TV shows you shouldn’t miss, even though they don’t air anymore

I don’t really watch TV. I don’t mean that in a wanky way. We are not against screens in this house. DH and I are currently both concurrently on computers, with the West Wing on in the background. But we don’t watch soaps or other random crap on TV. What we do watch in large measures are DVD box sets. I love the comfort of watching familiar episodes of good quality TV drama or comedy. I just wanted to share with you some of my favourites, in case you haven’t yet had the pleasure of watching them, along with some classic scenes.

The X Files

Ah, this is where it all began, my love affair with American drama. If you were by chance in a coma during the 90s, the X Files was a series about two FBI agents, Special Agents Mulder and Scully; the believer and the sceptic. The two scrappy and dashingly attractive public servants were charged with investigating the X Files, a raft of unexplained mysteries, ranging from a giant murderous tape worm to also murderous shape shifting aliens. Fox Mulder, battling a legacy of a sister, kidnapped by aliens, searches through the X Files in search for answers to his sister’s disappearance. Dana Scully, medic and scientist, is assigned to work with him, to try and debunk his work, which she manages to do less often than you might think. Together this dynamic duo, sexier than Batman and Robin, cross states and continents to discover the truth about extra terrestrials.

This series was the backdrop to my teens. During a my college years a kooky friend and I would have all night X File marathons. We would copy down our favourite quotes, cut out articles referencing the series or the main actors. We were, to put it mildly, obsessed. Now, I’m not really a sci-fi fan, I’m what the online fan-geeks call a ‘shipper’, my main motivation for watching the program was the relationship between the two main characters. The platonic relationship continued for about 8 of the 9 or so seasons; threaded through the nearly 10 years, was an emotional connection that couldn’t be broken by kidnapping, faked death, or seduction by various single episode characters. Despite rumoured (and contested) rifts between the lead actors, the chemistry on screen was electric. There is no doubt that the characters were in love. Us shippers lived for a look, a touch of a hand, an off the cuff remark. We lived for the will-they-won’t-they, mollified by dynamite storylines of government conspiracy, freak shows and alien life. And did they? Well, I won’t ruin it for those who haven’t seen it through to the end. But I recently discovered videos on You Tube, dedicated to shipper moments from the X Files. They have been put together by even geekier and more dedicated shippers than me. They take me right back to my teenage years and remind me of being in love for the first time. Sometime I want to watch the whole ten seasons from start to finish but in the meantime I’ll keep watching these videos.

 

The West Wing

Without doubt one of the best, most intelligent and sassiest dramas ever. Yes I just used sassy, it’s the only way to describe this show. Running from the late 90s for about 10 years, the West Wing charted the highs and lows of the top people in American politics. From the Messianic President Bartlett, down to the weird yet indispensable assistant Margret. The West Wing never played to the lowest common denominator. Even on the sixth fourth viewing, I still often haven’t a clue what is actually going on, but it never matters because it’s about the process and the characters. The West Wing made politics sexy. The clear left wing liberalism of the writers meant that you always felt that the politicians were working for the greater good, just like you hope they are, but never believe in real life.

The West Wing is noted for it’s development and judicious use of the “walk-and-talk” filming technique, where the characters engage in lengthy dialogue while walking along the West Wing corridors. It added a sense of dynamism to the dialogue heavy show. Aside from the brilliantly paced script, the next best think about the West Wing was its casting. Originally meant to be a minor character in a show about the West Wing staffers, Martin Sheen stole the show as the President, frightening clever, with a self professed folksy charm, President Bartlett commanded loyalty that most politicians can only dream of. Scrumptious Rob Lowe played the naive but idealistic Sam Seaborne. Richard Schiff perfected gruff pessimism with a hint of witty charm, and Bradley Whitford the politically astute deputy chief of staff who you just want to mother. Allison Janey was the woman we all wanted to be, powerful, charming, passionate; a classy dame among a den of testosterone.

