Paul Fuzz Presents: Flew In From Miami Beach BOAC
TOP 10 TV CHARACTERS
Yey! Lists RULE! Here is my contribution to the Joss Whedon inspired ' Favourite TV Characters' list-o-mania currently sweeping Blog World (dig Marie, Stu_N, Lisa R). You will notice in my list: a pre-dominance of American males. You will also notice: a lack of British people. And women. Apart from Terri Hatcher, who is included as an example of a 'hottie.' Which is appalling. Honorable mentions must also go to Jack Gellar (Friends), The Movie Geek Kid From Northern Exposure Who Looked Like One Of The Ramones (Northern Exposure), Earl Hickey (My Name Is Earl) and Zammo (Grange Hill), I could easily have included these and I know everybody else has chosen 20-25 characters but I got bored. THIS LIST IS FILMED BEFORE A LIVE STUDIO AUDIENCE
.1. HOMER SIMPSON - The Simpsons
, but have you seen Family Guy
.2. COOKIE MONSTER - Sesame Street
Because stupid, compulsive, self defeating, habitual behaviour is the essence of so much great comedy- see above. And Monsterpiece Theatre was my earliest exposure to Anerican school of satire. (Could have also chosen from Sesame Street:
the "Yup Yup Yup Yupyupyupyup!" aliens, Grover, Oscar The Grouch, that guy who made sound effects with his mouth and The Count. But not Elmo. Elmo's a dick.)
.3. DYLAN THE RABBIT -The Magic Roundabout
Only students and Justin Lee Collins think there is any value in the meanspirited, jaded, clever-clever activity of discussing the sex / drugs metaphors supposedly contained in 'retro' kids TV shows of a "Mr Ben was a CROSSDRESSING CRACK ADDICT! nature, and mostly this sort of thing is nothing but repulsive wrong-headedness. The Magic Roundabout
, however, genuinely contained a counter-culture, subversive streak a mile wide, and remains the only childrens TV series which one can describe as 'like being ON ACID' without being a complete jerk. Dylan The Rabbit is the coolest TV character ever
. He's a guitar playing rabbit. Based on Bob Dylan. He's a guitar playing rabbit based on Bob Dylan, who is stoned the entire time and communicates when not sleeping in a lazy beatnik vernacular punctuated by mumbled '...mans' and 'likes.' What a wonderful, smart show, and what a phenonemal character. "I'm a rabbit who sleeps. I'm not the hopping kind."
.4. Sam Beckett - Quantum Leap
Travelling from life to life, putting right what once went wrong. Fundementally Quantum Leap
is a very sad show; Sam Beckett is a man destined to spend the rest of his days thanklessly correcting other people's lives for the better at the expense of his own, his memories of home and his loved ones are twisted and eroded, his identity & sense of self slowly being erased. By the end of the last series, Sam is beginning to understand that the only way out of this hell is probably just to WANT OUT with all
his being - but Sam is a good man, the best of men, and while there are still wrongs to be righted, both Sam & we know that he will not find it in himself to let those people down. It is a painful irony. The final words of the final episode read simply: 'Sam Beckett never returned home'. And how sad is that?
.5. Lois Lane - New Adventures Of Superman
Uh, did someone say HOTTIE?
(See also: Top 10 Hot Babes I Dug When I Was 17 - Agent Dana Scully, Kelly from Saved By The Bell,
Jet from Gladiators
, that woman from Buck Rogers,
my English Lit teacher Miss Mitchell from who made me a tape cassette compilation of The Smiths, etc).
.6. Johnnie Chochran - The OJ Simpson Murder Trial
Charismatic defence lawyer type with a great line in Don King style bombast and a barrel full of snappy one liners. "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit." Great material. (Could have also have chosen from The OJ Simpson Murder Trail:
Judge Lance Ito, Special Trials Unit District Attorney Marcia Clark or jury consultant to the Simpson defence team Jo-Ellan Dimitrius. Timeless characters.)
