When I was a kid, one of the best things on television was The Avengers. I didn't realise that it was a light-hearted spy vs spy kind of show--a few of the episodes frightened me. Eventually, I caught on, and Emma Peel became one of my role models, mind you, I did without the cat suit. Recently I saw a very early episode in which Honor Blackman played a Mrs. Something or Other to Patrick Macnee's Steed. That was so far back in the mists of time that I couldn't tell you what happened to the Mr. Something. It seemed clear that Blackman didn't get to do much unlike her successors. Diana Rigg's Emma Peel enjoyed the most egalitarian relationship with Steed; where Blackman's character had seemed like the cleaning lady on some level, Steed's last co-worker, Tara King, was an ornamental, sexy young thing.
When I wasn't watching The Avengers or Bugs Bunny, I was busy trying to figure out The Prisoner. It only took me a quarter of a century to see the final episode. It was all the reward I needed. Patrick McGoohan's Number 2 was spectacular. I have seen the Prisoner newsgroup which seems full of excessive attention to detail. Such is the essence of newsgroups. Meanwhile, see if you can track down the video series and watch the show for yourself. It's one of the best psycho-dramas going, even 30 years later.
If this sounds too much like tedious reverie, you're being impatient. However, here's a show that still is on the air after its first millenium. It has what could be described as a "haunting" theme song, and probably the world's least expensive sets, wardrobe & make-up departments. It is...Coronation Street. Sure, you think. The Queen of England watches it, how exciting could it be? Do they have any characters under 70? While admittedly a rather conservative program, its writers attempt to instill a tiny bit of consciousness-raising (and I mean that loosely) without frightening people although it certainly doesn't take much to cause a scandal. Previous and favourite topics include: unmarried mothers, illicit affairs, and criminal activity. C Street's audience is, largely working/middle class, sort of decent living folk Oh, and I did say that The Queen watches it? C Street's strongest competitor apparently still is Eastenders (I thought they're just in repeats now), whose storylines had much more social relevance and far worse language than C Street could ever muster. There is an Unofficial Coronation Street Page that's worth looking at just for the guest book. It's scary.
In this decade, ER is one of my favourites. It isn't that I'm a big medical show enthusiast, far from it. You can be fairly sure that a number of things will happen in every episode: the goofy illness, the tragic patient, the relationship entanglement, the medical cock-up. I don't pay much attention to the operating room scenes--they're gross, right?
What about the Lawyer and Cop shows? Since the earth cooled, crime and medicine have been two mainstays of entertainment. My choices are NYPD Blue and Law and Order. I watch NYPD Blue because I find Dennis Franz' character Sipowicz extremely funny when angry (Franz made an appearance on one of Martha Stewart's specials. He said he was a huge fan. I immediately wondered if Stewart ever watches his show. Just how many times is a person meant to say "asshole" in one episode?) There are a healthy number of good women's roles, too although Sharon Lawrence has nearly vanished after her character became a mother. In Law and Order, viewers get to see the "process" that we hear so much about. The Crime, the Investigation, the Trial, and all the ways in which things can go to pieces along the way. There don't seem to be predictable endings, and there is an implicit reminder that it is a Legal, and not a Justice, system that calls the shots.
I just want to say that I was amongst the first wave of people to ever read an X-Files script, and I knew from the start that it would be an interesting show. My pal Dean Haglund, who plays Langley (one of the Lone Gunmen), has a really cool site. He's definitely one of the sweetest, happiest people I know, and I'm very proud of him.
This page last edited on August 18th, 2000