So, I've been watching Aussie free TV, which is interesting because I come from a Candyland of digital cable and TiVo. Last week when my internal clock was set a few hours ahead of local time I found myself watching a lot of afternoon cooking shows, which I think are much more pleasant to watch than the high budget bright-lights-and-loud-noises cooking shows that are so popular in primetime.
The other fantastic offering of afternoon television is none other than The Bold and the Beautiful, which has gotten me instantly hooked. I'd never seen a soap opera before picking this one up last week, and now I understand why they're so successful. Firstly, the dialogue instantly fills you in on all of the backstory you need to know. Everything scripted seems to awkwardly overuse characters' names, for example, but with soaps it's like:
Jennifer: But Crush, how is Susan going to react to you impregnating another woman while she's recovering from her brain surgery?
Gee, thanks for filling us in! B&B currently has: a woman whose had her brother's heart implanted into her but she's rejecting it and she might kill herself but also she's in love with her brother-in-law so her sister has agreed to let her husband have sex with her sister on Catalina island (implied), AND a trophy wife with a mysterious hot young man in her home who is not her lover but is in fact her son (!) and she is afraid to tell her husband about her son so she's going to try to get him a job at her husband's company instead. Also the son is played by an actor actually named Texas Battle.
As I hinted at last night, 90210 premiered here a week after it did in the U.S. I notice that some American shows slip quietly into the programming schedule midseason, like Gossip Girl, but others are advertised primarily by how they're being "fast tracked" over here, like 90210. I was pleased with the throwbacks to the original series - Brenda and Kelly, and Joe E. Tata of course. The inclusion of Hannah Zuckerman-Vasquez was much more than I could have hoped for, but mostly it was weird for me to think of little my-druggie-brother-abandoned-me-at-the-playground Erin Silver to have grown up into...a brunette! I do like that Mel never changed his dastardly ways though.
The new teens are totally boring, even Hot Rich Guy and Drunkface from Nip/Tuck. Dixon's okay, except that I'd like to meet a black teenage lacrosse star...from Kansas. The star of the show, for me, is absolutely Jessica "Lucille Bluth" Walter, who plays drunk slut better than any of the skinny teens. Oh also, the stick-thinness of the teen girls is nothing new to TV, but it makes Kelly's eating disorder from season 3 or whatever seem totally irrelevant. Even the chick from Kansas ate only a side salad and a well-placed Diet Dr. Pepper for lunch.
As far as Australian TV goes, there's a new reality show called Taken Out, which has an interesting premise - 30 girls get to say yes or no to 1 guy, face-to-face, and tell him what they do or don't like about him. I wish I could be on the show so that men all over the country could hear me tell them upfront: "Stop having: soul patches, chin beards, popped collars, sleeveless shirts, etc. etc. etc." Also, I think it's cute how the stations are so proud of any Australian who's gotten some fame overseas, because there will be commercials for crappy American movies being aired that will say, "Tune in to Gone in 60 Seconds this Friday, starring Australia's own Jacob Smith as Passerby #2!"
Finally, the best thing I've experienced on Australian TV is the nightly recap of the Paralympic Games. I have always been passively interested in watching the Olympics, but the Paralympics are so much more exciting to me because I get the impression that the athletes - whether their extra challenge is something they were born with or something that happened later in life - are here to prove something to themselves, and to accomplish something that might not have seemed possible. With the regular Olympics, there's an odd mix of people handpicked by their government to be trained exclusively for the Olympics, rich kids who spent their whole life training for the Olympics and using it to get into college, and people from impoverished countries who have found their only escape is their sport. The Paralympics just appeal to me so much more, and it's a shame I've never watched them before.