Monthly Archives: April 2012

Mork & Mindy

It was mainly curiosity that made me want to see what Mork & Mindy was like. I remember it used to be on television during our television-less days, which is as good an excuse as any for not having watched it at the time.

So, thirty years on, I have sampled the first two episodes, and, well…

Interesting, is one word. Typical for its period, is another. I don’t know if I would have liked it then. I have definitely outgrown that style of show by now, although I noticed the Resident IT Consultant looking relaxed and amused.

Come to think of it, he knows what it’s like to share your home with an alien.

Mork & Mindy

I used to enjoy Robin Williams on Sesame Street, but have had little patience with him in most other things. And I found him very tiresome as Mork. Amusingly agile, standing on his head, and with funny alien lines, observing us humans being absurd. But an annoying voice. And his outlandish clothes seem quite normal now.

The biggest surprise for me was Pam Dawber, who acted far better than I’d expected for an early effort like this. I might have imagined someone beautiful, but not much more. Loved her clothes, and then there’s the ‘best hair on television’ again.

And why do all homes in US sitcoms look the same? I’m assuming American homes aren’t styled like that, with large sofa in the centre, and door behind it through which all kinds of weird people come and go? Also guessing the pilot had the ten minutes with Fonzie to make people like it. Incomprehensible to me, who don’t know him except through hearsay.

I’d better stop now, hadn’t I? I liked Pam, and some of the humour was was fun.

One more thing. Mork’s hair grew alarmingly in the second episode, only to shrink back to what it was. Blooper, or is that alien hair? (Mine doesn’t do that.)

A bridge too far

That was a page 147 for me. Thank you (barely) and goodbye to The Bridge. Anything quite so unlikeable and horrible and pointless (and that’s just the third episode), leaving me not wanting to watch more, and with no special interest in how it ends, who did it, or anything like that.

The Bridge

I like Rohde. He is OK, for a Dane. I’ve trawled through the other characters, and can’t find anyone else who seems either real (in a fictional television kind of way) or in possession of any redeeming features. The fact that half of them are Swedes, and that they look and sound like people I might know and mix with, makes it worse. It’s easy enough for the British to snigger in the safety of this splendidly isolated island.

Sarah Lund’s awful boss made for an interesting rough sleeper, but as we left him between the two episodes I felt unwell. (OK, so I felt unwell before I started too, but this was really something.)

When the shoplifter said she came from Copenhagen; did you think she’s Danish? And now that it seems it’s all being done by someone with Asperger Syndrome, that’s fine, isn’t it? Takes one to catch one.

I would like to think that by next week it will be marvellously clear why it’s been awful so far, and The Bridge will morph into something of a masterpiece. Make me regret I gave up. But I doubt it.

The Bridge

To India

With that Prague win still smarting, I was amazed to find Son winning a pair of plane tickets recently. Now, those tickets were more my kind. They were to anywhere. Anywhere with bmi, that is, but still anywhere.

He needed to discard anywhere that he deemed too risky, war zones and the like. He also didn’t want to go anywhere boring in Europe (see!), so finally settled on Amritsar. Being past the baysitting stage I didn’t have much to say about it, and I wasn’t in the running as travel companion, or anything.

Luckily he and Dodo are just back from their Indian adventure. The tickets might have been free, but Son is a true son of mine, so he has been shopping. He is now almost better at shopping than I am. And they travelled within India. A lot.

Chapslee

But on the whole I am glad this win didn’t fizzle out into nothingness. If it wasn’t for the fact that it is so far away, I wouldn’t mind going to stay with the maharaja’s grandson, either. Below is a television programme featuring not just the maharaja’s house in Shimla, but also a lot of trains. That’s another thing we like as much as shopping. Trains.

And I got to do a (possibly very boring for others) series on Indian books over on Bookwitch. That was fun, too.

Trying not to be too jealous over the food they’ve eaten, while rejoicing over my gift of Darjeeling First Flush Moonbeam something or other tea.

A Praguematic overture

I am a witch. This is quite important to keep in mind when reading the following.

Bridgewater Hall

We never used to go to Hallé concerts when Offspring were very young, but on realising friends took their girls to concerts I decided to try it with Son, when he was about ten. I picked a light type of subscription, for the Hallé Pops, and the Resident IT Consultant and I took it in turns to take Son. It went well and he really enjoyed the concerts.

