Outland on ABC TV….I f***ing love it!

Outland ABC TV...Gay Sci Fi fans

Why the hell isn’t anyone watching this show?

Or maybe I should ask “why the hell did so many of the people who watched the first episode not return?”

The ratings for TV’s Outland are in the toilet and I have no idea why it isn’t at least a cult hit. The characters are just wonderful – I felt so comfortable and in love with them all immediately.

Outland, about a group of Gay science fiction fans, is rarely a laugh-out-loud comedy. It is much more of a character study. I feel compelled to watch to see what each of them do/say next. It kills me that there won’t be a series 2. Outland is something special that Australian TV has created and it is going to be condemned to the graveyard of television history. Very unfairly.

There is talk of international sales and I do hope that it gets a fair showing in the UK – I am sure it will find a following over there. I’m sure they’ll “get it” in a way that Australians seem incapable of.

Episode 5 (of 6) was far more dramatic than usual and featured a star singing and dancing effort by Ben Gerrard (who is apparently being rooted by cabaret-type Shaun Rennie in real life!) as Toby – the young, rich boy who revealed a lot more vulnerability than we’ve seen or expected from the character before.

Fab, played by the usually in-real-life f***ing annoying Adam Richard, is another character I just love to watch. I just want to see what he’s going to come out with next episode. He’s funny, bitchy and horrifyingly accurate and hits his targets with devastating accuracy (reminds me of…hmmmm not sure :-). I could imagine hanging out with Fab – there would never be a dull, safe moment!

Christine Anu – an Australian singer – has seemingly come out of nowhere to play Rae, the wheelchair bound lesbian on Outland. She’s brilliant. Just love her character.

I think Outland is an Australian TV gem…it deserves a much better reception. The DVD is out in April and I’ll be buying it immediately. Maybe some people will get a chance to catch up with what they’ve missed when the DVD is out?

After the final episode on Wednesday, I am really going to miss these oddball characters who have populated my life and brought a smile and a knowing glance to my face for the last few weeks.

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What were you watching on TV in 1976?

TV Guide Program Listing for 13 May 1976

You’ll need to click on the image above to see the full sized version and to read the program listings.

This is an actual scan of a TV Guide issue dated May 8, 1976. TV Guide was an Adelaide-only magazine that competed with the national magazines – TV Week and TV Times. It was smaller, cheaper and often carried unique content including local stories and interviews.

I found this edition of TV Guide recently and started looking through it – remembering the TV shows I was watching back then – some 34 years ago! Back when TV was everything – there was no computers, DVDs (not even home video!), mobile phones, pay TV, internet etc. Most families were pretty much glued to the TV as their primary form of entertainment – most cities had Channels 2, 7, 9 and 10 (or 0). In my family we still had a black & white TV in 1976 – colour television came to Australia in March 1975 but it would be several years before we could afford to “go colour”. When something special was on, we all trundled around to a friend or neighbours house to watch it on their colour set.

I’ve marked the shows I liked watching with red dots and those shows that were unique to Adelaide with a blue dot. I notice there’s a stack of British comedy shows marked with red dots – we really lived and breathed British comedy back then. Channel 7 even designated one night a week as “British Comedy Night.” The Dick Emery Show, No Honestly, Man About The House…they were all must-sees for me. You don’t see much of them on TV thesedays but you still do see American sitcoms like I Dream of Jeannie, Bewitched and Hogan’s Heroes. Thanks to Pay TV and digital TV channels, these shows are still showing over 40 years after they were made. (And people are still watching them!)

Australian night-time soapies like Number 96 and The Box were still going and I was hooked on both of them. They both featured Gay characters and The Box even had a lesbian – Vicky Stafford. She was a total bitch but we still loved her. When I think about similar shows on Australian TV now, you just realise how far ahead of their time 96 and The Box were.

What cracks me up looking at this old Adelaide TV Guide listing is a couple of the Adelaide only “advertorial” type shows. “A Touch of Elegance” was a one hour show hosted by Adelaide sophisticate Jaye Walton. I can still remember being home from school one day and hearing her say to someone from a Department Store (about a particular perfume), “oh, it’s only $98 dollars? That’s quite reasonable – you could buy two.”  I just about passed out on the floor. The thought of buying anything for $98, let alone something as flaky and useless as a bottle of perfume was absolutely shocking to me.

It would have been shocking to my Mum & Dad as well. We were a poor-ish, working class family living in a “Housing Trust” house. My first salary at age 17 was $72.10 – seven ten dollar notes, a two dollar note (not coin – they hadn’t been introduced yet) and a ten cent piece. And this was a couple of years after I’d seen this particular episode of “Touch of Elegance.”

