Saturday, January 15, 2005

TV Week

I wish I had seen a little more of Peter Elliot’s trip around the top of the South Island and down the West Coast, retracing the path taken by Charles Heaphy and Thomas Brunner. Oh well, Heaphy’s diaries have apparently been published so I’ll dig them out at some stage. Maybe there will be a video for sale. The little bit I did see was around where I spent my New Year’s with the seal family. Unlike me, he was right down on the water line - an extremely strenuous trip faced him to get round to Karamea with the tides only giving a limited window of opportunity. Instead, I was watching the Great Race, I’m not sure what series we are seeing, but they were in Hungary and it featured some of the grossest TV I’ve seen for a while. As one of their challenges, the teams had to eat 24 ounces of a hot Hungarian soup. One chick would eat a few bites and then have a spit - at least she used the floor for that purpose. Worse was the guy who confessed to having put about 6 ounces of vomit back into the soup and eating THAT up. Nice. Otherwise, I do quite like watching this, although I haven’t seen it for about five weeks and the pair I thought was nice have been eliminated in the meantime.

My only serious watching on Tuesday was good old Teachers - the one where Susan gets to hold the baby of one of the pupils and is for a while in love with the idea of having one of her own. Of course, Kurt and Bryan are all over themselves to father it and even Simon volunteers. Against this background, there was a look at the idea over whether parents have any part to play in how kids turn out or whether its just a giant crapshoot. It was learning that it was a crapshoot that meant Susan abandoned the idea.

I really had not planned to watch it, but once the Simple Life Road Trip came on, I found it hard not to. I think that there was somehow just a little more to them than in the last series. The Practice I did plan to see - its only the second one I have seen since they last Bobby Donnell and gained Alan Shaw (James Spader). It’s a very different show now, with more than a few traces of the eccentricity that were in Ally McBeal. Bobby shared one characteristic with my former boss - an absolute sense that the game of lawyering had to be played with integrity and by the rules. As a result, there was a moral centre to the show against which we could assess the various happenings.

For Shaw, it is the result that matters, no matter how you get it. He's a bit like Richard Fish from Ally McBeal. Last week, his firm was suing some company for a client - he visited that company’s lawyer pretending to be an officer of the company and directed a settlement of the case. Eleanour was all worried about his self destructive behaviour, but that was nothing compared to tonight’s exploits. He had two clients - one was a woman whose husband had shot himself. Her claim was against the manufacturer of his anti-depressants, alleging that they had caused him to become violent and kill himself. Alan had no medical evidence at all, no offer on the table, but a great sympathy for the client. So, he breaks into the opposing lawyer’s computer and finds there was a letter that indicated some knowledge by the drug company that their drug was dodge. Highly privileged but he pretends it was given to him in discovery as a strategy to get a settlement. Here’s where he got real clever: rather than settling the claim against the drug company (which might lead to bad publicity) he “sold” the letter to it for a vast sum and took a non-suit.

The story of the other client revolved around a knife he had hidden in Shaw’s office, which might prove he murdered someone but if the Police didn’t have it, they were stuffed. Shaw refused to look for the knife so he could maintain a stance of not knowing it was there or not, but that led to the cops searching the entire law firm, much to the annoyance of his bosses. When Eugene Young asks Alan what should be done with him, Alan accepts that he is a liability for the firm but then hands over his $2 million fee earnt that day: I think his job is safe.

I guess this is a natural sort of progression for the Practice, as it has been portraying the decline in standards in defense counsel, then the prosecutors, for a while. Now it is the legal system itself on trial - technical rules of evidence would have let the drug company go free and the alleged murderer shouldn’t really have been allowed to live until his mid 30’s without having psychiatric treatment earlier, given that his mother said he’d been mad as a snake since he was 3.

Some downright scary TV while I was watching Blue Heelers - over on TV3 there was a fully grown woman in Florida who, thanks to extreme corsetry, had managed a 12 inch waist. Doctors "just scare me" so she had no interest in knowing about the medical risks. Then there were the thousands in Hyderabad who treat asthma by swallowing a live fish, marinated in spices, in the belief that the flapping of the fish will dislodge the asthma. To complete a big night of watching TV, I found myself at some wierd time in the morning unable to sleep and watching a cool science-based Survivor type programme called Rough Science. Five scientists are given assigned tasks - such as making a Carbon Dioxide filter and testing mechanism from random things found in a disused mine. Apparently in series three, they're in New Zealand.

One other very late night viewing episode saw me watching the first two programmes of the first series of Australian Idol. Not surprising I suppose as I watched almost all of the second series of American Idol when they repeated it at around 2:00 a.m. Saturdays, but I was surprised by how many of the performers touched me (although it has to be said that some were absolute crap, and two had the most astonishingly bad voices that they probably have career possibilities in the circus).

Oh, and thanks TV One. Why wait until the week after I buy the DVD of Six Feet Under (Series One) to start showing it right from the beginning again? And in my favourite time for watching TV?


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