Posts Tagged ‘tv’

[This is Part The Sixth, click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, Part The Third, Part The Fourth, Part The Fifth, and the extra post I did about the Who theme]

And here we are. At long last, after six weeks, the sixth and final part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical order.

Why am I doing it? Well, I laid out in detail way back in the very first part of this mini-run, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because I don’t have one answer. I don’t think I’ve ever just had one answer. Or ten. Or twenty. There are dozens I like, for many various and very different reasons.

Look, I tried to narrow it down, honestly. But I didn’t try that hard, because I didn’t really feel obliged to.

So, after five lots of ten tv themes in previous weeks (see above), here are the final ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so.

And as with previous weeks, I suspect there’ll be some that won’t surprise you, hope that there are possibly one or two that might… and, as always, maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…


Theme 51: Ski Sunday

Another sports one, and another BBC sports one that hasn’t essentiaslly changed in decades, because it works and it’s become irrevocably linked with slaloms and people shooting down mountains at speeds that are far too fast for anyone entirely sane to contemplate.


Theme 52: Space: 1999

Given when this was written for the show, it’s astonishing to me that it still works and could easily be a theme tune from a more recent show. Clever editing on the titles, and especially the change for every episode to include the ‘this episode’ makes this one definitely one of my favourites. (And, amusingly, last week, I heard the opening sting used as someone’s text message tone not that long ago. As with Catweazle, there was an immediate grin of memory from all of us, of a certain age, present.)


Theme 53: St Elsewhere

e.r. before e.r. existed. A superb, clever show for 99.99% of its run; let’s not talk about that final episode, though, eh? But clever titles, a catchy fun tune.


Theme 54: Thunderbirds

I dunno what can possibly be said about this theme tune that hasn’t been said by others far more intelligent and wise than me. With the possible exception that only just now did I realise where Space: 1999 got the idea for the ‘this episode’ bit from. I mean, if you’re gonna steal, steal from yourselves. But yeah, a great theme tune that’s lasted fondly in everyone’s memories for all the right reasons.

Oh, but before we leave Thunderbirds entirely… you may have heard the <em>Thunderbirds </em> theme above and before, but never quite like this:


Theme 55: The Tomorrow People

One of the best kids’ sf shows around when I was growing up, and a classic theme, unsettling, weird, and designed to make you feel uncomfortable, a trick it achieves easily.


Theme 56: UFO

Another great show, another great theme. But every time I see the opening titles, it’s the “1980” that throws me. It’s ‘my’ “Blade Runner’s set in 2019”, if you get what I mean.


Theme 57: Van der Valk

This was everywhere when I was a kid. The theme tune hit the record charts and just refused to leave. I mean, I get why. And as the opening titles show, it’s a lovely tune to have a wander by. I mean, it’s no Shaft, but it’ll do.


Theme 58: Washington Behind Closed Doors

I really want to rewatch this show. Inspired by the Watergate scandal, and indeed based on a pretty good novel – The Company – by John Ehrlichman, one of the players in the whole clusterfuck, the opening titles, and especially the opening theme, is full of urgency and militarism and ‘official’ stuff. It’s great.


Theme 59: White Horses

Like Follyfoot in the third post in this run, this is from my childhood, and, like Follyfoot, to do with horses. But this is one of those series of shows that the BBC bought, dubbed, and then showed on a Saturday morning to kids who loved telly.

Like me.

For decades afterwards, I barely remembered the storyline, convinced that it was set at the Austrian Riding School. Nope, a quick look up destroyed that idea. It was set on the farm where the horses that went to the riding school were bred.

Anyway, the theme they used for foreign broadcast is one of those themes that sticks in your head, from the opening horns, to the gentle lyrics, sung by Irish singer Jackie Lee.


Theme 60: The Zoo Gang

Suitable that this is the final theme in the run, since it’s genuinely one of my favourites. Written by Paul McCartney and performed by Wings, its’ very much of its day – the 1970s – and just about perfect for the show.

The original book the show is based on (a series of short stories) is a lot ‘harder’ than the tv show, more brutal and the lead characters aren’t quite as… nice. But the basic plot is the same, and we’ll explained by the opening titles.



And that’s it.

Well, that was fun.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.



Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

[This is Part The Fifth, click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, Part The Third, Part The Fourth, and the extra post I did about the Who theme]

OK, time for the fifth and penultimate part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical ordert.

Why am I doing it? Well, I said in detail four weeks ago, in the first part of this thing, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because I don’t have one answer. I don’t even have ten. There are dozens I like, for various and different reasons.

