by Catriona Mills

Some Films and Television Programmes That Fill Me With A Deep Sense Of Joy: A Possibly Ongoing Series

Posted 8 April 2009 in by Catriona

I’ve already mentioned how much I love watching old episodes of The Goodies, when they haven’t aged too badly (and make no mistake: some have). And it will come as no surprise that every episode of the original series of Doctor Who is dear to my heart. Yes, even “Silver Nemesis” and “Timelash.”

Here are some more programmes (and one film) that delight my heart.

In no particular order of importance:

1. Press Gang

Oh, Steven Moffat. My obsession with his writing started here—and this is one show that is just as enjoyable now as it was the first time I watched it. I’ll admit, the characterisation of Linda looks more ’80s now than I thought it did at the time (so high-powered business woman), but that doesn’t mean I love her any less. Or love Spike any less. Or love Linda and Spike as a couple any less.

In fact, any girlish romanticism in my nature (and there may be some, appearances notwithstanding) can be traced back to my teen obsession with this relationship.

On a slightly related note, I happily watched Doom (the movie, not the video game) once I realised it had half of Dexter Fletcher in it. (The top half, if anyone’s wondering.)

2. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

RANDOM ENGLISH KING WHO MAY NOT ACTUALLY HAVE EXISTED: Put them in the Iron Maiden.
BILL AND TED: Iron Maiden? Excellent!
RANDOM ENGLISH KING WHO MAY NOT ACTUALLY HAVE EXISTED: Execute them!
BILL AND TED: Bogus.

Enough said, really—though the fact that I didn’t even need to look that quotation up on the Internet probably speaks for itself.

3. Monkey

Seriously, this has to be one of the most surreal programmes ever to air. And that’s leaving out the blatant transvestism, which wasn’t limited to Tripitaka. We just watched an episode in which Monkey questioned the overall wisdom of Buddha: “He can’t even make up his mind whether he’s a bloke or not!”

Then there was that episode with the giant mushrooms—which I think were linked to some sort of Fungus King who, knowing Monkey, was called King Fungus. Or the episode with the unicorn who claimed that unicorns could rule the world “if we weren’t so nice—and mythical.” And the episode where Sandy and Pigsy became pregnant. Or the one with the teenage goblin who could cloud-fly, but his cloud had training wheels. Or my absolute favourite: the episode where Tripitaka believed that his other disciples had induced him to devour Pigsy, and he became possessed by Pigsy’s spirit and went to a disco where he danced to the Monkey theme song.

Sheer brilliance.

But there was also the aspect that never occurred to me as a child: for the late ’70s and early ’80s, this was hands down the least Anglo show ever to be a hit on Australian or British television. It may still be, for all I know. Voice acting aside, the actors are all Japanese, and the mise en scene (the costuming, the scenery, the mythology) is Chinese. Sesame Street always had African-American and Hispanic cast members (I don’t remember Asian cast members in my time), and there were other shows that played with issues of racial tolerance—the oddest example I can think of is Fraggle Rock, with its different races living in sometimes uneasy coexistence. But they were never anything like Monkey. It was fantastic for a child growing up in an intensely white town.

Share your thoughts [6]

1

Wendy wrote at Apr 8, 09:10 PM

Excellent choices in 1 and 2. Sadly,I never found the attraction in Monkey although I know many others did.

I did however love Fraggle Rock if only for its fantastic theme song.

2

Catriona wrote at Apr 8, 10:19 PM

I remember Fraggle Rock as brilliant, but I’d need to watch it again before adding it to this possibly ongoing series: I should have specified that these are my once and future shows/films: the ones that I loved then and still love now.

Shame about Monkey: I loved the book, too (though I admit to only having read it in the extremely truncated Arthur Waley translation). And the show is just bizarre and brilliant and hilarious to me—but it is one of those shows where it’s partly about how much I loved it as a kid.

Talking of theme songs, though: the opening monologue/theme song in the earlier seasons of Monkey is fantastic.

3

Heather wrote at Apr 8, 10:42 PM

For Michelle’s recovery we’ve decided to have a cheesey 70s and 80s TV weekend. So we rented some discs that were near and dear to us. For Michelle it was Family Ties (and I must say that I totally had the hots for Michael J Fox back in the day…but last night I kinda noticed that he looks a bit like Jodie Foster so that might explain that) and for me I decided to harken back to when I was 5 years old and totally obsessed with The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman. We started watching SMDM last night and I was really surprised at the serious attention to all the NASA footage used in the pilot episode and the narration from the Doctor. I mean, for the time, it was really well done. The first half of the pilot ends with Steve Austin being told that he will be ‘better, stronger, faster’ and he’s not particularly pleased about it but what can you do when you have no legs, no arm, and no eye?

4

Catriona wrote at Apr 8, 10:56 PM

I had a slight soft spot for Family Ties, but nothing major. I came to it rather late, with my parents’ embargo on watching anything but ABC. (I adore Michael J. Fox, though. Bless him.)

I never, ever watched The Six Million Dollar Man or The Bionic Woman. Shame, really.

5

Wendy wrote at Apr 9, 07:35 AM

Oh I was a big Family Ties fan. That plus Different Strokes, and The Cosby Show. Anyone else remember this: “Sit Ubu Sit..good dog”.

We were a family of cheesy action shows…The A Team, Magnum PI, Knight Rider. If there was sound on this comment I would be singing you the A Team theme song right now! In fact I’m about to go and find it.

Oh and every BBC comedy that ever aired on the ABC. Up here in the sticks there were only two channels – the ABC and a channel seven conglomerate that showed a mixture of other stuff.

Most exciting was when we would go to Brisbane to visit grandparents and be allowed to watch Boris’ Breakfast Club….TV in the morning? It was astonishing!

6

Catriona wrote at Apr 9, 08:20 AM

Oooh, we weren’t allowed to watch commercial television. (Though we had more than two channels, my town was small enough in those days that we still got the regional WIN and nor Channel 9.) So those sorts of shows, which Nick remembers fondly, I never saw at all.

In fact, I never really watched commercial television until I was in mid high school, when my parents finally stopped policing the television watching.

Before that, television was always a group activity, so we watched what Mam and Dad watched, and Mam and Dad watched ABC (and later SBS). So it was Monkey and Doctor Who, The Young Ones and To the Manor Born. And then my baby brother and I watched cartoons on Saturday mornings: He-Man and She-ra, Transformer and Voltron.

Good times.

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