On The Box
Given the recent bad weather, our remote control has had a a good working over lately.
With Coronation Street definitely a thing of the past for me, I needed a bit of low-brow telly and I've found it. Mrs Brown and I originally saw the show in question in Australia, where it was very popular, so you get a good idea of the IQ needed to enjoy it.
The programme is a quiz show, of sorts. As I said, it's an Aussie series, so there are no questions. It's Deal or No Deal, which shows on Prime on weekdays at 5pm, with a repeat series on at 6pm.
The concept couldn't be simpler. There is no skill in the game – it is 100 per cent luck. One contestant gets to choose from a group of cases, which each contain anything from 50 cents to $200,000. As the game progresses, contestants are offered a sum of money based on how much is left. It is either accepted or rejected, and that's where the fun begins – and often ends.
Flamboyant host Andrew O'Keefe occasionally grates, but most of the time he adds to the fun. TV3 tried its own homegrown version here a couple of years ago, but it didn't last long. Deal or No Deal is reminiscent of a time when game shows ruled our screens from 5pm to 7.30pm, apart from the news, and it's a timely reminder of just how much fun they were. Its simplicity is the key, but all too often that most base of human instincts, greed, gets in the way and the contestant blows a veritable fortune. Mind you, watching that can be fun too.
Being on Prime ensures it doesn't have a huge following, but compared with the screaming fans on Ellen on TV One, or the American sitcom Everybody loves Raymond on TV3, the competition is not exactly stiff.
Speaking of Prime, the network is on a roll with some of its other shows. For us mature viewers who lived through the greatest decade of music – the 1960s – the series Prime Rocks (8.30pm Mondays) is brilliant.
For the past two weeks we've watched the legendary British group The Who, with the late, great drummer Keith Moon certainly justifying his nickname of Moon the Loon. There are plenty of other big names and it's not to be missed.
The other series to keep an eye on is Prime Presents: on Sundays at 8.30pm. Lost Airmen of Buchenwald was a prime example, if you'll excuse the pun. What an amazing story it was, and despite being an American-made documentary, it was tasteful and understated.
Mind you, it would have been hard trying to tell that particular story any other way, with a New Zealander being the hero. I'd wager hardly anyone would have heard of Phil Lamason, who, as the highest-ranking officer, kept 168 allied airman alive. And who knew any allied servicemen ended up in the ghastly German concentration camps?
In the United States they wouldn't believe it and were told to keep quiet about it for 40 years – which they did.
Tellingly, when asked about Lamason's role, one retired British airman couldn't stop a few tears rolling down his cheeks. Now this was a chap who simply didn't sob, especially when talking about another chap, but he felt he owed his life to Lamason. And so did all the others who were interviewed.
Lamason was a typical Kiwi hero. When interviewed he was in his 90s and was modest almost to a fault. When asked whether he had anything to say to his former comrades, his response was typically understated.
"I suppose many of them will be dead now, but if you ever come to New Zealand, look me up."
By the time it finished, Mrs B and I had a few tears rolling down our cheeks too, and she is not the sort of woman to do that very often. Lately, I confess I had been, at the demise of Coronation Street.
Finally, the Politically Incorrect Guide to Grown-Ups (Sundays, TV One, 7pm) lost me for a couple of weeks with some silly topics, but last Sunday Nigel Latta was back in top form. "Humans are obsessed with beauty, but is it true that attractive people have it easier in life?" the show asked. "Nigel thinks they do, and explains why".
Naturally Mrs B got in first and said obviously that wasn't true, because she ended up with me. I'm not quite sure what she was getting at, but it was a lot of fun.