Does anyone remember their first VCR? I do. We rented it from Granada and it was a right clunk-click-every-trip job: no remote control, no on-screen programming, no longplay. It was a top loader too; incredibly handy for seeing how much tape was left on the videocassette (I often went down to the wire, trying to squeeze just one more episode of Cheers onto an E-180). I was devastated when top loaders were replaced by front loaders – especially the day when my luck (and the tape) finally ran out (for the record, a Cheers episode entitled Showdown, part 1). I even remember the very first thing taped: it was a Level 42 song called The Sun Goes Down (Living It Up) and it was from Channel 4’s classic pop show, The Tube. Memories.
Fast forward to today and it’s all about space. That’s the issue. Space for a video collection started 24 years ago. Family members keep threatening to call the House Doctor’s Ann Maurice or the BBC’s Life Laundry show. I protest vehemently at the latter. I do not have unresolved emotional issues (often found to be at the heart of the worst examples of clutter on that programme); I just do not have enough space. In an ideal world, I’d win the lottery and buy a house big enough to devote an entire floor to home entertainment: a state of the art DVD Player, a Plasma Television, surround sound speakers etc. Unfortunately, reality bites. I have to finally confront the fact that I have hundreds of big, bulky videocassettes taking up valuable room.
Operation Tape Management will commence as follows: I will dispose of as many bought VHS tapes as possible (charity shops, here I come) with the exception of my two sets of original widescreen theatrical versions of Star Wars, my Arsenal collection, my Godfather boxset, my Tom and Jerry collection (the DVDs are cut to shreds due to political correctness. All the blackface/ethnic stereotyping/Mammy Two Shoes elements are missing and soon, the characters won’t be smoking either) and finally, any VHS tapes that are either not available on DVD or are available on DVD, but not in their original form (try getting National Lampoon’s Animal House on DVD with all the music featured in the theatrical release. No Wonderful World by Sam Cooke, no Theme From A Summer Place etc).
Much harder, and easily the bulk of the problem, are the cassettes with stuff taped off the telly. "Throw them out!" That’s my mum’s solution. Not awfully practical in these environmentally aware days. It puts me in mind of a line from the classic Talking Heads song Once In A Lifetime: "And you may ask yourself, well, how did I get here?" Answer: by not taping over anything I cherished and by acquiring American NTSC format tapes of US shows.
One set that will not be going is my Remington Steele collection. If only I’d taped Pierce Brosnan’s early US hit off Bravo when they showed it in full back in 1997! Instead I have NTSC tapes that I cannot get rid of, or easily transfer to DVD, because they’re from the original NBC run in America. And again, although the show is now available on DVD, some of the original music used isn’t. Staying at Chez Coops for the exact same reason as Remington Steele is Beverly Hills 90210 (taped from Murdoch’s Fox channel in the US). I’ve read waaaaaaaaaayyy too many negative Amazon customer reviews from fans lamenting the loss of key music on the DVDs. I hope to transfer some of my PAL collection to DVD: any tapes containing Cheers, Moonlighting, Just Good Friends, Arsenal stuff and fab music will be spared. I will have to go through every single cassette that I own – a daunting task. I really need that lottery win.
Today I am mostly lovin’ – The Sopranos. Easily the best thing on TV at the moment.
Today I am mostly hatin’ – My brain. It didn’t immediately pick up on the fact that a picture in my Big Brother wrap party was incorrectly captioned. Luckily, I spotted the mistake 5 mins after publishing. Thank you to all the MSN users who wrote in to point this out. And yes, I did watch the show, I assure you.
MSN Editor Coops