Ruminations from Raleigh Court

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

My First Entry

In my long standing quest to become part of the cool, hip in-crowd, I've now chosen to give in and join the blogging nation. If nothing else, this gives me yet another in a long line of diversions that keep me from doing the academic work I should be focused entirely on. That being said, I thought it might be fun to share my thoughts on popular culture and politics in an open space.

A bit about myself...I'm a professor in the greater Roanoke/Blacksburg area and am finishing up my dissertation this year. Married, two cats, two televisions, two cars, the usual shite. Lived in upstate NY for a while, Eastern NC for even longer and taught school at a private academy for a time. Moved back to the land of my youth (SW VA) with my wife five years coaching soccer at my old high school. Walking into the old gym felt like a scene out of Welcome Back Kotter, minus the Sweathogs. Just a tidbit-high school gyms smell like teenage boys. I forgot (or never noticed) how bad teenage boys actually smell. It's an interesting and foul fushion of cheap cologne and lots of BO.

As for starting a blog, I wrote a couple of columns on television for my friend mark's website, the fabulous Both seemed to go over pretty well and I still get emails from people that I know who used the columns to reconnect with me. The first one is linked here TV Column and the second one here TV Column TWO . I will do much of the same kind of stuff in this here space, just much more often and with a bit of sass attached. Also, lots of crap on movies, music, internet sites, books, cultural and political theory, right-wing nutjobs, restaurants in the greater Roanoke/Blacksburg area (we're in a bit of a culinary wasteland here), soccer, the daily trauma and pain associated with being a Hokie sports fan, travel, and the occasional update on my academic status and the trials and tribulations of a young professor in the wild world of academia.

First topic:
My new found love for BBC America.

When this network first started, I was extremely excited. I envisioned access to all the cool BBC shows we've never seen and perhaps a bit of British footie thrown in. What we got at first was a lot of reruns of Fawlty Towers, Ab Fab and Are you being served? was like being at home on a Saturday night and watching PBS. Very disappointing....

Then came The Office and BBC America figured out that new original BBC programming might actually work in Jesusland. A whole bunch of new and interesting shows have showed up on that network at various times. Here's some of my favorites over the past year and a half or so:

Night Detective: New Season starts next week. Set in Newcastle, cop deals with racism and police corruption in a hard ass town. Very good stuff and well acted.

Viva Blackpool: This was one of the coolest shows on TV in the last decade, bar none. If you missed it (ran in the Fall), buy the DVD's from BBC America. Takes place in Blackpool and involves random music numbers where the actors lip sync songs by the Smiths, Elvis Costello, the Clash, the Faces, etc. Very cool and totally original stuff. I hate that there were only six episodes (maybe I need to write a column on how short BBC series are)

Rebus: Nice detective mystery series based on novels from the UK. Set in Edinburgh, the detective is a huge Hiberian fan, drinks a lot of pints, chain-smokes and is generally miserable all of the time. And we love him for it.

Bodies: Super disturbing medical drama where all of the doctors are on the take and are crap. Lots of lawsuits and general mayhem. The only medical drama I've ever seen where the doctors seem to be human and unsure of what to do in crisis situations. Lots of blood. Stars the guy who played Ricky Gervais boss in the 2nd season of The Office as the most evil and pathetic of the doctors.

Teachers: I quite liked this show, a kind of Scrubs UK set in a high school. Main teacher guy is totally Zak Braffesque and can't quite grow up and accept the responsibility that comes with being a young teacher. I saw a lot of my own trials and trevails as a young teacher in that character.

The Robinsons: A decent comedy about an eccentric family starring one of the cats from the office (guy who played Tim). Worth checking out.

Murder in Suburbia: Two sassy female cops solving cases. Like Cagney and Lacey but foxier and in the suburbs.

There are a few others that I've missed, as these shows sort of drift in and out of the lineup. Anyway, give the network your attention and you'll find some real gems on there.


  • I wonder why BBC America isn't broadcasting the new Dr. Who series? If it is indeed just BBC for America, then there shouldn't be any rights issues, etc. and I always thought the show had a fairly wide following, even on this side of the pond. It angers my inner nerd.

    By Blogger Phil, at 6:01 AM  

  • I thought about that as well. It is meant to be quite good. Also, the BBC show Hustle (decent actually) is not on BBCA but on AMC.

    By Blogger JB, at 7:45 AM  

  • Dr. Who geekness- the Beeb sold it to the Sci Fi Channel and its coming in the spring. My dad back in the UK swears by the new Who, so we'll see.

    I wonder if BBCA will get Extras after HBO is done with it, or if we'll have to wait for DVDs?

    By Blogger weasel, at 1:12 PM  

  • I'd love to see Extras on there. It's damn funny. Second season is supposed to be out later this year.

    By the way, Ricky Gervais podcast is amazing.

    By Blogger JB, at 1:13 PM  

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