Stargate is all wrong at elevenses!!!

Our days our organized around numerous small actions we repeat over and over. What’s your favorite daily ritual?

Why do they keep changing the listing for Stargate Universe on Pick? I don’t have Sky – all I have is this free Pick channel, which is a kind of shop-window for Sky. Pick is generally loathsome (endless programmes about monkeys, lorry-drivers, the Australian Air Ambulance Service and people failing to smuggle pickled ostrich-meat into Canada). The only good – indeed, excellent – thing about Pick – making up for all its other deficiencies – is the sci-fi: on Pick I am gradually catching up on all those splendid series I missed out on for five whole years whilst working the twilight shift at the call centre.

It’s not so much to ask, is it? The highlight of my day – Pick permitting – is 8 p.m. when the classic sci-fi repeats come on. I settle down – or did settle down, before Pick spoiled my evening ritual – on my ancient, community store sofa with a cup of instant coffee, a bowl of cereal and a whole lot of snugglesome cats and am transported to other universes… universii…

Some sci-fi is excellent, some is bearable and some is… frankly, beyond the pale. They aired three-quarters of series 1 of  Stargate Universe starring – amazingly – how did they land a catch like him? – Scottish actor Robert Carlyle and then… and then it’s vanished and in its place is some idiot futuristic cartoon starring a girl with a ponytail and one giant eye, plus a little pink chap with tentacles. Not my cup of tea at all. Whole evening spoiled.

Frantic rummaging on the internet reveals that SGU has now been moved to 11 o’clock in the morning. Also, if you have access to Pick + 1 – 12 midnight. I do not have access to Pick + 1 because I don’t have Sky, because I can’t afford it. Also, I would object to paying a whole subscription in order to watch exactly the same programmes about monkeys, lorry-drivers, the Australian Air Ambulance Service and people failing to smuggle pickled ostrich-meat into Canada an hour later than I would have done on Pick proper.

Quite possibly next week I will discover that they have moved SGU back to 8pm and the girl with the uni-eye plus the pink person with the tentacles will have been relegated to some other time. Until then, it’s 11 a.m. or nothing.

But Robert Carlyle is not the same unshaven hero/villain with the birds twittering outside, sunlight streaming in through the kitchen and endless delivery lorries reversing up our unmade road, as Robert Carlyle when the curtains are closed, it’s pitch black outside and you’re covered in snugglesome cats. The whole point about SGU is that it’s dark, and sinister and clunky and… mechanical. They’re trapped in this alien spaceship hurtling through space and getting on each other’s nerves something chronic, plotting against one another, falling into mineshafts on abandoned planets, getting infested by brain-scrambling space-ticks and… and it isn’t the same at elevenses, with the post falling onto the mat and a heap of ironing to be done, and the cats full of (daytime) beans, zooming around destroying the house, and all that washing up…

Neither is it the same watching a blurry, too quiet YouTube version of Robert Carlyle in s.1 ep.18 of Stargate Universe on a desktop computer, even at 8 p.m. It’s just not.

Really, it’s not.

Guilty Pleasures

So, what was I going to write about television? Can’t remember… Oh yes. It always comes back in the end. I was going to confess as to my strange and exotic tastes televisual tastes.

It’s just that… I hesitate to say it… even though I’m not a seventeen year old boy and don’t spend the whole day in the back bedroom of my parents’ house playing computer games… even though I’m female and… not-in-the-first-flush-of-youth, shall we say… yes, I will say it… I like watching sci-fi serials. Whew!  My friends don’t understand. We’re on the same wavelength about almost everything else, so can’t complain, but somehow Star Trek… they’re not even sure which one Star Trek is. How could a person live without Leonard Nimoy? My hero! Those gorgeous green ears! Those eyebrows!

