Wednesday, 30 March 2011

My Top 50 TV Shows! 50 - 41...

I LOVE TV with a wild, reckless passion - I know it could have been the greatest educational tool ever, it probably is the most powerful & successful propaganda machine ever conceived, but I LOVE IT REGARDLESS. I love that dozens, often hundreds & sometimes even thousands of people work together to produce entertainment for me, for you, for us, & send it via modern technology into my house.

I LOVE TV, and this list is 50 reasons why - 50 great TV shows that I have or have had great affection for. I'm still arguing over the order in my head as it is, my top 20 is kinda my top 20, but after that they're all shows that I've just thoroughly enjoyed. These are all shows I would highly recommend to viewers looking for something interesting, entertaining & ultimately special... or just for a new thing to put on as they waste their lives in front of a screen! :)

50. The Outer Limits - The 90s remix of a 60s series is really only on the list because whilst it attempted to fill the gap left by the end of the X-Files, it also managed to deliver where the X-Files didn't: in the T & A department. Watching it one evening, probably the 5th or 6th episode I'd ever seen, & some 'mad' scientist was there creating a robot version of a perfect woman (hence why 'mad' appears in inverted commas, as the scientist was clearly on a rational pursuit... ) and a particular moment when this female robot creation was about to step out of her "birthing chamber", fully grown & fully formed, my mind noted that if I was the 'mad' scientist, & I'd just created a perfect woman, I probably wouldn't have created her with any clothes on.... And so it proved; for that moment, & for several other hours of sci-fi fun, thank you The Outer Limits. Kinda wish there were more like you!

49. CSI - None of the spin-offs have ever felt as good to me as the original Vegas, but the depth of detail, the wonderful characterisation & the ingenuity of the main cast of beautiful people set a standard of American TV making that is often mimicked & rarely matched, but for me, where CSI fails is strangely also where it succeeds; its style is so unique, so trademarked, that when you've seen one show, you've seen them all. This is no bad thing, & CSI deserves special acclaim for defining itself so successfully, but if its not your thing it never will be, & its only kinda my thing, beyond the first season of Vegas anyway.

48. Prison Break - One must give massive props, respect & adjectives of that effect to Prison Break, whose first season was among some of the best stuff ever seen on television. Unfortunately, like with Lost, Desperate Housewives and others, a superb debut season could not be matched with subsequent seasons, though Prison Break did provide us with arguably the best first season of them all, but the problem with the highest high is that it can only be followed by lows. Shame they were such low lows...

47. Heroes - A good first series was disappointed by its siblings & as such makes it on to this list for only two reasons: having Hayden Panetierre + that dude from White Castles in it. Also, the first series was fairly incredible, but as I say, the quality thereafter significantly diminshed, though it was still disappointing when it ended without a satisfactory denoument."Save the cheerleader, save the world"? I actually agree with this statement: as long as there is a Hayden Panetierre on this world, its a world worth saving :D

46. Friends - There isn't much that hasn't already been said about Friends, so I'll go with what is probably a well-worn analogy fr the series: that of a friend whom on first meeting is exceptionally entertaining & exciting, a friend whose company you can't wait to be in, a friend who bring you joy, laughter & lightness, a friend who even teaches you some things. After a while the regularity of the friend's visits become something approaching monotonous; the jokes become remixes of a song that was kinda annoying in the first place & even though you feel its your duty to remain social, you begin to resent the imposition on your time... until eventually the friend gets the hint, realises that much of the magic is gone, and decides its time to move on, then you realise what you're about to lose & that you massively undervalued the connection you guys had in the first place, so you enjoy the effort & energy expended by your friend, so that you part on good terms... And now, when you occasionally bump into each other there's an air of nostalgia & genuine warmth, and without any kind of facade that could lead to guilt, especially when you turn away, with a "seen it."...

45. Knightmare - This 80s kids show was the one I wanted to appear on most: the setting was a group of "young adventurers" would gather to test themselves in the realm of Knightmare... which basically involved one of them (a Dungeoneer) putting on a blindfold in the style of a warrior's helm & being guided around a blue screen studio room with an occasional actor or 2 popping up, whilst a scary & mysterious world was projected that the blindfolded child would have to navigate through using only the spoken directions of his teammates (some girls did play, but were the exception), sat elsewhere watching on a TV, furiously taking notes... "Sidestep to your left!" was often heard... as another teammate shouts "Sidestep to your right!" Youtube has a load of Knightmare videos, & while it has obviously lost all of its mysterious, paranormal cool (I was about 6 when it came out... but the intro did still get me going) it is now cool for the sheer geekiness of it all; most especially due to the general lack of common sense apparently prevalent among much of the geek youth of 80s Britain. No team actually managed to complete the game until the 2nd series, & even at the time it looked like a fix, more so now - nonetheless it was an excellent concept that will inevitably resurface... Though probably without a role-playing presenter who looks & acts like a dramatic, alcoholic tramp (forgive me Treygard!)

