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The Telefile

Goddammit, PBS!

by admin January 25, 2008 6:24 pm

Keckler joins The Telefile for a rant on the new and "improved" Masterpiece Theatre, now going by "Masterpiece" -- and pissing her off.

andersong.jpgWhat is your problem, PBS? No, really -- what did I ever do to you? All I EVER did was LOVE you. I counted on your programs, your non-advertising bumpers, your soothing constancy. There was even a parentally-restricted time in my life when I watched only you and no one else. So why did you have to go and turn me into a "that's not how it used to be!" crank? At the (sort of) tender age of 34, no less!

I suppose you're now going to go and pretend you don't know what you did? Fine, I'll tell you: Masterpiece Theatre. Oh, sorry, it's Masterpiece now, isn't it? What -- the second word was too much to handle? We live in such an impatient blog-ridden society that no one can manage to wait around for a two-word title? Wait, I know -- it was the use of "Theatre" and not the Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and E.M. Forster that made the series seem too intellectual for all those PBS-watching theatre-phobes. Like Masterpiece alone is so much better. It's just hanging out there all cold and unfinished. "Masterpiece" what? Society? Barbecue Sauce?

And what is up with that new intro? Instead of a wending trip through library piles of gold-stamped, leather-bound books, you're giving me animation? A Reading Rainbow-esque book flipping leaves so bizarrely long and pliable they look like Kleenex? Growing up, I didn't WANT an animated book; I WANTED gold-stamped, leather-bound books! You made me want them! You made me read them!

And excuse me, please, but where are the Pallisers, the Bellamys, and the Poldarks? Because you've gotten rid of their familiar family portraits. I suppose you shoved them where you shoved Alistair Cooke and Russell Baker's leather chair and fireplace. Criminy, don't even get me started on the loss of the music that everyone knew as "The Masterpiece Theatre Song" but no one really knew as Mouret's "Rondeau" until they thought about choosing it as their wedding march.

What do you give me instead? A truncated and Casio'd "Rondeau," photo overlays of recent specials, that damn Kleenex book -- all which smack roundly of a General Foods International Coffee Commercial -- and Gillian Anderson. Not just Gillian Anderson, but Gillian Anderson sitting -- rather uncomfortably, obviously -- on a three-legged stool. Fine, maybe it's four-legged, but it's clearly a stool because CLEARLY it has no back to sink against.

Yes, Gillian Anderson has both House of Mirth and Bleak House on her -ography. And yes, she has that amazing mane of titian (oh, sorry, Masterpiece -- RED) hair, but I'm totally distracted from her classic beauty by both the unnecessarily soft focus (she's not Barbara Walters!), and her oddly accented delivery that sounds like she's trying to be Madonna trying to be British. She's stiff and over-rehearsed. She's not conversational, she's not personable. I thought we were trying to get people to like Jane Austen, not scare them away from it.

And what's up with that impersonal, silky red background? Is this PBS classic drama or a "My Moment, My Dove" commercial?

Basically, PBS, you just can't be trusted. I know as soon as I turn my back, you're going to trash the Edward Gorey opening to Mystery! and dump Diana Rigg.

You've done it already, haven't you?

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