UK Celebrity Big Brother
Regular readers will know of my weakness for the televisual delights of Brother who is Big. Currently screening on Channel 4 in the UK is series six of Celebrity Big Brother, but those of us who don’t live in the UK can stay up-to-date with it via the medium of YouTube.
The series only runs for a manageable three weeks, so every day I delight in the everyday goings-on of the house filled with such people as LaToya Jackson, Coolio and Mutya From Sugababes.
I can’t quite explain the appeal of it, but I suspect it’s the fact that what happens to the house of celebrities is exactly the same as what happens to the house of wannabes in the regular version of BB: after a few days everyone get tired and emotional and starts yelling at each other, little groups form and there’s always some guy who tries to hook up with all the women. Of course, it’s just that extra bit entertaining when the sleazy guy is the performer of “Gangsta’s Paradise”.
The Twilight Zone
I acquired the season four DVD of the original Twilight Zone series, from 1963, and after watching that, moved on to series one.
I like the science fiction/fantasy stories, and it’s interesting to see the obvious reaction to World War II and the scary new world of technology. But what interested me the most was the style of television back in those days.
The acting is kind of stiff and very formal and almost feels melodramatic, which I believe is what was considered good acting back then. People spoke with very clipped, precise language. The only contemporary thing I can think of comparing it to is the scripts of David Mamet, but without all the swearing.
There’s a very slow pace to the way stories are told. I’m all for establishing character, letting tension build up, but there just seem to be so many unnecessary shots of people doing nothing that advances the plot. I started to make mental edit notes of how I’d cut things down. (This reminds me of the chapter about television in “Everything Bad Is Good For You, about how plots of modern television programmes are much more sophisticated compared to the TV of old).
Smoking is all over the Twilight Zone, in a way that makes the smoking in Mad Men look positively moderate. Even Rod Serling can sometimes be seen holding a fag, with smoking curling around him as he delivers his end monologue.
And the one thing that’s always stood out for me in both film and television from this era is the kissing: pashing is forbidden! As well as the Hays Code for film, it appears that television also couldn’t show open-mouth kissing. So if a couple need to do a passionate kiss, they sort of violently press their lips together, creating many double chins. It’s entirely unsexy and seems more painful than passionate.
Walking down the street
As a sort of New Year’s resolution, I’m vowing to walk more. Previously I’d catch a bus down to the train station every morning, but now I’m making the effort and walking.
But it’s not exactly as if it is an effort. I’ve always liked walking. It might have to do with having grown up in a rural area with no footpaths, there was nowhere to walk. I used to dream of living in a place with footpaths that I could blissfully stroll along in sneakers, not trudging along in gumboots.
In fact, even when I’m not walking to work, I rather like just going for a walk around wherever. I don’t want to evoke the F word, but for me there’s a real pleasure in walking around a city. There’s so much detail and history and humanity that can be experienced just by the simple act of walking down the street.