Murder, she watched

Someone had taken out most of season one of “Twin Peaks” at my local video shop, so I was browsing the shelves looking for something else to watch. And I saw her. Sweet Jessica Fletcher, staring benevolently yet determinedly from the cover of “Murder, She Wrote”.

It used to be one of my favourite TV shows when I was a girl cos I liked the murder-mystery element. I particularly liked an episode from season one, where an amusement park owner is killed in a locked-room murder.

So that was the first episode I watched on DVD. But rather than being the awesome locked-room mystery I remembered, it was kind of cheesy and lame. The crux of the locked room set-up was some stupid voicemail hacking.

It was this lame:


But this opened a new level of appreciation for “Murder, She Wrote”, and I soon found myself mesmerised by things I’d never previously considered, like the set dressing. Whoever did it – IMDB suggests it was several people – had a thing for covering walls with an eclectic selection of paintings and using pot plants galore.

Take this living room, for example:


To the left, you can see the eclectic paintings, positioned to cover the whole wall. And all around are masses of pot plants. It looks like the stereotypical apartment of a single girl in the big city but it is actually the abode of a hard-boiled police detective. (Jessica is walking over to pet his cat on that chair. His cat!)

Here’s another room from another episode:


As well as the eclectic paintings and the jungle of pot plants, this scene also goes one better with the horse sculpture and an artfully placed Lynn Redgrave on the sofa.

Actually, celebrity spotting is another fun part of watching “Murder, She Wrote”.

Here’s Kenickie getting arrested for murder, dressed as a lady:



Don’t worry – he didn’t do it. He was falsely accused, but his fiancee stuck by him and pashed him to prove to viewers he wasn’t a gay, but sadly was unable to prove that he wasn’t a total douchebag. (The real murderer was Kotter.)

And who’s this cute li’l scamp?


Why, it’s none other than Oscar-nominated serious actor Joaquin Phoenix, here playing Jessica’s great-nephew Billy.

But what kept me going as I revisited all those DVDs were the mysteries at the core of every episode. Some of them are far-fetched, others are too easy to guess, but others were quite ingenious and made up for that lame voicemail hack.

So, I think it’ll be a while now before I get around to watching Twin Peaks.

The Nineties

Back in 1990 I remember reading an interview with a popular youth television presenter who has since disappeared off the face of the earth. He had recently had a baby with his girlfriend. The interviewer asked him about people who were concerned that he was having kids out of wedlock. His reaction was something like, “Hey man, this is the nineties. If people can’t handle it, it’s their problem.”

Ten years later people are still doing the “it’s the nineties, man” thing.

I recently read an article about a woman who was awarded a settlement after being sexually harassed at work. She was quoted as saying she as shocked at the level of harassment she had received from her co-workers because it was the nineties.

It’s like on 1 January 1990 suddenly people’s attitudes changed. That after consuming copious amounts of alcohol instead of waking up with a hangover people woke up with enlightenment.

“Oh wow, it’s the nineties! I will welcome my pothead dole-bludging son and his de facto wife and kids back into my family with open arms and unconditional love!”

It didn’t happen. All the wankers out there are still wankers. If they want to be dicks, the decade isn’t going to stop them.

But hope is on its way. The next decade has no easy way of describing it. Whilst saying “it’s the nineties” sounds kind of cool, saying “Get with it man, it’s the zeroes,” sounds dumb. And it’s hard to say “Lighten up, it’s the new millennium!” without sounding like a new-age flake.

The new year, the new decade, the new century, and yes, the new millennium will come and be celebrated, but it’s not going to change people’s lives. It takes more than a sunset and a sunrise to do that.

Bigger Than Bugger

I don’t own or posses a television and because of this I don’t watch a lot of television (quelle surprise!). One day I noticed the word “bugger” kept popping up in the newspaper (The New Zealand Herald, which I do not enjoy reading, I only read it because there’s always a copy at work lying around. It says nothing to me about my life. But that’s another rant.).

Upon further investigation I learned that there was an advertisement on TV for some type of Toyota vehicles that used the punchline “bugger”. I asked around and was told by at least one person that this advertisement was “very very funny.”

So this started a spate of bugger-madness in the nation. Every lame newspaper cartoonist (like there are non-lame newspaper cartoonists) was doing a bugger-themed cartoon. My co-workers laughed at it. “Ha ha,” they’d say. “That’s really funny! I’m going to cut this out and show it to Ian!” Or whoever.

I noticed a shop selling t-shirts with “BUGGER” printed on them. Oh yes, Mr Shopkeeper, I’ll have eight of those, please! Think how rad I will look when I am playing touch rugby on the weekend wearing my “BUGGER” t-shirt!

It leads to this sort of crap, from a local newsgroup:

I wonder, is there anyone out there who has an AVI/MPEG/MOV of the Toyota ‘Bugger!’ commercial that I could download?

I would also be interested in a copy.

And me….!!

I could go on about the advertising people who created the ad, how I imagine them sitting around getting drunk thinking that they are The Shit. But that’s not it.

It’s everyone. The normal everyday people who think it’s the most hysterically funny thing ever.

The kind of people who accuse me of not having a sense of humour because I don’t find jokes with the punchline “bugger” humorous. Somethings are bigger than bugger.

But I shall leave the last word to the Oxford English Dictionary:

1. A Heretic: used esp. of the Albigenses (Hist.)
2. One who commits buggery; a sodomite. In decent use only as a legal term. 1555.
b. A coarse term of abuse; also, in Eng. dial. and in U.S., = ‘chap’, ‘customer’, etc. Hense Bugger v to commit buggery with.