Monday, October 31, 2016

Set a spell. Take your shoes off. Y'all come back now, y'hear? (Flatt and Scruggs)

Fascinations (You may say I'm a dreamer - Chapter 8 - part 2 - moving pictures)

If I wasn't in my bedroom reading, and you were looking for Warren in the early years at 18 Korma Ave., Royal Oak, Auckland, the best bet was to go to the lounge where the television lived.

Our family was among New Zealand's pioneer TV addicts.

As I entered deeper into teenager-hood, NZ television in the seventies expanded into two channels, and colour. Eventually, video recorders were introduced. Then a third channel! 

Oh WOW - I could now record my favourite shows and films over three channels! Technology! Bliss!

But I'm getting slightly ahead of myself.

As a young padowan, I quickly established some favourites. Mum and I loved Coronation St. We watched it off and on and the show just kept getting better so we kept watching. 

Somehow, I could identify with these characters from the north west of England. Albert Tatlock seemed like he was a grumpy caricature of my grandad, Deedoo; Ena Sharples of my grandma. The stories kept going and so we felt like we lived with and knew these people. 

My love of the Street has only waned in the last decade - since we started travelling and the continuity of the show got all screwed up (NZ was behind the UK by years at some points).

I've always loved westerns: The Big Valley; Gunsmoke; Bonanza; The High Chaparral; Alias Smith and Jones. Westerns were everywhere on television when I was growing up. 

It had all started with The Lone Ranger, on the radio, on the TV and as a comic. The Sunday morning requests often played the legend of The Lone Ranger so it wasn't just me hunkered down in the bed at 18 Korma Avenue who was a fan! Then it was a TV show and I was there too with a hearty Hi Ho Silver!

Then SitComs came along like: M*A*S*H*; WKRP in Cincinatti; Taxi; Get Smart; The Beverly Hillbillies; Hogan's Heroes; Andy Griffith Show; Green Acres; Petticoat Junction; Dad's Army.

SciFi like: Lost in Space; Time Tunnel;  The Prisoner captured my imagination in the evening.

like: Yogi Bear; Huckleberry Hound; Tom and Jerry; The Jetsons, and animations like: Thunderbirds; Joe 90 were on in the afternoon. I couldn't resist.

In the later evening slots could be found dramatic action cop and detective shows like: Columbo; Ironside; Starsky and Hutch; McLeod; Hawaii Five-O.

But wait, there were also spy dramas like: Mission: Impossible; The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and comedy skit shows like: The Carol Burnette Show; Monty Python's Flying Circus.

Films were also a huge part of the content available to me on early New Zealand television.

Black and white and old films! But did I care? No I did not care. I did not have the consciousness to care. I had nothing to compare things to.

So when the Gangbusters movie or any Marx Brothers movies came on TV we watched them (every time). My dad loved them, so when one came on, we all watched. It was just a thing. 

The thing is - anyone of my vintage will have had the same viewing experiences and instantly recognise those shows and films. There wasn't much choice!

Things weren't much better at the movies.

With no multi-plex cinemas out in the malls, we had to go into town (Queen Street) to see new release films or maybe Greenlane (the Victory) or Mt Eden (the Lido or the Crystal Palace) to catch an older movie.

I have a strong memory of going to the Victory cinema in Greenlane with mum and Ross. Dad met us after work and we all went in to watch a colour print (Oh.My.Gosh. Colour!) of Marx Brothers A Day at the Races.

Apart from the colour aspect, going to the cinema to see a new movie was a real treat. When our birthdays rolled around in October, Ross and I could pick a film and mum would take us into Queen Street to see it.

I mostly picked pulp westerns like The Scalphunters, Villa Rides, Bandolero, or John Wayne's El Dorado.  

It was a great feeling - walking into the Civic or the St James to see a film. First I'd linger by the posters and the showcards advertising the film. Then, a snack and a drink. Buying the ticket. Walking past the ticket collector. Walking into the palace. Taking our seat. Exciteable boy, waiting. God Save The Queen as we all stood up. A cartoon. The main feature.

It was all exquisite.

Going to a movie now is no big deal. The cinemas are more comfortable but lack any kind of atmosphere. Such a shame. 

Unless it's the Screen On The Green, in Upper Street (North London) that is!!

Love and peace - Wozza

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