Steve Goble

Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Sometimes when I switch the TV on, actually the TV is switching me off.

I couldn’t sleep this morning, so I foolishly decided to get up and watch some cable TV. “I’ll just watch a few minutes” I told myself. Oh surrrrrrrre.

Kicking-off at 1:30am I switched-on to Shine TV – New Zealand’s Christian cable channel. They were running a classic Billy Graham meeting from McCormick Place, Chicago in the 1970s. 2 things struck me here. 1, just what a brilliant speaker he was in his younger years, and 2, he sort of resembled a young Frasier Crane, didn’t he?

Dr Billy Graham
"...and he said to me ‘But Billy – I don’t know how to pray.’"

Dr Frasier Crane on KACL
"Go ahead caller - I’m listening."

After I'd realised this, he actually started using the "Jesus was either a liar, lunatic or Lord" argument, which for the 2nd option involved talking about Jesus' mental health, and whether he’d actually needed a psychiatrist. And then he went off on one about Diane being MAD.

After that I turned over to UKTV, where the great flag of classic British comedy was being kept flying by…ah, no, maybe not, they were showing 'Allo 'Allo.

Queekly - 'ide een 'eere!
Tonight, René had to hide Colonel Von Strohm and Leuitenant Gruber upstairs at the cafe, so the latter was in bed dressed-up in a nightie pretending to be Edith’s mother. Meanwhile the French resistance woman and the English policeman covered for Edith's cabaret by performing Shine On Harvey Moon. (“Listen very carefully – I will sing this only once!”) And Herr Flick's assistant had to make some forged banknotes out of a pornographic magazine, which he wasn't allowed to look at as he did so, so he wore a paper bag on his head. No-one asked him if he wanted woofers or tweeters with that.

I must admit, I always used to think that there was some sort of overall storyline going on in ‘Allo ‘Allo. I remember in the 80s watching one that finished on a train. I then tuned in the following week and, lo and behold, they actually picked-up the story – on the train – and finished it about 10 minutes into the second episode. Lately however I have had this nagging worry that maybe, just maybe they have been pulling a fast one on me all these years. Maybe every episode just started and finished in any old situation, regardless of what happened before or after. ‘Allo ‘Allo ran for a very long time – over 80 episodes – so surely they couldn’t possibly have kept such a complex ongoing farce that remained possible and never contradicted itself for all that time? I mean I’d like to think so, but I just don’t credit the writers with going to that much trouble over it. How cynical of me - I sincerely hope they did.

Anyway, after a brief glance at Last Of The Summer Wine (which I couldn’t place time-wise, as it had no Compo, yet was showing in full-screen), it was time to flick over and get sucked-into the black hole that was...The Disney Channel!

Big ears
I don't mind admitting that I'm a fan of Disney - they make the best movies, the funniest comedies and they never offend me. They even make me cry sometimes. What else does one buy one's ticket for?

On TV however, they were a bit more clawing to fill-up the time.

In-between trailers for The Princess Diaries 2 and the Teacher’s Pet movie, I came across a British live-action show called Bus Crew. Every episode of this, it seems, is set entirely on the top deck of a bus. Driving around some leafy English region. I didn't read anything into this though, as I knew that it was just standard procedure for all BBC programmes...(which this wasn’t)

After that I was really feeling like it was time for bed, but Disney just wouldn’t let me go, introducing me to 2 episodes of Dave The Barbarian.

Dave The Barbarian
This was just brilliant! There were so many fine gags in these that I just wish I’d been writing them down. The whole “Previously on Dave the Barbarian” sketch, presenting a montage of the title character running away in terror from many different foes had me in stitches. He then, suffering from an ingrowing toenail, chucks in being a barbarian in order to open a bistro. But things go wrong when Dave accidentally bakes a monster blancmonge that threatens to eat the entire world. Marvelous.

By now however, I was in a battle of my own to turn the TV off and get to bed. But it was no use. The increasingly demanding mouse with the big black ears had anticipated my every thought, and had strategically scheduled Sabrina – The Animated Series straight afterwards.

Sabrina - The Animated Series
Sigh... well I really needed to watch just one episode of this, to see how it related to the enjoyable live-action series.

And, you know, it did tie-in pretty well. Whilst the forgettable B-plot about Sabrina and her best friend auditioning against each other at school was really just filler, the A-plot about the cat’s arch-nemesis challenging him to a carpet race was both exciting and sitcom, not to mention alot freer in a cartoon than a live-action show.

This show really had promise – and the promise was in its retaining the original 2 leads from the live action series – Melissa Joan Hart (Sabrina) and Nick Bakay (cat’s voice). Of course, whilst Bakay just did his own brilliant catty thing as usual, Hart had actually been hired to voice not one, but TWO completely different characters, NEITHER one of which was Sabrina!

Had she been playing the same character (instead of the 2 aunts) I think I would have given this show 7.25 out of 10. As it is, that painful betrayal of the audience alone knocks it all the way back down to 2. Good thing too, or I might have tuned in again.

Another cartoon started, so I switched-off.


It was 4am.

I really think we, as a society, need to get rid of TV-on-demand.

I don’t mean get rid of all TV – watching a specific programme or film is not the same thing, as we allocate a specific time to switch these off. But this constant never-ending demand for our attention that every channel now has – that’s just taking away all your time until you die.

A few years ago in the UK, the BBC had a slogan – The New Going Out Is Staying In. Watch EastEnders - it’s better than living your life.

Radio. Radio only requires one sense, and actually helps one to get on with ironing, or washing-up, or writing, or hosting a party, or sightseeing, or whatever. Music can actually bring life to life. It’s impossible to do anything when that flickering box of distractions in the corner is on.

You try turning it on the next time you have friends over, and just watch them all turn away from each other to stare at it, and stop talking.

On the whole, radio helps people to live life, TV saps it.

But I’m not too worried, you see, this is a battle that TV will ultimately lose, and the internet will win.

I think that 10 years from now people will download, for free, TV shows that are sponsored through adverts in the corner of the picture. Broadcasters will be on their way out. After all, who wants to watch a show at someone else's time?

Hopefully then I can get some sleep. It's actually better.


2 comment(s):

At 11:31 am, Blogger Kurt said...

I can SO relate to this! I now must not even turn the set on if I want to get things done.
"Just a few minutes" is right up there with "the check is in the mail" as far as biggest lies is concerned.
My newest rant on this is "reality" TV. My wife watches enough of the different offerrings here that I feel compelled to remind her that HER reality is actually what she can touch and smell. Not a good plan for smooth maritial relations, BTW.

At 1:00 am, Blogger Steve Goble said...

Reminds me of a guy I heard of who, while on holiday in Africa, videoed an elephant drinking from a pool of water. He spent the entire experience watching it through the tiny black-and-white TV screen in his viewfinder.


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