed to damage the credibility of the genre it was satirising. The humour was so sharp, and often so bittersweet. Liked the way you ended up loving the villains of the piece (the producers, Marty if you think about it) – always a sign of clever storytelling. And I was a media student when it was showing on TV – I soooo wanted to be Emma, the incredibly clever (if under-appreciated and nearly always undermined) producer. I’ve discovered Scrubs this year and fallen in love with it. Just hilarious. Packed with witty one-liners and some great characters. Zach Braff is brilliant and I love his relationship with superficially-gruff-but-goodhearted Dr Cox. I think I’ll have a new appreciation for Garden State if I watch it again now (Braff’s self-penned film about a misanthropic actor who returns to his small town for a visit and resents the recognition he gets for the sitcom he was in). Yes Minister. The Office. Thank God You’re Here: the segments with Hamish Blake and Angus Sampson.

4. TV that made you cry – SPOILER ALERT – Love My Way
Love My Way, for my hands-down worst crying episode at anything fictional. I was watching the dvd and I had to turn it off and take a break. I sobbed and sobbed and sobbed as if my heart would break (cliché I know, but I don’t care). I needed tissues. Lots of them. I can’t stand anything where a child is hurt or endangered – something that happened to me pretty much as soon as I had my son (I learnt the hard way, watching Sophie’s Choice on midday TV while breastfeeding). So, to have a child die, unexpectedly, in the middle of the series, absolutely shattered me. It got me in a very deep, primal way. Whoah. Especially, I guess, because I identified so much with Claudia’s character. (No, I don’t LOOK like that.) I share custody with my ex, we have a seven-year-old child, he and his wife had a new baby this year, we organise our custody in the way they did on the show, before I met my current husband, my son and I lived with an old friend of mine WHO WAS A CHEF and it fell apart partly due to a longstanding unrequited crush. It disturbed me for days. I also cried with happiness when Laura and Max finally got together on Sea Change. (I loved Sea Change and had the BIGGEST crush on Diver, then EVEN BIGGER on Max.) I also cried all afternoon once after a news story on selfish women who work while their children suffer without them. Snotty, semi-luxurious, reclining-on-my-pillows crying. Oddly, it was the week before I returned to full-time work … Probably lots more but I’ll stop there. I am a BIG sook.

5. TV crap that you enjoy.
Hmmm. Embarrassing. I am a crapmeister. (I was worse when we briefly had Foxtel.) I did enjoy Australian Idol, not so much this season, though I liked Bobby Flynn. I actually prefer American Idol. It’s the judges: Simon Cowell is hilarious and there’s some weird sexual chemistry going on between him and Paula Abdul. And my god, unlike Marcia Hines, though she is ‘the nice judge’, she actually SAYS WHAT SHE THINKS. Aaargh! Oz Idol needs Dicko to come back. I was hooked on Australian Princess last year, but haven’t really watched it this year. True confession time: I was into Neighbours and sternly told myself not to watch it anymore because it truly is crap, and I shouldn’t be watching TV at that time. That was three months ago and I haven’t watched it since. I just liked Evil Izzy and Scheming Paul. And Dr Karl when he was an alcoholic skirt-chaser. Moving right along …

6. TV you'll never forget.
Love My Way: episode where the child dies. See above. Also, an SBS doco that aired a few weeks ago, followed a 14-year-old girl working in a jeans factory in China. I turned it on about a quarter of the way through, but was riveted. It was almost more disturbing because the workers WEREN’T starving to death and didn’t live or work in barely lit shacks where there was no room to move. They weren’t forced to have sex with their employers or beaten for not working fast enough. The girls worked all night to finish big orders. They fell asleep on their desks and were prodded awake. They ate shitty dormitory food. They lived in shitty dormitories. They were paid badly, and pay was withheld as ‘bond’ for the first few months so that if they left, they would lose it. Many of them, like this girl, were kids who missed their families badly, and had been pulled out of work for this. The boss – the factory owner - was interviewed and he spoke about the need to control his lazy workers, etc. He seemed selfish and comparatively privileged. But he didn’t live much better than a lot of us. They also showed the owner in meetings with foreign buyers (aka People Like Us – Western movers and shakers) and you saw the way they squeezed him for every cent they could get, and pushed him as hard as they could on delivery. It’s not about evil Chinese factory owners: it’s about greedy Western business people, who get far more out the deal than they do. They cancel orders if they’re late – and set ridiculous schedules. And we wonder why poor 14-year-old girls work 18 hour days?