Look, I tried to narrow it down, honestly.

But I couldn’t, and didn’t really want to. So, anyway, here are another ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so. And as with previous weeks, there’ll be some that won’t surprise you, possibly one or two that might… and, again, maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…

Theme 41: The New Avengers

There were a couple of versions of this opening titles sequence; one with no fancy graphics, and then this, which was to my mind by far the cleverest opening sequence The Avengers ever did in any incarnation. I like this one a lot.


Theme 42: News 24 Countdown

There’s no way I should like a News theme, particularly one that I often skip through when it’s pops up on telly. I just want the news, after all, not the preface.

But shorn of the actual news itself, I really like this as a theme. It’s clever and authoritative.

Ok, two bits of entirely unwarranted fun, since I’ve included the News 24 Countdown.

I arguably should have included this as an extra in the Doctor Who theme post… but better late than never…

And this… well, this is just sheer joy, and we need more sheer joy in life.


Theme 43: Pinky and the Brain

They redid the theme with new lyrics and new arrangements when the Animanicans returned last year. I prefer the original.


Theme 44: Pot Black

Pot Black was a knockout snooker thing, featuring, usually the top 16 players. It wasn’t a tour event, the winner got a trophy and nothing much else. And yet, it was required viewing when I was a kid if you liked snooker. Much more relaxed that tournament, this for the first time was people who were obviously for the most part friends playing each other. And you got to see them a bit relaxed. There’s no reason why they should have used George Botsford’s Black and White Rag, performed by Winifred Atwell, for Snooker but it bloody works perfectly, doesn’t it?

Theme 45: The Professionals

Once again, a show that had several theme tunes, but this one show where the transition fucked up. The first one – shown below, because I like the voiceover – had a voiceover. Then they switched to a new sequence, the one most people remember, that didn’t have a voiceover. And some idiot, when it went into syndication, just added the voiceover to the non-voiceover videos, and it’s over video that very much shouldn’t have a voiceover. So the voiceover makes no bloody sense at all on those episodes.


Anyway, here’s the original.


Theme 46: The Protectors

Perfectly edited video over a perfectly edited and arranged instrumental of The Avenues And Alleyways. (They used the full song as the closing credits.) just superb.


Theme 47: Question Time

There are so many versions of this theme tune, that I just chose one I like if for no reason other than it lasts longer than the ten seconds or so version that they started using a few years back.)


Theme 48: Rhoda

There’s a line in the opening introduction that I don’t believe a single Jewish person in their 20s didn’t recognise from their own mothers and their own life. And a superbly catchy theme tune.


Theme 49: The Saint

Absolutely perfect for the show, absolutely perfect for the graphics, absolutely perfectly catchy, and immediately identifiable. I like it.


Though, to be fair, the Return of the Saint was pretty good, and clever, as well.


Theme 50: Screen Test

This is one of those that I bet that maybe, maybe, only one of those reading this will remember. A quiz show for kids, I loved it. And the theme tune stuck in my head for decades afterwards.




OK, part the sixth – the final part – next week, when we cover from Ski Sunday through to The Zoo Gang.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.



Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

[This is Part The Fourth, click on the links for Part the First, Part the Second, Part The Third, and the extra post I did about the Who theme]

OK, time for the fourth part of this run through tv themes I like, in alphabetical order.

Why am I doing it? To be fair, if you’ve read this far, you probably know. But just in case you’re new to the blog… I laid it out in detail three weeks’ back in the first part of this thing, but honestly? It’s just a bit of fun, and a longer-than-strictly-necessary answer to the question:

‘What is your favourite tv theme?’

Because as I’ve shown thus far, I don’t have one answer. I don’t even have ten. There are dozens I like, for various and different reasons.

And, I tried to narrow it down, honestly. But I couldn’t, and with equal honesty, it’s fai to acknowledge that I didn’t really want to.

So, anyway, here are another ten themes I like from my iPhone’s playlist of 150 or so. And as with last week, there’ll maybe be some that won’t surprise you, possibly one or two that might… and, hopefully, maybe one or two you weren’t aware of, or had entirely forgotten.

Anyway, here we go…

Theme 31: Laverne and Shirley

I thoroughly enjoyed Happy Days as a kid bnut I was never its biggest fan. But the first time I saw Laverne and Shirley as characters, and then saw their own show, I abolsutely loved it. Everything about it, including the very weird opening to their theme. But while there was no-one on Happy Days that I would have liked to know, would have liked to have met…

…I very much would have liked to have known Laverne and Shirley as people, even though they probably wouldn’t have thought much of me, either at the time or now.


