Thursday, February 04, 2010

Why the U.K.?

I'm an Anglophile. It came naturally, via my mother and her Anglophilia.

As kids we watched Dr. Who (Tom Baker), (parts of) Benny Hill, and Monty Python...because Mom did. We saw Masterpiece Theater with Derek Jacobi in I, Claudius, and never made it through Upstairs, Downstairs because, foolish children that we were, it bored us.

Then I married another Anglophile. When I got married guessed it. I've spent a lot of time watching Are You Being Served?, As Time Goes By, Waiting for God, Mulberry, and a slew of other British programs, either on PBS or BBC America or on video, DVD and whatever other media presents itself.

British programming can be just as empty and useless as U.S. shows are at their worst, but the best in the U.K. is very, very good indeed. And it's usually richer, funnier, and much more inclined to require that the viewer possess a few working brain cells.

I'm not sure why that is. Maybe because of the television license? Maybe because America got there first, and the Brits set out to surpass us? I really don't know, but I see the superiority time and again.

There are good U.S. shows. Funny ones, quirky ones, shows that ask the viewer to think...but so many inane things lurk around them that I'm not inclined to try and sift through to find the stuff I like.

It could be, of course, that their better offerings are what we get over here. After all, it's been pre-sifted. There are things, though, that I can't buy in non-PAL format (I'm looking into getting a format free DVD player)...or instance, Blackpool, which I managed to watch on YouTube (not my preferred method of viewing, I promise you).

I'd like to see Tennant's Hamlet NOW, thanks. And the truly uncut versions of Dr. Who. Why in the hell do we get the slashed and burned versions here? Is the Hays office still lurking?

I don't know. But in the meantime, I'll continue to hunt down British comedy, dramas on the Beeb, and wish for complete access to it online. For heaven's sake, we don't even have radio shows any more!


C.K. Dexter Haven said...

My wife and I are off to London this August! It'll be a lifelong wish fulfilled. I also love those "Britcoms" and most everything related to the UK. (see my post in your Dr Who entry).

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

I should mention that I was a "Benny Hill Show" viewer beginning at age nine! It was the "programme" where I first saw garter belts...quite a discovery for a young lad... :o

Eileen said...

Now that I've seen your comment on the Dr Who post...have you seen The Adventures of Sarah Jane Smith? I don't think it airs over here, but you can find some episodes on YouTube. (I looked up the 2 part "Wedding of Sarah Jane..." because Tennant was in it, of course!) It's a little more kid-oriented than the present day Dr Who, but still interesting to an adult.

p.s. You've no idea how much I envy you your trip to London! I still have never been there. Have a wonderful time.

C.K. Dexter Haven said...

re: Sarah Jane Adventures

I've seen and enjoyed the first season but I don't have the DVDs and I don't believe Sci-Fi channel is playing it, either. Is it on BBC America?

Speaking of Tennant, my wife has about 19 of the BBC-published Dr Who continuing adventures--she's a big fan of his.

I saw a young David Tennant on an episode of the mystery show that Diana Rigg did around 1999-2000. I forget the name, but it's always fun to be surprised by a pre-famous actor...

Eileen said...

Ah, yes, the Mrs. Bradford Mysteries. That was a good episode! He played Max Valentine.

As for continuing Dr. Who w/Tennant, I want to listen to the audio adventures he's done. There's even an animated special he did with Martha as companion. That looks like fun, too.

Anonymous said...

I always asked myself why Mary Astor sounds so very Britisch in The Maltese Falcon. Maybe she was Britainloving too... Actually I love Jean Arthur, above all in the 30s. I love also her pronounciation, which seems to be more American as Ginger Rogers. Jean does not put a heavy stress on the r.
Clarissa S.

Eileen said... the 20s and 30s the stage actors in the states often sounded rather British, and some film stars, even though who did not train for the theatre, followed suit.