Tag Archives: television

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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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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