Posts Tagged ‘London Olympics’

Taking a page from one of my favorite bloggers, Frivolous Monsters, I decided to let you in on my private viewing diaries – what I watch and what I think about when I’m watching it.  Yes, it’s the creative process of a couch potato.  I’m sure you’ll find yourself breathless just trying to keep up with me so buckle up ’cause here we go:

Thurs, July 26

This was quite a marathon day.  I don’t normally work on Thursdays so it’s a good time to cram in a lot of time in front of the telly. Over lunch I watched the final two episodes of Twenty Twelve on YouTube as I felt it was imperative to finish this Olympic-themed mockumentary before the actual games got underway.  Continually pelted with politically correct and often interchangeable terms such as legacy, sustainability, inclusivity and diversity, only ultra-efficient PA, Sally (Olivia Colman) could keep the countless committees, mission statements and promotional events straight… and she’s Ian’s personal travel agent on the side.

I was over the moon about Sally’s return and I couldn’t help thinking that if she were the one running the deliverance committee nothing would be forgotten, no one would be offended and everyone would be well fed. I can’t believe they pulled a Sopranoesque stunt at the end though. Will we ever know the fate of Sally and Ian? I mean if you’re insinuating that they probably don’t get together, then have the guts to say so.  Am I right?

Next I finished the final episode of the first series of The Old Guys, an enjoyable mainstream sitcom about, as the name suggests, two old men. Tom and Roy share a house in common and very little else.  Unless you consider that they both fancy the same pretty neighbor.  Oddly enough, she’s called Sally also. Whenever I watch an episode of this show though I can’t seem to get the actors’ previous roles out of my mind.  For example, Roy (Clive Swift) would never think of seeking out the services of a “courtesan” as he did in this episode if Hyacinth was around.

Clive Swift as Richard Bucket in Keeping Up Appearances

Tom (Roger Lloyd Pack) seems at a bit of a loss without his farmer’s attire and his sheep.

Roger Lloyd Pack as farmer Owen Newitt from The Vicar of Dibley

And Sally (Jane Asher) is actually more attractive now than when she was dating Paul McCartney.

Jane in those crazy Beatle days


A more modern Jane, which you can tell of course, because she’s in color


Per my husband’s request (I’ve got to give him a say once in awhile), we re-watched the Doctor Who episode “Closing Time” (Series 6 Episode 12) with James Corden reprising his role as short-term companion, Craig Owens.  Since I’ve seen it before my thoughts were 1) Oh no, I forgot this one has the Cyber-men in it, 2) James Corden has really lost some weight since this was filmed and 3) Brilliant, the Doctor speaks “baby”.


Finally, I watched episodes 1 and 2 of Episodes – technically an Anglo-American production but I’ve wanted to see this for some time since it portrays what oftens happens to good British television series unfortunate enough to be adapted for American audiences.  Beverly and Sean, a married couple and a tv writing team, are lured to Hollywood to recreate the magic of their award-winning comedy series for an American network.  Little do they know that their witty show about a headmaster of a prestigious boarding school is intended to be a come-back vehicle for Matt LeBlanc (yes, Joey from Friends).  They’re surrounded by horrible, phony executives and the people who suck up to them.  Funny at times, but more often I’m just really annoyed for them as I would be if my own work were twisted into substandard dreck.  I haven’t gone back to it just yet, but I’ll probably see it out to the end.  Also noteworthy in my opinion,  this is the most likeable role I’ve ever seen Stephen Mangan play.

Fri, July 27

The only relevant thing I watched on  this day was the Olympic opening ceremonies which I’ve already covered in the previous post.  Feel free to go back and re-read it if you are obsessive about that sort of thing.

Sat, July 28

Series 1 Episode 3 of Kingdom  – Stephen Fry is Peter Kingdom, a Norfolk village solicitor with a keen legal mind and a very kind heart.  He takes on the case of an old fisherman whose boat exploded at sea.  The insurance company is refusing to pay because he blew up another boat previous to this one and went to prison for it.  Mr. Kingdom, an uncanny judge of chararcter believes the old man and goes to great lengths to prove his innocence.  Peter also has a lot of family problems on this plate – dealing with the disappearance of his half-brother and law partner, Simon and the appearance of his formerly institutionalized sister, Beatrice.  He’s an enabler, our Peter and such a gentle soul.  I’ll keep going with this one.

Sun, Aug 29

Masterpiece Mystery night on PBS where they’re currently showing Lewis.  This week’s episode was entitled, “Indelible Stain” and featured some of the usual suspects of the murder mystery genre – racism, infidelity and revenge.  There’s the required longing  and estrangement between dour Inspector Lewis and the lovely coroner,  Dr. Hobson; the always delightful intellect and dry wit of DS Hathaway; and from the very first scene, even before his name appeared on the screen, I recognized the now grizzled and bloated American actor, David Soul.

Looks like someone gave up on you, baby.


