WARNING: If you’re not a fan of British comedy, the finds may not be of interest to you. Nevertheless, there’s still some good stuff that in older days might have been excellent “Dave Blackmail material”.

WARNING TWO: No new Max pictures on this article, sadly. Though he is getting his next check up tomorrow. Val and I have some guesses on his weight – we’ll see who is right soon enough…

And now that you’ve been warned… keep reading if you dare… 🙂

Time again for the Dave Wayback Machine — Flashing back to 1988, specifically July 1988. I’m a little under half the age I am now, and I’ve just graduated high school. (And yes, for those of you good at math, this means that next year I’ll be facing my 20th year high school reunion – too scary!)

My family takes a nice month long summer trip to Australia and New Zealand (two weeks at each). To make things interesting — I’m letting ALL of my facial hair grow since (a) no one I know save my family will see me and (b) just to see if I CAN grow a beard.

I learn through this experience I can’t grow a full beard, because there’s just certain patches on my chin that refuse to grow facial hair – but what it did teach me is that I can grow a really full and skeevy mustache – and this phase took me well into the 90s.

Dave X-mas 1995

(Basically, whenever I didn’t have a girlfriend and wasn’t actively trying to find Ms. Right 199x, I had the mustache. It kept my upper lip warm during those chilly… lonely… months… uh… okay, years…) 🙂

But this goes FAR away from the point of the story.

Here’s the audience question: Have you ever watched TV when you’re NOT in the United States?

You’ll discover quite a lot!

First of all – the BBC is everywhere the US news isn’t. And it’s rather clinical about the horrors of our world in a way only the British can be. When’s the last time you heard more than 30 seconds clips about any nation outside our little Americana globe?

(Remember – no major internet at this time – though I did know about BBS’es and UseNET at this time.)

Secondly – some of the folks they quote on the news have far more interesting things to say. My favorite from this time down under came from some fella indicating what would happen to him should he rat out certain criminals: “I’d end up as shark shit in the bay”.

You wouldn’t hear THAT on CNN.

Thirdly – the discovery that not all US shows are aired the same time they are in the States! I was watching some TV and saw an OLD episode of Cheers that still had Sam and Dianne together, and there were these die-hard Kiwi Cheers watchers and they mentioned it was a “new” episode. I scoffed and being a total tool, promptly spoiled the next 2-3 years of plotlines for them. Upon reflection, I’m surprised I walked away in one piece.

Fourthly – unrelated to foreign television watching – but I had my first “legal” beer here. I think it was a Toohey’s, which wasn’t that great. I did discover a liking to Steinlager which I recently rediscovered over at The New Zealander here in Alameda at decent bottle prices. If you like bitter English style beer, it’s pretty good.

Fifthly and getting back to the television thing —

Now I had seen some British TV before this thanks to Sunday evenings with KQED. I had seen much of Monty Python (both the show and a couple of the movies by this point), and I had seen the Prisoner.  In fact, I picked up a Prisoner Episode book when I was out in Australia that analyzed the show to no end… quite a good find and I still own the dang book after multiple moves…

But what I remembered most of all – probably the goofiest British sketch comedy I had seen at that time – was the Goodies. Since I hadn’t seen them since — part of me half thought that I made this stuff up in my head.

(The only thing that half-convinced me otherwise was that both my mother and sister recalled this stuff as well, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything either – we’re quite capable of group family self-delusion, we Steeles are.) 😉

And sadly, I had not seen or heard of them since… UNTIL TODAY.

Cue the dramatic squirrel!

During a random websurf at metafilter, I noticed somebody posted about them. And it hadn’t occurred to me to even think to check youtube. And surprise surprise – not only did I discover they were there – but I actually managed to pull the same episodes I recalled watching down in New Zealand!

There were two such episodes that I thought were hysterical:

One involved a vegan conspiracy gone mad – basically, that since animals and plants were alive, we shouldn’t eat them and society adjusted as a result. It all boiled down to a talk show gone wrong and a parody of Watership Down… and … now I’ve seen it again.

It didn’t make sense then or now. Maybe it was the Australian beer coursing through my young veins, but dangit – it was absurdist fun at its best.

Another episode involved a cricket match in the future – cricket was “so boring that nobody played it anymore”, so they had to “discover a Cricket club” a la a National Geographic Special… and then more hilarily ensued:

Yes, as I said before, it didn’t make sense then or now. But now I know, at the very least, that I didn’t make all this stuff up in my head.

I now have proof that my cherished overseas TV memories, somewhere across the world, were shared with a bunch of Cheers loving New Zealanders, who probably still faintly remember that little mildly tipsy young turd of an American that spoiled their Sam-Dianne fan fiction.

I love me some youtube. 🙂