At Home, Suffering with Cuban TV

By Aurelio Pedroso (Progreso Semanal)

HAVANA TIMES – Right before the lockdown came into force, the Cuban government’s Radio and Television Institute (ICRT) announced that it would help make quarantine a little easier by putting on a kind of summer programming.

Quite a lot of people’s faces dropped when they heard that news. If last summer’s programming left a lot to be desired, the new proposal was going to follow in suit. And it has. They couldn’t have made TV any more boring, except for some moments late at night when an interesting movie or two or entertainment program has popped up.

As a result, we have the challenge of setting an alarm to wake up and watch the movie. They should also do us the favor of putting “Murder on the Orient Express” to a well-deserved rest, or can they not see that we have seen it so many times that we end up falling asleep?

On a separate note, we have to admit that our children have not only had classes and follow-up sessions on the small screen, but have also had a good dose of cartoons to keep them happy and allow adults to have some peace of mind.

As people need films, comedy films too, I can’t help but think of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and his double personality. The good thing about switching on the TV is that there is plenty of information about this goddamn virus. If those responsible for TV programming were to survey viewers, the daily briefing by Doctor Duran would be the most viewed, maybe up there with the latest soap opera.

Then, it would be followed by the worst thing possible. And this is the key, the autopsy of this programming which could still be saved if they could fix it: En-ter-tain-ment.

It seems that ICRT board members still haven’t figured out what some psychologists have announced on their own airwaves, that we need to put the brakes on listening to updates about the virus 24/7 to watch, think and dream about more pleasant and less stressful things.

At least we have been able to have breakfast watching a classic over the past couple of days. The great Bogart in a movie that never gets old despite being almost 80 years old: Casablanca.

-Play it, Sam, play As time goes by.

4 thoughts on “At Home, Suffering with Cuban TV

  • Hahaha! Indeed I do Carlyle. The truth is the title news reader could not be more appropriate than it is for those who bring the news on Cuban TV. My wife, as many of those who comment here at HT already know, was one of the morning anchors for the “Buenos Dias” program. Not only was she allowed only the minimum input on what she was told to read every morning, she was often criticized afterward even for the tone of her voice for how she read the news. “Historicos” and their minions would call the news department after the news to ask why the news reader was not more excited about the crop reports or in announcing an international agreement. Changes in tone were promised for the next day. Propaganda at its purest indeed.

  • 7.00 p.m. and the familiar strains of the introductory music for Mesa Redondo and instead of a blond bimbo, the smarmy hand wringing Randy Alonso Falcon so-called ‘Executive Director’ and dedicated grovelling servant of the PCC. It is a relief when his place is taken by his deputy Arleen Rodriguez, although she certainly cannot be described as a bimbo – would that she could. Then at 8.00 p.m. the news and the opportunity to watch that wonderful soup straining moustache. There was a time when a very attractive head turning blonde – married at that time to the leader of Cuba’s leading musical group – read the news, but she I think went off to the US.
    But Robert, ask Moses Patterson about Cuban news readers! He has authority on the subject.
    Thanks for the suggestion of how to get ‘The Third Man’ into Cuba. As a generational computer moron I’ll have a go around the web and if successful will take it home when I am able to return (sadly I do not know when that will be and when my wife and I will be together). I do know who would pass it around.

  • It shouldn’t be any problem to get The Third Man via bittorrent, although getting it with Spanish subtitles would require a little persistence. Then, all it takes is for one copy to get into Cuba, then it can be passed around with the flash drives. (We geeks used to call this “sneakernet”.)
    Talk about boring… when I was in Cuba five years ago, I watched the 7 PM news one night. It reminded me a lot of Faux News, except for the absence of the blonde bimbo.

  • When Casablanca was first declared the best movie ever made, number two on the list was ‘The Third Man’ a fabulous picture by Carol Reed with an international cast including Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton and Valli filmed in Vienna. The haunting music was played on the zither by Anton Karas. There were many never to be forgotten scenes, including Welles and Cotton holding a conversation in the revolving big wheel in the Prater, But the greatest shot was following a police chase through the sewers of Vienna, when the failing fingers of Welles hand were seen helplessly trying to clutch a grating from below as he died.
    It is I think possible to view the film on the web, but Cubans will doubtless be denied the opportunity to see it, as it does not reflect well upon the Russians.
    For those sensible people who are currently complying with stay at home orders, apart from listening to ‘As time goes by’ try ‘Summertime’ with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, if doing so, sit back, shut your eyes, relax and listen to one of the best duets ever recorded. (You can get it on the web)

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