.7. Norm - Cheers (NORM!)
SAM: What'd you like, Norm?
NORM: A reason to live. Gimme another beer.
It's funny because his life is so devoid of meaning that he's going to kill himself if he doen't get a beer! Cheers was an exceptionally dark show, a show about losers, losing. Norm is the King Of Losers, the Sam Beckett of bar flies, trapped in a self imposed limbo, his brain 'swiss cheesed' by Boston's finest draught beer. On one hand highly complex, on the other pure zen simplicity: I Drink, Therefore I Am. I coulda chosen Cliff, Coach, Woody or Fraiser, but if I gotta pick one, I pick Norm, a character carrying an emotional weight heavier even than his substantial beer gut.
.8. Ross Gellar - Friends
Yeah, that's right. Ross from Friends. Pretentious hipsters can sneer at Friends
all day long, and the really
prerentious hipsters can sneer 'oh, uh, I mean, sure, I don't mind
but of course the real
star is Lisa Kudrow...' (which is a cliche of 'I like Empire Strikes Back
best' proportions) all day long too, the fact is if you have any interest in US sit-coms and can't see Friends for the unqualified triumph of ensemble acting and ensemble writing that it so patently is then I'm sorry but you ain't nothing but a stone chump, fer sure if you wanna discuss nineties US comedy there are arguments to be made for Seinfeld, Larry Sanders & Fraiser, and I can understand that people get fed up with it being on telly so damn much, and that it represents to some the Ikea / Starbucks Globalised Blanding Of A Generation (something the show addresses on a number of occasions through Pheobe's wrestling with her lefty ideals), and there are cats who consider this very traditional US sit-com to be awful outdated in this post-Office / Curb 'gritty' 'natural' non-laughter track non-gag orientated world, and I'm sorry it isn't all angry & bitter & spiteful & non-mainstream like real
comedy is, right...but, y'know, get over it
The Genius Of David Schwimmer: it's a minor exchange, but it's one of my faves.Ross enters a costume hire store. A young store hand greets him cheerfully.
Shop guy: Hello, sir! You here to return those pants?
Ross: (indignent, confused)
No...these are my pants
Tradition would dictate that you place the emphasis on 'my,' Schwimmer places it on 'pants.' Every member of the principle Friends
cast (yes, perhaps especially Kudrow) was capable of doing unpredictable, vastly creative things with their lines without breaking a sweat as a matter of course, and ultimately it is this which sets them apart from most other sit-com casts. I've chosen Schwimmer because I think he's over-looked, and because of the six I identify with Ross closely - elder brother with younger sister as sibling, spent time in college making 'wordless sound poems' on his keyboard, has been in love with same girl since high school, likes dinosaurs, Fatboy Slim & comics...he can do the robot...a paleontologist who works out. He is, indeed, like Indiana Jones.
.9. Capt. Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce (M*A*S*H)
Alan Alda For President! Vote Alda in '08!
.10. Alex Reiger (Taxi)
Judd Hirsch For For Vice President! Vote Hirsch in 'o8! Imagine the Democrat Alda / Hirsch ticket! It can't fail!YOU HAVE BEEN WATCHING (in order of appearence...)
Gimme Shelter, George Lucas, 'Cycle-Delic Sounds', etc etc
So I guess the definitive Death Of The Sixties text has gotta be the Maysles Brother's 1969 Rolling Stones tour documentary Gimme Shelter,
which I caught last night for the first time (courtesy of a ropey video copy my Dad taped off the telly a couple of weeks back) and I'm mighty pleased to report that it's pretty much everything one might hope for...fer the record, the movie features a ton of footage from the New York gig that was recorded and released as (maybe my fave Stones LP...no, not Fave live LP,
Fave Stones LP period
) Get Yer Ya Yas Out,
(Jagger: "Aww, I think I just bust a button on my trousers
...you don't want my trousers to fall down, now, do you?), the Stones mooching about looking imperiously cool, and of course the grim finale of Altamont, the free concert held on a cold San Fransico night at the Altamont Speedway which ended with the Hells Angels (acting as 'security') stabbing to death black teenager Meredith Hunter meters away from the stage as the Stones played on...it is a mighty depressing film, a bummer, and the final images - Hunter's girlfriend weeping as his body is wheeled into a helicopter, Jagger staring in stoned, numb incomprehension at the footage of the murder - tell you everything you need to know the about the true darkness of the Nixon, Nam and post-Woodstock era.
