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Saturday into Sunday

By RD Heldenfels Published: November 13, 2005

Saturday was put-some-things-in-order day. The patio furniture is now socked away in the shed for winter, and the snow blower is out of the shed and in the garage, handy for when the weather goes bad. So of course the day gave no hint of being almost mid-November, sunny and pleasant (and it's already 52 degrees on this Sunday morning). A lot of rubbish has been cleared out of the basement, a few leaves have been gathered up -- and I even squeezed in a little television.

That is: A portion of the Ohio State-Northwestern game, at least until it was clear that Ohio State had it in hand. Watching reminded me how hard announcers try to sound knowledgeable, only to be tripped up by their showing off. One ABC announcer took pains to talk about a player's going to Buchtel High in Akron. He also mispronounced Buchtel. That's always a killer to local folks. Back when I lived in the Albany, N.Y., area, an anchorman who had arrived from out of town said he hurt himself with viewers early on by not knowing the correct pronunciation of Valatie. Gold stars if you do.

When the chores were done, I relaxed with the first hour of ''The Virgin Queen,'' a BBC production premiering on ''Masterpiece Theatre'' tonight. It's about Queen Elizabeth I, and the first hour at least was pretty good. It was also a contrast to the packaging, which looked to be sexually provocative -- showing Elizabeth bare down her back, with the slogan ''She led by leading men on. ...''  That's mildly surprising given how much PBS has backed away from suggestive content and strong language, supposedly out of fear of the FCC. Then again, I know of at least one BBC production that PBS pared down because of content concerns, so maybe there was a bit of that in ''The Virgin Queen.''

The cast includes Joanne Whalley and Tara Fitzgerald, both of whom have been screen sirens in the past, but are now playing older, sterner parts (and neither, by the way, is Elizabeth). It must be even rougher for actors as they age to not only see their current selves, but to know that they are competing with their younger images on VHS, DVD and movie channels.

In the evening, my wife and I did what millions of other folks were doing on Saturday night -- watched a rented movie. We're Netflix people, with a queue of about 65 movies built up, and we don't get through them as quickly as we would like. But with a relatively laid-back evening, we watched Jet Li's ''Unleashed.'' Good stuff. Actual plot, excellent fight sequences and decent acting; Li  managed to look as if he belonged in the scenes with Morgan Freeman. Of course, Freeman is a master of underplaying, and that may have helped Li -- but the action star came off admirably in any case.

After the movie, the evening basically wound down. A little of this (Georgia-Auburn), a little of that (new ''Leave It to Beaver'' DVD). The football game was a thriller, the lead going back and forth, the whole thing settled in the final seconds. It also had poll/BCS implications, but I ended up watching more than I had anticipated just because it was a really good game. I'll watch just about anyone if the competition is intense and the game is close.

And now it's Sunday morning. Church soon, then some errands. Maybe some football this afternoon, although my big game for the day -- Browns-Steelers -- isn't until tonight. But the TV will most likely be on before then, since I have (as always) some video for work that needs attention. And you never know where a nugget for the blog may pop up.

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