DH and I watch this show again and again, always getting something new from it, still gripped by the cliff hangers that we have watched numerous times. If you haven’t got into this show, then I really recommend that you do. The beauty is, that despite starting well over a decade ago, and finishing 7 years later, it just doesn’t seem to date. This is one addiction you won’t regret starting.

 

Sex and the City

My feelings for this show have changed a great deal over the years. The original premise was four sexually adventurous women living glamorous and romance filled lives against the backdrop of New York City. Carrie, the main protagonist, is a journalist who writes a column about sex, for which she seems to get disproportionately well paid, given her Manolo Blahnik habit, and the fact that she, nor any of the other main characters, appear to ever eat a homemade meal (yes, these are the things I notice nowadays). Initially the show was about friendship, and, basically, sex. Talking about it, doing it, not doing, doing it in all kinds of positions. I was at university when this originally aired, and me and my girlfriends emulated the show, not so much the copious sex, but the talking about it. We were a generation of sexually unafraid and explicit women. We felt like we had discovered our own brand of feminism. These sisters were doing it for themselves. Of course we weren’t, and neither were the characters on the show. Ultimately it was all about getting the guy. And to do that you had to be successful, rich and beautiful, as well as sexually promiscuous.

Sex and the City was ground breaking, and it gave women a dialogue with which to communicate with each other about sex, masturbation, and relationships. Even if the show didn’t portray reality, it allowed us to find out from each other what was normal, and what wasn’t, and to even be ok with the not normal. I still watch this for nostalgic purposes. It reminds me of being young free and single. Great series of its time. Don’t bother with the movies though, they’re awful.

 

The Big Bang Theory

Ok, this show is still airing and is the current amour du jour for DH and I. It follows the life of two geeky physicist flat mates, their two equally geeky scientist friends, and their beautiful blonde bimbo neighbour. Yes, there are stereotypes a plenty here, but somehow with the sharp humour in the show it doesn’t matter.

Sheldon may be a stereotypical geek, highly intelligent, scoring quite high on the ASD spectrum, but he has become a cult figure, a hero for all those geeks out there. And Penny may be a poorly educated, shallow blonde, but she befriends the socially inept quartet, and anchors them in reality, teaching them how to conduct relationships with other lesser mortals.

Later we have the comic excellence of Amy Farrah Fowler, Sheldon’s female counterpart. She is played by Mayim Balik, a real life neuroscientist, Jewish spokesperson and high profile attachment parenting advocate. Amy is a straight laced girl-geek, seduced,quite literally, but her friendship with the cool and popular Penny. Raj is an Indian, curry hating, selective mute, who cannot find a girlfriend, but finds solace in his close friendship with Howard, the only member of the four who doesn’t have a PhD. His sleazy brand of charm wins the affection of Bernadette, another highly educated member of their social circle, and they are currently the only two to hold down a stable relationship.

 

The characters are played with equal amounts of humour and sympathy. Brains are celebrated over beauty and fashion sense in this programme. While it treads the familiar ground laid by friends and other group sitcoms before it, The Big Bang Theory brings the cerebral edge to an a otherwise well-worn format. Oh, and the theme tune by the Bare Naked Ladies is ace:

 

So that’s my favourite four. There are many more series that I haven’t yet got into, but would like to try: Mad Men, Borgen, The Good Wife, The Wire, late seasons of 24. The beauty of the DVD box set and services like Netflix are that you can watch these shows whenever you want, as often as you want, and without having to wait a week till the next episode. The biggest problem is stopping yourself watching them through the night, and having West Wing style dreams!

Funky fabric

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I’ve been a bit quiet of late. That is mainly because I am pretty rubbish at finishing projects, preferring to balance several at once. So, while I have nothing finished to show you you, be assured that I am beavering away.