While there are plenty of places you can read about Altamont, I figured I'd put my two cents in. It's an event I've been fascinated by for years, and Gimme Shelter
has given me much to mull over. Here are a few thoughts on the film...
.1. The sense of doom and violence which hangs over the Altamont Speedway is palpable from the moment we are introduced to the site...certainly there are many people present who have since reported things 'not feeling right' from the beginning. It is a cold, dull day, no 'West Coast Woodstock' as the promoters and organisers naively hoped it would be. As the Stones get out of their helicopter, Jagger has barely walked a dozen yards before some kid slugs him in his face, setting the tone for the rest of the day.
.2. The rumble of the Hells Angels Harleys as they first appear over the horizen is a trully terrifying, foreboding sound, like a squadren of Meshersmits emerging from the clouds...the counter-culture's (Grateful Dead, Ginsberg, Ken Kesey & The Merry Pranksters etc) infatuation with the Angels is easy to understand - they represented a real, hardcore, blue collar outlaw culture middle class hippies could only dream about , they rode kick ass bikes, the cops hated 'em just like they hated drop out kids with long hair yadda yadda yadda - but it is difficult to comprehend why - even in a haze of drugs & brotherly love - more hippy figureheads didn't recognise them for the unreconstructed violent thugs they so patently were, and see something like Altamont coming a mile off. The Angels are simply out of control in Gimme Shelter;
they are seen clubbing dazed hippies with pool cues, dragging people from the stage who then disapeer under a barrage of kicks and fists and - in one of the most infamous scenes (in a film full of 'em) - knocking Jefferson Airplane guitarist Marty Balin unconcious mid-performance...
.3. Which brings me to my favourite scene in the film, a tragi-comic cameo by The Grateful Dead. Of all the West Coast groups, it was the Grateful Dead who were most closely affiliated with the Angels, and their relationship with the outlaw bikers was central to the counterculture's acceptance of them. Consequently The Dead must accept some responsibility, however small, for the Rolling Stone's decision to 'hire' the Angels as 'security' at Altamont...which didn't stop them from splitting the moment they learnt of the Marty Balin incident. The Dead were meant to play Altamont, but, spooked by bad vibes and reports of Angels violence, helicopter-ed off the site without leaving the backstage area. I'm a big fan of The Grateful Dead, and their cameo - which lasts less than a minute - is highly entertaining in it's dazed & confused comic Grateful Dead-ness.
Guitarist Bob Weir returns with tales of Hells Angels On Jefferson Airplane violence...the conversation, such as it is, is monotoned, stoned and blank throughout
Jerry Garcia "So that's the scene, huh?"
Bob Weir: "Yeah, they beat up Marty Balin."
Jerry Garcia: "Oh, bummer."
Bob Weir: "Beating musicians up like that...it doesn't seem right somehow."
(a) Describing events as 'the scene'. (b) Use of 'Bummer,' the most pathetic, inevitable hippy cliche one could possibly hope for. (c) Weir's laughable conclusion. Would it seem 'right' if the Angels were beating up punters? Or is it just musicians it isn't 'right' to beat up? And it isn't right 'somehow
'? Like, somewhere in the back of your dope addled fogged up skull you have some niggling sense that it's wrong for liquored up scumbags to smash people about for kicks but you can't quite remember why
it's wrong? Jeez. It's funny, because people playing to type is funny, but it's also shockingly lame.
