Shouting at the telly

Until recently, my television viewing was fairly passive.  I’d enjoy (or not) what was being offered, and perhaps discuss it with those who happened to be in the room.  The news is an exception, but it probably is for everyone.  Shouting at one’s leaders (or the leaders of bigger nations) is a satisfying occupation (though to have any point it should be followed up in the form of letters or e-mails), and occasional whoops of joy creep through from time to time as well.

Recently, however, my housemate decided to subscribe to Sky television, and through the wonder that is the Challenge channel, I have rediscovered the Crystal Maze.  Has there ever been a show that encouraged more shouting at the screen?  ‘Get out!’,  ‘It’s over there!’, ‘The square of three is nine, you idiot!’, ‘Listen to your team-mates!’, ‘Not like that!’, ‘Yes!’ and lots of variations on ‘Aaaarrrggghhhh!’  I’m not sure whether it’s cathartic or very unhealthy, but I seem to be addicted to the Crystal Maze reruns, and my vocal cords always get a good workout, particularly if I’m alone in the house.  It’s a fantastic show, although I never did like the silly industrial zone of games, and it gives a great sense of being part of the action, trying to solve the games before the contestants.  Wonderfully cheeky presentation from Richard O’Brien as well.  His replacement did a good job, but never quite had the quirky charm of Dastardly Dick.  I wonder how long it will take to reach his series, with the wonderfully wet underwater zone?

On a similar note, I have also discovered the children’s TV series Raven, thanks to an h2g2 article on the show.  This is somewhat like an outdoor Crystal Maze for kids, given a Celtic spin and presented by Raven himself, a man with a wonderful Scots accent.  The kids compete to become the ‘ultimate warrior’ and have to prove their dexterity, speed and mental prowess as they do so.  Everything is augmented by special effects (particularly when the warriors ‘die’ and lose a life), so one can’t help suspecting that it’s actually more exciting for the viewers than for the young warriors themselves.  A spin-off show, Raven: The Island started recently, as well, with more of a plot and a much greater emphasis on cooperation rather than competition.  This time the young warriors have banded together to fight against Nevar (Raven’s enemy, as you can tell by reading his name backwards) and free a beautiful island from his grip.  These warriors are guided by one Princess Erina, who is very comely, but doesn’t seem to have managed to get into her role as much as the actor playing Raven has.  Still, that’s probably because she spends most of her time talking into thin air, conversing with a hamadryad created by special effects.  This latter series is admirable, as it teaches things that children really need to know about courage, teamwork, perseverance and the like, without getting too preachy.  Things that are practically impossible to teach in the classroom, but which are of vital importance.  There is a touch of shouting at the screen with both of these series, but it’s mostly a ‘Well done!’ when someone completes a particularly difficult task.  Also, maybe the odd gasp or two when they fail – despite myself, I sometimes get emotionally involved.  In children’s television.  How disgraceful!

Much as I enjoy a straight quiz show, preferably one with challenging questions such as Mastermind or University Challenge, there is something excitingly visceral about this sort of series (the Krypton Factor also springs to mind) that challenges people in all sorts of ways and which gets me shouting at the screen in a most un-British fashion.  I’ll take these over so-called reality television any day!

  1. I’m afraid I shout my head off at both Mastermind and University Challenge. ‘Milton! It’s Milton, you fool! T.S.Eliot? What do you mean, Eliot? That’s hundreds of years later! See, I told you it was Milton. Aren’t you supposed to be doing English? *pause while I tactfully ‘skip’ the maths questions* The Spanish Armada! The Armada! For pity’s sake…’

    I remember the Crystal Maze, too. Something about Richard O’Brien in a fur cape?

  2. Television in the UK is obviously more interesting than it is in the US. It’s pretty awful here. I don’t find myself shouting at it. I just turn it off.

    Do they have all of those dreadful reality shows there? Where people eat worms or some such? And there are ones where people are stranded on an island or something and have to gho through all sorts of survival things. I just have no interest in things like that. Give me a good old Miss Marple movie.

  3. Hyp, apparently we do indeed have worm-eating-desert-island shows. I’d sooner hack off my one feet with a blunt teaspoon than watch, but some of my dear darling work colleagues will not SHUT UP about Big Brother, and there’s never a blunt teaspoon to hand when you need it.

  4. My housemate is a Big Brother fan. He also likes I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here, which is a worm-eating one, but in the Australian jungle rather than a desert island. And he wonders why I spend so much time in my room on the computer! I do love a well-made mysery drama (Poirot with David Suchet is my favourite) for a bit of escapism and have become addicted to the drama series Lost, which manages to be both good and bad at the same time!

    With University Challenge, I seem to be able to play along quietly, sans shouting. Richard O’Brien does sometimes have fur (fake?) on in the Crysal Maze. Some sort of big cat. One of the spotty ones – either leopard or jaguar.

  5. David Suchet is the ultimate Poirot. I have started collecting them on dvd. I have all of the Joan Hickson Miss Marples. I was a bit put out with the Miss Marple remakes. I don’t like them nearly as well as the Joan Hickson ones. Watched a couple and then decided not to waste my time on the rest.

  6. Singing Librarian and Hypatia, I must agree with both of. David Suchet is an excellent Poirot, and Joan Hickson is the best Miss Marple. I don’t like the new Miss Marples episodes very much. The title put me off to begin with – ‘Agatha Christie’s Marple’ – it’s Miss Marple, don’t be so disrespectful. I don’t know.

    The old episodes of Poirot when Hastings was in it as well are particularly entertaining. I’ve been watching the repeats of them recently, and have been struck by how young David Suchet must have been then!

  7. Sorry, I meant to say both of you, and not stop mid-sentence! Ooops.

  8. I shout at the telly, but not at game shows, except for Jeopardy. I am usually berating our president or making some sort of social comment about a commercial and it has gotten so bad my husband automatically hits Mute when a commercial comes on.

    I am terribly jealous of you for having the Crystal Maze. Must get satellite tv so maybe we can watch it. Meanwhile, since I discovered the blogosphere my tv watching activities have fallen to zero, which is probably a good thing anyway.

  9. I treat commercials as an alternative form of entertainment, and thankfully we don’t have as many of them over here as in the US. I spot the bad acting, the awkward scripting, the rate of cliches per minute, that sort of thing.

    I didn’t think the new ‘Marple’ episodes were as bad as everyone else seems to think. I did think the change in title was odd, but was relieved that the characters still referred to her as Miss. High profile mystery series are always fun, because they attract great actors in the guest roles, and it’s always fun to see them being bumped off! Or is that just me?

  10. Sadly Spanish television is … very sad indeed. I can’t remember the last time I turned it on to watch anything other than dvd’s. Though for awhile they did have a Spanish version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire which was quite fun and I would shout out my answers.

    When I lived in Bristol 15 years ago there was indeed a wonderful quality of television in the UK … Nog has told me that it has since deteriorated quite significantly.

    Though I read recently that ITV is bringing back Helen Mirren for another series of Prime Suspect, which I think bodes well.

    • Julia
    • December 1st, 2006

    Hiya, it’s lulija_the_raven from the h2g2 boards, good to see someone older than me likes Raven, I feel less ashamed now hehehe! I agree, it’s a great show 😀

  11. Alas, I only get to see it on Fridays at the moment, as I finish work just as it starts. I can’t really justify going home early just to watch Raven, even with the Library of Doom owing me eight hours or so. Or can I? No, no, must be a sensible Singing Librarian…

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