Thursday, May 22, 2008

But There's One Thing Really Mystifying...

Wonderfalls. I'd forgotten how great this show was.

Last night when I got home from work, and my wife was still traversing the horror highway home, I lay on the couch with the Wonderdog and watched an episode of this.

Originally I bought this series on the basis of the Andy Partridge involvement. The fine people on Chalkhills (the XTC website) had recommended this since Swindon's finest had written and performed the theme song. I loved it when I first watched it two years ago, but have somehow neglected it since then.

Of course, I've never seen it aired on Australian TV (it may have been on pay TV), and it only lasted the one season in the US, but this is a show that should have been on primetime and run for several seasons.

I've pretty much stopped watching TV, although I don't mind the occasional foray into Gordon Ramsey land. The Nine Network, which has pretty much ruled the airwaves since I was a child and always seemed the most professional of the broadcasters, now wears a tarnished crown. They were even reduced to airing Gordon Ramsey three nights a week - a little too much for even the most dedicated fan. After all, the show is very formulaic and every episode is pretty much the same.

Nine has developed a tendency to buy great shows and then not broadcast them. Even when they do, the shows are usually put on quite late in the evening (way past my bedtime) and then are completely disposable. They edit and chop them to make them fit and then will drop them for a few weeks or postpone the programmed time for a few hours to make way for some sports program that must be shown right now. "Live Poker championships from the Northcote RSL, featuring Shane Warne."

Must see TV, indeed.

And don't even get me started on Underbelly. With all that hype and publicity I really had hoped for a quality show that would be similar to The Sopranos, but have a solid basis in fact. Instead it was poorly written with cardboard, stereotypical characters. The dialogue was laughable at time with cliches I wouldn't expect from my Year 9 writing class and acting that was average at best. And yet the newspapers wrote about Underbelly in glowing terms. I have no idea what the reviewers and critics were watching. It certainly wasn't the same show that I saw.

Watch the weakest of any Sopranos episode and it blows Underbelly out of the water.

So I've started buying DVDs and watching the programs complete, in the correct order and at a reasonable hour. I refused to watch a single episode of The Sopranos final season until it was available on DVD. And I was rather pleased with myself that I was able to avoid any spoilers before viewing it.

I've watched Six Feet Under, West Wing, Buffy, Angel, Firefly and Deadwood the same way. I've started watching Dexter, Sports Night and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip as well. Old favourites such as Northern Exposure, Twin Peaks, Porridge and Goodnight Sweetheart are also on heavy rotation, while any 'reality' program just gets ignored.

The quality is out there but TV delights in mediocrity. The networks target the lowest common denominator.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Fleeting Fame.

I've been told I was mentioned in Wikipedia.

My students informed me that for a day or so my name was included in the entry for one of the texts we have studied this year.

After the usual information about the book, the author and the narrative, I was mentioned by name and stated that I "said the book is crap."

It's true.

It is.

Thanks to the anonymous student that mentioned me.

And raspberries to the censor who deleted me.

Pulp Culture?

I read that Kylie Minogue received a cultural award from the French government. Hmmmm.

We're always being told how cultured the French are, with their art, cafes, wines and so on but now I find myself questioning this longheld belief. No offence, Kylie, but your music is just pop, and very average pop at that.

I love pop music - I have loads of it in my collection and I'll even admit to having a guilty pleasure or two, but a cultural award for "I Should Be So Lucky"? Full credit to Kylie, though. She's done very well for someone with limited acting or singing abilities.

In a perfect world Jeff Tweedy of Wilco, or Terry Scott Taylor from Daniel Amos, or Andy Partridge of XTC would be millionaires and revered throughout the world. Kylie would be background music in elevators and shopping centres while the world would enjoy the art of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, Apple Venus and Mr. Buechner's Dream.

Kylie lived the high life all over the world, while Andy, Dave and Colin from XTC were taking part time jobs in order to pay the bills between album releases. From what I understand most of the guys in Daniel Amos have full time jobs. The coolest unknown band in the world? Maybe - especially when you can claim that your guitar player is a rocket scientist at NASA.

Greg: What are you doing this week?Terry: Oh, I'll fiddle with my guitars, write a couple of songs. Produce some demos for a new band I know. You?

Greg: The usual. Pushing satellites around, driving remote vehicles all over Mars and going down to the basement to check out the moonrocks and a couple of aliens we had transferred over from Area 51.


Terry: Ok, see you next week at rehearsal.
Oh well, I suppose true artists must suffer for their cause, and I know that quality does not equal popularity.

But in a perfect world Terry and Andy would collaborate to make the world's most perfect album. The Beatles would have performed once more in the late 70s so that I could have seen them at least once. Gene Eugene would resurrect and Adam Again would appear at a festival with XTC, Daniel Amos, The Swirling Eddies, Lost Dogs and The 77s in Melbourne so I could finally see some of these bands.

Philip K. Dick would have written a few more books, and I would be a talented and successful writer living the country life beyond the suburbs.

And Kylie Minogue would be an unknown sales assistant in a department store in Melbourne.