 

I just wanted to pop in to share my fab find from yesterday. A pair of pink geometric pillow cases, 20p each from a local church table top sale. I love these things, they are choc full of tat, but in amongst the glass kitchenware and foiled pictures of horses there are always a few gems, selling for mere pence. As well as the pillow cases I got some lace trimming, a crochet hook (I’m building up a stash for potential classes that I’m considering running), a tape measure for my key ring (great for sizing up potential yarn bomb targets), a couple of picture frames, a basket to make an Easter decoration, and some random crap to keep my kids happy. Sorry, am I boring you? Well, here’s a little music to wake you up and pay homage to my new fabric. Enjoy:

Happy Mother’s Day

Inspired by the book Subversive Cross Stitch I decided to turn my hand to a new craft this week. I haven’t done cross stitch since I was about 12 and I was pleasantly surprised by how easy it is. The only thing is it requires quite a lot of concentration and attention to detail, neither of which are my forte.

First up in my show and tell today is the frame I did for my mum. Now my mum reads this blog so I have to say nice things about her…but seriously, I don’t think I appreciate her nearly enough. Well I certainly didn’t before having my own children, and she raised 3 mostly on her own. She is funny, supportive and a brilliant grandmother. And to top it all off she just bought me an iPad 3 for my birthday. She spends money on this sort of thing rather than a pension or a mortgage, so I’m going to be paying her back one way or another someday… In the mean time I hope she likes this.

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Next up is a card for my newly appointed step-mum. Between my rather bohemian parents I have had more step parents than I can often remember, but I think this one’s a keeper. She has none of her own children but has bravely taken on 3 children, 2 of who are teenage boys, and 2 grandchildren. I just wanted to mark the occasion for her. I hope she doesn’t think it is too weird.

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Finally I have a card for a lovely aunt who is sadly going through horrific treatment for cancer. There is nothing we can do to really help so at the very least I wanted to make her smile. I just hope she appreciated my sense of humour.

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And that’s all there is to say about that.

But happy Mother’s Day, not just to all you women with children, to step mothers, beloved aunts and women who care for anyone else.

Give away winner!

Ok, after all the yarn bombing excitement today I remembered that I had offered a give away. But first, I have been completely remiss in reporting my prize from another give away by So Resourceful. I recently received these lovely fabric dishes and zippered purse. I have yet found a use for them yet, it’s a case of not having anything special enough, and not wanting to just fill them with the usual crap! I’m absolutely delighted with them though, and suggest you all check out her blog for some of her other creations.

 

Anyway, to my give away. You can see all the entries in my custom made hat (duh! Just realising I could have used one of my new dishes!).

Not Betty as promised, but my beloved husband.

And the winner is….

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Cassandra Parkin! Well done Cassandra! I will email you to get your details so I can send you Stitch and Sparkle!

 

Thanks for all the inspiration everyone. I have decided to go with the idea from Stitch This:

This is what I am going to stitch into my tiny frame, y'know, when I get around to it...

Look forward to showing you the end result!

Rainbow bright

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Apologies for being a little quiet recently. I’ve been busy preparing my Valentine’s Day yarn bomb. That and working, looking after the children, Zumba etc. etc. but I just thought I’d post the picture above. Not because it’s a fantastic picture, the lighting could be better and it’s not very well composed. Nor is it meant to be a twee representation of my house, all clean lines, bright colours and wholesome pencils. Quite the opposite. Currently my table and kitchen floor are swimming in various pencils, crayons and de-lidded felt tips. No, this picture is a representation of my compulsion to put coloured things in rainbow order. Any coloured beads, pens or toys laying around must be arranged into rainbow order. It makes me happy…

I need your inspiration – a prize to be had!

A few months ago I posted about my charity shop finds, and one of them was this teeny tiny picture frame. I really want to cross stitch or embroider something in it, but I am lacking in inspiration, so I need your help. Something funny or ironic would be quite good, or just a lovely little picture of something. I have no idea so give me some of yours!

In return I am offering a book from my stash Stitch & Sparkle by Charlotte Liddle. It’s cute little book with ideas for colourful accessories. My favourite project is the peg dollies, which you can customise with lots of different outfits with scraps of fabric and ribbons.

