Monday, 19 January 2009

British TV is kinda cool

No, not all of the original programming is cool in the UK. Much of it sucks. Man oh man do they love bad game shows and asinine reality shows (they have precious little like the reality TV I watched in the States, like Project Runway - the UK spinoff sucks - and things like Breaking Bonaduce on VH1). People on Big Brother become celebrities and have even gotten their own perfume named after them (as in the now fallen Jade Goody). AND you're forced to pay a monthly "license fee" to finance said crap programming. (Though some of the programs are good -- a few of the comedies, and many of the costume dramas are fab).

However, what's really cool about British TV is that they run movies, as well as shows that originally appeared on HBO and Showtime, UNCUT. That's right, no key scenes cut due to content, no funny lines watered down into some stupid, nonsensical crap to cut out a dirty word. It's awesome.

I once watched part of "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" on cable in the U.S. It had been one of my favorite films back when I was too young to really be watching it. And cable TV ruined it. Due to editing, it was unclear what Phoebe Cates was doing when she was demonstrating oral sex on a carrot in the cafeteria, and a very funny line when stoner Sean Penn called Mr. Hand "You Dick" with just the perfect inflection became a not very funny voice-overed "You jerk." I gave up.

But in the UK, you would hear all those lines and more. You would see the scene where Phoebe Cates took off her bikini top and launched a million male fantasies. No cuts, no editing, no basically ruining the movie because certain scenes don't make sense anymore after the cuts. There's simply no point watching a modern movie on U.S. TV, even on cable - only the premium pay channels get it right. What's more, while you can't subscribe to HBO or Showtime here, you do get to see the best of their original shows on various Sky Satellite channels. Which has been nice for me, as I subscribed to just HBO in the States. Here I've enjoyed Californication and Weeds, both Showtime series I would've never seen (at least not unless I heard enough good word of mouth to rent them on dvd). Good stuff.

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