As my time in the island Kingdom winds down – I have precisely one month to go – I wanted to record some of the unusual things I’ve seen on TV. Not that I watch a lot of local TV, but when I go to the gym I usually turn it on to pass the time. In any case, I’ve been able to make a few observations, placed in no particular order below.
First, I should say that in Bahrain there are some local channels, but all the English-language Arab channels I’ve been able to identify are out of Saudi Arabia, which is right next door (we also get the BBC and CNN International). So when I talk about Arab TV, really I mean Saudi.
- It would appear Turkey has a bustling export market in soap operas. Turkish TV is subtitled, but they’re Arabic subtitles, so, aside from reading right to left, I’m lost anyway. What I have learned from them is that everything worth doing in Turkey happens within view of the Bosporus.
- Back in the spring, one channel had a Star Wars-themed promotion for… something, I know not what. It was spectacularly unlicensed. The stormtroopers and Darth Vader looked pretty good (those are common costumes, after all) but Chewbacca was an absolute travesty of a man in a bear suit. A certain degree of sloppiness must have been required to avoid a lawsuit. The desert scenery, though, was quite convincing.
- I can identify certain Arab actors across different commercials now.
- At some point while channel surfing I found Hugh Laurie playing second fiddle to a talking rat in “Stuart Little 2”, which I suppose I could have seen in the States except there is no freaking way I would have ever seen this film if I hadn’t been in a Bahraini gym watching Arab TV showing lower-tier American movies (Dude, was that kid the “Jerry Maguire” kid? Yes, yes he was.).
- According to the programming announcement, following “Stuart Little 2” were “Cool Runnings” and “The Big Chill”. Their catalogue is deep.
- Camel racing really is a thing.
- Saudi TV shows a lot of stuff that would be highly illegal on a Saudi street. Like women’s faces.
- They censor the visuals but none of the audio. If you’re learning English you can learn to swear pretty well from Saudi TV.
- Surprisingly they showed the carrot scene in “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” but cut basically the entire rest of the movie.
- I finally saw the end of “Antwone Fisher”! I mean, I kinda knew how it ends, but still…