TV NY, 30 December
The Abominable Snowman and Homicide: Life on the Street.
Fucking Christmas just fucks up your schedule!
So observed my brother, on realising he had missed 24 on Christmas Eve. It’s quite true, of course, and I bet the troll who lives on the sofa hasn’t been taping The Shield for me either. No duty free cigarettes for him.
So no, I can’t give you a sneak preview of the new season of 24, which is now running in the USA, though I’m told there are a lot of blondes in it this time, for what that’s worth. I did catch a few reruns of NYPD Blue and Law and Order. Somebody asked me if I’d be reading the great New York novels while I was in the city. No, I’ve been watching the great New York TV shows.
And to be honest, the whole poetry thing never really happened either. It’s too damn cold in the park, and I kept getting distracted by TV in the bars, which are universally owned by Irishmen, and consequently show a lot of English football.
On Monday I took a daytrip to Baltimore to pay homage to Homicide: Life on the Street, and believe it or not I managed to take in some TV there too. At the coach station they have these magic seats with built-in TVs you operate with quarters. It was black and white and the reception was awful, but I could just about make out something about endangered turtles, which was super.
In an effort to keep up with mainstream American TV, I did watch Conan O’Brien on Christmas Eve, or possibly the day before. In fact it might just have been Boxing Day. In any case, I was too drunk to remember now what happened, which I think is kind of the point of these late night talk shows. Suffice to say it was super.
Christmas Day I mostly watched The Godfather, which is Christmassy enough in its own way, but I was also forced to watch a bit of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, which is a Christmas standard over here. That was super too, especially the Abominable Snowman.
I write this missive on British Airways Flight 1502, where the TV provision is anything but super. On the way out, we ‘World Travellers’ had our own little TVs like in Baltimore but better, but now we have to share communal sets in the aisle, and I am unable to switch off the relentless pictures of toffs in ‘Club World’, enjoying their truffles and chandeliers. Apparently for our comfort and Well BeingTM during the flight, we are encouraged to take regular barefoot walks in leafy glades. I’m not sure how that works.
British patriots will be delighted to learn that the BBC is proudly representing the nation on its US channel with consecutive episodes of Changing Rooms. BA is in on the act now, with Midsomer Murders. Until now I have never paid any attention to the ITV crime series, which stars the guy from Bergerac. I don’t know what to say now, except that it is shockingly bad, and to see this sorry excuse for a cop show on a return flight from New York is enough to bring a tear to my eye.
To be fair, this is followed by a flurry of dodgy American sitcoms, but by now I’ve found an onflight radio station that plays nothing but the songs from James Bond films. Now it’s Christmas.
Dolan Cummings is publications editor at the Institute of Ideas, and editor of Culture Wars. He is also the editor of Reality TV: How Real Is Real?, Hodder Murray, 2002 (buy this book from Amazon (UK) or Amazon (USA)).
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