In Son’s first term at Secondary school he received an invitation to a birthday party from a boy I’d never heard of until that moment. It was for Concert Night. Son surprised me by saying he wanted to go to the party instead… The Resident IT Consultant was needed to chauffeur him there, which left me, and a very young Daughter to go to the Bridgewater Hall. But it was worth a try, and she was so excited by the whole idea.

It was a Hallé raffle night, which I knew since it had been announced the previous time. I also knew I wasn’t buying a raffle ticket at a cost of £5. But as we arrived up at Circle level, there was a nice young man waving tickets at us and I hauled out my fiver while saying ‘but I don’t want to go to Prague.’ (That was the prize. Two plane tickets to Prague. And back.)

Throughout the concert I felt increasingly bad, and when the time for the draw came at the end, I just wanted to leave. I knew we were going to win. Carl Davis was conductor that night, and he was going to fish out the winning ticket. He put his hand in the hat (cake tin?), and I froze with fear.

‘Let’s have a drumroll first’ he said, pulling his hand out again. We had the drumroll. Hand back in. Winning ticket came out. Mr Davis took an age to read the number out (which I have long forgotten) and longer still to determine what to call the colour of the ticket. It was some kind of green. So was ours. Right number, too. Daughter whooped.

We were up in Circle, as I said. It took us forever to get down to the main foyer, where the rafflers waited anxiously by the door, hoping the winner would eventually turn up. I marched up to them and asked what sort of green they were wanting. It was our kind.

They were very happy to have their winner, and then they made us queue jump the autograph queue so that we could obtain Mr Davis’s scribble on our programme.

After which we went home, Daughter feeling more than satisfied with her Hallé debut. (She’s the winner in our family. It was all her fault for coming.)

But I did mean it. I didn’t want to go to Prague. Nothing wrong with Prague, I’m sure. I hoped the tickets were business class, which could be exchanged for four economy tickets, but it turned out they weren’t and couldn’t. So what with the cost of potentially buying two more tickets (don’t ask about ‘babysitting’), paying for hotel and meals (and not very veggie ones, I suspect), we came to the conclusion it couldn’t be done.

That’s why we never went to Prague.

And I still wonder how I could be so certain from the moment I said what I said to the raffle ticket seller.

Bron – The Bridge – Broen

The Bridge

I apologise for my fellow country-people. I don’t know what got into them. There is no way you can have another Lisbeth Salander, even if you make her into a police detective. And if you do, she’d need to be slightly less aspie (she wouldn’t have got to where Saga is if she was this weird), or you could have had someone older and uglier. That might have worked.

But, it was fun. Sort of. When I stopped cringing.

Are you foreigners managing to keep track of which country they were in? Are the landmarks clear enough? I’m afraid the Resident IT Consultant got his Malmö mixed up with his København at one point.

And it might matter if you can tell what nationality people are. The Swedish heart patient’s wife is Danish. If that’s relevant, I don’t know.

The zigzag man makes my skin crawl. And how I wanted that bomb to go off!

The Bridge

Have no idea what the Danish accents say about people. Needless to say Malmö is as ever populated by people from that place further north. Lowlife journalist is more of a southerner, but tries to pretend he isn’t.

Fairly sure it wasn’t the library charges that’s behind all this.

Shiver me timbers?

‘Do you mean to tell me you have made it all the way here (Manchester airport railway station) from suburbia (my home station within Greater Manchester) without a ticket, and now you want to buy one?’ Yes, that was what I wanted, despite the incredulous tone (I’m being polite here) of the member of staff at the airport. ‘Why?’ he asked. I replied something along the lines of it being an offence to travel without a ticket. He sold me a ticket, while shaking his head in disbelief over my stupidity.

My ‘fare dodging’ doesn’t end there. I gave up volunteering to buy tickets on the train after a guard got annoyed with me for asking him to sell me one (before he was ready for it!). So with that attitude from rail staff, I only buy when the ticket office is open, or the guard is volunteering to take my money, or it is easy to get to some kind of ticket sales at my destination. I reckon any fares not paid for, roughly correspond to the times when I have been overcharged. (Yes, I am thinking of you, the vicious female guard on the East Midland train. And a few others. But you stand out in my memory.)

So, always having been scrupulously keen on paying my dues, I have relaxed slightly. But I still want to pay. It’s just that sometimes the payees are not clued up to what customers want.

As I was saying only the other day, we are many who want products and are willing to pay for them. Clothes for fat people will continue being a problem, because they don’t exist (in any great numbers). But music and films and television programmes have been made. They are just not available to all prospective customers.

