Feb 2, 2003

I've been a great TV watcher, much to the annoyance of a few people at times, but of late my TV watching seems to have been rather restricted; apart from movie-on-TV watching, I don't seem to have too many regular serials or other programming on my list these days. All of this in context of a little list I was making on my current most watched programmes: I wanted to come up with 10 and barely managed to do so. A decade ago, I would not have struggled so. Even though Doordarshan crashed out of our minds with the advent of cable TV, the decade before 1993 did have some rather good (in hindsight, sadly) serials to boast of. DD somehow tried to imitate cable TV offerings and lost its traditional strengths in conjunction with coming up with poor copies of countdown shows, film premieres etc. Anyway, a little list of my current I-try-and-view-if-I-can shows, not in any particular order:

  1. Frasier : Star World - The travails of radio-psychiatrist Frasier Crane, brother Niles, father Martin, Daphne Moon, the invisible Maris, the hormonally-challenged Roz and a canine comic expert called Eddie. Shares directors with Seinfeld (Andy Ackerman for example), features celebrity voices (Chakravyuh 2001!) and has IMHO, the wittiest jokes on TV.
  2. Harsha Online : ESPN/Star Sports - Hosted by the guy who, I think, has the best job in India. Harsha Bhogle knows a great deal not just about cricket but sport in general, and has a most interesting lineup of guests, the latest being Syed Kirmani. His guests seem most comfortable talking to him and the hour-long show is well-structured with no unnecessary frills.
  3. Kondattam/Meendum Meendum Sirippu : Sun TV - I would've chosen Comedy Time if it still aired, I thought Mayilsami could teach a thing or two to all those cosmetic disasters they call hosts. Sun TV, as do most Tamil channels, air these shows that have comedy scenes (they can range from the sublime to the absolutely crude, but somehow the hope of watching a good one draws me back) from Tamil films: Goundamani & Senthil dominating. A post on this someday.
  4. Trendmill, Storyboard : CNBC India - Good production values, excellent presentation even for people like me with little knowledge of business news. The programmes primarily focus on the Ad and media aspects of Indian business.
  5. Seinfeld : Zee English - I still don't know why I like it (on a broad level). Sometimes, it's pretty childish, but sometimes one will get a gem. And that's worth waiting for. I even have a book on the Seinfeld episodes of the 1st 8 years. Jerry, Elaine, Cosmo & George beam at primetime into my house on weekends. And you too, Nuuu-mann.
  6. Sportsline : Star Sports - Filled a long standing need to have a show dedicated to sporting news of the day. The show features a decent set of hosts who know their business well.
  7. Mastermind India : BBC World - Probably not much of a surprise, but it is pretty much the only decent Indian quiz show on TV. Even if you're only watching reruns of two years before, because there is always the chance you might spot someone you know. Of course, there is always the danger of seeing me, but that's only 3 out of the 101 shows.
  8. Shrimaan Shrimati : Sabe TV - This is probably another infra-dig choice, but I just like its manic madness. The reruns still appear and I watch them whenever I can. Keshav "Keku" Kulkarni (RIP), Kokila "Koki" Kulkarni, Prema Shalini, Dilruba "Dilbura" Jarnail Singh Khurana, Chintu, Sharmaji, Ganga "Gangaaa" Mausi and the ever reliable Gokhale have been a source of great amusement.
  9. Ikke Pe Ikka : Zee Cinema - Must be one of the longest running shows on Indian TV. I've got a bit tired of Sajid Khan (and it's not a patch on Kehne me Kya Harz Hai), but the interest is more out of familiarity and a lack of anything else to watch.
  10. Talking Movies : BBC World - Anchored by Peter Brook from New York, this is probably the only decent film discussion programme in the Indian satellite TV space. A substitute for Barry Norman's long running show, it still does feature a wide sweep of film reviews and related items eschewing the tabloid or fawning approach most Indian film shows seem to adopt.
Even a few years earlier, I've would been able to name some more names: Murder Call, the Australian crime series, springs to mind. The Balaji model has unfortunately made extinct the alternative programme space, or atleast pushed them to difficult viewing spots. Need a change soon.

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