Tag Archives: Television

100 Words, 100 Days: Day 46. On Septembers.

The ninth month of the year brings with it many treasures. A return to normality, for one: with schools reopening, gridlock once again becomes a feature of early morning traffic. The longest-running television chat show The Late Late Show, hosted by Ryan ‘Ding Dong’ Tubridy, leaps back to our screens on Friday evenings.

There is a chill in the air and the nights draw in slowly but surely. Vampires get to head out earlier and stay out later. But for me, September means one thing: my television licence is up for renewal. Someone has to pay Tubridy’s salary I suppose.

 

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Welcome to Allie’s World: Aardvarkian Origins.

I will be returning shortly to the world of Allie the Aardvark. To massive public clamor, as well as a petition signed by such notables as Barack Obama, Salman Rushdie and the bloke who runs the local chipper, Allie fans will wait no longer.

Tomorrow I shall post the Halloween special; but for now, read and enjoy Allie’s first appearance in my life.


WELCOME TO ALLIE’S WORLD.

The top prize of my local pub’s lottery draw sat in my armchair, eating chocolate peanuts through its snout, and flicking through the channels of the TV with my remote. It looked very much at home.

“When’s Judge Judy on?” it wondered.

“You know who Judge Judy is?” I asked, very much amazed that it could talk.

“She’s must-see-TV.”

I looked at my watch. “It’s five after midnight. It’s too late for Judge Judy.”

“It’s never too late for Judge Judy. You got any pretzels?”

“No.”

“You can sit down, you know. I don’t bite.”

“You suck.”

“I hope that’s not an insult.”

“I mean, you’re sucking up those peanuts.”

“That’s what we aardvarks do. We suck.”

“But I thought you ate ants?”

“Among other things, yes. Please, sit down. You’re making this aardvark uncomfortable.”

I sat down, not taking my eyes from this strange creature. It put down the sweets and extended its hand, paw, whatever, to me.

“My name is Alistair Reginald Boothroyd lV, but you can call me Allie.”

I shook its..whatever it was. “I’m James, but you can call me Jimbo.I didn’t know aardvarks could talk.”

“We don’t.”

“But I can hear you.”

“That’s because you’re supposed to.”

“Huh?”

“Jimbo, come on. You arrive into work this evening to find that the top prize in your bar’s lottery draw is an aardvark. Stuff like that doesn’t happen every day.”

He was right, it didn’t. Usually the top prize was cash, but ticket sales have been down since the economy went pear-shaped. So we rang up suppliers, asking them to sponsor the draw. Only one came through for us. Hence the aardvark.

The winning numbers were 2, 3, and 5, and there were three “lucky” winners of the top prize. All of them took one look at Allie and passed, taking instead the consolation prize of five free drinks. This left me, as stand-in organiser of the draw (the boss was on holiday), stuck with an aardvark. So I put him into an empty cardboard box and brought him home with me. I considered myself fortunate that I didn’t meet anyone I knew on the way back to my apartment.

“So why is it that only I can hear you?”

“The powers that be have decreed it so.”

“The who?”

“I don’t know. I may have made that part up. You got anything else to eat except chocolate peanuts?”

“I have cheese.”

“I can’t suck cheese.”

I looked in my fridge and found some yogurt. “Will this do?” I asked, showing Allie the carton.

“What flavour?”

I checked. “Blackcurrant.”

“Nice. I like blackcurrant yogurt.” I gave him — it was a “he” now, seeing that we’d been introduced — the yogurt. He tore off the foil cover and sucked up the contents. The sound was like that of a vacuum cleaner, sucking up clotted cream.

“I have to go to bed soon. Are you all right down here?”

“I’m fine,” he replied. “Leave your laptop open, if you wouldn’t mind. I want to check my Facebook.”

“You have a Facebook?”

“Doesn’t everybody?”

“But you’re an —

“–aardvark, I know, I know. So you keep reminding me.”

I started up the stairs to my bedroom. I was dazed.

“You got any good books?” Allie called.

I stopped and looked down. “What do you read?”

“Any King?”

“Just Cell and Lisey’s Story.

“No Dark Tower?”

“Not yet.”

“Man,” Allie replied. “You’ve got to read the Dark Tower series.”

I sighed. “So people keep telling me.”