Then there’s the 5 minute advertorials that featured on Channel 9 in the afternoons each day. Thursday May 13, 1976 it was “Feres Trabilsie” with Head Start To Beauty. Feres ran an upmarket hair salon for the ladies in town. Other days it could be “Figurama” with Pat Davies – a local fitness salon guru giving the ladies all the benefits of electric massage belts etc. Another hairdresser was “Joseph” and he had his own 5 minute spot each week. He would say (in an outrageously foreign accent) “Zees noo ‘airsty-els aye áve imported from Parr-eee.”

I guess these 5 minutes spots must have worked because they went on for years and these people became mini-celebs in little old Adelaide. Their salons always seemed busy so the ladies at home watching daytime TV must have been lapping up every word!

Adelaide also had its own kids TV shows as well. “Channel Niners” and “Young Seven.” I won a prize on a phone competition on “Young Seven” once back in 1970 – I am still waiting for the prize to be delivered! Bastards never sent it. It was 24 cans of Coke and a 7 point certificate. If you got seven 7 point certificates, you were presented with a free bike on TV. Needless to say, I never got a free bike!

Finally, looking at this TV Guide I remember “Epilogue” which was the last program on Channel 9 each night before the TV station closed for the night. Yes, they used to close overnight! “Epilogue” was a religious program that ran for about 5 minutes – they read out a prayer each night and showed religious imagery. They even had a little theme song that is burnt into my brain after all these decades…”Goodnight to you, goodnight to you, time for us to leave the air. Stay with us a moment more, it’s time for the evening prayer.”

Isn’t it tragic that I can still remember that over 30 years later!?! I can even tell you that prior to “Epilogue” was “On This Day” – a five minute historical recap (like the early newsreels at theatres) of events that happened in Australia’s history on that day throughout the 20th century.

But, and you won’t believe this…..just before the station really went off air for the evening, they played the national anthem which was then “God Save The Queen” and showed images of the Queen of England riding on a horse and inspecting the guards and so on. It had only been a couple of years earlier that we still had to stand up at the cinema for “God Save The Queen” each time we went to see a movie!

This particular TV Guide has transported me straight back to my childhood & teenage years. So many memories have come flooding back. For instance, looking at the program listing for “The Dudley Dog Show,” I can tell you that this was a children’s show with a character (man in a fur suit) called “Dudley Dog” and that, for a few years, Dudley had his own ice-cream sold in shops all over South Australia. It was, quite correctly, called a “Dudley Dog Ice-Cream” and the jingle went “Dudley Dog ice-cream, it’s such a nice cream…”

Those men-in-fur-costumes were big on Adelaide kids TV – “Channel Niners” had “Humphrey Bear” (“Wilbur Worm”), “Young Seven” had Sammy Seagull (and “Muffy”). Wilbur & Muffy were operated by someone below the hosting desk with their hand up a a bit of fabric/plastic. I won’t start on “Winky Dink” or “Fat Cat” or “Rock Wallaby.”

Oh dear, I’m really scaring myself now!

But have a really good look at the full-sized version of the picture of TV Guide above – you’ll probably find some of your own memories in there as well.

What were your favourite shows in 1976?

Hey, Hey Harry Connick Junior…piss off home!

The 'big' man of American culture - Harry Connick Jr

The 'big' man of American culture - Harry Connick Jr

A B-Grade actor. A C-Grade Frank Sinatra impersonator.

Yes, it’s America’s Cultural Advisor to Australia, Harry ‘Mammy’ Connick Junior.

Harry, here’s a tip: the day Australia needs race relations advice from you, it will be a cold day in hell.

Now do us Aussies a favour and catch the next plane back to America.

The real title of Harry Connick Jr's current CD

The real title of Harry Connick Jr's current CD

Oh my gawd – is this Packed To The Rafters’ Hugh Sheridan?

Is this a young Hugh Sheridan?

Is this a young Hugh Sheridan?

Goodness gracious. Is this really the fabulous multi-talented Hugh Sheridan from Packed To The Rafters when he was a bit younger? Or am I on bad drugs? Check out the video below:

The hair is different but flippin’ heck…the facial features look like him! I’ve tried to find out from the internet if it is actually him but without luck. What do you think?

High Sheridan from Channel 7 TV show Packed To The Rafters as we all know him.

High Sheridan from Channel 7's Packed To The Rafters as we all know him.

The Robinsons on Waltons Mountain

Sometimes there just aren’t words to describe the things you find on the internet.

You need Uncle Sam

Yoda and I had an afternoon of watching classic TV commercials from our childhoods yesterday. It was sad that we actually still knew all the words to these adverts over thirty years later. But we looked at the screen and sang along and laughed our googlies off. Do any of these ads mean anything special to you?

And under your arms is the top of the world…

For the very first time, a soap with streaks of lime!

Hugo said you go and I said no you go…

Boy oh boy it’s a Lincoln toy!

"I did this and all I got was a season on Dancing With The Stars"

When you’re a Channel 7 star you can do anything.