Category Archives: Television

Name That Theme Song – the kiddies edition

Here’s a special kiddies edition of the Theme Song Quiz – featuring 10 title tracks from cartoons and kids shows. With one or two long-running exceptions, these shows were wildly popular back in the day (along with LPs, cassettes and other analogue gadgets that are all but unknown to anyone born after 1985). So enjoy the blast back into your halcyon past and please let me know what you think…

TV Theme Song Quiz – the kiddies edition

For the answers, click here.

If you want to try your hand at the other editions, just click on the Quiz tab in the menu above.

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Name That Theme Song – the 16mm edition

OK, so this is how old I am… I remember the days before television. That’s right. When I was born, there was no TV. But I’m not yet 40 (almost, but not yet, dammit) so how is this possible? Well, it’s all because I was lucky enough to be born a South African.

You see, under the benighted apartheid regime, those lovable Nationalists believed that television was the ‘devil’s own box’; a means for ‘disseminating communism and immorality’ – like so many baked beans spewing out over Ann-Margaret in ‘Tommy’. Thus, they banned the medium entirely; refusing this filthy tool of dissolution access to our nice, clean, white homes. Bless ’em.

We even missed the moon landing (which was probably seen as a  blasphemy anyway). But despite being dismissed as a backward pariah nation by the rest of the world – for a whole bunch of reasons – the government held fast. According to Wikipedia, Prime Minister Hendrik Verwoerd compared television with atom bombs and poison gas, claiming that ‘they are modern things, but that does not mean they are desirable. The government has to watch for any dangers to the people, both spiritual and physical.’ What a mensch!

Even worse, Dr Albert Hertzog, Minister for Posts and Telegraphs, said that TV would come to South Africa ‘over [his] dead body,’ denouncing it as ‘a miniature bioscope over which parents would have no control.’ But his biggest fear was that, with the advent of television, ‘South Africa would have to import films showing race mixing; and advertising would make [non-white] Africans dissatisfied with their lot.’ Ah, the good old days!

But for all the King Canutes trying to order back the tide, the power of television cannot be stopped and finally, in 1976, the verkramptes relented. The first television station was duly launched by the government-run South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and we have been playing catch up ever since.

So, what did we do for fun before the Devil’s Box came to town? Well, we just sat down in the lounge, put up a screen and consumed our media from the teat of a large, noisy 16mm projector. It was a fantastic ritual: first, we’d rent movies and episodes of dated American TV shows from the local film exchange. Then, we’d thread the supple celluloid through the projector’s marvelous concantenation of cogs and wheels. Finally, we’d flip the switch and feel the heat of the lamp as the header counted us down.

I can still remember watching, enthralled, as the reel spooled out at 24 frames per second – struggling to hear the dialogue over the sprokety rat-a-tat of the projector. Then, the screen would go white and you heard the slap-slap-slap of the film strip hitting the back of the projector. That was your cue to jump up and change the reel. It was an exhilaratingly mechanical process. And it’s the way I fell in love with movies.

To honour those long lost days of my youth, I have put together another Theme Song Quiz featuring TV shows that I first watched on 16mm. Some of them are pretty old, so you’ll have to put on your granny pants – but see how many you can get. And if you have no idea what 16mm is, forget about it!

TV Theme Songs 4

For the answers, click here

 

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Name that Theme Song – part three

OK, you lucky people. You asked for it (in my dreams) so here it is – the third ‘Name that theme song’ quiz. This time I’ve focused on sitcoms from the 70s and 80s. So, prepare to travel back to the days of yore and see if you can name all 10 TV themes  included in the clip. But be warned, it isn’t all Jesse Frederick and Miller/Boyett. There are a couple of obscurities thrown in for good measure. And don’t even think about playing along if you were born after 1985. Stupid youngster!

As before, send me a comment crying ‘uncle’ and I’ll send you an email with the answers. I am trying to work out an elegant solution for providing the answers on-line but until then, you’re at my mercy.

