Category Archives: TV SHOWS

STAR TREK RE-VISITED


 

The one & only: Mr Spock

The one & only: Mr Spock

I know I’m way too old and sensible to be watching re-runs of Star Trek (Series 3) but I thought: why not? Just for fun while my eyes are playing up. (Recently I’ve had to curtail my reading – sigh).

So far I‘ve watched two episodes and I’m stunned at just how bad they are  – the plots are laughable; the acting is terrible; the dialogue is even worse; the make-up is truly dreadful; and the sets are visibly ply-wood. And yet, at the time, during the late 60s/mid-70s we watched eagerly, dying for the next episode.  If it’s proved one thing it’s that we’ve become so accustomed to very sophisticated special effects and techno wizardry, that the fore-runners in the genre  – by comparison 40 years on – come off a very poor tenth best. Sorry, Mr Spock, but logic tells me so.

I’ll probably watch a few more episodes. Because I’m an avid fan of The Big Bang Theory, which has constant erudite references to the series, I’ll press on, going where no man has gone before ….. wait for me, Sheldon Cooper!

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THE MORMONS & NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC CHANNEL


I have to confess I’m fascinated by the American Mormon polygamists. I read Carolyn Jessup’s  account of her escape from a fundamentalist sect – yuck. I read David Ebershoff’s third novel, The 19th Wife — Brigham Young’s history updated. Then I read Brady Udall’s entertaining novel The Lonely Polygamist and actually felt a spark of sympathy for the hapless man, whose unruly tribe of children rang rings round him. Literally. I watched  a season of the TV series Sister Wives about the Brown family with their poster boy dad, Kody Brown (nuff said) and now I’m watching National Geographic’s documentary series Meet the Polygamists, which chronicles the lives of fundamentalist Mormons living in a small, remote town in Utah. The desert scenery is spectacular, the town itself is uninspiring, and I notice nobody appears to do any *gardening – I suppose when you’re coping with meals and laundry for 22 people you don’t have the time for inessential extras. But a life without flowers has got to be a dreary existence, don’t you think?  However, apart from this minor quibble, the people involved appear to be genuinely devoted to their religious ideals, and there’s no abuse of women and under-age girls. The participants are at great pains to emphasise that their life style is a voluntary choice.  Hmm. No accounting for peoples’ notions.

*Since writing this post, I saw another episode which explained that the water supply for the town was tainted at source by minerals and unfit for drinking; all the water had to be imported from clean, safe sources elsewhere.

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HER FAVOURITE PERFUME IS BLEACH …


Last night I watched a British Reality TV Show, Obssessive Compulsive Cleaners, which left me slack jawed in amazement. Not so much at the awful disorder and filth, (I cut my TV Reality teeth on the USA series Compulsive Hoarders, so I’m hardened), but at the lunatic zeal of the Compulsive Cleaners. Surprisingly, not confined to women. One man frequently hoovers his mattress, in some cases, directly after intimate encounters, and complains that his obsession has ruined his love-life. No! – you don’t say? But I digress. I really wanted to tell you about the young woman, who is obsessed with germs and goes through two bottles of bleach PER DAY, plus significant numbers of sponges and heavy duty rubber gloves. She was immaculately made up & manicured, very fashion conscious, and she simply loves the smell of bleach. When the sting of bleach hits the air, then all’s right with her world. Compared to her I rate somewhere between an urban version of Typhoid Mary and the Black Death. So far as I’m concerned, you just can’t beat the pleasing odour of Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, and to hell with the germs!

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THE FAR FROZEN NORTH


Its winter in the Southern Hemisphere, but Cape Town’s Mediterranean climate provides a mild, wet winter which bears no relation whatsoever to what follows, which is a book review of an adventure in the far frozen North, plus my fond recollections of a TV series set in Alaska – Northern Exposure.

Call of the Wild – Guy Grieve

What a fascinating book. Author gets fed up with his job on The Scotsman newspaper. He has a bee in his bonnet and leaves his family (his wife – who deserves a medal; plus 4 year old Oscar, and baby Luke) and he goes to Alaska for a year, to the Wilderness, 90 miles from the Arctic Circle, builds a log cabin – with some help, but not a lot, from the locals; learns to mush a dog team; survives minus 60 degree temps, cold, bears, injuries, loneliness, near starvation and above all – the cold, the terrain and hungry bears. Although there were lyrical passages about dog-sledding through the winter woods, living in a windowless, dark log cabin which was frozen INSIDE, damp and dripping, must have been more than tough. And he progressed from a dog-hater to dog-lover, due to the interaction with Frizzy – his companion, guardian, and helper. A chapter heading said “Dogs are the only animals to voluntarily befriend man”. His wilderness year ends, and he goes home to the Isle of Mull, and can’t really explain why he did it. Why do people do these extreme things? He hated office work and city life and said “there has to be more to life than this, etc”. We’ve all felt this. He seemed to need a challenge, and he sure got one.

Recalling this book brings me to the re-runs of the cult series Northern Exposure, first aired on CBS in 1990 and ended in 1995. I watched the original series, and now years later am enchanted all over again by the tales of life in Cicely, a tiny (fictional) town in Alaska, peopled with a cast of quirky characters. There’s Dr Joel Fleischmann, your stereotypical nice Jewish boy, who takes the job of town medic to repay his student loan to the state of Alaska, and finds life in the far frozen north very different to his familiar streets of New York. His surgery assistant is the taciturn, stocky Tlingit Indian, Marilyn Whirlwind, who hardly ever speaks and has a fluid approach to surgery hours and her duties. She appears to spend most of her time slowly knitting mysterious striped garments. There’s Chris, an ex-convict who’s starting life anew in Alaska, working at the local radio station, reading Whitman’s poetry over the air, reflecting on life and philosophy over the airwaves, in between community notice for lost dogs, snowmobiles for sale and local news items. I particularly enjoy Ruth-Anne, the elderly owner of Cicely’s one and only general store that stocks everything from fishing tackle to tampons and anything you care to name in between. My childhood contained shops like this, packed solidly with a wild miscellany of merchandise. Another of my favourite characters is the adolescent moose that wanders languidly down the street in the opening title sequence, accompanied by jaunty vaguely Cajun accordion music playing in the background. For me, part of the charm of Northern Exposure is the magnificent vista of mountains, lakes, snowfields, conifer and spruce trees; it’s worth watching the series for the scenery alone, never mind the highly entertaining shenanigans of the fictional characters. Apparently the series was filmed in the state of Washington, but to my African eye it looks like I thought Alaska might look. Give yourself a break and take a look : DStv on channel 122. Enjoy!

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