Can This Be Middle-Age?

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Title: Can This Be Middle-Age?
Creator: Agent 5.1
Date(s): December 1992
Medium: print
Fandom: Inspector Morse, The Professionals
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Can This Be Middle-Age? is a 1992 essay by Agent 5.1 (one of the editors of Be Gentle With Us).

It was printed in Be Gentle With Us #8.

Some Topics Discussed

  • getting older and likely car chases less
  • the wonders of the VCR and the remote control and the power it gives a fan
  • wanting more thinking, cerebral shows

The Essay

Quite recently, some forty-five minutes into a much anticipated episode of 'INSPECTOR MORSE', I dozed off to sleep. Luckily, the video was rolling and all was not lost, but it occurred to me afterwards that this may well be the onset of Middle-aged Fandom Syndrome.

If we compare the average 'INSPECTOR MORSE' episode with one of 'THE PROFESSIONALS', we find they are like chalk and cheese. In the former, car chases and cliff-hanging, adrenaline-charged moments of terror are not greatly in evidence (Thank God!), and in the latter, what thinking does occur is done on the hoof, not in delicately lit, oak- beamed Oxford public houses over pints of Real Ale.

What they do have in common is the inevitable trail of bodies which both of our heroic pairs seem to leave behind in their wake. (Mind you, at least Morse and Lewis aren't prone to adding their own contributions.)

So, can this be middle-age? I admit that at the merest hint of even the possibility of a car chase or shoot-out, in any programme, I reach for the remote control in order to exercise my inalienable right to edit them out. And I like the book or the film that puts the characters before the thrills. Some of the contrived plots and endings of shows like 'THE PROFESSIONALS' leave me seething with annoyance and muttering to the screen, "Do these people think the viewing public have a collective mental age of twelve?"

In all fairness, I will admit that the endings of many of 'THE PROFESSIONALS' episodes are quite hard-edged. There is a degree of reality that you don't find in series like T.J. HOOKER. (I defy anyone to defend it!)

The series was good and I enjoyed it. I still watch the episodes, now armed with the fast-forward button. (Has anybody else had the idea of producing edited versions where the action scenes are removed, and only the dialogue remains?)

No? Only me? It must be middle-age, then. The sombre, underplayed scripts of 'MORSE', with the action unfolding gracefully like an origami sculpture, are what satisfy me today.

The only problem, therefore, is to deal with the tendency to drift off during 'MORSE', encouraged by the smoothing tones of Elgar and Purcell.