You’re welcome!

Name That Theme Song – part 3

For the answers, click here

 

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Why Leon Schuster Makes Me Sad

What follows isn’t meant as an indictment of Leon Schuster. It isn’t even meant as an indictment of Leon Schuster’s audience. Everyone has the right to watch whatever they want – even if it’s crap. Truth be told, we all have our guilty pleasures. Hell, I watch ‘Glee’ every week and there’s simply no excuse for that.

So, I’m not going to criticise anyone for enjoying what I think is the puerile ‘comedy’ of Schuster and his international counterparts. To each their own and all that. But the tremendous success enjoyed by Oom Leon and his ilk means that there isn’t room for any other kind of comedy on our screens. And that’s what makes me sad. Continue reading

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Name That Theme Song – Part 2

There was a flurry of comments about my previous  TV Theme Song quiz – all right, 2 – so I decided to upload another compilation of  familiar tunes from 10 TV shows of blessed memory.

This time, I’ve prepared two versions: regular and hard (settle down). They contain the same themes in the same order, but the hard version has much shorter samples – for real TV geeks like Frank.

BTW, Frank, I haven’t made them too obscure because I want this to be accessible to people other than yourself. And this time don’t post the answers so blatantly – you spoilsport. I’m trying to get people to register on my site!

Click on the clip of your choice below and enjoy…

TV Theme Songs 2 – regular

TV Theme Songs 2 – hard

For the answers, click here

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Name That Theme Song!

OK, here’s a treat for you! I’ve been playing around with my editing software and, just for fun, I compiled an audio montage of 10 beloved theme songs from popular TV shows of decades past. Can you name them all? It’s harder than you think!

TV Theme Songs Quiz – part 1

For the answers, click here

If you enjoyed this compilation, please forward the link to your friends and don’t forget to comment on the blog (not just on Facebook). If the response is good,  I’ll consider making more…

Oh, and my sincere apologies if I have infringed any copyrights. It’s not malicious. Just think of it as sampling [smiley face].

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Anderson Cooper cuts the crap

As we’ve already established, South Africa’s broadcasting environment is almost totally devoid of balls. The SABC is a cowering, quivering mass of sycophancy. Mnet’s rule of thumb is to produce only shows with a voting line (the excellent Masterchef SA notwithstanding). And eTV is focussed on low-budget soapies.

What this dearth of testicles means is that there is little room for anyone to speak their mind. The occasional hard news show or investigative slot are all well and good, but what about the other genres of television? Our glossy magazine shows, for example, are slick and smooth and featureless – much like Barbie’s crotch. Continue reading

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The SABC is chicken!

So, our glorious public broadcaster has refused to screen the latest Nando’s ‘Diversity’ ad. Unfortunately, this shouldn’t come as any surprise. The SABC has a long history of avoiding controversy at any cost, usually because the organisation is afraid to run foul of its political masters (nothing new here – the SABC was always designed to be a mouthpiece for the ruling government, whether National Party or the ANC).

Rather, this particular instance of ideological cowardice is supposedly based on cultural sensitivity; a fear that the mere mention of xenophobia will spark off another deplorable wave of bigotry and shop burning, such as we witnessed a couple of years ago. While this general concern does have some validity in a country fraught with xenophobic tension, the SABC’s reasoning as it relates to the commercial is, of course, craven nonsense. Continue reading

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Geek like me

I’ve been going through a bad patch, authorially speaking. I just haven’t been able to write. I’ve completely blown the deadlines for my next two travel books (on Lesotho and Swaziland – plug, plug) and I am still struggling to get my arse into my computer chair on a regular basis. I think I’m a bit burnt out from a couple of months of frantic activity, which was way too much like hard work for my liking. The upshot of all this, basically, is that I’ve been watching a lot of TV lately.

Now I don’t proclaim myself to be a fan of reality TV, but the rigours of my procrastination schedule are such that I am often forced to watch the most pitiful drivel. And I’ve got a new favourite. Continue reading

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