Tuesday, June 06, 2006


Remember when the video recorder was a modern day miracle?. I think I watched one programme a dozen times during the first week I actually got hold of one. Well, I collected quite a database of video's over the years; so much so that they were stuffed into cupboards, drawers, even a corner of the living room.
The first time I actually bought a tape, back in 1983, it cost £19.95 for two 4-hour tapes; these days, you can get three for a fiver, and a free box thrown in on a 'buy one get one free' basis. Me, I've just cleared up a load of space. The DVD is in, and I recently acquired a DVD/Video recorder; for the last few months I have been transferring all of those programmes and films I taped over the years onto blank DVD's; the old video's have gone into black plastic bags, and taken away by the binmen (over 60 so far, which is probably a good few hundred quid, If I cared to think about it)
Now the space taken up by those video's is free, and all the programmes I kept are in a neat box of 25 DVD's. Of course, I only kept half of those programmes; some video's were so badly degraded that I could only get white static when I played them back; other programmes I sat through and wondered why I'd wanted to keep them in the first place; tastes change, I suppose; but then, so does technology. Video reigned for a quarter of a century, but DVD's (as they are now) are already halfway obsolete. I'm told I might have to transfer again in the very near future; oh well, move with the times.
It's been a fascinating trip down memory lane, though, just watching old television commercials; The late Ronnie Barker advertising cigars; Leo McKern in a bank advert; a 1987 commercial for alcohol-free lager which sent up the big hit film of that year, 'The Untouchables', with a Kevin Costner look-a-like proclaiming 'Alcohol free ... who're they kidding' before ordering all of the bottles destroyed.
Prehaps the most memorable one is for Levi Jeans, in which a huge pair are constructed and then pulled down over the Twin Towers of The World Trade Centre. The final shot is of the jeans dominating the New York skyline, and it's quite a poignant image when seen today.
Still, I have the latest King Kong DVD in my possession, and the quality is superb; good as the old video's were, I don't think I'll miss them.
But I have noticed a new expression creeping into the English language. Take an old film, or an episode of a series that was made a few decades ago, and all of a sudden it is very much of its day. In the Radio Times recently, a reviewer said of a 1951 sci-fi film, 'the sfx are very much of their day. This was also said of a box-set for a 1970's tv series. Very much of it's day? What's wrong with saying that something's looking a bit dated these days? Guy's, stop being so pretentious! If something is a load of old tat, just say so.