The Joy of Procrastination – Childhood Edition

I’ve just emerged from a cloud of essay toil. Yesterday, I handed in my second essay in the space of three weeks, on the not-so-simple subject of Systematic Theology (specifically, the Trinity). For many, many days, life had little more to offer than the reading of textbooks, the making of notes, and the eventual writing of 3000 words. However, the writing process was made especially long and arduous because my procrastination tendencies decided to kick in (I blame the fact that I’d only written an essay 3 weeks previously – an essay written with minimal procrastination).

You know how it is, you’re trying to put together a coherent argument on why the doctrine of the Trinity is essential, and all of a sudden you find yourself on Wikipedia, reading articles about your favourite childhood TV show – all because the old podcast you’re listening to as you write happens to mention an actor that starred in it…

[Tell me I’m not alone! Doesn’t everyone find themselves in a black hole of Wikipedia articles from time to time without any real idea of how they got there?!]

Anyway, this particularly Wikipedia jaunt also resulted in a search on YouTube and a yell of delight when I discovered that finally – after several searches since YouTube began – videos of The Biz were available. If you weren’t aged 10-15 in 1995/6 and living in the UK, you probably have no idea what I’m talking about. Basically, it was a CBBC show of the traditional children at drama school fame genre, which my sister and I considered to be the best thing since we first watched Grease. What can I say? We both desperately wanted to go to stage school (especially a boarding school version) but this was the closest we could get. [Although I did go to a secondary school that took in those asked to leave Sylvia Young and Mim did become a drama teacher. Obviously, she wins.]

This song was my first find, complete with the realisation that despite the passing of 18 years, I could still remember 90% of the words. Yes, the vocals sound really thin and the singers aren’t the best, but it was glorious – honest!

There are a whole host of clips from the show (just the songs as they’re uploaded by the series’ composer), they’re probably only interesting to former fans of the show, but there must be at least three of those reading this…

That was Friday’s major procrastination. [Notice that I didn’t do any blogging – I didn’t want to do anything that would reveal to others that I was being distracted!] Saturday’s was even more joyous and potentially more relevant. I’d worked hard all morning and over lunch flicked through the channels, alighting upon the final 5 minutes of the 1995 version of Frances Hodgson-Burnett’s A Little Princess. It’s probably my favourite of H-B’s books (yes, even over The Secret Garden) and I was shocked to discover that this version was set in New York, during the war and had a different ending – scandal!

Back to Wikipedia I returned, looking for information on the adaption that I consider to be the best – the 1986 LWT version, starring Maureen Lipman, Miriam Margolyes and Nigel Havers. Seriously, a children’s series with that cast of adults? How could it be anything less than awesome? YouTube was an obvious next step and there I found every single episode – the delight! I was worried I’d be disappointed, but it was just as I remembered. I sobbed over and over (it’s an incredibly sad story). I swooned over Havers. I mused on whether the title cards were designed by the same person who did Tenko (they’re a similar era of TV). I sobbed again when it reached its conclusion.

And, I watched all six episodes before I’d finished my essay. (Though, in my defence, I stopped after episode 1 and didn’t restart until I had over 2000 words, so I think that’s less awful.) Here’s part one:

Procrastination is a joy when you discover things like this.

Gone, but not forgotten

Having just taken a Sex and the City quiz (scoring a respectable 8/10) I’ve been reflecting on the dark month that was May 2004, when not only did SATC finish, but so did Friends. Around about the same time Dawson’s Creek bit the dust. (Oh how I cried during that episode! Has got to be one of the most depressing pieces of TV ever!)

No sooner had I finished mentioning this dark month to my colleague (who scoffed & didn’t seem to understand the trauma), than I found an article from the Guardian on the results of a recent poll to find the 10 most-missed shows.

It’s a bit of a dull list really, containing quite a few shows I’ve never bothered with – The Office, West Wing, Sopranos & Only Fools and Horses (my sister claims I’m a snob & don’t like ‘working class’ comedy, that’s a lie!!).

My own top 10 would look something like this:

1. Friends (Thankfully there’s 2 episodes on a day, but I miss new ones!)
2. SATC
3. Dawson’s Creek (though I do own all 6 series…did I just type that?? Oops.)
5. ER (It’s not officially over, but next season is it’s last. Besides, for me it pretty much finished when Dr Green left for the big ER in the sky.)
6. The Biz (little known CBBC drama about kids at stage school)
7. This Life (I especially liked watching it illicitly, aged 14/15 on the spare TV upstairs without my parents finding out!)
9. Gilmore Girls (Was hardly ever shown on UK TV so I’ve only really seen 2 of the 7 seasons, still, it looked good!)
10. Jewel in the Crown (As it was based on a set of books it couldn’t have gone on longer, but was amazing.)
11. Press Gang (I know, it’s a top 10 but I just remembered & it is great. Watching them again on dvd has been an enlightening experience, plus a teenage Dexter Fletcher….)

Incidentally, still on the theme of classic TV, apparantly the same survey also reveals that around 30% of people have “romantically fallen in love” with a TV character. Interesting turn of phrase!

Has to be said, only person I can think of that falls into that category is Clark Kent/Superman from the New Adventures of Superman – Dean Cain. Incredibly pathetic in reflection, but I was only 12. Although, now I’m re-watching ER from the start I may possibly be falling in love with a young(er) George Clooney!

Also, well done to all those Wikipedia TV dorks who spend their spare time writing episode guides & plot summaries to even the most obscure of shows! Ever need to kill a few minutes? Just look up your favourite show & read away.