On The Box
At last, some respite from the screaming skulls.
One of the most obnoxious things about television is the blaring ads that regularly pop up when Mrs Brown has just nodded off to sleep, only to be awakened with a start.
Well now that is coming to an end - hopefully.
After years of bitter complaints New Zealand television networks are toning down their "shouting" commercials. After years of denial, those in charge of the networks have finally acted.
Most networks have agreed to introduce the quieter ads from January 1, but TVNZ is getting in first and will adopt the new standards from tomorrow.
The networks say they will change the rules on sound compression - a technique that makes some TV advertisements seem louder than the programmes.
So we are still wrong to a point. We thought that the Big Save ad, for example, was louder than the programme we'd just been watching because the annoying woman in the ad was yelling at us as loudly as she could.
Nope, it's not volume, it's compression, we're told. Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn as long as it stops. Who wants to be put through the emotional trauma of watching Downton Abbey's Lady Sybil die so poignantly and needlessly in one scene to be followed immediately by the latest tyre-selling yelling salesman seconds later? It quite spoils the poignancy of the moment.
Holding that thought for a moment, Downton Abbey has never been better. Last week's episode in which poor young Lady Sybil made her permanent exit from the show was a four-tissue one. Damn Sir Peter, and Lord Grantham for listening to him.
Staying on the theme of women, I have to be honest and say I couldn't really take to One Born Every Minute (TV One, Mondays, 9.30pm).
Some well meaning, but, I suspect, mischievous friends told me it was really funny and I would enjoy it. They were wrong. There may well have been humour in there, but first of all you had to get past the opening scenes which invariably included prolonged bouts of screaming from the impending mothers.
That was just as inevitably followed by the final moments of labour with much blowing, more screaming, exhortations from whoever was lucky enough to be at the bedside and then finally - the birth itself.
I may be a bloke and a little squeamish but I prefer my reality shows to be less realistic. The sight of a newborn baby is a wonderful thing to behold - once they've been cleaned up.
Mrs Brown told me I needed to harden up. I reminded her that I'd been in the theatre with her for the birth of our youngest child. She countered with the irrelevant response that I hadn't moved further down than her head and wouldn't even look at the latest addition to the Brown clan coming into the world.
She was right of course, but I was only thinking of her, something I continued to show after the birth.
In those days mother and baby were more sensibly kept in hospital for a few days, and I smuggled in the asked-for flagon of sherry for Mrs B and her new-found pals.
So really, childbirth is an individual thing. Whether it makes for great telly is something that also comes down to individual taste. Interestingly, Mrs B wasn't that interested in watching the series, even though she is a woman. She said it reminded her of just how much I owed her. Whatever that meant.
Finally, I will miss Petra Bagust when she leaves Breakfast on TV One at the end of the year. We prefer to watch TV3 these mornings, until it gets repetitious and we switch across to One for some light-hearted reprieve.
Petra this week twice showed her in-depth appreciation for the important issues of the day. One was when it was announced that actor Russell Crowe was selling his share of Souths rugby league club to spend more time with his family - he and his wife are separated. After some discussion, Petra went straight to the heart of it, saying he always had bad haircuts. Despite having the producer suggest to her in her earpiece that she move on (which she told us), she declared she wanted to explore the situation more and banged on even longer about Crowe's haircuts.
Later in the week, a lighter moment when William Roache, aka Ken Barlow was interviewed (by three of them, Rawdon, Petra and Nadine) about the Coronation Street show he is bringing to New Zealand next year. They never did get around to talking about the show, but Petra did have time to sign off saying he had lovely hair. As I said, I'll miss her.
- The Timaru Herald