Friday, 30 May 2008

Expat Eurovision and other Memorial weekend activities

In the UK, the schools are on half-term. You are conscious of it out here in the States; people aren't around when you phone them; the usual presenters of radio programmes are on holiday and the stand-ins take over; and there were no PMQs on Wednesday (something of a mercy, one might say). We get a little snippet of the same sort of thing in the US in that Monday, Spring Bank Holiday in the UK, was Memorial Day in the US. The kids were off school and we enjoyed our first Memorial day "cook out" just round the corner. American English "cook out" = British English "barbecue". Very much the same kind of thing except that it is much warmer here. In fact the whole weekend is "Memorial Day weekend", a bit like Spring Bank Holiday weekend in the UK -- sales everywhere, a holiday atmosphere, and the major programmes take a break, no new Doctor Who or Battlestar Galactica on SciFi channel, for example.

It's odd being a British expat on weekends like this, all the more so when it's Eurovision. It's become a bit of an annual tradition in our family to watch the Eurovision Song Contest live on the Saturday afternoon and Viola and I have talked about it over the last couple of years (Eurovision Song Contest on The Americanization of Emily). It was the same this year, the weirdness of watching an evening event live at 3pm, the oddity of a great internet stream with no commentary from Terry Wogan, ploughing through all those turgid songs waiting to get to the scoring, which is, after all, the only reason one watches it. But however much of a waste of time it might seem, at least one is only wasting a Saturday afternoon -- and one can still go out on a Saturday night.

The scoring is ever more predictable, and the UK coming right at the bottom is getting a bit less funny now (we were in the bottom three, equal, this year) and I had to Youtube to find out what Tezza had been saying and was sorry to see that he seems pretty depressed about the whole thing. I mean, the whole point of watching is to smile-and-whinge along with Wogan. But here he is lamenting the way the voting has turned out and it's not funny anymore:

"You have to say that this is no longer a music contest". He is not smiling anymore. Perhaps we Brits just felt it keenly because Eurovision means no Doctor Who, which now takes a mid-series break for Eurovision Saturday, so we are all in a grump because we have an extra week to wait for Doctor Who to take everything up a notch. Actually, this is probably no bad thing. The idea of the Eurovision break began last year, just before the Paul Cornell Human Nature two parter, and they showed a kind of mid-series trailer at the end of "42", the week before Eurovision. This year, the trailer has a whole new status; Doctor Who is so big that it gets a trailer advertised as part of the BBC1 schedule. I must admit that I watched it straight away. Here's a Youtube version:

Exciting stuff. Given that the mid-series trailer withheld the most exciting (Whogasm) moment of the series last time, let's hope there is something similarly fantastic this series.

But I was supposed to be talking about how crap Eurovision was and not about how much I am enjoying Doctor Who. Here's a funny post on SFX that combines both:

TV REVIEW: Doctor Who 4.8 ***SPOILER FREE***

Since the introduction of the “Doctor-less episodes”, we’ve come to expect the unexpected from the new series, but this latest format-bending adventure was an experiment too far.

Okay, it was entertaining to see a musical episode of the series, but Buffy did this years ago! It’s just another shameless example of the production team ripping off Joss Whedon, right? . . .
But for a real commentary on the bizarre phenomenon of Eurovision, The Guardian takes some beating:

Watch with . . . Eurovision 2008

Meanwhile, we might not have half-term hilidays here, but the kids only have a few days' school left, so they are not complaining.

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