Theme 32: Law & Order

I’ve chosen one of the openings from later on in the run, mainly because I liked the ensemble cast the final few seasons.

But with the exception of the pilot (which kept the same theme but had different visuals) and it being a bit shorter than the first few seasons, this is pretty much how the titles were through the run.

Theme 33: Law & Order | UK

I like the “UK” version of the show and I really like the theme tune. Very different from the US parent, but I like it a lot.


Amusingly, someone created an US version with the UK cast, using SVU theme and graphics. I kind of like this as well, but it’s very… odd.

Theme 34: Lost In Space

One show where the first theme the show used wasn’t the one that it became known for. Great theme, catchy as hell.


Theme 35: MacGyver

Oh gods, this one’s good. Nothing wrong with this one at all, except these days you watch it and cannot believe his hairstyle… But yeah, the opening, the setup, the pay-off.

Just about perfect.


Theme 36: Magnum P.I.

Always on the list of cracking tv themes, usually next to the A-Team. At the time, I think the final quirky eye-brows bit added to it. These days, I don’t think any visuals would have hurt. Just spot on for the show it was opening.

The only strange thing about the titles that strikes me now is the lettering. It looks… odd, somehow. And I couldn’t tell you why. It just looks like it’s from a different show entirely.


Theme 37: Mike Hammer

A bluesy, messy, melancholic theme for a messy, melancholic, bluesy show. With the exception, possibly, of his appearance in the Bourne movie from a few years ago, Keach was better in this than in any other thing he did. And the theme tune did what it needed: set up the show you were about to watch.


Theme 38: Miss Marple

I think this is basically someoen taking the original background graphics and refining the lettering. Either way, the theme is once again just about perfect for Miss Marple. Very “English garden’ with just a hint of ‘isn’t everything just a bit too perfect?’ laced in.


Theme 39: Murder One

I’d never seen a show like Murder One before it screened; I don’t think I’ve seen one as good since. And the titles exemplified that. Original, clever, and you’re constantly off-balance. One of only two shows that – when it was on – I actively avoided reading anytghing vent tangentially related, just in case I stumbled across a spoiler. (The other was the first season of 24)


Theme 40: Nationwide

A magazine tv rfegional news programme in the UK when I was a kid. The theme tune was the best thing about it, and one I actively looked for when I discovered the website with thousands of themes.


OK, part the fifth next week, with another ten from The New Avengers through Screen Test.

See you tomorrow, with… the usual Saturday ‘something else’.



Fifty-seven more days. Fifty-seven more posts. One fifty-seventh birthday just had.

I’m trying something new with this run. I’ve signed up to, so if you fancy throwing me a couple of dollars every so often, to keep me in a caffeine-fuelled typing mood, feel free. I’m on

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting up from my fifty-seventh birthday on 17th August 2021. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here. (And you can see the posts in the run counting down to the birthday here.)

55 plus 19: Well.

Posted: 5 September 2019 in 55 plus, movies, television
Tags: , , ,

Most nights, before I head bedwards, I’ll stream MSNBC for a bit before bed.

Steve Kornacki – one of my favourite US commentators – was subbing for Chris Matthews last night on his show and attempted to explain to his audience what had been occurring in the UK yesterday.

He, and his guest, made a fairly good fist of it, but ultimately you can’t explain the unexplainable, or make sense of the inexplainable, any more than the current government, or its immediate predecessor, could or can make the impossible… well, possible.

To any US readers, confused by what’s going on in UK Parliament: if you think it’s merely maybe because you don’t understand British politics that you have no idea what the hell’s going on or what the hell’s going to happen…

…then let me earnestly assure you we Brits haven’t a clue what the hell’s going on, or what the hell’s going to happen, either.

So, rather than waffle on some more about it, which will only puzzle you, and infuriate me, let me do what I said I was going to do yesterday, but didn’t: talk about something else.

Also last night, Robin Ince commented that there was a David Jannsen movie on tv: Nowhere To Run. I’ve seen it before, and it’s an ok movie, so wasn’t in any hurry to rewatch it, but it did occur to me that Jannsen is one of the few actors that I’ve never seen a bad performance by him.

Even when he appeared in some frankly ropey stuff, some tv episodes which were broadcast to fill the gap in the series, or the occasional movie or tv miniseries that either he made for the money, or just wasn’t up to much, he was not only usually the best thing in it, but sometimes the only good actor in it.