Ten minutes later, when I was about ready to put his whole episode down as some sort of elaborate hoax, I could hear the sound of jewels exploding, followed by hoots of joy.

“122,500 points. Jimbo, when I’m good, I’m very, very good.”

I pulled my pillow from under my head and buried my face in it. Tomorrow, I thought. I’ll sort this out tomorrow.

The Name of The Rose, and Other Stories.

The Name of The Rose, starring Sean Connery

I was looking through the weekend’s TV listings before heading into work last Saturday, just to make sure I wasn’t missing out on any nuggets. My DVR was preprogrammed to record my current favourites: Merlin on the BBC, Downton Abbey on ITV. Usually a movie appears from out of left field, showing at some ungodly hour of the night or morning.

I whooped with joy when I saw that RTE Two had Sean Connery’s movie, The Name of the Rose, showing at ten after midnight Sunday night, Monday morning. It’s been a long time since I’d this little-seen gem: a medieval murder mystery, based on the novel by Umberto Eco.

Connery and Slater as William of Baskerville and Adso of Melk

Now, I’ve tried reading Eco’s philosophical detective novel. I picked it up after first seeing the movie. I put it down after only getting through fifty or so pages of it. Last year I picked up a different copy and I got further. A bookmark nestles at page 102. I’ll finish it some day. I promise.

But it’s a classic Connery movie. To most, he is James Bond. To me, he is 007 and much, much more. An Oscar winner for The Untouchables, Connery brings his distinctive voice to all types of characters, usually without diluting his Scottish accent. He’s played Spanish, Irish, Russian and English – all in Scottish. That’s why we love him.

Anyway, back to The Name of the Rose. I preset my DVR and away to work I went. I mentioned to some customers that it was on later and I was really looking forward to seeing it again.

Needless to say, when I came back home, I found that my DVR failed to pick it up. It was on the TV all right, but it didn’t record. Damn you, UPC! Everything else recorded except the one thing that wasn’t going to be repeated later on in the week. I don’t pay my bill on time for service like this.

Sir Alec Guinness as George Smiley in "Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy".

I made it my Monday mission to hunt down a copy – but to no avail. HMV didn’t stock it, Tower Records never heard of it, and my local Xtravision proved equally fruitless. There was nothing else to do but go online. Hello Amazon.co.uk! I ordered a copy, along with two other gems from TV times gone by.

The BBC adapted two of John Le Carre’s novels in the late 70s and early 80s: Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and Smiley’s People, with the late Sir Alec Guinness as spymaster George Smiley. I remember being gripped by their complexity when I was a wee nipper. Unlike Eco, I read both novels after viewing the TV adaptations. Le Carre is a better writer of spy thrillers that Ian Fleming, but that’s my opinion.

So why did I rush out and order a copy of a movie my machine couldn’t record? The answer is, like me, simple. I have no patience. It will be a long time before TNOTR comes on TV again. I want to see it – and I want to see it now.

But I have to wait two weeks.

On This Day…2 October

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Hello and welcome to another journey through history. Take notes, people, I’ll be asking questions later.

Are you ready? Okay, let’s start today with events On This Day in…

1535 – Jacques Cartier discovers Montreal, Quebec. Then he decided to make some really expensive watches. Give me a Timex any day of the week.

1835 – The Texas Revolution begins with the Battle of Gonzales: Mexican soldiers attempt to disarm the people of Gonzales, Texas, but encounter stiff resistance from a hastily assembled militia. (Sigh…I live Texas. I am so going back there next year.)

John Logie Baird and friend. (Image: britannica.com)

1919 – US President Woodrow Wilson suffers a massive stroke, leaving him partially paralyzed. (91 years later, the US economy leaves Obama totally paralyzed)

1925 – John Logie Baird performs the first test of a working television system. He was then fined by the courts for not having an up-to-date TV licence.

1928 – The “Prelature of the Holy Cross and the Work of God”, commonly known as Opus Dei, is founded by Saint Josemaría Escrivá. Dan Brown thinks of an idea for a novel – in italics.

1950 – Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz is first published.

1959 – The anthology series The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS television.

1990 – A Chinese airline Boeing 737-247 is hijacked; after landing at Guangzhou, it crashes into two airliners on the ground, killing 132 people.

2002 – The Beltway sniper attacks begin, extending over three weeks.

