New Television Saturday Night “Date”

Ok, I’m getting more than a little addicted to BBC America. I watched the entire first season of Torchwood and am now ready for the second, beginning this week. The dialogue and action are lively and it’s refreshing to see a bi-sexual hero in Captain Jack Harkness for once rather than the ho-hum either/or varieties on the ghettoized American TV channels. Brits sure can get away with a lot on their TV shows; things that the Victorian-ish Americans would gasp at. Oh, the language that comes out of Dr. Owen Harper! Be still my heart with your sexy, frank love talk. Whew (fanning self)! He said something to Gwen Cooper in one episode that made my jaw drop. Could you repeat that please?

Sure Americans LOVE their violence and condone it in their torture porn films and their lurid news stories about the co-ed disappearance of the week, but we are very, very squeamish about sex. For some reason, that’s off limits. I suggest heading over to wherever you can get BBC and watch some of that!


5 thoughts on “New Television Saturday Night “Date”

  1. You know, I’ve been meaning to check out Torchwood seeing as I’m a big Doctor Who fan. I’m told it’s not quite on Who’s level, although that opinion comes from other Who fans, I admit.

    Your point about Americans (and Canadians too, I think) being squeamish about sex, but OK with violence reminded me of a story. It happened when I was still in the Church, and struggling with some issues surrounding subcultural social norms were that had up until then I had adhered to without much thought. We were watching a film, and there was a scene where someone was getting his throat cut. I turned my head away, and asked if someone could fast forward through it. I guess I can stand as much violence as the next guy, but that night I was particularly disturbed by that particular scene. Anyway, I was the only one who noticed. Everyone else kept watching… until the sex scene about a half hour later. Then, everyone turned their heads and someone fast forwarded through it as if it was the worst thing ever depicted on screen.

    My head spun with confusion on this. The double standard at work was incredible to me, and yet very interesting too. It certainly added to my research that social norms within the particular Christian context were certainly flawed. But this weird way of judging content seems to be pervasive in general too.

  2. Rob,

    I’m a newbie Dr. Who fan as well, having never watched the 70s version and only picking up Dr. Who on BBC when Chris Eccleston starred in it. I like it. There are certain episodes that are my favorites but I couldn’t give you the titles to, specifically one in which a “fan club” is started by this one guy who loves ELO. He meets with people who catch glimpses of Dr. Who here and there. I loved it, being a huge ELO fan myself and also because the character was so endearing. 🙂

    But you are absolutely right about the squeamishness issue. I had to turn away from scenes in the latest Sweeney Todd movie after watching the 5th throat slitting and body dumping in a row. My goodness was that necessary!? Yet sex, which is a beautiful thing, is banned. Shows you how messed up we are in the head… Thank goodness the Brits can deal with it intelligently and without the violence Americans seem to crave.

  3. It helps that in Britain they have what is called a ‘watershed’, meaning that shows with adult-oriented content are never shown after 9:00. I think this is a great idea. It helps parents to regulate the viewing habits of their kids, while not allowing for the ‘why won’t someone think of the children’ type thinking that puts all of the onus on writers and producers of television shows. Ultimately, Britain is a part of the European way of thinking – that sex is good, not to be shunned or feared. But, since your country came about due to violent confrontation, guns are good. I dunno; just a crackpot theory from someone who doesn’t live in the States.

    There’s a lot of Puritanism in America still left over I think, and not just in the form of the Christian Right. There’s less of it up here in the Great White North, but we suffer from its influence too, mostly because we rely so heavily on TV beaming over the border which has had a big impact on our expectations of what TV is. But the CBC (as mainstream as you can get, channel-wise) has a lot of British programming, which is basically positioned in the same kind of timeslots as a ‘watershed’ – after 9:00, and usually later. Not all of it is saucy – but some of it is.

  4. Rob,

    Well Torchwood would definitely qualify as adult programming! Although, in my view it wouldn’t hurt to be more matter-of-fact about sex in our country, especially with our children. The cult of the child and protecting them at all costs has failed miserably, that’s for sure! So what do they show on television in Canada? Do you get a lot of the same shows there?

    I think you have a good point about America being born “of the gun.” That’s very true. Hadn’t thought specifically that way before, but you are probably correct.

  5. In reading over my last comment, I should probably clarify that the watershed is after 9:00PM so that adult-oriented programming is never shown before that time. Now that that’s out of the way…

    We get pretty much everything you get TV-wise, since there are Canadian stations that buy American shows, plus the American Network affiliates which beam over American network shows, plus Public TV, and cable channels. We’re a big market, which a lot of American businesses in general sometimes don’t take into account (the number of times I’ve tried to call toll-free numbers which are not available from outside of the States may surprise many). Anyway, we’re as aware as you are about the length and breadth of American television. The thing is that I think that we are reaching the point of extremes with how good and how bad American TV is. The good stuff – Criminal Minds, House, Heroes, Journeyman (which is bloody cancelled!) – is very, very good. And the bad stuff (fill in your reality TV show of choice here) is abysmal to an unprecedented degree.

    I’m sure if we had the money, there would be better Canadian TV. We’ve got better news coverage than you do. But, you’re dramatic series are head and shoulders above us. We have good writing, but no money. So the talent tends to border-jump when it begins to get noticed; there’s more money to be made on an individual basis working in LA than it is working in Vancouver or Toronto.

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