Posts Tagged ‘television’
Last Friday in Norway, 1.3 million people watched strangers knit on television. For four hours they tuned in as people talked about knitting, and then they stuck around for eight and a half extra hours of actual knitting. I’m serious.
National Knitting Evening is not the first program belonging to a genre called “Slow TV”: Norway’s public TV company, NRK, is responsible for several. Its predecessors include behemoth-size studies on a train trip from Bergen to Oslo (the station’s first, in 2009, clocking in at seven hours), a cruise ship (a record-breaking five days), salmon swimming (18 hours) and a fire burning (12 hours, and very reminiscent of our nation’s own Christmas Yule Log broadcast). Norway’s population is just more than 5 million people, and more than half of them watched a cruise ship’s voyage for the better part of a week…
Read more at the always great Grantland in “Wait For It: Norway’s Slow TV Revolution.”
* Shakespeare, Friar Lawrence in Romeo and Juliet, Act 2, Scene 3
As we take our time, we might recall that it was on this date in 1936 (though some records hold that it was this date inverted– November 21) that the BBC broadcast the first televised gardening program, a special based on a radio staple: In Your Garden, hosted by C. H. Middleton– known throughout the British Isles simply as Mr. Middleton. The son of a head gardener in Northamptonshire and a gardening columnist for the Daily Mail, Mr. M, Britain’s first celebrity gardener, introduced and championed the “Dig For Victory” campaign in 1939. His Sunday afternoon program reached 3.5 million listeners, over a third of the available (licensed) audience in the U.K.
As we shift into overdrive, we might send receptive birthday greetings to Marvin P. Middlemark; he was born on this date in 1919. A prolific inventor, Middlemark created such consumer appliances as the water-powered potato peeler; but he is surely best remembered for having developed the dipole television antenna– AKA, “rabbit ears.” Obviating the need for roof-top receivers, rabbit ears made TV available to the mass market, and are considered by many to be the single most important force behind the 1950s-60s boom in television in the U.S.
There’s a near-embarrassment of good television these days; we are, it seems, in a golden age. But it’s worth remembering that there has been extraordinary writing and production available right along. Indeed, the series that’s arguably the consistently best-written show on TV has been running since 1989.
We can be grateful to Adrien Noterdaem for witty reminders to this effect– for his series of drawings depicting the chief characters in today’s best productions in the style of the long-running champ:
See many more at Simpsonized.
As we program our DVRs, we might send calculatedly campy birthday greetings to Paul Reubens; he was born on this date in 1952. An actor, writer, film producer, game show host, and comedian, he is of course best known for his character Pee-Wee Herman.
The mind plays tricks on you. You play tricks back! It’s like you’re unraveling a big cable-knit sweater that someone keeps knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting and knitting…
- Pee-Wee Herman
As we play with our cotton candy, we might recall that it was on this date in 1939 that another essential summer rite was first telecast: the first major league baseball game was broadcast on New York television station W2XBS (now WNBC-TV). The double-header, between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Cincinnatti Reds was at from Ebbets Field in Brooklyn; the announcer was the now-legendary Red Barber.
W2XBS was something of a pioneer in television sports: it had produced the very first televised baseball game (a college match up between Columbia and Princeton) four months earlier; later that year it televised the first football game; and the following year added basketball and hockey.