I’m reminded of the frankly awful adaption of Irving Wallace’s novel The Word.

Now I liked, and like, Wallace as a writer. He wrote huge novels that I could lose myself in, and though a couple of the laters ones were a bit formulaic, he wrote page turners; at no point did I not want to know what happened next.

Indeed, as I’ve mentioned before, one of his earlier novels is my favourite ever novel: The Man, about a black man who becomes, through a series of catastrophic events, President of the United States… at the height of the civil rights movement.

But adaptations have rarely managed to capture the tension, the characters or the main, unmessed with, plot.

And the tv miniseries of The Word – a fifth gospel, allegedly written by the brother of Jesus, is discovered; Jannsen plays the PR guy they hire for the promotional release – is one that… isn’t that good.

There are a couple of actors in it who do their job perfectly competently. There are a few who are, frankly, phoning it in.

And then there are David Jannsen and Ron Moody, who elevate every scene they’re in with class, style and just bloody good acting. Yah, Moody’s another one who, whether he’s playing serious, light comedy, or merely a role whose entire brief seemed to be ‘chewing-the-furniture’, always gave his best, and it always showed.

There are precious few actors who can do that every time, elevate every scene, and utterly draw you in to their character.

David Jannsen died in 1980, and it’s a damn pity he wasn’t around to grace more entertainment.

And now, I’m kind of sad that I didn’t make the effort to rewatch Nowhere To Run last night.

Something else tomorrow. Possibly back to politics.. Possibly, not..

(Be grateful; I’m getting a haircut tomorrow; it could have been something about that…)

I started this entry as a daily braindump on goingcheep, but quickly realised that it would be more suitable here. And almost as quickly realised that it’s not one blog entry but three. Actually, maybe 3½. We’ll see.

Here’s part one, anyway.

Back in the day, when the UK only had terrestrial television, and three or four channels at that, one of the most common, and regular, complaints in the UK was “too many repeats”.

Just imagine that, those of you born at a less comfortable distance from the apocalypse. Three television channels. Three. And no video on demand, no ‘that’s ok, I’ll record it and watch it later’. If you missed it, that was it… until or unless it was repeated months or years later.

(Channel 4 started in November 1982, and I watched the opening hour or so in the common room of Manchester Polytechnic’s students’ union. First and only time I’ve watched a major channel go live.)

But yeah, repeats. It was such A Thing that listings pages in the newspapers even felt it necessary to denote repeats with (R) after the episode’s information/solicitation.

How things change.

With multi-channel tv, one of the pleasures of watching telly is an old favourite series, or even a favourite episode, appearing on the electronic programme guide, so you can watch, or record, an episode you’ve previously missed, or one you’ve enjoyed.

And considering how many ‘baddie of the week’ shows there are in serialised tv drama, individual episodes shouldn’t ‘matter’ so much. But even in a ‘baddie of the week’ show, an episode will stand out for some reason: the guest star will knock it out of the park, or the writing on that episode will always particularly impress, or the plot will reward rewatching. Could be any number of things.

(The same applies, of course, to long running comic books which, let’s face it, are also serialised drama. I’ll write about them in part 2, next week. Part 3? Part 3½? Well, I’ll let you ponder that for a bit, and you’ll find out what else falls within this entirely made up category in a couple of weeks.)

But when it comes to television, and individual episodes of long running dramas, there are too many, far too many, for me to list all that I’ll almost always make an effort to watch if they’re shown.

But here are ten. (Of course with some series, there are multiple episodes I’m happy to rewatch, but I’ll limit this to one episode per show.)

Fair warning: there are spoilers for the episodes discussed below, and there may be spoilers for the series itself.

CSI New York: “Yahrzeit” (Season 5, Episode 22)
There’s nothing that should make this episode jump out at anyone, but as so often with episodes that do, it’s the little touches, the revelations of main characters’ backgrounds. And as so often, it’s a guest star that lifts the episode into ‘Oh, yeah…’ territory. With this one, it’s Edward Asner as the ostensibly Jewish holocaust survivor who turns out to have been a survivor from the camps… but from the other side of the fence. And there’s a beautifully played coda to the episode that tells you more about Gary Sinese’s character’s family, and what it meant to survive when others didn’t.

