Living life through television

I am often left with the distinct impression of having been born in the wrong place.

For many years now, I have been searching for the answer to this conundrum inside my television set, a comforting spot I always trust to provide a resolution to life's problems.

For some time, while the Sopranos was airing, I felt certain I was supposed be a criminally-inclined New Yorker of Italian heritage.

The idea soon became tiresome, and coupled with a lack of such heritage, it lost its appeal.

Then - last week - I realized I should have been born a foppish and vacuous English gentleman of the early 20th century.

This realisation dawned on me after watching Jeeves and Wooster (Arts Channel, 4pm, Wednesdays).

The following is not so much a preview of Jeeves and Wooster.

There are inherent difficulties in previewing a show that was produced originally in 1990, and is now up to episode 17 of 25.

But it is worth going to the trouble of hooking up to the Arts Channel to see it, at least until the series ends.

As well, if friends come to visit, you can pretend you have been watching a documentary about classical music, and say something like: "Don't you think Mozart's timbral explorations are more daring and sometimes more extreme than those of his peers?".

Such are the benefits.

But I digress.

Jeeves and Wooster stars the always excellent Stephen Fry as Jeeves, and the similarly fabulous Hugh Laurie as Bertie Wooster, the latter in a role far less silly than his more recent efforts in House.

The show is an adaptation of Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse 's (PG to his friends) very funny Jeeves stories, where Jeeves is the remarkably erudite valet firmly in control of the life of his rich, foppish and artless young employer, Bertie.

Jeeves does an excellent job of relieving Bertie of unwanted social obligations and legal troubles, and steers him cleverly away from the horrifying spectre of marriage, generally without his knowledge.

What is best about the show, and the reason it inspires me to a new and completely improbable lifestyle, is the opportunity it gives to say things like "What-ho, Stiffie", when meeting a close friend.

I also am well enamoured by the idea of trotting out a sentence like "I won't have anything more to do with that degraded buffoon", a terrific moment in episode 16.

Try looking down your nose at someone and saying: "He does attract the rougher elements", in a toffish accent, another highlight of episode 16, and you'll get what I mean.

Top all that off with the opportunity to live in huge and fabulous houses with an apparently endless supply of whisky, and you have a lifestyle with promise.

As Jeeves would say: "Very good, Sir".


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