44. Aeon Flux - I'm not gonna lie: I can't really remember it & I had only a very vague idea as to what was going on when I can remember it, but the cartoon (later a movie with Charlize Theron as the heroine) was mysteriously & awesomely fascinating. The style of the animation was like a Todd MacFarlane come to life (this was early 90s when such a thing in 2D was still impressive); the music was powerful, funky, emotive; the lack of a verbal narrative driving the story was like a breath of fresh air, NAY, 'twas like the scent of an attractive woman's perfume as she walks past you having just given you a smile with a raised eyebrow, like a subliminal dropkick. & in the UK it was on at a random time, in a random part of a larger "culture" type program, so some weeks it would remain elusive... It was wicked, it stands the test of time, & the quality of nostalgia/flashback is beginning to make me think I've erred by having this so low on the list...

43. Eureka - This filled the aching chasm in my heart left by Eerie, Indiana (see number 37). In essence an average-joe law enforcer becomes the sheriff of a town filled with the greatest scientists on earth, who all live separated from 'normal' society in a town called Eureka (the brain child of Einstein, apparently) whilst they research & develop weather machines, time machines, experiment with genetics, robotics, and other potentially helpful, yet deadly things, with the suitable comedic/terrifying results. It is good, fairly honest fun, with an able supporting cast along the entire range of eccentricity, and whilst its not the most original, or least formulaic thing ever, its very enjoyable, with a heartfelt moral that isn't rammed down the throat. Its light & breezy, not mentally taxing & with an excellent balance of comedy, drama & sci-fi, so I recommend it, even though its not the greatest thing ever seen on TV. Its on here in spite of what was a fairly dire 3rd season, as I have faith that it'll get better... Maybe they should have a scientist develop a machine to determine exactly at which point an audience's suspended disbelief plummets into the chasm of apathy, never to return...

42. He-Man - He-Man & the Masters of the Universe, was not only a cartoon made by toy company Mattel with the specific purpose of selling one of the most definitive & greatest toy-lines of all time, but it was also some subversive pro-Nazi propaganda... if you believe the internet! Some of the theories are somewhat persuasive if I'm honest, which may explain its low place on this list... but it gets on the list nonetheless for the awe it inspired in me as a child. Distinct is the memory of rushing out of school one afternoon in order to catch a show that featured my favourite He-Man figure, feathered & goggle-sporting Stratos, who was my favourite toy, but had yet to appear in the series; I arrived home late, saw Stratos deliver some pithy summary of whatever adventure had just occurred, then flew off into the sunset... so maybe the link to my childhood disappointment is the real reason for its low place on the list... but I digress. The eponymous hero's alter-ego, Prince Adam was pretty much like a fantasy world Bruce Wayne, but with a blond bowl-cut, but when he called upon the power of Grayskull, & raised his magical sword in the air, Prince Adam became He-Man (Who... Has... THE POWER), and thus many homosexuals born in the 80s were given harness fantasies, because a harness & speedos were all that He-Man wore into combat; not particularly practical, but excellent at emphasising his muscular masculinity (as if his name wasn't enough). The fact that He-Man didn't wear a mask, but was rarely identified with his alter-ego was a source of mystery to even naive children, and because there was no distinct limitation to his powers there were fights in playgrounds: "He-Man can fly!" "No he can't!" etc, until the argument was settled by Mattel releasing a flying craft that, yes, you could buy, but no, it didn't fly. While the cartoons probably stand up the worst to 21st century reflection of all the 80s cartoons, He-Man smashed into a place in my pre-cynical heart from whence I cannot remove him... even if it was all pro-Nazi propaganda. I really hope it wasn't. I hope he was just a fantastic hero/gay icon... but here's a link to a Youtube movie with info you could pick up easily from other sites, but set to some ominous music:
41. Big Brother UK - I know lots of people hate it, and if I'm completely honest I also grew to hate BBUK, but that's mostly due to the unfavourable comparisons with the US equivalent (MUCH higher on this list), the promotion & profusion of briefly entertaining but ultimately vomit-inducing english comedians in aplethjora of spin-off shows & the absurd pretence that we were watching "reality" TV. Whereas the US version embraces the fact that they have a number of willing, attention-seeking participants in front of lots of cameras, & all the entertainment possibilities that creates, the UK version was unbearably formulaic, & based on the notion that we actually cared about the people inside. We didn't. OK, large swathes of the British media & public did, no doubt that their opinion swayed the producers into the course they chose, and whilst it was a real shame that they didn't (& still yet noone has) transfer(red) the US format to UK TV + people the show did manage to give me something to talk about, and even though I've bashed it a touch we did have good times together, BB and I, though it did leave me feeling a little dirty - often in a good way!