Most of the ladies I know like soaps whereas I can’t abide them. I really can’t stand all that shouting and stupidity. How many times can someone get murdered and buried under the patio, then dug up and everyone’s surprised to find them? How many times can people be secretly having other people’s babies, caught shoplifting, thrown into jail and hammily sobbing over their plight, only to be released in a few months’ time? Why, I believe Tony Blair, Prime Minister at the time, even lent his Prime Ministerial support to a national campaign to ‘free the Weatherfield One’ i.e the interminably bleating Deirdre Barlow who had been incarcerated on a trumped-up charge. (Not wishing to speak ill of the actress herself, Anne Kirkbride, who died in January of this year.)

I will watch any sci-fi/fantasy serial/film I can find. Unfortunately I can’t afford to subscribe any of those new-fangled ‘packages’ from people like Sky. All I have is Freeview, but even that has quite a few channels on it. Being Freeview-limited does mean you have to rummage around the channels searching, searching, searching… till up pops yet another set of random repeats of Star Trek, Andromeda, Stargate Atlantis, Farscape, Heroes or The X-Files. They are often shown out of sequence – so you get part II before part I of a two-parter, or you never do get part II, or you suddenly find characters who were drained of their vital energy, zapped, phasered or incorporated into some mechanical hive-mind with tubes coming out of their ears, by Wraith, Daleks, Klingons, Borg or whatever two episodes back re-entering the plot, large as life, tube-free, and with no explanation or you find new characters suddenly there and you find yourself yelling ‘Who are you, for God’s sake?’ Although on second thoughts, maybe that’s part of the fun.

Also part of the fun are the logic holes and plot malfunctions. These do tend to leap out at people who write but somehow… it doesn’t matter. And the make-up. They can sometimes go too far with this, particularly the green stuff. There’s this race of seductive green women: they always wreak havoc among the menfolk. Apparently they give off some kind of pheromone that only Vulcans can resist. Vulcans can resist most things. Those women are just too green, and too thickly-green. I mean, they look sweaty. Pheromones or no, who in their right mind would want to entwine with one of those?

Then there are the films. Another item I can’t afford nowadays. The nearest cinema is, like, hundreds of miles away? (The interjected ‘like’ plus upward inflection is so catching, like, isn’t it?) However, stuff pops up on TV. The only trouble is, because of having no Radio Times and my own habit of random sitting down, tuning in and tuning out depending on whether I’m in the middle of writing something, I tend to miss the beginnings of films. But no matter, I watch the ending, then wait for the beginning, the middle, or whichever bit I didn’t catch. I must be the only person on earth who loved Waterworld. I watched Avatar in three non-sequential instalments (wonderful film, all those lovely blue creatures with tails… and the flying) and that one with Jenny Agutter, much younger and in an inadequate sea-green tabard and… whatisname, the blonde, Germanic-looking chap with a single expression throughout… Logan’s Run… I collected that in four or five instalments. The record must go to The Fifth Element, though. I can’t remember how many times I’ve watched random bits of that and I still keep discovering new bits. I just love Bruce Willis in that orange vest. Bruce Willis seems to have been created especially for the vest. And those costumes! Jean Paul Gautier.

And then there are other guilty pleasures. Did I ever tell my friends that I watch every single episode of Ice Road Truckers I can get my hands on? Possibly not, but I have now. Did I confess to The Big Bang Theory (I am Sheldon Cooper’s biggest fan) or that animation The Snowman (every Christmas) and its twin animation The Bear (every other Christmas)? Did I ever confess to watching every single romantic, cheesy American Christmas movie ever made, sometimes several times over? If one of those appears of an afternoon, no writing is likely to be done.

And while we’re about it, Love Actually. I have got to the stage with Love Actually where I know most of the lines by heart. I am actually genuinely bored with Love Actually but somehow I can’t not watch it. And I still stifle sobs in the bedroom with Emma Thompson, when she discovers that her beloved Alan Rickman has bought her a Joni Mitchell CD for Christmas but an expensive necklace for the tarty PA. That must be one of the best bits of acting ever. And yes, I still laugh at a shot-away Bill Nighy’s multiple attempts to record a Christmas cover-version of Love Is All Around Us. Don’t you?