Ep 184: Better Off Ted, Monkey, Squiz

Better Off Ted is a half hour comedy from ABC in the US. It’s funny. We talk about it. In Before and After School we look at Monkey. Also, Brett has problems with the Age’s TV guide and we take a quick look at the SBS celebrity sports quiz show, Squiz.

Better Off Boxcutters:

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  1. Tristan Boxcutter says:

    boxcutters is up early! now how will i know when its 2am and time for bed!

  2. We knew we were going to disturb some people's routines with the unusually early episode. You could just go to bed now or stay up, listen to the episode and then listen to some old episodes to get you through to after midnight.

  3. Rob (B) Oxcutter says:

    Has anyone noticed that the BIG FLOATING LETTERS from Fringe have invaded Mumbai Calling?

  4. I always like it when you chaps discuss one of those childhood TV favourites, and this time it was Monkey. Unlike the anime shows I watched as a kid (e.g. Cities of Gold, Astro Boy), Monkey hasn't held up quite as well as an adult viewer, but it's still not without its charms. A friend of mine was even named after Masaaki Sakai, the actor who played Monkey.

    As for the violence in the show, well, again, that's Japan. Children's shows there are generally allowed to have far more blood and gore than us pissweak Aussies. One of the most successful kids shows in Japan is an anime called Detective Conan, which has been going now for 13 years and has well over 500 episodes and counting. It?s a murder mystery series featuring some very grisly death and mayhem that would never pass on children's TV here. Yet there's far more actual juvenile crime here than in Japan. But correlations between media violence and actual violence is a dead horse that doesn't need any more beating here, without even taking into account the various vastly different social and cultural factors that play into it (Though I?m always happy to have that discussion of anyone else cares to).

    Monkey used to be on during G-rated children's viewing timeslots on the ABC, but the current Australian DVD's are rated MA15+, for ?Medium Level Violence and Adult Themes?. Which means it is now technically a CRIME to let children watch the show. It reminds when ET was re-released a few years ago, it was reclassified as PG, up from the original G rating. The content hadn't changed, but apparently 25-odd years later it was now too ?intense? for the younger kiddies. Bizarre. So now Monkey is deemed too violent for children to watch at all? Just another example of the increasing pussification of our culture, and underestimating what kids can handle, I say. I mean, c?mon, my mother took me to the cinema to see The Silence of the Lambs when I was 11. She knew I could handle it. And I actually dragged my dad to see The Exorcist III when I was 10, and he was more frightened by it than I was! Sheesh! Kids these days are way too soft. Or so their parents seem to think.

    Anyway, as for the beautiful Masako Nastume as Tripitaka. Very sad to hear she died so young. Golly, she sure was hot. I remember being a little confused about that whole thing as a kid, but anything that makes kids think about gender issues is a good thing.

  5. ActualChad says:

    Brett Crock'ry.

  6. catbrain says:

    Referring to Monkey as Monkey Magic is akin to referring to The Velvet Underground & Nico's 'Banana' album as 'Andy Warhol'. But The Doctor does refer to himself as Doctor Who in Planet Of The Dead, although I'm sure that John would argue the recent series' [is that a word? What's the plural of series?] are an abomination.

    I remember being mildly confused by Tripitaka's gender when I originally watched Monkey, but thought he was pretty cute either way. When I watched it again a few years later and realised that yes, he was indeed played by a lady, I just thought of it as classic panto.

    I'm also not ashamed to admit that I enjoyed Buffy The Vampire Slayer.

    Re the new Doctor Who assistant: an interesting point was made on another blog that perhaps the BBC are chasing the Twilight demographic with the latest casting? They certainly both look the part.

    <img src=”http://newsimg.bbc.co.uk/media/images/45840000/jpg/_45840965_who_bbc226b.jpg” />

    <img src=”http://gnostalgia.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/matt-smith-as-doctor-who-001.jpg” />

    John, you may think that A Question Of Sport “didn't work”, but plenty of viewers in the UK thought, and still think, otherwise. 39 years and still kicking goals (DID YOU SEE WHAT I DID THERE) is pretty bloody good. And I could have sworn that I watched it on the ABC here for a while, but I can't find any record of it on teh interwebs. It must have been in another dimension, or perhaps I was in England at the time. I watched it in the time of Ian Botham – I'm not really into sport, except the occasional roundball game, but he was always entertaining.

