Wednesday, May 21, 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.

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