I wouldn’t dream of stealing/downloading/or whatever else you want to call it, if things were there to be bought, irrespective of where I live. In fact, I’m so old that I haven’t quite got the hang of this thing about music being downloaded illegally, thereby removing income opportunities from the musicians. I buy a CD when I want music.

And I would love to buy certain old films on DVD, were it not for the fact that no one has deemed these old things worthy of DVD-ness, so there is none to buy. Younger people have hinted that you can download such items on the internet. Is that really stealing? When you want to buy, but can’t? If the elderly film in question had been shown on television, I could easily have recorded it. For free.

The same goes for the television series that are first shown in their country of origin. And only there. So, others can’t watch – yet – because they are in the wrong place. They are not even necessarily of the wrong nationality, just not in the country where the programme was made. People can wait and hope it will come to their part of the world. Often it does. Often after a long wait. Sometimes not at all.

You can buy the DVD, eventually. But possibly only the wrong region DVD. Clearly people must be punished for being in the wrong place with the wrong equipment. Except, there could be more money for those who made it, if they weren’t so blinkered.

Those in the ‘right’ country can record the programme and send it to friends in the wrong country. I don’t know if that’s illegal, if they don’t do it for money. How much more convenient to download. And how much more legal and pleasant for everyone if payment for this was accepted. You can often buy/download already broadcast episodes on amazon, without waiting for the season to end and the subsequent DVD. As long as you live in the right country.

If something is eventually going to end up ‘everywhere,’ why not do it all at the same time, everywhere? And if it isn’t destined for all corners of the world, why not?

I’ve been permitted to ‘like’ a popular American television series on Facebook, despite living in the wrong part of the world. However, when they post clips to whet fans’ appetites for the next episode or to offer cast interviews, you soon find out you’re a second class fan.

Take YouTube, where they keep removing stuff all the time. I wouldn’t dream of using it to replace music I could buy. But when searching for obscure things it’s quite handy. And it’s excellent for ‘illustrating’ blog posts about all manner of topics. Except as soon as a video is removed, my search is on for a replacement.

Piracy isn’t all about disreputable people wanting to cheat. It’s about fans who care tremendously about something they can’t get hold of ‘legally.’ Give us the goods, and we’ll give you the money!

NCIS – Rekindled

Yes. This was better! It’s looking more and more like it’s down to the scriptwriters, whether or not NCIS is any good. It makes sense. What doesn’t make sense is letting people loose on scripts that they then actually make into real episodes when they are not quite up to it. Or has whoever decides these things – Shane Brennan? – given up on quality control?

Boom

You can’t fool long term fans. We love, and we love a lot, but there are limits. The Missionary Position was dreadful in more ways than the title, and written by a newbie. I’m unusual in that I don’t object to Gibbs having a love interest, and I found Dr Ryan a pretty good match the first time she turned up. But what’s this ridiculous rubbish? Silly woman and uncharacteristically soppy/sloppy Gibbs.

DiNozzo and Jason

It was serious DiNozzo this time. Quite an interesting look at his early past, and quite a young looking young DiNozzo, too. ‘He made a difference.’ And the mention of a female lead us all astray, because we know our Tony, or think we do. ‘Practical playboy. Crime scene chic!’ They were nice boots.

According to Pauley Perrette on Twitter we need to pay attention through all last four episodes of season nine. Well, I did my best. The fire theme seems to continue at least one more week. So far it doesn’t strike me as interesting enough for a finale, but please surprise me! I don’t mind in the least to be proven wrong.

Rekindled. Yes, that works in more ways than one, and describes my hopes for the next three episodes as well. Fanime. Or ‘fanimej’ as we Swedes say.

Gibbs

(Photos © CBS)

Younger, thinner and whiter money

If I had a business – which I don’t – I would prefer to earn less money, as long as I could be sure that my income came primarily from young people, thin people and, … actually, I daren’t say anything about skin colour here.

Because I don’t mean what I just said. I’d be daft if I’d rather sell fewer products by limiting who I sold to. We are advertised at all the time. On television, in the cinema, on the sides of buses. And in case I’d missed something, people phone me up to try and relieve me of my money. So I’d say businesses are often in business to make money.

Except those who don’t seem to be, and I’m not thinking of ‘exclusive’ designer stuff which designers occasionally prefer only certain types of customers to buy.

I’m thinking cinemas and film makers. Isn’t it absolutely amazingly strange and weird and downright abnormal that older people want to watch films? They even want to do so in cinemas! It’s so odd and unthinkable, that when films for the 40+ age group are on offer they are generally predicted not to do well.

