Friday, December 14, 2007

The Tea Kettle Completes the Image

During these times of television darkness (i.e. writers' strike), I have turned to BBC America.  It happened slowly at first, but now the channel is on at my place more often than ... well, to put it in perspective, more often than Nick @ Nite used to be.

Honestly, I can't even tell you how it started.  I would say it started with Doctor Who, but that's wrong, because for some obscure reason, the BBC (which, y'know, MAKES Doctor Who) sold the rights to the SciFi channel.  BBC America gets the rights later, and if you still haven't watched it by then, it can ultimately show up on your local PBS station.  Point is, though, I was minding my own business watching Doctor Who on SciFi, so have no idea exactly when and how I started picking up BBC America programs.

It may have been when David Tennant (dude currently starring in Doctor Who) was on the Graham Norton Show -- one of them night time talk shows, in the mold of Leno or Letterman.  Except British and really funny.  Norton often has two guests on each night -- and he chats with them both simultaneously, none of this one-at-a-time-to-plug-your-movie thing.  And the second guest is often a comedian, so you've got Norton and the comic throwing out quips while Glenn Close (or whoever) is sitting there in the middle, trying to keep up.  Also:  (1) they all drink on the show, which loosens everyone up; and (2)  Norton often does goofy things with audience members or via a remote camera.  When Glenn Close was on, they took a woman out of the audience, put her in a perm wig in front of a green screen, and had her (over)act the final scene from Fatal Attraction.  He's also just very quick and funny, and at least once per episode, he's said something I've just laughed out loud at.  (It's often something filthy, but funny.)

So, OK, weekly late night television show taken care of.

Then I picked up the news.

BBC America had been advertising their new newscast (BBC World News America or something) which isn't just BBC News exported, but a real live actual news program by the BBC folks geared just toward us.  To be completely fair, I haven't watched American network news in ages (other than watching CNN in hotel rooms, I still get most of my news from Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert) but this is actually ... Ihate to admit it, but it's kinda like World News with Training Wheels.  Except there's nothing particularly patronizing about it.  But I do get the feeling that whoever is behind the show thought, "Y'know, these Americans don't know all that much about what's going on in the world" so they often start each story from scratch.  Like, whenever they're talking about something happening in, say, Pakistan, it starts with a little globe spinning over to Pakistan, just in case you're not quite up on where the hell Pakistan is.  Then they give you a little bit of background before launching into the story.  The coverage is also quite remarkable compared to what I'm used to -- the BBC claims one of the advantages to their news program is that they've got people everywhere, and they really do.  VERY few remote stories are just a reporter standing in front of a local landmark -- they're out there in the streets, talking to locals, getting their opinions on things.  So, like, before the Russian elections, we had a whole story on Siberia -- how Putin has changed it, and what locals think of him.  I find the whole thing very impressive.

Am slowly venturing into their actual primetime TV shows, too.  Having actually yielded to their constant bombardment of ads for "the final season" of Life on Mars, I finally sat down to watch the season premiere.  (Hint:  Has nothing to do with Mars.)  Was so impressed, I went right out and ordered the DVD of the first season.

And as for why the hell I'm watching Bargain Hunt and Cash in the Attic before bedtime, well, that's anyone's guess.

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