It was Christmas and not a mouse was stirring'n'all that in the blogosphere (or maybe it was just her that wasn't), so she decided to compose a meme. She had, after all, speculated a while back about taking on a new occupation as a meme-maker (who does make all these memes, anyway?) So she decided to make a television meme.
Why a television meme? There have already been memes that ask questions about TV after all.
Well, apart from the fact that it was easy to scam questions from the recent book meme, it's because I've been watching a lot of TV lately. So many people have left town and there are so very few things on in the evenings that I've just allowed the growing habit of watching old TV series on DVD to blow out really. It seems like a very pleasant way to end off the year, before the rush of Christmas-on-the-East-Coast starts.
And that's another interesting thing -- why is it so satisfying to watch TV series in big chunks over a short period of time, as it is on DVD these days? Rather than the episode a week business or a TV mini-series over a few nights. Apart from the matter of convenience, I suspect it's something to do with the increasingly filmic nature of much TV. On the other hand, I rarely get a film out from the DVD shop these days. I head straight for the TV section. Why is that, apart from missing so much TV out here? There is something comforting about the episodic nature of a lot of TV, as opposed to the typical three-act film structure (not that it isn't used in some TV series). It's also a form that's as old as Homer, Chaucer, and other tellers of long, circuitous epic narratives. (Is the reason as banal as 'life's like that?' as Alan Ball wants us to believe about Six Feet Under.)
The other thing I've been thinking about is how, having been born into the TV era, different programs come to mark out different phases of your life, in the way that music or even pets do.
As usual, this could be highly embarrassing, revealing one's uncooler self. (As if you haven't already - Ed.)
TV meme follows....I had ideas for another meme, but I tied myself in knots over intellectual property rights thinking about it (I've been working in Abl affairs for too long, where such things are a constant consideration). But maybe next year...
1. Earliest remembered television?
The Apollo landing on the moon.
That was huge (I meant the jpeg file). I remember going to a local church hall (the Congregationalists?) opposite a corner shop and being crammed somewhere down the back to watch the lunar landing being channelled on a TV screen.
My memory is that I was four at the time, but Wikipedia says younger: 20 July, 1969 (so actually three). I was obsessed with the lunar landings for some time after this, collecting the glossy photo supplements from the newspapers. I wish I'd hung on to them.
We got a black and white TV some time after this, maybe when I was properly four. We held on to it for a long time, because my parents felt it was decadent to buy a colour set while the b&w still had life in it. Consequently, many of my TV memories are rather atmospherically in b&w.
It strikes me that some bloggers won't remember a pre-television era or a time when people didn't have TVs in their house. That seems pretty shocking.
2. TV series you would want on a desert island
That has to be Six Feet Under. (I'm watching it in the desert, at least.) Ok, you know I'm going to rave about this program, so i might as well get it off my chest now.
I liked the last series...as much as you can like the finale of a series you love. At least it didn't go Distinctly Down Hill, like most Australian series before they axe them. But because I guessed that Nate was going to die (yes, the only prediction of mine to come true), it sort of took the edge off things, tho I wasn't expecting it in the third last episode. One of the things I really liked about how they showed the lead-up to his death, with Nate at his tooliest. Because that's so often how things happen with death -- you're caught out with ambivalent feelings about the person who died.
There were actually some huge resonances between my family's life and the end of 6FU, which I don't care to go in to here, tho they really got some things right in a big way, as far as I was concerned. One of these was Claire driving off at the end through the desert, tho I'm not as keen as everyone else seems to have been about the whole sequence that follows where they foreshadow everyone's death (it got a bit too Addam's Family and 'more is less' for my tastes). I thought they could have just left it with Claire driving off.
I liked how most of the characters developed through the series, particularly Claire whom I didn't like much at first, but ended up thinking she was the sanest. It seemed wholly appropriate to end the series with her arc, the artist's trajectory. All the women in this show were amazing, but I thought Lauren Ambrose did a great job, for such a young woman. Here's a great Claire moment:
One little criticism of 6FU -- they don't often show the deaths of old people. These must surely make up the bulk of a funeral home's business. But I guess that wouldn't contribute much to the 'arbitrariness of death' theme.
Anyway, I'm resisting the urge to say I would take 6FU on a desert island because 'it's about life' -- being so arbitrary'n'all -- and 'everything ends', etc. But yes, I could watch it over and over again. (It's really hard not just to come up the most recent programs you've seen with this meme.)
I might also want to take with me some of those Gen-X shared household programs -- like This Life and the first couple of seasons of The Secret Life of Us, maybe Love My Way. Not that they're great TV so much as they're suitably more-ish, pulp of the mind type watching. S&TC could also go in this category.
