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October 26, 2004

Follow-up to TV Name Game

Here is the promised follow-up to the TV Name Game. I chose these shows because of their catchy titles and also because they, along with the ones described in “Couch Potato Views,” illustrate much of the range of TV programming.

What I have not included are the regular news shows, both national and international, and the US sit coms, movie re-runs, and HBO offerings. US programming seems to take up fewer than 10% of the time slots. That said, it has been fun for us to see for the first time some US programs that were only been available on HBO at home, such as "Deadwood," which is written by an old friend of Mark’s, David Milch. And that has been a treat!

"Car Booty"
No, this is not about accoutrements you can pirate in or for your car. Nor is this about the latest in car booting or clamping (though we can actually tell you a real life, personal story about car clamping and how easy it is to get it taken off, for a mere 80 euros). This is one of many shows related to material acquisitions and improving one’s lot in life. The boot, as many of you may know, is the trunk of a car in the British Isles, and a car boot sale/show is basically a group of people holding garage sales out of the trunks of their cars. "Car Booty" is a poor cousin of "Antiques Road Show" in game show format. The challenge is to try to sell enough of your household treasures at a price determined in consultation with experts so that you can have the family reunion or buy the barbecue that you have set as your goal for the day. Accompanying experts keep things hopping.

"Hangin’ with Hector"
Probably most of you know that the European Union considers capital punishment barbaric so this show would never be about the legal system or about the prison system. It is a talk show, and talk shows are the coin of the realm here. Hector interviews Irish politicos and celebrities in a folksy style. One could probably watch one talk show or another all day long on British or Irish TV. This is a chatty crowd.

"Rasai Luas Tuathal"
Not only would you have no idea what the above words mean, you wouldn’t even be able to pronounce them. And, until recently, that was the case for me as well. We have access to one Irish-speaking TV station. (Irish is a Celtic language like Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton.) I still look blankly at most of the show titles, but there are English sub-titles, and my Irish language teacher tells us it is (will be…?) helpful to listen to Irish TV. So far, my experience is that they speak way too fast! The above title has something to do with talking, speed and, literally, the wrong direction against the sun, i.e., blundering or counterclockwise. My guess is that it is/was a talk show about history or tradition. It doesn’t seem to be listed in the TV guide anymore. Perhaps there was a blunder.

"A Place in the Sun"
There is an extraordinary amount of interest in other lands on the part of those who live in western Europe. You see it in recurring newspaper ads for vacation deals, numerous storefronts in Dublin for travel agents, and the proportion of TV shows that are devoted either to vacationing or, even more often, to the purchase of a vacation home in/moving to another country – which would be, of course, warm and sunny. I haven’t yet noticed anyone eager to move north. The host of "A Place in the Sun" is a realtor (and perhaps a model on the side) and takes various couples to view properties, often around the Mediterranean. It has become apparent that prospective buyers need to be alerted to the possibility of fraud. Just last week they focused on a couple whose life savings had been ripped off in Turkey by a local theoretically facilitating a house purchase. "A Place in the Sun" runs alongside "Home and Away," "A House in Florida," "Trading Up," "I Want That House," and "Fly to Let." (And, no, I have not watched all these shows, but they are all listed weekly in the newspaper TV guides.) Part of this interest stems from the fact that Irish and British property has increased enormously in value over the last 5-10 years (as have taxes and crime, which people are looking to avoid). In addition, Europeans have traditionally traveled outside their countries a great deal; some 40% have passports as opposed to 25% of Americans. Europeans see their countries in the context of a larger world. Were the Irish asked what their priorities were, my guess is that they would say, family, vacations and then, perhaps, work. Not like a large part of the good, old US of A, huh? – much less Poughkeepsie Day and Night School.

"Ground Force"

Until the last few years, I would say all houses in Dublin had groomed yards in the front and back of their houses. Often the strips of land were quite small, but all had grass and carefully tended shrubs and flowers. That has changed somewhat as the Celtic tiger has provided families with more than one car and, therefore, required that people come up with parking space for their multiple vehicles. Front yards have given way to gravel parking areas. Nonetheless, gardening is still of prime interest here, and "Ground Force" is a show about redesigning gardens. While its name might make one think it is a military show, there ain’t no such animal here.

"Flog It!"

Child beating? Self-abuse? Cruelty to animals? No way… This is another car boot sale programme, as we spell it here.

So, that's it for TV life in Dublin - just one more way to access a culture.

Posted by gretchen at October 26, 2004 07:13 PM