Sunday, February 8, 2015

Further Adventures In Asian Cable Television

I stayed at an interesting hotel down in Nakorn Sri Tammarat.  I won't mention the name, mostly because it wasn't very good.  My biggest complaint was the shower.  I've never stayed anywhere before that had hot water in the sink, but none at all in the shower.  Very low water pressure too.  The only place that there was plenty of water was the air-conditioner, and the first night it started pouring out like a damn waterfall, I had to call the desk.  They sent up two mechanics, they were working for fifteen or twenty minutes.  But I digress . . . this is about the TV right there to be watched, which was pretty good. 

Asian Cable TV providers are a mixed bag of tricks.  The cable at this place had some of the usual suspects, like BBC News, the Universal Channel, and newcomer the Sony Channel.  But there was more.

Like a channel called Ping, which bills itself as "All The Series You Love Is Here."  Yeah.  They featured entire seasons of, for instance, the Big Bang Theory, every episode, all in a row, with no commercials, and no pause in between the episodes either.  Straight through, pausing only for the theme song.  I've never seen anything like it.  I mean, no time to take a leak if you're a real fan.  (I had time myself.)  For two whole days they were cycling through a couple of seasons of the Big Bang Theory, and I enjoyed quite a few episodes.

One very interesting thing was a channel called the H Channel.  The logo was identical to the History Channel, but this one was a movie channel with the soundtracks in English.  I watched some of Star Trek: Into Darkness on one occasion; on another I watched some of Night at the Museum 2.  These were not broadcast quality, they looked more like the bootlegs that one sees on buses in Southeast Asia.  So I doubt if royalties were being paid.

I happen to like Indian movies, but I know that they are not everybody's cup of tea.  (Stretch tea!  Look it up!)  This hotel got the B4U Channel, which was all music scenes clipped from current Indian movies.  A boy, a girl, and lots of dancing extras.  So for hour after hour there were young couples on the screen coming dangerously close to kissing, but never quite making it.  No wonder Indian men are angry at women.  Officially at least, Indian women, and Indian movies, are all teasing, all the time.   I'm sure that the reality is quite different.  I mean, there are over a billion of them, so some kissing is going on. 

There was also the SyFy channel, which I always enjoy.  Not because it is so great, not now that they no longer constantly run Star Trek: Next Generation re-runs all the time.  I liked that.  No, now I enjoy seeing just how terrible their made-for-SyFy-channel movies can be, and they can be pretty terrible.  Some of them are actually good/terrible.  Last weekend I watched three of them.  One was really just bad (Sink Hole); one was entertainingly bad (500 Mile Per Hour Storm); one was really nuts and, although it represented no threat to Citizen Kane or 2001: A Space Odyssey, really much better than the usual SyFy fare.  The good one was World of Tomorrow, staring Robert Picardo as the tight-ass army general and Kelly Hu as the hot scientist.  (Best Boy Grip:  Luke Pastrami!  Great name!)

I looked it up on the IMDB and found it under the name "Age of Tomorrow."  The name was changed to cash in on the recent Tom Cruise movie called "Edge of Tomorrow."  They changed all of the synopses too, so now the plot summary looks like it could be talking about "Edge . . ."  Whatever, there was no controversy in the room while I was watching the movie.  It's crazy, and it's fun.  It starts off like a routine SyFy asteroid-threatening-earth movie, with silly, stilted dialog, and quickly morphs into a three sheets to the wind Death Star/Wormhole/Dying Alien Race movie with lots of ax fights.  (The hero is a fireman, and he don't need no stinking firearms.) When the ax starts flying, and the the alien race starts dying, the dialog doesn't matter anymore, you can hardly hear it.  Not a real story, but what there was of it moved right along.  Right up to the no-ending, much more up in the air than the movie of the same title.

So that's how dull a boy I am.  I go to interesting places and occupy myself with the wonders of the local cable TV.  It wasn't that terrible, actually.  I taught a class; I was driven around extensively; I had many very good meals; I visited the local important temple (they have Buddha's "left tooth!"); I even went to the mall.  I got around plenty.

I tend to complain rather a lot, but really, I'd have to say that things are within acceptable limits.

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