Sunday, January 20, 2008

Watch And Yearn

My sleep patterns have been wildly erratic of late. On the one had it’s been a real pain in the ass, on the other it has given me a chance to cosy up to the BBC’s iPlayer .

Reading keeps me awake so rather than pace about the apartment on the nights I’m unable to get my head down, instead I’ve been catching up on programmes I’ve missed over the past weeks. Some were good, some bad. When I was at a loss for what to watch, there was always, thankfully, an episode of QI.

Whether because it was late at night or that I wasn’t that choosy, I found myself watching shows that ordinarily I probably wouldn’t see like the Paul Morley-fronted documentary Pop! What is it Good For? It may have had good intentions but rapidly descended into the most spectacular pretentious twaddle I’d seen in hours, though not before Morley revealed his interesting theory that all great pop songs are great if you can imagine them being sung by Elvis.

The Horizon episode, How To Kill a Human Being was a remarkable investigation by Michael Portillo into the science of execution. Checking out the pros and cons of lethal injection, hanging, the gas chamber and the electric chair, the former Conservative MP went looking for a humane and painless way for the state to kill criminals sentenced to death.

The result - inducing hypoxia through inert gases may allow prisoners to die peacefully, in a state of complete euphoria – certainly was a way that least resembles murder. Once he had an answer, Portillo seemed taken aback that not everyone agreed with the possible practice. There were still people who, believing in “an eye for an eye,” want the killers to suffer as they leave this world.

By midweek I had pretty much given up with the television schedule, knowing that any programme on the BBC channels could be watched another time. Wonderland: The Secret Life of Norman Wisdom Aged 92 ¾ certainly benefited from being able to pause and walk away from for a couple minutes. I was never really a great fan of Norman Wisdom. He always came across as someone who craved attention and even now, in his dotage, was seen reaching for a microphone like it was a crack pipe. Every chance he got, he’d warble that sodding Don’t laugh at me ‘cause I’m a fool song from 1953’s Trouble in Store.

Now middle-aged, the children wanted to known for who they were, rather than as Norman Wisdom’s son and daughter. When their father’s full-time carer decided to retire and the kids had to find a way to look after their ailing father, initially the daughter came across as rather a hardened old bitch, putting the well being of her dog over that of her father’s. After nearly thirty minutes in the company of Wisdom, I was surprised she hadn’t trained the dog to attack.

Whether it was the onset of dementia or whether he was just lost in the ego of his own celebrity, the final scenes of the documentary were the most telling. Standing outside the school with his daughter-in-law, waiting to collect his grandson, Wisdom waved at all the parents driving in to pick up their kids. “Do you know these people?” the daughter-in-law asked. “No, but they know me,” he replied. In the end it worked out. Wisdom went into a care home where he had a captive audience while his children got the rest of their lives back.

Documentaries and insomnia aside, the iPlayer had allowed me to catch the final episode of Sense and Sensibility, which had clashed with The Best of Top Gear the night of its actual transmission. Then I watched The Best of Top Gear again because it was piss funny with Clarkson, Hamster and Captain Slow trying to drive across the Channel to France in their homemade amphibious cars, The Hamster trying out motorhome racing, and Clarkson twatting around in the Peel P-50, which has to be the funniest damn thing from last year.

There’s also Doctor Who repeats which seem to be a staple of BBC3's listless schedule. One night – or more specifically, in the hours of the morning – I watched the second part of the story about Daleks in 1930s New York. God, it was awful. Now I have the opportunity to see the new series of Torchwood twenty-four hours a day. Given how juvenile and darn right pathetic the first run was, I doubt I’ll succumb. In fact, I’d rather get a gob job from a girl with a mouthful of razor blades and broken glass, which, I guess, pretty much makes it clear where I stand.

Of course while the iPlayer lets people download shows and store them on computer for up to 30 days, I can only watch the programmes, streamed online, during their allotted seven-day post-transmission window. The reason being, the file sharing and digital rights management technology the BBC use is so far only compatible with Windows XP and Vista.

At least the streaming option makes it better than Channel 4’s 4oD which pretty much says, if you’re using Mac OS X, fuck you! Actually, it just tells me ‘Sorry 4oD is not available on this platform’ but that’s not really very Channel 4. Of course I’d much prefer to miss the programme completely that trade in the Mac for a piece-of-shit PC with Microsoft software.

So that just leaves me with the BBC. Although, for a program that isn’t wholly compatible with Apple computers, doesn’t it seems a bit rich of them to call it iPlayer? Anyway, I'm back off to bed.


At 11:12 pm, Blogger Jaded and Cynical said...

He reached for the microphone like it was a crackpipe.


At 10:40 pm, Blogger Sal said...

iplayer is fab for people like me who go "ooh, I meant to watch that, forgot it was on". Hope the insomnia is getting better

At 1:42 am, Blogger Jon Peacey said...

I was talking about 4OD with a friend the other day. They installed the player on their PC and it was a nightmare. He said it got into (seemingly) every program and slowed the machine down terribly; the whole experience culminated with a very lengthy and difficult excision of the thing! So, Mac users are apparently the lucky ones.

At 12:22 pm, Blogger evil twinz said...

The iPlayer is great, esp when you work on shift like me and mainly do nights. I don't need to miss a thing.

Nuff respect by the way to your brand of evil on this blog. Been lurking a while now.

Luv Mike


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