102. Get Happy

Tapehead no 102 

Tapehead can’t help thinking that any show called How To Be Happy should have been a series, not a one-off. 

It should be daily. Part of the news.

The QED programme looks at scientific explanations behind “the mystery of misery”, why some people are able to “always look on the bright side.” (Weirdos, in other words.)

QED experiments with three vaguely unhappy individuals, putting them through things like wearing a bathing hat full of electrodes that analyses happy brain waves. One poor bloke, Keith, has to take up fishing, and all of them do lots of country dancing. 

Besides Keith, the candidates, who consist of a mother of three who could be happy if she could only stop worrying (worrying whether she’s unhappy), and Dawn, who gave up her job/life to look after her invalid mother.

“I want to be part of the general public, not just shut away, isolated,” she says sounding like the opposite of Tapehead.

One expert explains the “scientific link between goals and happiness.” 

Not goals by David Beckham, but “defining your goals”, with the promise of “gratification euphoria” when you tick them off. (Tapehead wouldn’t know.)

The experts recommend lots of physical exercise and laughing exercises. Watching Keith listening to a (decidedly sinister) tape of mindless laughing, his cat obviously decides he is bonkers. Tapehead agrees. 

The laughter workshop has them making a five-minute speech (as long as that) about everything they enjoy about being alive.

“Play with the idea that you could be happy for no reason at all.” 

To which Tapehead says: what other kind of happiness is there ?

A depressing programme overall, in the end QED made Dawn so unhappy she pulled out all together.

To make Trekkies happy, as part of the Beeb’s Star Trek Night, Science: The Final Frontier analyses how accurate the show has been and whether the show’s experts are copying breakthroughs in modern science or vice versa. 

Photon torpedoes, warp drives, transporters and time travel are all discussed by the show’s science advisor (a former NASA astrophysicist), various Oxford bods, and Lawrence Krauss, author of The Physics of Star Trek.

The “thermos-stabilised entrees” of the current space programme are certainly not half as good as the garg on the Enterprise. The best science cameo comes not from Stephen Hawking but from Joan Collins.

E=MC2 makes travelling through time tricky. 

“Time slows down as you get up to the speed of light.” 

(Eh ?)

According to Krauss, Scotty’s transporters are not only environmentally “very unfriendly” but physically and physics-ally impossible. He estimates the human body consists of 1028 atoms. To beam someone up would require knowing the state and position of every single atom. This would entail 1028 kilobytes of information, for which you would need a stack of hard drives from here to the centre of the Milky Way. A bit of a technical hitch really.

For Tapehead of course, how to be happy is watching cop shows, notably Out Of The Blue, Yorkshire’s own NYPD Blue.

Last week’s story about anti-gay reprisals after a male rape incident was strongly hard-hitting and bitterly funny. 

“What are we meant to do ?” asked one cynical CID ‘tec. “Supply an armed guard for everyone with a Judy Garland album ?”

“We are not paid to stand around here, listening to your tripe and bollocks,” complained another member of the team. “Do we look like Richard and Judy?” (Don’t answer that.)

This week’s story about a drug dealer’s vendetta against the man who grassed him up is not as good, but the writing and performances are dark and sharp and compelling.

Best line: “Am I right in thinking CPS stands for Couldn’t Prosecute Satan ?”

Maybe they should have called it CID Blues.


QED: How To Be Happy: Weds, 10pm, BBC1

Science: The Final Frontier: Mon, 8pm, BBC2

Out Of The Blue: Mon, 10pm, BBC1