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MacGyver – they just don’t make action heroes like that anymore.Since music channel The Voice became TV5 on April Fool’s Day last year, the latter station has slowly but surely become the go-to destination for English-language repeats from the ghost of TV past. The main difference between MTV3, Nelonen and TV5 is that the former two pretend that their schedules (which are generally filled with repeats of repeats and terrible Finnish versions of international talent shows) actually contain something of cultural or artistic merit, whereas the latter, as far as I can tell, doesn’t give a damn.

Viisi, as TV5 is also known, depends heavily on internationally syndicated comedy and reality shows, with more naff documentaries and movies than you can shake a box of popcorn at. There really is something for everyone, as long as everyone likes telly of dubious quality. You want dull-as-dishwater shows about people working in airports? Check. Risqué ‘Playboy presents…’ and Pamela Anderson broadcasts in the early hours? You got it. Unfunny America’s Funniest Home Videos and shopping TV? Yeah, they got that sewn up, homeboy. There’s even a rather bizarre show based entirely around cupcakes from Vancouver. Ker-azy!

Amidst the detritus you sometimes do find a gem or two, and at least this channel seems to mix up their schedules fairly often. Pick of the current bunch is probably MacGyver, shown every weekday at 1900 – manna from heaven for anyone who grew up watching after-school telly in the late 80s and early 90s. They’re starting from the first series so if they show all seven seasons and 139 episodes you’ll be able to watch Angus pacifistically saving the world armed only with a wry smile, an outrageous mullet, duct tape and a Swiss army knife for the next two-and-a-half years. MacGyver is a bit like Chuck Norris, only nicer. In his spare time he plays ice hockey and climb mountains. He speaks six languages, and takes less-privileged youngsters on adventure excursions or helps out at schools for deaf children. He’s so good there’s even a verb named after him: to MacGyver (v.): to find a simple yet elegant solution to something. At least, that’s what Wikipedia says so it must be right.

It’s pretty decent family TV, and there’s not much else on at that time of day – or, indeed, ever. But that’s not all! British comedy fans – from 23 May Viisi are showing Not the Nine O’clock News (NTNON), the (surprise) iconic laughalot from 1979 starring Mr. Bean, Smith and Jones, and Pamela Stephenson. To be honest it looks incredibly dated now, but is nonetheless filled with hilarious sketches, as well as a fair few not-very-good ones. In that sense, this is the perfect show for TV5, as the channel’s schedules have just about the same ratio of good to bad programmes as NTNON has good to bad sketches. As a method it reminds me of my old pick-up technique: if you ask enough women out on a date, one of them will eventually say yes out of pity if nothing else. Likewise, if you broadcast enough TV you’re going to show something decent sooner or later. Not the classiest approach, perhaps, but functional.

Nick Barlow This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
The writer knows the art of channel surfing.