I just don’t get it. If Mamma Mia! and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel are popular with the ‘wrong’ kind of customer, why not make more films like them? Why keep the oldies in their homes and pass up on those extra millions (trillions?) of pounds and dollars?

Cinemas. Don’t get me started. Our local one has almost stopped frisking customers who just might have something edible on them, not bought at the cinema. Setting aside the perfectly natural wish to avoid spending the kind of money on popcorn that the cinema charges, and assuming I’d be happy to pay £5 for a snack; why would I? When they only offer rubbish that might appeal to younger audiences, but not to me. Reasonable tea (or coffee, for the coffee drinkers) plus something nice to have with it. Scone. Croissant. Cake. Not rubbery sweets or Pringles.

Take clothes. Except it can be hard, when they don’t stock, or even make, them in your (larger) size. I have lost count of the perfectly nice and normal and attractive garments I haven’t bought. You go into shops; normal high street ones, and come out empty-handed. Or perhaps clutching a bag containing whatever inferior thing they had in your size, and you bought it because you had to have something. Not through greed, but because you needed to cover that unattractive body of yours.

Or take catalogues. 100 pages of women’s wear. ‘Normal’ sizes. And five pages of their branded ‘enormous’ collection. Uglier than the rest, as well as offering hardly any choice.

Wouldn’t that clothes company have wanted my money, too? Rather than doing their stern parental stuff and punishing me? Do they not realise that when I walk out of the shop or close the catalogue without ordering anything, that I have become a non-customer?

It seems something similar happened 80 or 90 years ago when American record companies suddenly discovered that black people bought their records when the music they offered was something they liked. The difference appears to be that they actually went on to make more records for this new audience. They just hadn’t realised before that black people also listen to music and might have the money to buy records.

It’s the girls they want

So, how often do people search for Chris O’Donnell? Here, not much at all. I won’t go so far as to say never, because that would probably be a lie. But I’m willing to bet that the bosses at CBS rate him higher than the ‘girls’ on NCIS: Los Angeles. I also imagine they pay him more.

CultureWitch searches

Perhaps it’s time they realised how popular the ladies are. From L A most of my visitors want Renée Felice Smith. A few are after Daniela Ruah and occasionally it’s Linda Hunt they want to read about.

Sofie Gråbøl pops up occasionally and recently I’ve had some interest in Kate O’Mara, so presumably she’s ‘up to something.’

But for the most part my searches want Pam Dawber, with and without husband Mark Harmon. (Now CBS, him you can pay. People are always wanting him. Mark can almost be an honorary female on here.) They look for Pauley Perrette and her alter ego Abby. They look for her tattoos.

OK, I don’t know how much money Pam Dawber makes these days. Once, I’m certain she made more than her groom-to-be. I suspect that for all her fan following Pauley earns less than the men on NCIS do. And isn’t it interesting how few blog visitors look for Cote de Pablo?

Nell

As I’ve mentioned once or twice, I am getting impatient with Callen. Maybe I’m not the only one? They like showing off the pretty faces of Renée and Daniela, and don’t mind letting their characters get the better of the male characters. But do they rate them?

I remember the furore when it was discovered that the male presenters on Blue Peter were better paid than the female ones. It’s very hard justifying more money for a man jumping out of a plane than a woman doing the same. The effort of transforming an empty bottle of washing-up liquid can’t vary all that much between the sexes.

There is just that automatic assumption that men need more money. Are more deserving.

But I happened to start thinking about babies the other day. It’s great with a successful show on television. We fans like them. Another season – or five – is good news. The actresses have the advantage of a ‘secure’ job and the money – even for women – can’t be bad. But what about having babies? The first thing Sasha Alexander did when Kate was killed off was to get pregnant. Maybe Ziva and Abby and Nell and Kensi don’t want to be mothers. How would you choose? Leave a good series and leave the fans screaming, or go without children?

At least pay them more! And stop and think about how they might actually be more popular than Callen.

Celebrities

I’ve been puzzled by the news that paparazzi pay for information about famous people when they fly. It’s clearly not right, although you can’t blame people for trying.

Martin Bell

What surprises me is who they are interested in. I don’t recognise all that many of them, and have heard of some but by no means everyone.

The photos are often bad, and I fail to see why I’d want to see A Celebrity march quickly through Heathrow, or wherever.

And if I did, I’d want better pictures. And I’d want them to be of interesting people.

(No former BBC ex-MPs were harmed in the making of this blog post. Martin Bell posed willingly. At least, I think he did.)