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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dr Bravia - or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Pixel Flare

I finally cracked and bought a new Sony Bravia Flatscreen TV over the Christmas holidays. The price was too good from amazon and I was too fed up with watching widescreen pictures with the edges cut off on a 4x3 tele.

I unpacked it one night after work last week and plugged it in. Wow.

I was worried about what the girls in my life would say (wife and daughter) but after the TV had tuned itself in to Freeview, the first channel I tried was showing a natural history programme about the Snow Leopard. I could have wept for joy because they were both instantaneously transfixed by the gorgeous pictures of this most cute-looking of feline killers.

That night some channel or other was showing Dr Strangelove and it was breathtaking to see it in all wides/flat/lcd screen glory. The design of the scenes in the war room is simply stunning - every frame of those scenes is like a painting. Peter Sellers gives a brilliant performance in the multiple roles of President/Doctor/Mandrake but the film is nearly stolen by George C Scott as Gen. ‘Buck’ Turgidson.

Just seeing those two programmes alone seemed to make the whole TV purchase worthwhile. Match Of The Day at the weekend was the icing on the cake.

I was a little taken aback by the flaring pixels on the screen - apparently this is what you get with flat-screen LCD TV’s when watching certain programmes - ‘it is not a fault’ it says in the instructions; which makes it a feature then …

It’s weird how, in the name of progress, we have to accept technology that doesn’t work properly. If all our household gadgets worked as badly as computers for example we would surely send them straight back from whence they came.

But we accept erratic performance in computers and I am going to accept the pixel flare on my LCD TV because of all the good things it does for me.
Last night I found myself tuned into ‘Thirteen Days’ - a Cuban Missile Crisis film which kinda captured the horrific pressure that JFK came under in that period but told the story in a way that would have looked just as good on the crappy cathode ray 20” 4x3 screen that is now in my attic.

‘Thirteen days’ being just ‘OK’ highlighted the quality of my new TV and of Stanley Kubrick as a director. It did also perfectly illustrate the axiom of truth being stranger than fiction.

Dr Strangelove may seem like an improbable romp ending in a nuclear holocaust. The reality was not that different - just much much more insane.