Friday, April 27, 2012

The Flyover Countries

It's been an interesting 20 hours. Let me preface this by saying that when I go to a forgeign country, which I never do but when I do, I have to spend at least a few hours channel surfing. Televsion in other countries is delightful - exotic and at the same time familiar. Especially the commercials. One of the highlights of my trip to London a couple of years ago was stumbling on a low-tech quiz show called Countdown that made me love the empire all the more. It was parodied later in an episode of The IT Crowd which culminated in a deadly game of street Countdown.

So yesterday when I ran across an item in Gizmodo about a website which streams live television from sources all over the world, I was sucked in. Below, a few mini-anecdotes from my adventures. Understand that it's 8 hours later in Europe, and I started watching around 5:00pm, so it was 2:00am and beyond on the French and British stations. As I write this it's prime time in Europe and I should be watching now instead of writing this, but I'm that dedicated to blogging.

My most important discovery - Direct8 in France, on weeknights, doesn't run infomercials. Oh no. What it runs is this:

A pretty girl, stretched out on a chaise lounge, reading Baudelaire out loud. There can be no thing Frenchier than this.

Informercials were found on ITV 1-4. Basically there were two - for a miracle steam mop and a miracle folding inflatable bed. Want! Also spotted on another French network, a foundation garment, modeled by girls who had absolutely no need for foundation garments. Surprised?

Hart to Hart in French is far better than How I Met Your Mother in Russian.

Why, oh why, can't someone figure out a way to import Later with Jools Holland? It's probably the best music show ever conceived. They tried a version in the 90s with David Sanborn, but it wasn't as manic or insane and you never watched it. No one did.

A lot of channels simply wouldn't load. I was disappointed twice in my effort to watch Countdown. Also the east coast feeds of American channels though I have to admit that I wasn't trying very hard on those.

There is this Just for Men commercial (it's a hair dye product) in which a handsome older guy dyes his hair just enough to be a LITTLE grey. It turned up on one of the British channels, only the guy had a British accent; it seemed more natural. I now think that's the original version and OUR version is dubbed.

Lou Reed still rocks, but he looks like Mildred Natwick.

One of the French channels, at least overnight, simply plays the BBC2 feed in English. Must be for insomniac expats.

I wish I had taken better notes about which channel played that awful video about going to Rio, apparently all night long, over and over again. It's the music-video-about-going-to-Rio channel. Italian maybe?

Tragic Update, 4/30: "This site has been disabled due to DMCA complaints". And so, therefore, have we all.

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