7. Favourite TV adaptation.
Have to say, I loved the BBC Pride and Prejudice. Colin Firth was a damned good Darcy. (He had the whole disturbed but brilliant and secretly lovely Angry Young man thing going on.) And Jennifer Ehle a suitably spunky Elizabeth Bennett. The recent BBC Vanity Fair with Natasha Little was also wonderful. What a fabulous Becky Sharp! And I thoroughly enjoyed the version of The Alan Clark Diaries shown this year, with John Hurt as the horrid little self-important Thatcher-boot-licking (or navy pump-licking) Conservative politician. So very, very funny. I do reserve a special space in my heart, though, for the (BBC again) adaptation of The Secret Garden, a major milestone in my love of reading. I fell in love with it when I was about six, watching it after school on the ABC, and I was absolutely dying to read the book. Mum LOVES the story of how she took me to Myer and the sales assistant solemnly handed me the Ladybird version of the book. I looked at it and said ‘no, I want the REAL book’. She explained that I wouldn’t be able to read it, and Mum told her that I was really a very good reader and I would be fine. The Myer bookshop lady, exasperated with Mum by now and (Mum thinks) sure that she was a horrid stage mother, handed me the book and said in condescending tones: ‘There you are dear, read it to me’, shooting Mum a presciently (she thought) triumphant look. And then I started to read aloud – perfectly fluently – and the woman apologised profusely and gave me the book. Which I read several times since and still have.

7. Favourite nerdish program
Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister. I remember watching them after dinner with my dad, who was a fan. Later, I remember reading the collected scripts from Dad’s bookshelves. And then surreptitiously nicking them when I left home. And I am looking at them now. My husband bought me the whole two series on DVD and I re-watched them all. Still so sharp and funny and utterly relevant. And Nigel Hawthorne as Sir Humphrey … golden. And I was a BIG Twin Peaks nerd. I have a book of critical essays on Twin Peaks.

8. One TV program you are currently watching.
Love My Way Series 2. Veronica Mars Series 2. Smallville, intermittently. Partly because it's summer, partly because I'm watching Good Lex evolve into Evil Lex.

9. One TV show/series you have been meaning to watch
Um, Buffy. Of course I've seen it, but only intermittently. I really got into some of the narratives, but then missed the start of others. I think the narrative is often what gets me hooked. One day I'm going to hire the first series on DVD, and watch it sequentially. And Weeds.

10. Now tag five people.
Tag! You’re it, if you want to be. If not, you got away. Or you can say ‘barleys’ and then you’ve got immunity. (I don’t know why – it was a 1980s schoolyard thing.)


Melly` said...

Oh bugga I forgot all about Yes Minister! Now I have to seek out more tv stuff I havent seen?

cristy said...

I loved Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister!

My mother once had lunch with Paul Eddington (when I was still in primary school) and I was quite jealous - what a nerd I must have been! (OK, still am...)

Galaxy said...

This meme is difficult. Just when I think I've got it nailed down, I read another response and I remember all the great television there is.

The sexual tension between Paula and Simon is in the category of strangely compelling. Also enjoy Randy, especially when just before he's going to say something bad he softens the blow with 'What's up dawg? How do you think you went?'

Looking forward to seeing Dicko back on Idol, too.

audrey said...

Oh Ariel, you have to watch Buffy RIGHT NOW. Get it. Watch it from the very start to the very finish. Your life will never be the same again...

audrey said...

Meanwhile, I have a question I want to ask you. How may I email you?

Ariel said...

wlodqCristy, I'm jealous right now.

Galaxy - yeah, Randy is a better version of Holden, too. Glad it's not just my imagination w Simon/Paula. Not sure about the 'dogpound' though ... Looking forward to reading your version.

Audrey - I know - and I DO have tomorrow free and childless ... it could be the day to start.

You can email me at

nick cetacean said...

oh my god, they made a movie of Sohpie's Choice? Holy cow, just reading the para in the novel where Sophie makes her choice cracked me up (in a crying way, not a laughing way obviously).

I do *not* need to see it on the TV...

genevieve said...

Your mother must have been very proud of you, Ariel. What a great story - I didn't think silly people like that were still around.
You're not a sook - Sophie's Choice is a tough film, a career maker, but a tough one all the same. (Saving up the second series of LMW - so didn't read those bits...)