Suspense in Norway: A TV Show on Firewood Burning

Everything about this New York Times piece about a national show that aired in Norway sounds like a joke. But it isn’t. The Norwegians are obsessed with firewood:

There is no question that it is a popular topic. “Solid Wood” spent more than a year on the nonfiction best-seller list in Norway. Sales so far have exceeded 150,000 copies — the equivalent, as a percentage of the population, to 9.5 million in the United States — not far below the figures for E. L. James’s Norwegian hit “Fifty Shades Fanget,” proof that thrills come in many forms.

“National Firewood Night,” as Friday’s program was called, opened with the host, Rebecca Nedregotten Strand, promising to “try to get to the core of Norwegian firewood culture — because firewood is the foundation of our lives.” Various people discussed its historical and personal significance. “We’ll be sawing, we’ll be splitting, we’ll be stacking and we’ll be burning,” Ms. Nedregotten Strand said.

But the real excitement came when the action moved, four hours later, to a fireplace in a Bergen farmhouse.

Perhaps you have seen a log fire burning on television before. But it would be very foolish to confuse Norway’s eight-hour fireplace extravaganza on Friday with the Yule log broadcast in the United States at Christmastime.

While the Yule log fire plays on a constant repeating loop, the fire on “National Firewood Night” burned all night long, in suspensefully unscripted configurations. Fresh wood was added through the hours by an NRK photographer named Ingrid Tangstad Hatlevoll, aided by viewers who sent advice via Facebook on where exactly to place it.

A typical reaction:

“I couldn’t go to bed because I was so excited,” a viewer called niesa36 said on the Dagbladet newspaper Web site. “When will they add new logs? Just before I managed to tear myself away, they must have opened the flue a little, because just then the flames shot a little higher.

You can’t make up the suspense. You’ve got to read the whole thing.

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Update: now would be a perfect time for me to recommend an enduring love story that I thoroughly enjoyed, Haruku Murakami’s Norwegian Wood.

Arrested Development is Coming Back!

Anyong! This is probably the most exciting TV-related news I’ve heard in the past six months. According to the New York Times, Arrested Development is coming back for a full-season. But there’s more, for all you never-nude fans: they’re also going to make a movie!

Anyone else as excited as I am?

The first episode…could focus on Buster Bluth, the deeply neurotic brother played by Tony Hale. “The latest joke we have,” Mr. Hurwitz said, “is that it’s Cambridge, Mass., and there’s all these scientists in lab coats and they’re waiting for somebody. Buster comes through the door in a white lab coat – ‘Let’s begin’ – and they say, ‘Oh, no, you don’t get to wear the lab coat. We’re experimenting on you.’ ”

I’ve recently been thinking about my top five favourite TV shows. Arrested Development is in the top five, and certainly number 1 in the comedy department.