Greg Dixon 's Opinion

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

Greg Dixon: A Friday night freak out

The Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr. Photo / Supplied
The Beatles, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, John Lennon, and Ringo Starr. Photo / Supplied

Well, that's official then: recreational drugs can be useful for the purposes of creative endeavour, but it's clear that if you take quite a lot of 'em, and then you climb on a bus with a camera crew, film everything that happens and release the result as a film, this is going to make you look like a complete arse until the end of time.

Possibly others who sat through the documentary Magical Mystery Tour Revisited (Monday, Prime) came to a different conclusion than I did - just so we're clear, the Beatles' Mystery Tour is still utter crap, magical or otherwise - and if you did decide differently, you must be on drugs too.

The year 1967 had been so good to the Beatles until they climbed on that bus too. As this BBC documentary pointed out, for most of the year that the Magical Mystery Tour was made, the drugs were indeed working for the Fab Four. They had recorded and released yet another string of landmark singles: Strawberry Fields Forever, Penny Lane, Hello Goodbye and All You Need is Love, and they'd played to the first satellite audience in history.

They had also made a little LP you might be familiar with called Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

And then, stoned out of his gourd, Paul suggested they should fill a bus full of actors, drive to Britain's West Country, film the trip and release it. The others, also stoned out of their gourds, agreed.

Actually, you can't just blame the drugs, you have to blame the money as well. The Beatles were not only loaded in 1967, they were loaded too - which is an even worse combination.

And, try as this documentary did to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear by dragging out a lifelike Paul McCartney, a laughing gnome who looked a little like Ringo and director Martin Scorsese to rattle on about how fun and ground-breaking it all was, there was no convincing me.

I had been prepared to be persuaded. I had, in the spirit of '67, tried to get into the mood for the magic by embarking on a small mystery tour of weird places I had never been to on my television set.

It started badly on Friday night when I came across The Graham Norton Show (TV3, 8.30pm). A man claiming to be Hugh Grant was describing how a French couple had discovered him in a train's bathroom bent over, looking through his legs in a mirror at his bottom. He had done this because, as he so charmingly put it "I had a terrible pain in my arse". Now he knows how we feel about him.

I flicked channels. On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, a balding right-wing fellow who looked like he could do with more dietary fibre, raved that some fellow called Obama was stealing his stuff. "Could it be," the balding fellow rambled, "the President is taking his campaign rhetoric from us?" I couldn't work out whether this was a rhetorical question.

On The Best of QI (Prime, weeknights, 7pm), Stephen Fry was dressed, for no discernible reason, as Oscar Wilde dressed up for a night out at the opium den - in an embroidered smoking jacket and a paisley fez. Stephen or Oscar or whoever he was messed with my head some more by claiming that the number of the beast wasn't 666 but 616 - which, sadly for the beast, sounded more like a postal code.

On TV One, I found something called Mrs Brown's Boys (9.30pm, Thursdays). This seemed to involve a man dressed as a woman telling all in sundry to "feck off". So I fecked off.

In the hours before Magical Mystery Tour Revisited screened, I came across former Warrior Monty Betham flogging something called the "4-in-1 Games Table" on The Shopping Channel. Poor devil. First The Ridges and now this.

And then came the real Magical Mystery Tour, revisited. I could have done with some drugs.

- NZ Herald

Greg Dixon

Greg Dixon is deputy editor of Canvas.

It has been said the only qualities essential for real success in journalism are a rat-like cunning, a plausible manner and a little literary ability. Despite having none of these things, Canvas deputy editor Greg Dixon has spent more than 20 years working as a journalist for the New Zealand Herald and North & South and Metro magazines. Although it has been rumoured that he embarked on his journalism career as the result of a lost bet, the truth is that although he was obsessed by the boy reporter Tintin as a child, he originally intended to be an accountant. Instead, after a long but at times spectacularly bad stint at university involving two different institutions, a year as a studio radio programme director and a still uncompleted degree, he fell into journalism, a decision his mother has only recently come to terms with. A graduate of the Auckland Institute of Technology (now AUT) journalism school, he was hired by the Herald on graduation in 1992 and spent the next eight years demonstrating little talent for daily news, some for television reviewing and a passable aptitude for long-form feature writing. Before returning to the Herald in 2008 to take up his present role, he spent three years as a freelance, three as a senior feature writer at Metro and one as a staff writer at North & South. As deputy editor of Canvas, his main responsibility is applauding the decisions of the editor, Michele Crawshaw. However he prefers to spend his time interviewing interesting people -- a career highlight was a confusing 15-minute phone interview with a stoned Anna Nicole Smith -- and pretending to understand what they're going on about. He has won awards for his writing and editing, but would have preferred a pay rise.

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