2009 – The Twenty-eighth Amendment of the Constitution of Ireland is approved at the second attempt, permitting the state to ratify the European Union’s Treaty of Lisbon. This proves the old saying true: If at first you don’t mess it up, try, try again.

Celebrity birthdays today include:

Don McClean, American folk singer, famous for his classic American Pie, is 65.

Donna Karan, the fashion designer, is 62.

And my favourite tantric Policeman, Sting (born Gordon Sumner in 1951), is a fragile 59.

Tony Curtis, Persuader

Tony Curtis, 1925 - 2010

I was sad to hear that Tony Curtis died today. Aged 85, Curtis put in a good innings, enjoying movie roles and wives with equal aplomb.

Oscar-nominated for The Defiant Ones (in which he starred alongside Sidney Poitier) and a favourite of movie-lovers everywhere for the classic comedy Some Like It Hot, it was through the medium of television that I first got to “know” him.

In the late Sixties, he starred in a TV programme called The Persuaders with the man who would be James Bond, Roger Moore. Curtis loved television. It allowed him freedom that movies could not.

He took on the role of Danny Wilde with relish, ad-libbing much of script and performing most of his own stunts. His role was that of a comic foil to Moore’s Lord Brett Sinclair, your typical British upper-crust playboy. The premise was simple: two men, with backgrounds that shouldn’t mix, are brought together by a judge so they can solve cases the courts cannot.

It was fun while it lasted – just the one season – and it brought to an end a sequence of British adventure shows that included Danger Man, The Avengers and The Champions (all funded by Lord Lew Grade’s company ITC).

Curtis was to make one more foray into the world of TV. Hands up those of you who remember him as Roth  in the Robert Urich detective show Vega$!

The Persuaders, starring Tony Curtis and Roger Moore. Featuring another iconic theme tune from John (James Bond) Barry. They do not make them like this anymore.

Story, Bud!

Jacobs Fig RollsThere’s this new advert on Irish TV that features a group of actors dressed up as taste buds.They wait apprehensively for their “owner” to break into a packet of fig rolls. Once he does, they go into a kind of frenzy that can only be described as, well, drug-induced.

When you watch it, you’ll know what I mean. The taste buds speak in a hard Dublin accent, address each other as bud, and wax lyrically over “biscuity bits.” These guys have the munchies.

Methinks they smoke too much of the good stuff.

PS: I don’t like fig rolls much.

DCI Banks: A New ‘Tec On The Block.

Stephen Tompkinson plays DCI Alan Banks. (Image: onenationmagazine.com)

It’s another new season on TV. The summer detritus has blown away like gas from a fibre diet. With the exception of Sherlock, there was nothing on TV worth investing valuable time. Even the World Cup wasn’t all it should have been.

So what is there to look forward to, now that the autumn schedule is almost in full swing? For sci-fi geeks like me, the return of Fringe and Stargate Universe has pride of place. For more down-to-earth entertainment, crime fans, like me, have two new series to look forward to. Mark Billingham’s creation Tom Thorne comes to Sky next month. I’m especially looking forward to this because I’ve read all of Billingham’s novels, and the casting of David Morrissey (he of The Next Doctor) is inspired.

Image: inspectorbanks.com

Stephen Tompkinson plays DCI Alan Banks in a new two-part story for ITV called Aftermath. It’s based on the twelfth book of author Peter Robinson’s series featuring Banks. I’ve read the first book only, so I’m not familiar with him as I would be with Thorne. But it’s a solid enough start. Banks, like most TV detectives nowadays, comes with his own quirks and demons. He’s a divorced father of two (his ex-wife is pregnant by her new husband), he’s a devoted fan of Jazz music, and he sees his victims watching him as he searches for justice.

This is a twisted story, with enough going on to make come back and watch the second part next Monday. Tompkinson is a good actor; he has that drawn and haunted look that served him well when he played a conflicted Catholic parish priest in Ballykissangel. Provided it gets good reviews and the network are satisfied with the finished product, I can see DCI Banks becoming a regular fixture on our schedules.

To be honest, though, ever since John Thaw and Inspector Morse solved their final case and retired to the Great Police Station Up In The Sky, there has been a dearth of quality TV detective shows. I’m hoping that Banks and Thorne can address this.