The Idiot Box
Thoughts on TV shows and my current viewing habits.
Our Planet is the first major wildlife documentary to be made by Netflix. Presented and narrated by David Attenborough the series is produced by Silverback Films, who also created BBC documentary series Planet Earth, Frozen Planet and The Blue Planet. As you would expect with such outstanding credentials, Our Planet is a visually impressive, thought provoking exploration of our world’s respective ecosystems and a damning indictment of how we as a species are causing immense damage. If you watch this show and are still in denial afterwards about climate change, then “you need your bumps felt”. The show doesn’t shy away from showing the reality of nature. Something that some viewers struggle to come to terms, due to the ongoing infantilization of our relationship with pets and wild life. Netflix went so far as to produce a list of scenes to skip for the feint hearted. However, the sight of the Walruses plummeting to their death from a cliff was genuinely shocking. However given the nature of the show and its underlying message, this was totally justified.
I recently managed to catch up with Elementary Season 6 as I somehow fell behind in my viewing of this show. Elementary continues to maintain its high standard with regard to odd and off kilter cases. Many of Holmes and Watson’s investigations have parallels with contemporary news stories. The robotic sex doll with it’s always listening AI, was a wry exploration of current technology versus privacy fears. The show also continues to sensitively explore the nature of addiction and has story threads regarding adoption and Alzheimer’s. But the foundation of this show is the relationship between Holmes (Johnny Lee Miller) and Watson (Lucy Lui) and their platonic love for each other. The denouement of the season saw the pair relocating to London, although I suspect that the show will contrive a reason to return to New York. With Season 7 due to on 23rd May, it will be interesting to see if this is the final season. There is already the possibility of Detective Bell (Jon Michael Hill) taking a job with the US Marshalls service. Will Holmes also repair his relationship with Captain Gregson (Aidan Quinn). I look forward to watching more of this quirky variation on the police procedural.
Here’s a summary of what else I’ve been watching:
I finally got around to watching the 2004 version of Salem’s Lot. Made by TNT this two-part miniseries broadly mirrors the 1979 adaptation but updates the proceeding to current times and adds several contemporary themes and interpretations of events. I was led to believe that this version of Stephen King’s weighty novel was a disaster, but it certainly wasn’t as bad as that. Rob Lowe is relatively sympathetic as traumatised novelist Ben Mears. There are some good soliloquys about the iniquities of small towns and their hidden depth. Sadly, Rutger Hauer is not given a lot to do as the Master Vampire Kurt Barlow and is subsequently not really a threat. It’s also a somewhat restrained affair, with the production going for jump scares, rather than graphic violence. Overall, I found this a mildly engaging curiosity. However Tobe Hooper’s adaptation remains the one to beat.
As for my planned viewing during the month of March, the docudrama Chernobyl appears to be very interesting. This authentic account of the 1986 disaster addresses not only the technical causes of the reactor fire, but the long-term health and environmental ramifications for the region. It also delves into the political machinations of the Soviet Union as they first struggle to accept the magnitude of the crisis and then falter over managing the political consequences of the situation. Bolstered by a cast of quality character actors I suspect this will be most illuminating and enthralling.
Finally, I want to briefly mention the Japanese game show Takeshi’s Castle. I won’t get bogged down in a lengthy account of the show’s history, as I’m considering writing a much longer post on the matter. To summarise the show was first broadcast in Japan between 1986-90. In the early 2000’s other countries re-edited the content and condensed the hour-long show into a shorter thirty-minute format. Often humorous commentary was added. In the UK the show was shown on the Challenge TV channel and narration was supplied by actor and comedian, Craig Charles. Being regionalised to UK tastes, there was a lot of innuendo and double-entendres. Much of the banter and quips may not survive a PC sniff test these days. I used to watch this show with my son and enjoy it for what is was. I recently managed to “find” copies of all 120 episodes and now watch these late at night when I want some easy viewing to relax and unwind.