My only cover for what follows, in terms of international winewriting cred, is that Tim Atkin (if that name means nothing to you then you don’t understand international winewriting cred) recently Tweeted enthusiastically about a TV series in a way that prompted me to go out there and watch it.
There are different sorts of cred, of course, and if anyone a few years back would have predicted that: a) I’d be involved in Twitter; b) interested in American TV series, well I’d have scoffed. How one degenerates … or how one learns the folly of one’s prejudices – take your pick of those. (Myself, I’m not sure.)
Tonight I’ve been watching another early episode (Tim was talking of much later ones) of a series called Breaking Bad. I am, as earlier intimated, a relative newcomer to TV series. As for films – when last I went to the cinema I can’t imagine – ten years? I don’t ever watch TV – haven’t even got a TV set, let alone a licence – but have not long since started watching films and TV stuff on my Imac. (Don’t let me get started on my love-hate, mostly hate, relationship with Apple.)
Now, I have not the slightest doubt that there are those who think I don’t have anything useful to offer as a wine critic. (That category occasionally includes me.) What right have I to say anything at all about films and TV? Little, except that I’m here. And my considered opinion, on the basis of not a helluva lot, is that the best TV is much superior to most cinema these days. Tighter, less self-indulgent. Less indulgent of stupidity amongst viewers…. Certainly the American and British versions of both of those things. And Swedish – like the great Wallander detective series. I am now watching more TV stuff than cinema stuff. (Not a vast amount of either, though – an hour or so each day.)
And, gritting my austere socialist teeth, I have to admit that the US versions are particularly good. These early Breaking Bad episodes, for example, offer a brilliant balance of sentiment, gritty and depressing realism, wit, humour, lurid extravagance, and subtle characterisation. They are, above, all, brilliantly acted and directed. I’ve also been recently watching Deadwood, the foul-mouthed series set in cowboys-and-Indians time and place,
What to drink with such stuff? Anything nice, really. Tonight I felt in the mood for a white wine (such a beautiful sunny day it was in Cape Town – I suddenly believe that summer is soon with us!), but didn’t have anything suitably cold. I wanted something lighthearted (so I put Lammershoek Chenin-Viognier in the wine-fridge for tomorrow in case I’m in the same mood), and therefore settled on the Felicite Pinot Noir from that great pinot team at Newton Johnson. It’s modestly priced, pleasant, tastes like pinot, is certainly light-hearted, and did the job well – but perhaps I’m spoilt: I keep on trying to suck harder to get more out of it – but more isn’t there! Maybe pinot is something one shouldn’t try to save money on.
A bit of Avontuur brandy filled the intensity gap.