Anyone who comments on this post with an idea for my picture frame will be in with a chance. Follow my blog or follow me on Twitter (@dillytante) for extra entries (but leave a comment to let me know that you have done so). It’s a fairly small book so I’m happy to post anywhere. Make sure you leave a blog/email/Twitter address so I can contact you. I will have Betty draw a name out of the Peppa Pig bowl hat on Valentine’s Day, so channel your muse and get posting but Midnight 13th February. Oh, I will actually stitch the one I like best put it into the frame. The aperture of the frame is 4×5.5cm, so I need big ideas that are small in execution.

Hurricane Iris

No finished projects to report today. Plenty in progress: a sausage dog commissioned by my friend for one of daughter’s friends; a Mei Tai sling for my brother and sister in law; teddies in various states of completion; some fingerless gloves for my mum.

We are all a bit bleary eyed today. The Scots are recovering from, what has been nicknamed, Hurricane Bawbag, and I hope people like the lovely and long suffering Gentle Otter are getting back to normal. We, however, are suffering the after effects of Hurricane Iris. Gorgeous, headstrong and bright; Iris is, like a hurricane, awesome and fascinating to watch yet leaves a trail of destruction in her wake. Instead of upended garden furniture, Iris leaves half eaten toast, Tupperware and wet wipes.

Iris has never been a great sleep. Tough to put down, and easy to wake, she didn’t sleep through until at least 9 months. Even now she will not reliably stay asleep. I think the emergence or a couple of nasty molars is causing her some bother at the moment.

Last night Hurricane Iris struck again, up crying at 2am. Our usual tactic is to leave her and see if she will go off on her own. It was clear this wasn’t going to happen, so I got up and fed her. She seemed in no hurry to go back to sleep. She usually either feeds to sleep or cries to sleep. Very occasionally you can catch her and put her down awake. This wasn’t one of those times. I went back to bed anyway, hoping that she would settle down. Like counting the seconds between lightening and thunder, you can measure how likely Iris is to settle down by counting between the cries. Cry…one…two…cry…one…two…cry…one…two…three…four…cry…this time six. Is it possible she is settling? We relax slightly, hoping now we can go back to sleep. No such luck, looks like we were just in the eye of the storm, where it is momentarily quiet, waiting to come out of the other side. This time it’s DH who braces the storm and tries to work miracles to quell its strength. 40 minutes of cuddles and the storm has finally calmed, or passed on to some other unsuspecting household.

Thank you, thank you…

Thank you, thank you so much <flaps hands at eyes>. I just can’t believe it. I really don’t deserve it, it’s just so unexpect. I just want to thank my mum, and my husband, my dentist <dabs eyes> to that very special person, you know who you are. Tom <clutches fist to chest> thank you for the words.

 

I’ve won an award, well, kind of. Party Spanner has nominated me for a Tell Me About Yourself Award. Apparently I’m meant to tell you seven secrets about myself, and then tell you about about some blogs that I like.

Well, the truth is, I rarely have secrets. I’m an open book. My postman knows as much about my life as my mother! So I will just tell you some little known facts about myself:

 

1) I had a phobia of trains until I was about 18

2) I can’t play any musical instruments

3) In the evenings sometimes make DH’s tea with a decaffeinated tea bag, as I think it will help him sleep better. He thinks he can tell the difference but he has never mentioned it

4) I got a B in one of my GCSEs but rarely tell anyone and stick to the story that I got straight As and A*s (well, all the rest were, and my Geography teacher didn’t like me)

5) When Betty was a newborn, I was addicted to Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica

6) I don’t chew baked beans, I just swallow them down. I don’t like the texture of pulses

7) I failed 3 driving tests

 

There, those are my deepest darkest secrets. And now for some blogs I like:

Free Your Parenting

Meme Rose

Attic 24

Planet June

Mum of All Trades

Facing up to things

Stitch This

Suburban Superwoman

Mostly craft blogs, and some very inspirational parenting blogs (and I don’t really ‘do’ parenting blogs as a rule). Do check them out. And once again, thank you, thank you so much. I’m just so blessed to be here – no, please don’t play the music!