Friday, 25 March 2011

Stuff & Nonsense

So - what do you believe? Do you believe anything? For anyone other than of religious ilk, its generally a tough question to answer. Do you believe the hype, the rumours, can you believe it, can you adam-and-eve it? I don't believe it... It beggars belief...

Obviously I believe some of it, like my reality is real - the physical world I inhabit, other people I interract with, creatures & objects - but after that it gets a little tricky.

Yes, the very existence of the material world & all of the beauty, suffering, madness & mundanity therein is proof of something beyond what I currently have evidence to convince anyone of if they're not already convinced - the fact that I'm writing this, the fact you're reading it, etc is all rather remarkable - but some people, massive swathes of them, do believe some fundamentally absurd things... Which they're entitled to do of course, & I try not to judge but I can't help but have a problem with the use of some beliefs to justify certain actions.

People only ever really do things for two reasons: because they need to, or because they want to. That's it - the crazy man who does something in the name of religion would end up doing something crazy for some other reason because he wants or needs to be crazy, same with "good" & "bad" people. You can claim that its due to "chemical imbalances", but you show me a perfectly balanced brain & I will show you a definition arrived at through the use of calculations - but:
I was asked in an interview, in accordance with the tenets of "political correctness", what my views on (the concept of ) diversity were... I babbled for a second or two, then said: "Well, basically, average only exists in numbers..." I smiled and, needless to say, I got the job. Please feel free to use it yourself, its one of those answers/statements you can't really argue with.

People are, simplistically, people; for all intents and purposes they make up their own rules. What most people don't realise is that also means you make up your own rules. The majority of the rich, successful, famous, infamous & downright notorious people are on some level keenly aware of this fact - for many people the lack of their own wealth, success, fame or notoriety is due to them not embracing that - but it is ignorance of it that makes the world what it is today. Civilization often appears to be completely successful in only one respect, which is that it divests people from the sense that they are in control of their own lives. In most places suicide is illegal. Do you understand the implications of that? I'm not by any means advocating suicide, but I feel I should have the right to kill myself if I desire. I appreciate that theoretically such laws are in place to prevent people killing people indiscriminately under the auspice of "assisting suicide", but those laws also deny you a basic human right.

Choose life? We don't get a choice! That being said, I'm fairly confident that people who with every iota of their being wish to die somehow manage to find a way - and it is such with pretty much all laws... I believe in life, I believe that when the alternative is potentially oblivion one should make the most of this shared physical reality. I do not believe that illegal drugs should be illegal, nor do I believe that governments act in their people's best interests. I believe some politicians tell the truth, but that the majority don't, and that some care but the majority did but don't any more - some never did.

I believe democracy is a beautiful idea, but I don't believe in it: it does not exist - like communism it is too perfect a notion to be implemented properly.
I believe in capitalism, because it works - and it works because it is the most suited to humankind's genetic desire to not only survive, but survive in style.
I believe all people against legalisation of drugs are either not well-educated enough on the subject, or stand to gain financially from the perpetuation of their illegal status - I believe legal, prescription drugs are no different than illegal ones.
I believe that people ignorant to the hypocrisy of man are as much to blame for everything as the hypocrites... and those who recognise the hypocrisy & do nothing about it.
I believe we are all responsible for ourselves, & I believe most people abdicate that responsibility without even thinking about it.
I believe the children are our future; teach them now & let them lead the way...
(I don't believe I can fly - tried it, hurts without sufficient safety precautions)
I believe a lot of things, & that's what this blog will predominantly be about - what I believe, what I think, sometimes what I hope, fear or feel.

Thankyou for taking the time to read it (if you have), and please allow me to leave you with this affirmation, which I will write in bold to emphasize its importance to me & how much I wish to express it to you:
I believe in the concept of The Infinite, both mathematical & divine; I believe in Pi, the Moebius Strip & Singularities; I believe in sex, drugs & funky techno -  indeed:

p.s. I promise it won't all be that hardgoing -  next up: TV related stuffandnonsense... Enjoy!