Anyway, the Godfather is on Film Four now (the announcer lady said 'Now on Film Four, The Godfather - it's free!,' like she was just as excited about Film Four being free as I am), and I've been sat writing this for too long, so I'm gonna leave it there. One thing I will mention before I split is that I read today that one of the cameramen the Maysles Brothers hired to film at Altamont was...GEORGE LUCAS! Which is pretty crazy.
(OH! In other Late Sixties Oultlaw Biker Culture Related News: I was in Barcelona the other week and I picked up a copy of Davie Allen And The Arrows' late 60s 'Cycle-Delic Sounds' LP, which is an instrumental biker-sploitation fuzz-garage / acid rock freak out monster, the killer tracks being the very trippy 'Mind Transferral' & the very evil 'Grog's Hog.' It's got a really hip sleeve, with a blonde hippy chick reflected in the mirror of a motorcycle on the front and a picture of The Arrows posing like bad ass punks on the back. Some of the LP is pretty shlocky, infact it's all shlocky as hell, which is part of it's appeal, but some of it is just sorta cheesy with it...the stuff that's good is very good. Go dig.)
Big Brother, Celeb Culture, Heat etc
Basically the whole point of what follows boils down to: Celebrity Culture Deserves To Be Recorded More Intelligently And Thoughtfully Than It Currently Is. If you can't be bothered to read the rest of this post, I'll understand.
....And so, another series of Big Brother grinds to a crashing halt, having taken ONE QUARTER of the year of our Lord 2006 to complete it's stuttering, over complicated and mildly unimpressive development, and to reach the fascinating resolution of this years grand narrative, namely -May: Pete Enters House, Everybody Says 'Oh, This Guy Is Definately Gonna Win' / August: Pete Wins.
Let me make a few things clear. I'm a fan of Big Brother, as much as one can be a 'fan' of something like Big Brother... it's sort of like saying you're a 'fan' of the Olympics...Big Brother is not a television show, it's a sporting event...one watches
Deal Or No Deal, one follows
Big Brother...I think it stands significantly apart from Love Island, I'm A Celebrity Get Me Outta Here etc etc, head & shoulders infact...it is the first & best of it's kind, it's impact on pop culture - for better or worse - on a scale unmatched by almost any TV show of the past...what...decade? I've watched every series. I've seen every First Night, and every Grand Final - counted 'em in, counted 'em out. Dig it; I've taken each series of Big Brother seriously, ranted & raved at the TV, developed highly complex mathmatical equations to predict voting trends, even Picked Up My Phone And Txted where I've thought it absolutely necessary. Admitting to following Big Brother is pretty much taboo amongst liberal lefty arty circles, certainly amongst my friends you may as well admit to enjoying the Bush administration's foreign policy, Starbucks or - god forbid - Friends
. It stands for everything these cats hate - dumbing down, celeb culture, chaviness yadda yadda...which says much more about my friends petty prejudices than it does about any of those things...
...but I'm not here to defend Big Brother, or my interest in it. What I wanted to talk about was the lazy, disrespectful way BB is written about in the media which would claim to treat it with the most respect, ie Heat magazine et al...and when I say et al, I'm really just talking about Heat, it being the only Celeb rag I read regularly...and how these rags don't discuss BB in the terms it deserves.
To explain. This year's BB has been below average. Not terrible - see The Year Cameron Won - but nowhere near the exceptional entertainment of The Year Nadia Won, AKA The Best Big Brother Ever, not as good as last year...infact, now I think about it, perhaps the second worst series so far. The problems: the housemates were all a bit dull & thick, poor choices by Endemol, as a consequence Pete - relatively
speaking the only real STAR - was destined to win from the beginning...it was too long, they were spreading themselves WAY too thin...(3 MONTHS fer chrissakes)...not enough happened, and consequently they relied more heavily than they have during any other year on gimmicks like SECRET SECOND HOUSE, PUTTING EVICTED HOUSEMATES BACK IN, GOLDEN TICKETS yadda yadda, none of which can by themselves make for great BB- only funny, volatile, interesting housemates can do this. Any self respecting BB fan (is there such a thing?) would tell you that after the successes of the last 2 years BB7 was a big dissapointment, and they could tell you exactly why.
