In With The Old (TV)

New Year, Old You and Happy New Year to you all.

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Happy New Year, dahlings.

Being poorly is pretty crap. Being ill over Christmas and New Year is downright shitty. You might think that you could get on with some writing – but no. When the head is full of flu and you ache from top to toe, there’s nothing for it but sleeping and mindless TV consumption.

Then I discovered Talking Pictures TV – (sorry folks, available only in the UK as far as I know) – if you’re a lover of old movies, this is the place for you.

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One of the very first TVs. 

Could there be anything finer than settling down with a cuppa and some ginger nuts to enjoy a golden oldie? I think not.

It really is like stepping back in time, and I have loved and am loving every minute of it. Remember the days when producers told stories? When men were gentlemen and women were ladies? When kids would run away from a copper? It’s all here on Talking Pictures folks – in black and white primarily.

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Saying goodbye to a lover… the British way.

Admittedly things move a lot slower than today’s films. Yesterday, we watched The Lady Vanishes (1938) with Margaret Lockwood and Michael Redgrave. There is a hilarious moment when the two of them are fighting one of the ‘bad guys’ in the baggage carriage. The men tussle and wrestle to the ground, whereupon she jumps on top and gets an elbow in the face for her troubles. The fighting is what I would call realistic. In today’s films it seems like everyone can do martial arts, or at least fight semi-professionally – back in the old days people looked like everyone else, a jumbly, awkward mess of thumps. What we Brits call scrapping.

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Crikey! I’ve been shot!

At some point, films morphed into action-packed, fast-paced, mile-a-minute assaults on the senses. Apparently audiences demand was for instantaneous gratification, move on to the next thing, and the next, quicker, faster – like NOW! Media students will be familiar with the Hypodermic Needle Theory – simply put, the audience is passive and communication goes one way, from the makers to the audience, and suggests that we all watch TV/films in the same way. Later came the Uses and Gratification Model; the audience seeks out what they want and can interact to a degree, to satisfy own personal wants.

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The height of technology in 1952 USA.

The films shown on Talking Picture TV, were all made during the era of the supposed Hypodermic Needle Model. In the late 1940’s not many people actually had TV’s in their homes, they went to the cinemas to watch films. (In 1950 only 9 percent of American households had a television set, in the UK it was less.) So going out to watch a film was a big deal. Now with the advent of DVD’s and online streaming audiences are going out less and the cinemas are struggling.

Talking Pictures TV takes us back to a slower time, when people said things like “What ho?” and “Terribly sorry” in RP – Received Pronunciation. When nurses and nuns were heroines, men wore suits, and everything was tickety-boo at the final scene.

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Talking Pictures TV? Oh, yes please darling.

So I invite you to join me this week for such treasures as Colonel March of Scotland Yard (about a stolen skull), Man in the Moon (finding the perfect man to send to the moon!) and The Monkey’s Paw (a wish granting artefact). Let the story unfold at a sedate pace, relax into nostalgia with your favourite tipple and a slice of tiffin.

Until next time, cheerio!

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Review – The Good Place – What the fork?!


Currently – On Netflix (UK)

Starring – Ted Danson, Kristen Bell

GenreFantasy Comedy

WriterMichael Schur.

Premiered – September 19, 2016, on NBC

**Spoiler Alert**

(Today I can at least promise none of my usual bad language!)

I’m late to the party again – I know! To be honest, I had avoided watching this show on Netflix as the accompanying promotional image looked, well, like another one of those slightly ‘kooky’, American woman things. It didn’t pique my interest enough.

Then I watched the first season. Then I watched the first season again with hubby in tow, and we completed the two seasons – watching two or three an evening.

A quick synopsis –

A young woman, Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up in the afterlife. She is informed by Michael, that this is The Good Place. It is a Heaven-like utopia, that he designed, in reward for her having lived a good life. Everyone here as done something amazing when they were alive. However, Eleanor realises that she was sent there by mistake and must find a way to keep her true, morally reprehensible past a secret. Enter Chidi – her carefully selected after-life soul mate, who was a moral philosophy professor when alive. Can Chidi help to improve Eleanor?

The Good Place is well-written entertainment, as well as being quite thought provoking – what better way to get people to consider the ethical and /or moral considerations of our actions, than through the use of humour?

The use of names is interesting –

Michael – means ‘who is God?’. Was also an archangel.

Chidi – means “God exists” in Igbo (West African)

Eleanor – meaning ‘light’, or ‘bright shining one’. (Latin)

Tahani – ‘congratulations’ or ‘best wishes’ in Arabic.

Jason – comes from the Greek for ‘healer’.

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“I came up with hundreds of plans in my life, and only one of them got me killed.” 

And although it is not necessary; I personally find the origins of names interesting, the selection of these names does add to the overall ‘plan’ of the writer and the show.

The humour arises from a number of contrivances:

Firstly, no-one can swear in The Good Place, so Eleanor’s profanities end up as, fork, shirt, dink, ash hole and motherforker.

Chidi is morally bound (by his own morals!) to assist Eleanor – regardless of how much she tries to take the easy route, and this causes him pain, “I’m getting a stomach ache. I’m in a perfect utopia, and I’m… I have a stomach ache. This is awful.

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“I don’t know what to do here. This is a mess, morally speaking. This is a putrid, disgusting bowl of ethical soup.”

Eleanor’s neighbour is a once wealthy, British socialite, who seems to be the only person with a dissimilar accent, “I also dabbled in some other professions. I was a model, a museum curator, an “It Girl,” and… oh, I was Baz Luhrmann’s muse for a while. That was quite fun.

So “Tahani” means “congratulations” in Arabic…

And then there is Janet. I have to say, Janet is my favourite character – she is a human shaped data base, “Not a girl.”. She works with Michael; the Architect, and is all-knowing, “Fun Fact: Columbus is in The Bad Place because of all the raping, slave-trade and genocide.

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“Hi there!”

But the real humour comes from the moral and ethical arguments put forward by the various characters and situations. We’re all pretty familiar with the ‘trolley/train problem‘, well imagine doing it for real! Who really does belong in ‘the good place’? Are our deeds counted and assessed by an all-knowing being? If you choose to ignore the ‘small voice’ (your conscience), are you going to the bad place? (Motherforker! That’s me done for!)

And then there’s Michael, he’s …

Nah, I’m going to let you watch it and decide for yourself whether you think The Good Place is good, or not?!

I’m giving The Good Place 4 stars

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