When I was quite young, my family lived in Troon, Scotland. Now, I don't remember much about the whole experience, but I do remember watching and adoring Postman Pat. I cannot tell you why I liked it so much but I was a fiend for him and his black and white cat. For those unfamiliar, the series takes place in Greendale, a village that boasts one of all the essentials of life: one church (CoE, natch), one handyman (Ted Glen), one school, one mobile shop driver, one set of twins (Katy and Tom),and, of course, one postman (Pat).
I remember watching this show daily. We even had some tapes of it until our PAL-format tv gave out and we got rid of them. The animation is stop motion, and leaves a bit to be desired in these days of Pixar and whatnot. Oh, and the episodes are something around 11 minutes long. But the show still has a very special place in my heart.
Or rather did until I happened to catch a newer episode while visiting my brother in the land of the Five C's (Cattle, Citrus, Cotton, Copper, Climate). HBO imports it, apparently. I am told (both by Wikipedia and IMDb that the show has been in a continual run since I watched it back in the mid-80s (this must make it one of the all-time longest running British series ever. At least for kids. [I just discovered that Coronation Street has been running for 46 years! And that Grange Hill has PP beat by 3 years.But still.]). However, if it's really been running without hiatus what in the world went wrong?
In the newer episodes Pat is married, and has a last name (Clifton) and a child. Now, I'd never go so far as to claim that I thought Pat was gay, but surely he was a bachelor before. I mean, given the rigor of his post route and all the personal problems he solves for Greendalians, how did he find time to marry, let along sire a child? This was the first problem I stumbled across. The second was that his child's name is Julian. Now, that's not really a problem as much as it is funny. How British is that?
So the second problem (or change, if you want to be more neutral) was that the train station is run by a family of Indian extraction. Ok, I'm cool with curry, Bollywood, and devanagari script but why the random insertion into Greendale? The villagers seem very friendly to them, but surely this is just a weak attempt as multiculturalism. I understand the cultural milleu of England and the large Indian population, but in a village where it's questionable if they've ever seen a Frechman, it raises eyebrows. How did this family end in the quiet glen? What is their backstory? Being a children's program, Postman Pat does not need to answer these questions. But the inclusion of Ajay et al really puzzles me.
Lastly, and perhaps most galling of the major changes, is the switch to a new theme song. The old one was catchy, peppy and optimistic (I mean, it may really be knock, ring, letters through your door). Now, the song is much softer. It sounds more like something that old people want piped into their elevators rather than a rousing intro to the not-so-wacky adventures of a small town postman.
So I'm left to lament the continued assault on all things my pre-kindergarten self held dear. I should mention that, while the show itself has become corrupted, the animation is worlds ahead these days (the characters can move their mouths, eg). I guess I should just cherish my memories, buy the dvds of the mid-80s version and count my lucky stars that the same folks who suggested the minority station master didn't demand a switch to Postperson Pat.