  7. catbrain says:

    I had the “pleasure” of viewing a pilot for a new series yesterday, called Thinktank. The V/O proclaims it to be “reality television meets sit-com” – actors play the part of these market research characters (Thinktank is the name of the company), but “real people” are used as the research subjects for these, frankly, outlandish concepts – “the people are REAL… the reactions are REAL…”. The video dropped out after about 3 minutes and I couldn't re-start it, but in a way I was glad because the few minutes I saw STANK. Apart from the recognition factor of Geoff Morrell (although perhaps he doesn't ever show his face to the research subjects), the concepts of the products being researched are utterly ridiculous, such as native animal meat products and an electrocution device marketed as a “baby pacifier”. Are people really so thick that they participated in this research and didn't think it was, at the least, illegal?? and, although I never watched it, the premise of the show whiffs a little of Monster House, don't you think?

  8. Not that anyone could possibly care, but I am needlessly pedantic, so I miust add that the MA15+ rating isn't as restrictive as the 'R', as “Under-15's must be accompanied by parent or adult gaurdian”, so you could still show Monkey to kids without having the cops bash down your door.

    I think the way cross-gender roles are played out in Japanese and Chinese theatre isn't traditionally panto-esque, at least not in the way we think of panto here. How I wish Western theatre was as casual about males and females playing *serious* roles of other genders, as in the blissfully glorious Takarazuka Revue in Japan, wherein women play all the parts. Those shows display a kind of androgyny and female masculinity that is almost entirely absent from the media here.

    Harking back to that discussion on Henrie whats-her-name who came out with “Lesbiany”, and how much of a @#!&%! she was, I might actually start watching TV again if there was a chance that someone like Sue Ann Post, Hannah Gadsby or Lea DeLaria might actually have a leading role in a show. The bland, vacuous anodyne androids on display now ensure that listening to Boxcutters is as close to watching Aussie TV as I get.

  9. For what it's worth, go and read a translation of the original “Monkey” novel. Despite being written in the 16th century, reads just as funny and bawdy as the TV series. I mean literally the tone of the book was captured perfectly by the show, weird amalgam of japanese/english/chinese elements that it was. All of which means uhh, err, slapstick and dirty jokes are both culturally universal AND timeless.
    Erm. Or something. In any case – HIGHLY recommended…

    On a weirder note – how cool to see “Monkey” as played by Jet Li in the 80's-tastic action movie from last year 'the Forbidden Kingdom'. Missed opportunity however with Jackie Chan in the film – sadly, not playing 'Horse' who was a dragon that now thinks he's a man – despite being a pretty good match for that 70's actor!

  10. catbrain says:

    @MordWa – yes, smut and undergraduate humour is timeless… take a look at The Decameron or Canterbury Tales or Gargantua and Pantagruel as further examples.

  11. Anyone know what Sue-Ann Post is up to now? Last I saw of her was on The Panel talking about being in training as Olympic shot-putter..

  12. Bloody hell, Brett, that was a while ago now; wasn't she talking about training for the Sydney Olympics?

    Last I heard of Sue-Ann, she was living in rustic seclusion with her girlfriend and being diabetic (the main reason why she didn't end up competing). She now holds the only slightly dubious distinction of being the only person to have appeared on both Kath & Kim and Compass, where she did a doco on gay and lesbian Mormons.

  13. Yes, I think that was about the Sydney Olympics. Her book “Confession of an Unrepentant Lesbian Ex-Mormon” came out in 2005 and it's a good read. I can find credits for some stuff in 2008 – an article in The Age, hosting a forum at Monash, doing the Comedy Festival Melbourne Museum tour – but not sure after that.

  14. Look on http://www.sue-annpost.com.au/ for Sue's News. The trouble is, there's been no gig posted since last year, and I've only heard her twice since then. Both times it was to read out a chapter of the book she's writing.

  15. Look on http://www.sue-annpost.com.au/ for Sue's News. The trouble is, there's been no gig posted since last year, and I've only heard her twice since then. Both times it was to read out a chapter of the book she's writing.

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