3. TV that made you laugh
I think The Young Ones stands out here as a fantabulous classic, quite possibly for me because I did more than enough time in shared households.
I was brought up with the notion that British comedies are the best and that Americans had no sense of humour so they had to fall back on throwing cream cakes at each other or yelling a lot (a la I Love Lucy). The first comedies I remember watching were Some Mothers Do 'Ave 'Em and Are You Being Served? And then there was The Goodies. And Get Smart (oops, did I mention an American series?)
I have a sneaking liking for PC-ironising humour like Little Britain and We Can Be Heroes. Chris Lilley's Ja'mie and Ricky Woo are a positive gift to anyone working in the social justice industry (yes, it's an industry).
4. TV that made you cry
I cried watching a recent documentary on Van Nyugen's execution. A mother's grief -- that's pretty hard to take.
I was expecting maybe to cry at the end of 6FU because a friend told me she did. But it didn't happen for me, though I came close the second time round I watched it.
5. TV crap that you enjoy
Once again, the possible list seems endless. But Idol's pretty hard to beat. I also enjoy medical procedural dramas: pathetic but true.
And I love the special features about TV series on their DVD versions. Can't get enough of them, especially hearing Alan Ball say that he's a 'Booo-dist.' When are those Californians ever going to learn how to pronounce 'Buddha' properly? And Rachel Griffiths always seems like she's in love with Peter Krause: 'I've been married to him longer than my real husband!' etc.
6. TV you'll never forget.
That has to be Danger UXB which I first saw when I was thirteen. I feel a bit embarrassed nominating what's essentially an action-thriller type series (tho more in the manner of Spooks than say, The Avengers) but most of the acting, scripting and historical research is spot on. The ensemble acting is particularly fine: characters that could simply have been types were highly credible.
This show was really my first introduction to adult drama (I don't count costume dramas or BBC book-adaptations as adult) and the idea that TV (specifically British realism) could be so compelling as to convince you it was real or had something to say about life. At the same time, my English teacher introduced us to 'realism' at school as some kind of supreme literary modality...something which had me puzzled for most of junior high school, as I knew literature couldn't really be a 'slice of life' or it would be dead boring and that it was, in fact, quite selective.
7. Favourite TV adaptation.
I put 'favourite' here rather than 'best', because I'm not sure that Brideshead Revisited is the best TV adaptation of a book ever, partly because of its pedantic faithfulness to the original text (much of which, I understand, grew out of a television strike when the cast and crew didn't have anything to do except expand on the original). It's interesting watching Brideshead in conjunction with HBO dramas, which are so sharply edited and scripted -- the original text dominates in BR to an extent I don't think would be permissable these days.
Anyway, Brideshead is great for a good old wallow in the cesspool of repressed human emotion...and also fading upper class opulence. Take a look at the Brideshead out-takes if you haven't seen them already -- highly amusing.
I was also highly impressed with The Singing Detective when I saw it was a teenager, as a TV series about a writer and a genre (Philip Marlowe/hard-boiled detective fiction), particularly because of its use of interwoven narratives and music. But I've found it quite difficult to watch since then.
I thought of putting a 'Least favourite TV adaptation' question in this meme -- in which case I would be highly tempted to put down the second Pride and Prejudice TV adaptation -- yes, that's right, the one that everyone loves, because Andrew Davies bowdlerised the text so much. As teenagers, we didn't have any problem with the Fay Weldon script of the 1979(?) version, and her use of language from the original -- 'odious', 'tolerable', etc. (Also, Carolyn Steadman's performance as Mrs Bennet is positively gruesome in the '90s version. Why not just get a female impersonator to play the part?)
7. Favourite nerdish program
Dr Who wins hands down here. Especially the new version, tho I haven't seen a lot of it, due to the Saturday timeslot. (Those with kids seem to have been watching it regularly.)
8. One TV program you are currently watching
The Sopranos. Running out of words here, I should be doing some work...but yes, I'm enjoying it, as I said before, tho not as much as 6FU. James Gandolfini's performance is positively luminous. I also like the Jennifer Melfi character, probably because she reminds me of self, getting into situation with strange person and trying to persevere with calm, logical questions nevertheless.
9. One TV show/series you have been meaning to watch
Desperate Housewives. Ever since Peter Craven gave it a positive wrap somewhere, I've been curious.
10. Now tag five people: That's how memes usually end. If you feel like doing this one too, you're welcome. Don't worry about 'tag'. And 'happy Christmas', if you got this far and I don't get round to saying it again in this blog.
(I'm typing all this with a large tortoiseshell on my lap, frequently saying, 'you have to learn to stop being such a pest!')