Monday, August 30, 2010
Early loves are all very well and I'm not going to get into the first R rated movie I ever saw, because Robert Redford deserves his own blog post. Still, even with 3 Days of the Condor behind me, I didn't know true love until my mother and I watched every minute of Poldark on Masterpiece Theater. My mother was an intellectual snob par excellence - she never watched TV unless it came from England, in which case it was Educational and Culturally Superior. Well, except for Beat the Clock and the Doris Day show - she liked those too. Still, she never watched soaps or sitcoms or anything like that, unless you count Upstairs, Downstairs; Mystery; and every single damn BBC production that was ever introduced to the States by the mellifluous tones of Alastair Cooke on Sunday nights. Be careful not to get mixed up! Masterpiece Theater was hosted by Alastair Cooke, not Aleister Crowley, who would have put together quite a different program, no doubt.
I was usually kind of bored by Masterpiece Theater, even when I was allowed to stay up to watch it (we were properly raised, which is to say we were put to bed hideously early) but since it came on after Mutual of Omaha and then Disney, both of which we were allowed to watch, sometimes I got to see it anyway. My boredom, however, changed with the advent of Poldark, which was basically a filmed adaptation of a slightly more literate than usual series of historical romances set in Cornwall. I have never been to Cornwall but I have read any number of novels set there and those, with the influence of Poldark, make me feel as if I know the place. It's infested with elves, holy Grails, sleeping knights, smoldering smugglers, ghosts, ladies in strategically torn white nighties, thrashing dramatic scenery and lots of cliffs that people throw themselves off on a regular basis. Excellent, in other words. Poldark was something else again and my mother and I were completely, absolutely and totally hooked. The tempetuousness of it all! The incredibly good looking Ross Poldark! Oh my god, Ross Poldark. Be still, my twelve year old heart!
I inherited my mother's beliefs on TV - if it comes from the UK, it's good; from the US, it's bad - and thus in the early 80s I was ripe for Robin Hood. Robin of Sherwood was not only one of the most beautiful men (in a specifically early 80s kind of way) I had ever seen, it also had veiled references to Celtic mythology and a kind of Enya meets the Temptations proto New Age soundtrack. I was hooked, even more than I was hooked on Excalibur, which is saying a lot, since Excalibur was apparently the only movie that the Charleston, SC infant cable company had full rights to - they played it more or less 24 / 7 and I knew every word. Still, there was nobody gorgeous in the entire cast of Excalibur while Robin. . . oh god. . . Robin.
As we age, our hormones settle down a bit and these bland young actors cannot stir them. I tried watching the new BBC Robin Hood early this summer - I have had a thing for Robin Hood my entire life, okay, I confess - but I was unmoved. My daughter, who does not have a thing for Robin Hood at all, possibly because of all the various Robin Hoods I, her mother, have made her sit through, said something cranky about how stupid Robin Hood was, really. Nonsense! I said, wait until you meet the real Robin Hood, the sexiest Robin Hood ever! And I launched myself on a quest to find my Robin Hood of memory and lo, since one of the truly all good things to come out of the 21st century is Netflix, I found it.
Huh. It's very, um, early 80s. Robin does seem to spend a lot of time sweeping his hair out of his eyes. He's kind of cute but. Well. It's just . . . just not the SAME! I can't stand it! And neither could my daughter, who said cutting things about the soundtrack - "Are they singing? They're singing! They're singing ROBIN. . . ROBIN IN THE WOODS!" and the hairdos. And then I, in some kind of defense, went online and discovered that I was not the only middle aged woman in the world who still harbored a secret crush but that at least I had not devoted my life to a fan forum. Which, all power to them, but in new pictures of Robin he's wearing kind of an alarming amount of eyeliner and, well, I just can't go there. He's aged, too. I mean, a lot. Not like me. Um. Sigh.
That was Robin Hood, though. He was never on Masterpiece Theatre and thus, despite his undeniable Britishness, was probably less cultural than Poldark.. Poldark must be different and so, when I saw that I could get Poldark from Netflix on demand last night, I forced Audrey to sit down and watch the first episode with me. Oh. Oh dear. It's rather slow. And Poldark's original love, Elizabeth, is really strange looking, as in, she looks and acts not unlike a standard poodle. A standard poodle made of wood, at that. And the titles are tempestuous, as is the scenery and the extras and, frankly, Ross Poldark is, as my daughter pointed out, kind of an asshole. I googled him too. He seems to have turned into a rather jovial old man and, damn, another idol has bitten the dust.