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Monday, September 10, 2007

Yet another country

In years to come the crime drama will be divided into pre and post-technology eras. We watched the first Prime Suspect last night. Early on somebody sings "Happy Birthday" into a radio phone but there's no appearance from a mobile at any point. We're supposed to be impressed by the fact that the star has a bleeper. There is one computer in the office but it's used to store about five word processing documents. Police are dazzled by the prospect of being on television. And somebody mentions having got some money out of "one of those cash machines".
It was made in 1991.

14 comments:

  1. bruce9:07 am

    You could say the same for comedy too. In the Best Of French and Saunders show on Friday night there was a Grandstand send-up in which F&S were clattering away on old-school typewriters behind Steve Rider as he tried to deliver the sports news. Not a PC in sight, not even an Amstrad, and judging by Rider's lapels this must have dated from the early nineties too.

    On the subject of crime I think Fay Weldon has commented on the fact that mobiles have put the kibosh on countless old crime dramas where the villain would have been apprehended in minutes if the victim had access to a phone – which of course they always have now.

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  2. The Kitchen Cynic9:53 am

    Watching E4's Friends-on-a-loop repeats the other day, Chandler is gloating about his new laptop: 14MB RAM and 500MB hard drive, baby!!

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  3. I love the bit in Play It Again, Sam, where Tony Roberts' character calls his office every few hours with the numbers where he's going to be.

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  4. There is of course an even earlier era where the police were so completely hopeless that they had to call in a little old lady in a tweed suit. She would gather all the suspects together in the drawing room before revealing that Camilla or Roderick had committed the foul deed because they had been deprived of their inheritance.

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  5. When I first started work 20 years ago (pre-journo days) all I had on my desk was a phone, a notepad and a pencil.

    Even 10 years ago we only had internal email and no internet. I was the only person in the office with a mobile phone, which I just had to have, being an early adopter.

    How did the days pass without email and the internet? If I can't blog I feel like the world has ended.

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  6. ...and I should add only about six years ago, when I worked at The Sun, we still had copytakers.

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  7. bruce2:40 pm

    By the way David, if you are a decent, liberal lefty you would have been foaming at the mouth if you'd heard Lynda La Plante raging in a Littlejohn stylee about the country being swamped by illegal immigrants on Robert Elms' BBC London show today. It is well worth hearing if you can track the programme down on the listen again interweb. The La Plante ding-dong starts about twenty minutes in. Also interesting to hear the way her accent sways from RP to pure Scouse. Now that's truly criminal...

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  8. Might be liberal. Definitely not lefty. Never confused decency and political orientation either.

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  9. Some time back, in a Q&A in The Guardian, you were asked what you thought the most over-rated virtue was. You replied, 'liberalism', which I thought at the time was a bit too brief and has puzzled me since. Could you expand on that answer now?

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  10. Gawd, flip remarks come back to haunt you, don't they? Probably because it's too often confused with virtue.

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  11. The La Plante interview was a classic piece of radio. She was like a mad old racist aunt. At first Robert Elms just sounded bored by it all and then couldn't help but rise to the bait.

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  12. I thought that the La Plante comment was going to link in with the technological discussion point to refer to her drama 'Killer Net', but apparently not. Probably for the best.
    Agree about the amusement factor of seeing old or absent technology, but I might argue it's gone a bit too far the other way in some of the soaps - mobile phones seem to act as the plot hinge or catalyst a lot of the time, with text messages getting a lot of screen time. It may be realistic, but like watching a film about hackers or the like, it's kind of dull as a visual thing.
    J

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  13. I love watching old episodes of Morse for this reason. It seemed so up to date and modern when put next to the sideburns and nonce-slapping antics of The Sweeney, but now seems ludicrously old fashioned. The villains all have George Michael haircuts, speak into mobile phones the size of fridge-freezers, and drive around in Mk 1 Volkwagen Golf GTIs. Even Morse's car smacks of that 80s obsession with classic motors as city stock-broker investment options - an incredible feat to make a 1960s motor car seem so 80s. Weirdly (and maybe this is Life On Mars's fault) The Sweeney with its walkie-talkies and Ford Capris doesn't seem as technologically backwards as Morse does. Odd that.

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  14. Mike Gray5:01 pm

    I came very late to the party on Seinfeld and have been watching the DVD box sets. There was an entire episode centred around queueing to use a payphone in a restaurant...

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