Monday, January 31, 2011

Masterpiece Theatre

Let me just begin by saying I grew up on Masterpiece Theatre. Some Americans think I speak with a slight British accent, and if I do, it might possibly be because I watched so much Masterpiece Theatre. And I still watch Masterpiece Theatre, but I really don't understand what's going on behind the scenes. I mean, it's not even called Masterpiece Theatre anymore. Instead it's either Masterpiece Classic or Masterpiece Contemporary or Masterpiece Mystery or some such nonsense, depending on what kind of show they're airing.  And while they still do intros, they now have actors delivering information in the most snarky voice possible. What's with that? Do the producers think snarky means hip?  More intelligent? More in keeping with British television? More modern? Or do they secretly despise the very shows they're airing? Personally, I just don't find contempt a very nice prelude to a show like Downton Abbey.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Look At Flower In Fog

Lately I've been watching Look At Flower In Fog on ICN. A Chinese drama, it takes place in modern China and it's all about the antique business.  That alone is fascinating, the drama going into depth about all the fakery and fraud that goes on, like taking ancient jade and machine cutting it into a "rare" object or using laborious ancient techniques to manufacture exquisite pottery that are as good as the ones from famous eras.  The plot itself is just as complex, no one knowing who's really who, who's conspiring with whom.  But what really keeps me coming back is the excellence of the script, the directing and the acting.  Every scene is filled with tension, even a simple breakfast scene where a father warns a daughter to eat slower.  There was this one amazing scene:  a man and a woman, co-workers, arguing in a corridor; she's in love with him; he's in trouble (a client has complained that he's conned her); the woman, in a fit of anger, declares that the client is a whore and she's going to slug her; for a moment, absolute silence as each absorbs the outburst; then the man smiles and says, "That's so nice of you." Absolutely wonderful.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Pioneers of Television

I just spent the nicest hour watching Pioneers of Television. The episode was about the birth of science fiction, interviewing past stars of Star Trek, Lost in Space, etc. and you got to find out what fascinating people Gene Roddenberry and Irwin Allen were. But what was really a surprise was the attitude of the show, relaxed, good-spirited, fun. There wasn't anything snarky or muckraking, no "so and so were doing drugs" and "so and so were sleeping together". Nothing juvenile. I felt a little like I'd gone back in time, watching a tribute show from the 70s.