Harold Bishop has a posse

The Rae St Institute > Blog archive > Discontentment, series endings, real life drama and the Big Furry Patriarch

Tonight, my Tuesday night routine was weird, disconcerting and uncomfortable.

I wrapped up working for the day late, went to the gym as usual on a Tuesday, but I was stroppy, easily tired, sweating when I shouldn't have been and not sweating when I should have been, inflicting bizarre untimed rhythms on myself and the rowing machine (best distance/time ever, but there was something Profoundly Weird and Wrong about it all)... and I didn't even get the endorphin rush that makes all the work worthwhile.

As a recent post may have implied, Tuesdays have been a little amiss lately. And it's not the fact that today isn't even Tuesday. Or the fact that I keep missing Mythbusters. Or the weekends, which have of late re-emerged as a drain on my finances, and a tax on my liver.

No, I'm putting it all down to this guy:

Philip Madoc.

Or, specifically, that he isn't inside my TV anymore.

During the busiest bits of the second half of this year I had a pretty good Tuesday ritual going. During the day, do the sleep deprived, self-employed, uni-student thing. At night, go to the gym, work out for an hour and a half, then hurry home just in time to have a shower, get changed, sit down in front of the TV with a Hot Chocolate and catch the start of A Mind To Kill. A Mind to Kill is a Welsh cop drama in the same vein (as I would later find) as Halifax FP or [insert random English police procedural telemovie series here] - it's more a string of telemovies than a series - except far cooler than all the aforementioned.

When I first saw it, there was a certain trashy element that was irresistible; the plot of the first episode I saw was premised on a villain with multiple personalities - one female, one male. Played by a male actor, cue the inevitable final shot with them crying in a prison cell, (obviously fake) breasts inexplicably exposed. GREAT. But so wrong. BUT SO GREAT. But so cheap. It was like Jerry Springer! In Wales!

What really made it though was Madoc - possibly because he bears more than a passing resemblance to a number of Big Furry Patriarch lefties -- the droopy one-eyed face of Bob Ellis, with a Phillip Adams Beard, and a bit of Barry Jones thrown in for good measure.




BFP Arithmetic

There is, of course, absolutely no doubt a vague chance I'm talking out my arse here. But hey.

Despite the rather trashy start, the show just kept getting better. In the delusion that it was a series, and not a bunch of telemovies, I watched the thing religiously. Just when you thought it was being all socially relevant and PC, The Bill style, it'd flip it on its head. Just when you thought it was about to get all soapy and pointless, The Bill style, the romantic advances of whoever to whoever else would be abruptly rebuked and everyone would get the fuck on with doing what they were actually doing, y'know, being in a police procedural.

Two hours is more than enough time to develop a story with a bit of patience. I like patient films, I like patient television. (If you've been subjected to the film I finished this year, you'll see I like making patient things too, probably to a fault.) We are subjected to a continual bombardment of pointless and unnecessary drivel. That something takes the time to sit back and not scream everything at you -- not repeat itself, not rapid-cut, not use silly montages with music that's too loud and is completely inappropriate (Oh but marketing said it rates highly with the 18-25s!) -- I'm grateful for it, and for someone who was as flat out as I was this year, it was welcome respite.

And as the end credits rolled on black with extremely sparse music, I'd sit there on the tail end of a latent endorphin haze from the gym, everything buzzing, a content but not quite shit-eating grin on my face, just like I'd taken a pi--- err... umm.. lesson. In Contentment. And it was just starting to kick in erm.. make sense. Or something.

But then, after 8 weeks, it stopped! Stopped dead! I panicked! I even tried out spyware and pornography-advert loaded BitTorrent places to see if I could download the rest of the series! But nobody seemed to have it.

And then I found out it was telemovies, and I'd actually seen all of the ones of that era. Gah.

Comparing this show, which has gone on for years, to the piss-poor treatment that our local drama gets - this thing is not government funded - it's pertinent to raise some fun facts.
  • FACT: The population of Wales is much less than Melbourne (2.7 million as at 2001)
  • FACT: They have their own goddamn language.
  • FACT: A version of this show is also made in said language, even though only 20% of the already small population actually speak it.
How exactly is it, that a place smaller than Melbourne can produce a string of damn fine two hour telemovies, in a language that's only spoken by a small proportion of the population? And how is it, by contrast, that though we occasionally produce some excellent local drama ourselves, nobody watches it?! "What's that? Police Procedural you say? Fuck Phoenix, give us CSI or NCIS or FSCX or PCSG or OMFG: New York or Law & Order CSI: Big Brother Las Vegas!" or whatever the fuck other overblown self-referential crap is being pumped out of the West Coast of the US. I don't want to sound like a flag waving Buy-Aussie-And-Pass-The-John-Williamson moron here, but don't we have any sense of our own culture? Are we that stuck in the fucking cultural cringe?

We're just another State in the Union.

Ever since I bought the biggest fucking TV in the history of the world
(n.b. not actually biggest TV in the world.)
back in April, I've been watching a lot of it... simply because it's there. I've never been a huge TV watcher until lately, and there was some good stuff this year.. But most of all, I've been appalled by the sheer quantity of pointless, vomitous bile (and its fawning, obsequious presenters) that pours out of that glossy black box onto the floor of my lounge room, congealing into a Fifty-Foot Hose Beast that threatens to strangle every last drop of creativity out of me.

To be addressed in a future issue.. possibly the most disturbing thing I've ever seen in my life. And I've seen some disturbing things in the last few weeks.



Lately the set top box has been in hibernation, and I've been watching a lot of DVDs. Good stuff. Ghost Dog, The Interview, Brazil...

But back onto local drama for a moment. Last Man Standing - though it was on while I was at the gym basically as a rule - I watched, and I liked it. It got me... my primary criticisms though are technical: Channel 7's habit of cutting off endings by running the credits in their own graphic style over ads or the start of the next show mean that you never really get a sense of closure. They're obviously scared you'll walk away instead of sitting there to digest what you've just watched while the credits roll.

[big cliffhanger]


Hang on, what fucking show am I watching here?!!

And then at the end of the last fucking episode! What?! The last three seconds was an episode in itself! ... though I guess only shows that have had long runs and have chosen their own end get to see themselves off neatly. But the least they could have done for the LAST EPISODE would be to actually RUN THE CREDITS instead of cutting into ads in what felt like mid sentence -- early in a VERY pregnant pause. It was especially heinous considering that a very similar chain of events to those last few minutes had happened to me the week before the final episode screened, so I was screaming that it WASN'T the end, it was the fucking beginning of the story! Gah.

But I guess, really, maybe I'm just not made for TV. I'm often tempted to disconnect the set top box (and sometimes to smash it with a hammer).

Well, except for patient Welsh cop shows.

Is it wrong that I've now included Wales on my round-the-world itinerary next year purely because of this show?


This is possibly the greatest thing I've ever seen.



3 Comments - [post a comment]

Carl Weathers, Sunday, December 11, 2005, 10:08 PM
Where can i view/get a copy of said movie? missed your viewing of it, was studying up on how to spot a robot mimicking a human and how to thwart robot spies...the uprising is upon us.
cfsmtb, Monday, December 12, 2005, 4:59 AM
Cats are evil.
Dr Henrik Ziegler, Monday, December 12, 2005, 5:58 AM
but at least they're not machine guns..

as for Carl Weathers...? drop me a line on the contact page and I'll put you on the list of people who want to see it (don't have spare copies just now but I will soon...)