New Tricks – “Parts of a Whole” (Season 9, Episode 9)
In many ways, this episode is one of the few in the series to completely subvert the reason for the whole show – the main story has only a faint connection to what the show is about – but it’s an excuse for the actors to have an enormous amount of fun playing against type, while staying true to who they are. Again, you find out some of the background of one of the main characters, and one of the recurring characters. (They met at sandhurst, did something naughty; it comes back to haunt them decades later.) However, as well as all that, and the fact that the actors are obviously having a blast, the writer of the episode is a comics fan, and sprinkles scripts with the names of comics professionals. So there’s a journalist named Greg Rucka who was killed decades ago… It’s just fun and I like the episode a lot.

Law & Order: “Called Home” (Season 18, Episode 1)
This is from very late in the run – the show ended with season 20. Law & Order went through a lot of cast changes in the ensemble through the years. With six main characters, there were half a dozen junior lawyers, and the same number of junior detectives. And while I’ll bow to no-one in my admiration of Jerry Orbach as Lennie Briscoe, I always liked the episodes where new people came in, and no moreso than the start of season 18. On the “Order” side of things, Sam Waterston’s character has been promoted to be the new District Attorney and Linus Roach comes in as the new ‘main’ lawyer. On the “Law” side of the show, Jeremy Sisto comes into the show. And just like that, the show that had been getting a bit stale comes alive again. The new dynamic just works and the new characterisations work as well. Waterston’s character has to mature, and does so, and his reluctance – because he stepped away from the courtroom – to allow his people to do their jobs rings true.

The West Wing: “17 People” (Season 2, Episode 18)
The ‘bottle show’ to end all bottle shows. The season was over budget, and the writers were told to write something that takes place wholly within the existing sets, inside the White House. And in doing so, Aaron Sorkin came up with one of the best scripts of the entire show. Every character rings true, every emotion screams out of the screen, and every actor does their job and then some. Especially, Richard Schiff. It’s his episode from the very opening shots, and he makes the most of it. And the opening is one of the finest pre-credits teaser the show ever had, hell one of the best four minutes’ opening to any show.

Doctor Who: “School Reunion” (Season 2¹, Episode 3)
(¹OK, it’s season 2 of NuWho; the season numbering was restarted when the show returned after 19 years in 2005)
It’s the Sarah Jane episode. That’s all that should need to be said. The first time the show explicitly brought back a character from the ‘old’ run of the series into the new run. It addressed old continuity, set up the differences between OldWho and NuWho, showed Rose what it means, what it really means, to travel with an effectively immortal alien, has character growth, has the usual silliness of Tennant’s run, and to top it off, a star turn from Anthony Head as the baddie. Glorious in every way, and not a bad bit in it.

NCIS: “Heartland” (Season 6, Episode 4)
The “Gibbs goes home” episode. After five series, you find out something about who the mainstay of the show is. Ralph Waites is superb in the guest star (which became a recurring) role, but then Waites always was superb in anything he did. It addressed ageing, filled in some holes in Gibbs’ backstory, while setting up a whole set of new questions, and everyone.. has fun. It’s obvious that the scriptwriters had a blast with the episode, and the actors duly ran with the fun created for them, and ran with it. It’s just… fun.

Highlander: “An Eye For An Eye” (Season 2, Episode 5)
From very early on in the tv series, the obvious unanswered question wasn’t ‘what’s it like living forever?’ The movie had dealt with that, and the series tried to address it as well. No, what was missing was ‘what happens when you become immortal?’ Not flashback, not legends, but in real time. And this episode answered that when one of the main characters gets killed (in the previous episode) and then wakes up. And is cocky, and unsure, and confused, and figures he’s gonna be all right… and then discovers very, very quickly that the cockiness is unwarranted, the confusion sure as hell is, and unless he learns how to handle a sword very, very quickly? Well, that ‘gonna be all right’ isn’t going to be true for long. Another immortal comes for him… and he hasn’t a fucking clue how to defend himself. And it takes Macleod some time to realise that it’s his responsibility to teach Richie in a way that works. Not to bully him into it. The training montage is just fun to watch, and when Richie gets his chance to take the baddie’s head… well, it doesn’t go quite how he expects. There are a dozen or so episodes that I’ll watch for pleasure, but this one always gets a rewatch if it’s on.

Star Trek: The Next Generation: “Yesterday’s Enterprise” (Season 3, Episode 15)
I’m a sucker for time travel stories, for alternative universe yarns, for ‘what if…?’ tales. And I like Star Trek. Yeah, was kind of inevitable I’d like this one. But it’s not only all the foregoing. The story’s a cracking one, the acting – given that they’re playing alternative versions of their characters, but not ‘evil mirror’ versions, the same versions in an entirely different situation, at war – is first class, and the production values, though now pretty dated, are excellent for their time. And one character gets the ending her character deserved, rather than the “empty death” she got in the main timeline. It’s beautifully played, and considering how much is done in 45 minutes, the show doesn’t seem rushed at all. A tribute to all concerned.