So how come Heat Magazine (AKA The People Who Should Know More About BB Than Anybody And Take It Really Seriously) spent the last 3 months pretending it was really great? The answer, obviously, is that they're completely in the pocket of Endemol, they owe Endemol way too much, and it would be ridiculous to expect them to be heavily critical of a series which fills their pages for half the year, and when they've always been such dedicated cheerleaders for the show. Their hands are tied.
That's a real shame. BB deserves to be written about intelligently, and at the most basic level this boils down to Heat being able to say: "We love BB, it continues to fascinate us, for those of us so inclined the bad years are in their own way just as interesting as the good years, this year hasn't blown us away, and here's why." You don't help something by blanketly saying everthing it does is brilliant. This BB wasn't
brilliant. Heat should have said so. Heat owe it to BB, and to serious fans, to be honest and critical where necessary. After the Cameron debacle, Heat suggested softly that it was an underwhelming year, and the following series - Nadia - was The Best Ever.
Noughties Celebrity Culture is vacuous, dumb, shallow yadda yadda yadda...but it is REAL and HUGE and I THINK PRETTY INTERESTING & there must be a gap in the market for a publication which discusses it in on an intelligent level, acknowledges the shades of grey etc etc, recognises the reliative goods and bads thereof...and that's my whole point, really. I'd like to read about these subjects in a way which reflects the way I feel about them, but I recognise that perhaps I am asking too much of the publications dedicated to recording them to expect it. Infact, perhaps I am wrong, perhaps a phenonema gets the media it deserves, and if the writing about BB etc is poor then that is simply a reflection of the subject matter. Then again, perhaps there will be a critical u-turn on this sorta stuff in 10 years time and there will appear in Borders 100s of very high-brow books about BB written in very elevated language, and I'll be complaining that a vital, fun pop phenonema had been co-opted by acedemics who are seriously missing the point...told you you should just read the start of the post, huh?
Oh, and another thing. I hated Nikki.
Over at Anna's place Ms Waits is celebrating the news that one of the Reduced Theatre guys is doing a Reduced Star Wars. Hoorah, etc. May the 'Farce' be with him, a huh huh. All well and good. But check this
for a solid gold million dollar idea:
Aw, man! It's a no-brainer! (OK, so it's sorta been done by The Rutles guys, but what the hell,
that was a different sorta deal, and it ain't as good as people say it is anyway.) Reduced Shakespeare Company Do The Beatles! It's got the lot! They're revered as hell! They're iconic! The narrative arc is (almost) perfect! They wore all sortsa crazy clothes / beards! There're all sortsa famous 'moments' ripe for parody! It writes itself!
.1. Scouse art school rockabillys get together for Little Richard / Buddy Holly inspired kicks!
.2. Scouse art school rockabillys get manger / suits: become proper pop band!
.3. Pop band take over entire world! Take drugs / go to India: become hippy pop band!
.4. Hippies grow beards! Become dissalusioned with being pop band! Split up acrimoniously!
And before any of you Reduced guys start thinkin' this sounds like a good idea (which it is), and maybe you might rip me off without crediting me or paying me any cash money, just like the i-pod guys and the picnic blanket guys (yeah, that's right, I invented picnic blankets, for all the thanks I get) - well you cn just forget it, 'cos this baby's mine. I'm already working on the script. Dig it:
Paul: "Hello angry guitarist John Lennon, I'm over-sentimental bass player Paul McCartney. Wow, I like living in Liverpool! It's FAB! Hey, do you want to be in a pop band with me?"
John: "Yes! But there are only two of us. You need four people to be a pop band! Oh, who is this coming now? It's passive/ aggressive guitarist George Harrison and aimable drummer Ringo Starr! Let's all go to Hamburg!"
Dynamite stuff, huh?Class question: What would you like to see 'Reduced?'