Thursday, May 31, 2007

Doctor Who, Series 3

Doctor Who,
Viola, the kids and I are loving the new series of Doctor Who, now the third since its renewal and transformation in 2005 under head writer Russell T. Davies. We are already fans of Freema Agyeman as Martha, although Emily and Lauren insist on how much better Billie Piper was as Rose. Watching it out here on a Saturday night is one of those enjoyable treats that keeps us connected with home. The latest episode, Human Nature, was one of my favourites so far, and I couldn't resist blogging on one of the theological issues it raises over on the NT Gateway Weblog yesterday, Doctor Who, Human Nature and Kenosis. I was delighted to wake up this morning and see a comment on that post from the writer of the episode (who also penned the earlier novel on which it is based), Paul Cornell!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Eurovision 2007

Last year, Viola and I blogged on our first experiences of watching the Eurovision Song Contest in America (Eurovision and Eurovision: The Verdict). This year we were up for it again and tuned in on Saturday afternoon to watch the final from Helsinki. It is a very odd experience watching Eurovision here. First, no one in America has heard of it, so there is no one talking about it -- except, of course, online. Second, the only way to watch it is via the live streaming from It's an amazing quality feed of 700kb/s, and as on all such occasions, we simply plug a laptop into the telly, put the big speakers on and enjoy. (And this year, we didn't try to download Doctor Who at the same time, not least because this year there was no episode on Saturday night, so the quality of the streaming was far better.) But I really missed the proper BBC packaging of the event, and especially Terry Wogan's ironic commentary. With the direct feed, all you get are the basics; when the phone-numbers to ring appear all over the rest of Europe, the live streaming gives you just a blank, black box. And third, it is very odd watching a night time event on a Saturday afternoon. It feels lazy and decadent to be watching Saturday night entertainment with daylight outside. In the UK, it begins at 8pm, so for us it was 3pm. And there was just enough of a delay on the streaming, something like 30-40 seconds, for our niece Bronwen to be instant messaging Emily about what was about to happen, as when the UK finally got awarded some points.

As for the event itself, it was not a great year. The UK's entry, by Scooch, was a perfectly fine novelty song, nothing spectacular, but lively and suitable for the occasion, and a darn sight better than a lot of the other instantly forgettable songs:

My favourite part of the contest is always the scoring, though it has become rather sad and predictable in recent years, with neighbours all voting for one another regardless of the quality of the song. And it has been a feature of the last few years that the UK is scraping the bottom of the barrel. This year, we had 0 points for a heck of a long time, until finally Ireland obliged us with 7 points, and Malta with 12.

Serbia won with a rather intense ballad, but the big debate in the Goodacre family was over the gender of the singer. The girls and I thought it was a man, but Viola thought it was a woman, and it turned out that Vi was right. If we'd have been in the UK and able to watch on BBC1, we'd not have been in doubt given Tezzer's useful intro:

Elsewhere, the debate is apparently turning to whether or not Serbia's song was stolen, which sounds uncannily like the plot of the Eurovision episode of Father Ted.

As usual, The Guardian has been a source of insightful and often witty comment, especially in this piece in today's paper:

Please let's retire from Eurovision. It's just embarrassing now, isn't it? Let's stick Eurovision alongside cricket and good manners on the list of things we used to be good at, but now can't quite seem to manage . . .

Click here to watch the video. . . . The problem is, we've got no mates. The UK turning up at Eurovision is like the unpopular teenager at the disco: "So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home, and you cry and you want to die," as Morrissey put it - although I can't forgive the organisers for raising our hopes that he was going to represent us at Eurovision. I think we should enter a proper pop star, but one who everyone already dislikes, like poor James Blunt.

Most of our points came from Malta, the only nation in Europe that still likes us. And we know that's only because we gave them the George Cross. And that was in 1942. They're still saying thank you for something we did 65 years ago. That's going beyond touching loyalty and starting to become a bit creepy, if you ask me . . .
If we're the greatest nation on earth, how come no one gives us any points at Eurovision? by Lucy Porter

If only we could somehow get America into Eurovision (well, Israel are in it, after all), then we might get some votes again, especially if we could find an act with Liverpool accents.