Bergerac (all the ‘Philippa Vale’ episodes)
OK, I’m cheating with this one. But hey, it’s my list. Liza Goddard appeared as jewel thief Philippa Vale in half a dozen episodes of the 87 episode run. And in every episode that she’s in, she lifts the show from a typical ‘baddie of the week’ police procedural which happens to be set on Jersey into a semi-romantic drama-comedy. The interplay, the flat out flirting, between John Nettles’ (later the star of Midsomer Murders) character and Goddard’s Vale is always a pleasure to watch. She’s like no one he’s ever encountered before, and he’s equally fascinated and attracted to her… while you’re never quite sure whether it’s solely because he’s unattainable that Philippa likes Jim… or whether she thinks a bit of naughtiness would make him more attractive or less.

Well, that was fun.

If you’ve been paying attention, you know what’s coming tomorrow. See you then.

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to my fifty-fifth birthday on 17th August 2019. You can see the other posts in the run by clicking here.

Well, this seemed to go down the first couple of times I did this (Part 1 here; Part 2 here), so let’s do another one. As I’ve said, while I occasionally mention “tv shows I don’t like that everyone else does” I rarely tell you what I do like watching.

So, continuing in no particular order, what tv am I enjoying right now?

Another one mainly known for “this is A Clever Idea; let’s see what we can do with it”. An amnesiac woman is discovered in Times Square, covered in newly applied tattoos, one of them the name of an FBI agent. Turns out the tattoos are all clues to crimes that have taken place, or – more intriguingly – are about to take place. The first season ran with this and it was a clever conceit: an overarching storyline, combined with the mystery of who she is/was, the connection to the lead FBI agent and of course the ‘puzzle/bad guy of the week’, something serial cop show storytelling kind of relies upon. The clues were clever but not deviously so, and there were a few ‘Oh come on‘ moments, but in the whole, enough of a mystery, solidly told, slowly revealed, to keep me coming back. 

And then in season 2, almost all of the charm of the series, almost everything that made it unlike anything else so far… kind of melted away? The overarching storyline for season 2 became the important thing, sub-plots made little or any sense, a mole in the team that made no sense (I haven’t yet seen the in-story reveal, though it’s obvious who it is). Hmm. Though the acting of the leads is still fun to watch, the dialogue is less smart, and more clanky. I’ll stick with this until the end of season 2, but unless the quality moves up, I’ll probably duck out at that point. 

When I cease to care about what happens to the majority of characters in a show, better to not waste my time watching. I’m hoping, though, that the quality will return to that of the first season.

Now on its fourteenth season, I watch this for the same reason I enjoy the same seat and the same table at my local coffee shop: it’s comfortable, I know what I’m getting, it rarely disappoints and sometimes, just sometimes, it suprises me with how fun it is. While earlier seasons of the show contained genuine surprises and shocks, and there was a tension between some of the characters that lasted more than just-under-42-minutes-and-wasn’t-sorted-inside-a-single-episode, that time is long past. 

Yeah, sure, this show probably should have ended when ‘Tony’ left, but it’s an enjoyable enough way of spending ¾ of an hour. It’s neither particuarly smart, nor particularly funny, nor particularly… anything really. But I enjoy the show anyway. (I tried the spin offs, but never really took to them. NCIS: Los Angeles seemed to be trying too hard to be… I don’t know what, but just never seemed to know itself. And NCIS: New Orleans seemed to me to jump straight to stating ‘you’ll like these characters’ without at any point trying to justify the statement.)

Dark Matter
Based on a comic book that I didn’t enjoy, this series – currently between seasons -I most definitely did. Six characters wake up on a spaceship, no idea who they are. They discover who they are – or are supposed to be, anyway – and then discover they don’t really like who they are. What I really like about this show is that it addresses one of my personal beliefs: everyone is the sum of their own experiences; if you change the experiences, you change the person. But what if there are no experiences? Who are you then? This show constantly addresses that question and makes the case – and it’s a good one – that having to answer for experiences you no longer rememebr gives you multiple choices: embrace them, run from them, or deal with the dichotomy. Clever writing, a universe with structural integrity and smart plotting, this is a must see show for me whenever it’s on. The guest stars are always fun to see, and like earlier shows in this rundown, every one of them seems to be having a blast playing less than honourable people. That’s a nothing this this show looks at: what is honour? What is loyalty, and when you have conflicting loyalties, which do ou choose to honour… and why?

