PUBLISHED IN MAI LIFE MAGAZINE - FEBURARY, 2011
MAI WORD with JS Bhagwan
When I was a small(ish) boy living in the Sugar City of Lautoka, I used to ride my bicycle to town to get the visual entertainment for my family. Back then there was no “digital” anything which meant we lived in the world of tape – audio tapes and more importantly video tapes. There was BETAMAX, but there was also the more popular (well, in Fiji) VHS. Three hours long – just enough for a Hindi movie (and coming attractions during the intermission); or one and a half movies (with the second half on another tape with another movie after that); or three hours of “TV Series” (and commercials and promos).
I personally thought the “TV series” tapes were the best. They were probably also the most profitable. I mean think about it – some person in Australia (obviously Fiji Islanders living in New Zealand could not come with the idea, or were too well behaved, or mistakenly thought the people of Fiji were not ready for Billy T James … think a Laughing Maori …but I digress) just puts in a tape into the VCR (Video Cassette Recorder for you of the DVD generation) and presses record when the action, thriller, comedy, drama, cartoon or music programme was on and stopped it when it was over. When the tape was full with programmes of the same genre, he or she would just post it to their relatives in Fiji who would (in their back room, garage, office, living room, bedroom…wherever) make copies and sell to video stores. That is until the stores made their own offshore suppliers who could fill three hours of the same programme. That way we always knew who shot JR from “Dallas” and who Joan Collins was going to seduce next on “Dynasty”.
The really sophisticated programme supplier eventually developed the knack for pausing the recording during the commercials (which explains why some commercials today still look like the ones we watched in the 1980s). Of course because we had no television in Fiji… well because we had no life in Fiji we never thought of copyright issues then. Not at all – because we fast-forwarded the copyright notice at the beginning of our movies.
I heard recently that there is a new version of the tropical cop programme “Hawai’i Five-O”. I remember watching re-runs of the original series and the catch phrase “Book’em Dano.” This follows the revival and re-working of a number of television series and movies from the 1970’s 1980s and 1990s.
I am not discussing television series that continue for ten or fifteen series merely because they got lost along the way and went past the point of a climatic ending and now just crawl around looking to at least go out with a whimper. I mean the hit series that have been revived because the kids that grew up watching them are now big-time movie and television producers, or because the producers and rights owners are broke.
Past movie remakes include two versions of the Hulk, three of Spiderman, one of Superman and in the last few years there’s even been a remake of a remake in the Batman quadrilogy and Batman Begins and The Dark Knight (that’s not even counting the cartoons). Speed Racer, Star Trek and others have either been resurrected or ascended from small to large screen.
The Bionic Woman returned but without the six million-dollar man was so lonely she shut down, or producers pawned her spare parts to fund yet another series of Lost. Surprisingly Beverly Hills 90210 has returned (probably due to popular demand by the people of Beverly Hills who “love this documentary”). Then there was “Bewitched”, “Scooby Doo”, “V’ the show not the drink (didn’t get it then, don’t get it now), “Rambo” 1,999 (or whatever) and “Highlander” (there can only be one, wait –two, okay-three… now there can only be one – tv series and then there can only be one movie about the TV series, okay maybe two or three and then there will only be one to combine everything because good ol’ Christopher Lambert is just too old to be a dashing young immortal).
Some of my favourites returned like “Knight Rider” (television series and much better than “Team Knight Rider” or another series of Baywatch with David Hasselhoff running on the beach in Speedos!) even if only for one series, Doctor Who (who? He’s a Timelord that recycles…er..reincarnates…er… regenerates), the Karate Kid (wax on wax off to the baby-fresh-prince), “Miami Vice” (but Don Johnson still rocks as Sonny Crockit), “The A-Team” (a plan/movie that did come together) and Tron (the electronic “dude” also known as Jeff Bridges still rocks).
There have been others and the future looks good with “Captain America”, the “Muppets”, “He-Man”, “Robocop” and “Weird Science” (isa Kelly LeBrock-Segal-Bhagwan) are destined for remakes in the far too distant future.
However, some real possibilities have come to mind for possible rebirth, or regurgitation:
1. “Seinfeld” – the only show about nothing in which they actually ended up producing a show about nothing!
2. Forget “Conan”, bring back “Red Sonja”!
3. “1984”… except we might have to change the date.
4. “Ocean’s 11”…oops that’s been done…
5. Abhisheik Bachchan actually playing his father…
6. “Ocean’s 12”…oops that’s been done…
7. “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” using my old car
8. “Ocean’s 13”…oops that’s been done…
9. And bring back my favourite sports series: the rugby sevens – you know the programme… the one where we actually win in the finals…
As an interesting aside, lately I returned to the Sugar City for a family gathering of the In-Law kind. As I watched my wife’s potential replacements (according, so I am told, to i-Kiribati tradition) provide entertainment, I noticed something familiar about the “traditional” skirts that they wore. The swaying of hips melted into the background as my focus concentrated on the dark swirling strips. Then it hit me. The “grass” on the grass skirts was actually made from old videotape!
As I congratulated the family on the recycling of the tape, I couldn’t help wondering what tv series were on those tapes.