Mon, July 30 and Wed, Aug 1

I have been slogging my way through a mini-series from the early 90’s called G.B.H. which stars Robert Lindsay as Michael Murray, an ambitious and frentic political leader in a Northern city.  Michael Palin is Jim Nelson, the beloved headmaster of a school for children with emotional problems and the most decent of men.  The only thing these two have in common is their Labour Party affiliation and a very unfortunate miscommunication concerning a planned strike day that puts both men on a road that will change them forever. Nothing is what it seems on the surface, not even the corrupt Michael Murray.  I started watching this last week and it took me awhile to pick it up again, but I did for the opportunity to see Palin in a dramatic role.  I’m glad I stuck with it because Lindsay’s performance was a revelation ( I’d only known him as the grumpy dentist on My Family) and though dated, I learned a quite a bit about English politics and Welsh vacation resorts as well.  The clip below is the crowning glory of Michael Palin’s performance – Jim Nelson facing his enemies and eloquently stating his philosophy.

Tues, July 31

Work, errands, nap, dinner, Olympics so no British tv to speak of.  I promise myself that it won’t happen again.

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Friday night I met up with a few folks from Anglophiles United – it’s what we call our support group for expats of the UK and lovers of British culture.  Eleven of us gathered to watch the Olympic opening ceremonies here:

Beef O’Brady’s – Wadsworth, Ohio

The name hints at an Irish affiliation but I doubt BBQ bacon cheeseburgers or “whole lotta steak nachos” originated on the Emerald Isle or within its general vicinity.  Several of us did enjoy a nice pint or two of “Irish” red ale.  I don’t care if it was brewed in Indiana.  It’s quite tasty.

Busted Knuckle Red, endorsed by irate leprechauns hiding in tall grass.

Cozily huddled around two scooted-together tables, we tucked into our chicken wings and fingers, veggie wraps and yes, fish and chips.  Around 8 pm it became clear that NBC Sports channel was not broadcasting the opening ceremonies, NBC’s main network was.   After pleading with the very busy staff a few times, the bartender clicked the remote, sound was finally established and we began our journey into Danny Boyle’s Isles of Wonder.

I’m sure most of you reading this watched the ceremonies yourself so I don’t plan to give a full account of the program.  My intention here is to relate my experience in watching it with a group which included a contingent of people who were born and bred in England.  Naturally, they brought to it their unique sense of humor.  For example, after the queen’s parachute “jump” one gentleman commented that it was the first time Her Majesty had gone without wearing knickers.

Advert your eyes. One should never peek up the Queen’s skirts.

They also expressed a degree of famous English cynicism.  In the tribute to the NHS, they bitingly observed that while nurses are dancing about the wards, patients are stacking up for a lengthy wait in the corridors.

All right, you lot! Where have you hidden all the bloody bed pans?

I think it’s safe to say we all delighted in Rowan Atkinson’s appearance as the notorious Mr. Bean and his Chariots of Fire daydream.  Leave it to an Oscar-winning director to insert a cinematic homage or two into the festivities.

I was disappointed they didn’t use Mr. Bean’s yellow mini in the dream sequence.

Personally, my heart was warmed by the choir of pajama-clad children singing and signing “God Save the Queen.”  Unfortunately the cameras caught Queen Elizabeth with a rather stern expression during this rendition which in turn gave rise to a swift and witty wave of royal memes:

To be fair, after 60 years the monarch may just be really sick of that particular song.

By the time the British music segment arrived, we were all getting a bit distracted and a little confused, particularly by the glowing party house. I wondered at first if we were heading into Trainspotting territory.  As the lengthy Parade of Nations got underway, we decided it was wise to make a break for it and return home in order to discover the secret identity of the final torch bearer(s) from the privacy of our own living rooms . Incidentally, when I walked in the front door, the procession of countries had only progressed to the G’s.

I would like to thank Barbara, David, Katie, Michelle, Chris, Barry, Sherry, Susan and her hubby (so sorry, I didn’t catch his name) for joining my husband Jeff and me to share in this quintessentially British experience.  I would also like to acknowledge our intrepid young waitress, Joni, for her tremendous patience and sense of humor. I doubt we could tip her well enough for all her excellent work

The following day I talked to some people who expressed their disappointment with the whole production.  I listened to their opinions and they are, of course, welcome to them.  I think it comes down to individual tastes and sensibilities.  It’s sort of like Monty Python humor, either you get it or you don’t.  I won’t speak for my expat friends, but I gathered they were happy with the overall ceremony.  In true English fashion, there was no gushing or bragging; however, I suspect they were quietly proud.

And I don’t care who you are, the fireworks were utterly awesome:


Whichever side of the pond you’re on, what was your assessment of the Isles of Wonder?

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Recent hiccups have been reported involving the London Olympics such as the athletes’ buses getting lost for hours on the way to the Olympic Village and the failure of a private security firm to deliver the agreed upon number of staff for the games.  So I couldn’t help thinking that the BBC’s  mockumentary series Twenty Twelve might really be a documentary and that Hugh Bonneville is the actual  head of the Olympic Deliverance Committee.

The entire series including this episode (Series 1, Episode 2) which follows the committee and the Brazillian delegation on a rather long bus journey around London can be found on YouTube.

What I want to know is how is Mr. Bonneville expected to be competent at organizing the 2012 Olympic Games while also fulfilling his duties as the Earl of Grantham?

What’s easier to manage – the scheming household of Downton or the bumbling Olympic Deliverance Committee?

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