Lethal Weapon
While I’m mostly ok with separating out the artist from the art, the actor from the roles they play, I’ll admit to having a problem with enjoying Mel Gibson movies since his antisemitic rant a few years ago, and other examples of his misogyny and antisemitism that have since come to light. Which is a pity, because I quite enjoyed the first to Lethal Weapon movies. I didn’t enjoy the third and I don’t think I ever saw the fourth. But the first two I enjoyed, for very different reasons. So I was hoping I’d enjoy the series ‘inspired by’ the movies. And you know what? I do. I read a couple of previews suggesting that Clayne Crawford’s performance as Martin Riggs would make you forget about Gibson’s portrayal of the same character and dammit they were right. Everything about his portrayal just… works. And while to all intents and purposes Damon Wayans is playing a quite different character to Danny Glover’s character (younger, more affable, more self-deprecating), his version of Roger Murtagh is a much better fit for the tv series Riggs. I really, really like this show. The developing friendship of the partnership was a bit forced in earlier episodes, but by the fourth or fifth, it’s settled down and is written cleverly as hell. Riggs’ backstory informs his whole character, but never overwhelms it. It’s a fun show, and I like it. 

Yeah, yeah, it’s based on the comic book, but it’s better to say it’s inspred by. It takes a couple of the bits the producer liked from the book, and builds on them a whole new world. I shouldn’t like the show. There’s not a lot in there that attracts me to it. But you know what? I do like it. After a couple fo meh episodes in season 1, it returned to clever writing, good acting and smart storytelling towards the end of the season and constinued that in season 2. “The devil takes a vacation from ruling Hell to run a nightclub in LA”. Clever hook, and they run with it. Nothing earthshaking but always fun, and with enough of a reminder every episode that you’re rooting for a character that has a bad reputation, most of which he deserves. Clever supporting cast, who act their socks off…  which makes up for the oddly unconvincing female lead actor. 

OK, so that’s another few shows I like. To end with again, here’s a new show this season that I tried, but gave up on.

Michael Weatherly is usually a fun actor to watch… which is why I’m genuinely disappointed with the show he helms, after leaving NCIS. Bull is a ‘case of the week’ thing; concept being that jury trials can be rigged if you know jury science. Sometimes he works for the prosecution, sometimes for the defence, but he’ll deliver the verdict you want… most of the time; no one has a 100% record, after all. But it’s… boring. I watched the first three and realised I didn’t care about the characters, the cases, the acting, the writing or the show itself. I understand many others disagree, and that’s cool. This is one show though where I not only disagree, I genuinely don’t understand what they see in it.

Someting else tomorrow… I return to the scoured wasteland that is US politics, post-election…

This post is part of a series of blog entries, counting down to 1st January 2017. You can see other posts in the run by clicking here.

Not for the first time, far far from the first time, I’ve been made aware this weekend that children today not only don’t understand what it was like to be children in the UK in the 1960 and 1970s, but literally can’t imagine it. How can they possibly do so? And no, I’m not neccessarily talking avout the tech that’s now available nor the utter complete difference of ‘being online’, although I’ll state for the record that children are exposed to more genuine ‘bad news’ on the news than we ever were simply by virtue of the sheer ubiquity of news sources.

Further, this isn’t any kind of ‘we ’ad it tough back then’; in many ways, us kids growing up in the 1960s and 1970s had it far, far easier than children do now. There were some things that were tougher, but an awful lot that was easier. For all the comments about schools and exams ‘dumbing down’ and ‘grade inflation’, I don’t recall us having one-tenth of the genuine pressure on us to learn for the test that seems to exist from a terrifyingly early age. I can’t comment upon the overall quality of teachers since I was lucky enough to have almost exclusively excellent teachers, almost all of whom I look back on with fond memories. And from what I gather from children I know today, at primary and secondary education, often the same applies now. I’m old fashioned enough to think that the best measure of whether a teacher is good or not is how the children regard them after the teachers have finished teaching them. It may not be the most objective, but as a measure, it works for me.

For various reasons, and with various children, I’ve seen a lot of childrens’ television over the years and it occurs to me to wonder how many of childrens’ televison today will be remembered fondly by those same chidlren in thirty or forty or fifty years time. Because, of course, mine was if not the first then close to the first generation to grow up with childrens’ television.

And thanks to youtube, there’s plenty of example of opening credits to aid failing memories and in which to wallow. Here are some of the childrens’ TV programmes I watched as a child. It might explain a lot…

Catweazle (Currently, and for a couple of years, my mobile phone ringtone)

The Banana Splits

H R Puffnstuff

Hector’s House


Ace of Wands

The Freewheelers

And, of course, Doctor Who. Huh. Wonder if anyone else remembers this programme.

See you tomorrow with something else…

y = x + 2

Posted: 19 July 2013 in life, don't talk to me about life, media
Tags: , ,

There are laws passed by your country’s legislatures that everyone knows; the ones against murder, theft and leaving the toilet seat up are the most common, I guess.

And then there are the folk wisdom laws, the most famous of which is, I suppose, Murphy’s Law:

Whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Of course this is merely one of Murphy’s Laws. My favourite of the others remain:

  • If you can conceive of eight ways something can go wrong, and cirumvent them, a ninth way – previously unsuspected – will promptly develop

  • Mother Nature always sides with the hidden flaw

and, of course

  • Mother Nature is a bitch.

Now there are literally hundreds of similar laws, named often for the person who first formalised them, and they’ve reached out to the Internet age as well, with Godwin’s Law, Poe’s Law and Cole’s Law.

Every so often, a friend will suggest a new one, but a small amount of research will usually prove that like The Natural History Museum’s attempts to catalogue new species… someone got there first and called it something else.

But earlier this year, I think I came up with one; haven’t been able to find it elsewhere, and so I offer it up for peer review, and for consideration.


y = x + 2


x = the number of episodes of a critically acclaimed and popular tv series you watch before deciding it isn’t for you; and

y = the number of episodes you’re then told you have to watch to ‘get’ the show.

It never fails; happens all the time. I’ve mentioned that there are several critically acclaimed and ratings-successful tv programmes that I’ve just never enjoyed when I’ve watched them. According to friends of mine, this simply, flatly, makes me WRONG.

Now, there have been successful tv dramas I’ve enjoyed: The West Wing is, I think, one of the finest tv programmes ever to come out of the colonies. I enjoyed House, MD far more than I think I probably should have done. I’m thoroughly enjoying what I’ve seen of House of Cards.

But then there are the others, the ones I haven’t actively disliked, but just have never actually positively enjoyed.. OK, you might want to sit down for this next bit if you’re of a nervous disposition.

What haven’t I enjoyed? Well, I’ll limit it to the past decade or so – no real point in saying I didn’t enjoy The Jewel In The Crown or This Life; many people reading this won’t even remember them. But the ‘current’ “Budgie is wrong” list would include:

The Wire, The Sopranos, Breaking Bad, The Shield, Mad Men, Buffy, the Vampire Slayer,, and – of course – the biggie – Game of Thrones.

(I also never ‘got’ The Simpsons or Seinfeld, but they’re not dramas, so I’ve excluded them from the above list and included them here merely for completeness.)

Now, please note – at no point have I said, nor would I say, that they’re bad television, or that I have no taste at all*, merely that they’re not to my taste.

*You may disagree with me here

But it never fails – I mention any of the shows and that I didn’t enjoy them and the first question is always “how many episodes did you watch?” And no matter what I say in response, the answer is inevitably, “it only really grabs you after you’ve watched [x + 2] episodes” or “Oh, but you have to watch [x + 2] episodes”.

No, I really don’t. The three shows I mentioned way up there, a minute ago – all three had pilots that grabbed me and made me want to know what happened next. With none of the others did that happen.

Of course I’m aware that the pilot is rarely an indication of how the show will progress; I can’t think of any shows (sitcoms included, maybe especially) where the pilot is any kind of reliable indication, but with the shows I didn’t enjoy, by the time I quit them, I genuinely didn’t care what happened to the characters next.

So, once again, here you are: Budgie’s Law of Popular Television, y = x + 2

Is it any wonder?

Posted: 10 October 2011 in personal
Tags: ,

Was talking with a friend the other day, and – mainly, I suspect, because she’s substantially younger than me – she’d never heard of H.R. Pufnstuf.

Never even heard of it. [sigh]

If you’ve never heard of it either, watch the following. Remember: this is what my generation grew up watching on television. And think how our delicate brains might have been affected…

Of course, that wasn’t the only thing we grew up watching.

No, we had the cultural milestone that was Mary, Mungo and Midge:

And Follyfoot:

And that’s leaving aside Banana Splits, King Arthur and the Square Knights of The Round Table and Hector’s House.

It does explain a lot, be fair…