Worst to Best
Murun Buchstansangur

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7 Close Together (1982)

Although it has a melancholy charm, there's no way that Murun Buchstansangur could be shown in the present day. It's not just that the animation borders on amateurish, or that the days when Channel 4 would screen experimental short films like John Smith's The Black Tower are long since gone. What matters more, perhaps, is the astonishing lack of content for each short episode. This particular entry clocks in at 3'17m, with the opening and closing title sequence taking up almost a minute of screentime. That doesn't sound like much, but it's nearly a third of the programme's duration.
     This particular entry has a cute ending whereby Murun's fixations over his appearance, believing his eyes are too close together, is expounded on by his somewhat tactless next door neighbour. It's a likeable entry to the series, albeit one that's lighter in content and tone to what we've come to expect.

6 Lucky In Love? (1982)

Although a very obscure programme, Murun is not without his fans, and many Twitter users have contacted me regarding him. Since this article was originally published, another episode has been found in a collection and added to the web. A very early instalment, this one sheds further light on the somewhat dysfunctional relationship between Murun and his neighbour, as she originally dislikes him.
     The animation seems more involved than in other episodes, and we also get a disclosure of why Murun chose his home - he actively likes the damp and squalor, enjoying living in a place full of discarded cat food and cereals. The idea of a cat living in the same area as this tiny creature is perhaps less unsettling than the revelation that "he loved filth and strong rotting smells".

5 Resolution (1984)

Each episode of the series was written, directed and narrated by Timothy Forder. There is the feeling that he's a man trying to work out issues, as while the series is gentle and sparse in incident, there's a nihilistic, bleak undertone to the whole thing, at odds with the jaunty piano theme.
     This one sees Murun making a conscious decision not to spend the day "wallowing" in his bed, almost like he's a man suffering from a nervous breakdown. Later, the narration tells us that the heat in town "brought out the crowds", yet not another person is seen on screen, Murun's curious sense of isolation complete. He's a man who, in this episode, is stated to love the rain.
     There are no complete episode guides for this series, and very little information out there, so those looking for order and continuity will be disappointed. However, this one does confirm a placing in the series beyond its production year, as Murun vows to be kinder to his cousin Rossiter, who has been seen before in the programme.

4 Problems, Problems (1984)

With no episode guide, there's no way of knowing what the official titles of any of these episodes are. Four of them - Migraine, Cousin Rossiter, Lucky In Love? and this one - are taken from the titles on their respective YouTube uploads, which are presumably suggested ones. The rest are all created for this article in the absence of any other supporting material.
     Here Murun reveals that he has no desire to party or see a play, doing neither so as to avoid the possibility of making a wrong decision. Even though he opts for an unexpected third option - meeting up with another neighbour and drinking at least two glasses of wine - he can't relax and enjoy it, as he's on edge throughout, attempting to contact his other friends to let them know he can't make their respective evenings. It's this neurotic, guilt-driven element to Murun's nature that makes him such an appealing character, even though it's almost impossible to feel sympathy for someone so ultimately self-destructive.

3 The Devil (1988)

Satan himself gets a couple of namechecks in this episode, with Murun both described as "Devilish" and ending the story by quoting a poem by Hilaire Belloc about Lucifer's temptations. Although Murun is usually likeable despite his quirks - self-absorbed, possibly alcoholic and largely self-unaware - this is a particularly unlikeable episode for the character. His personal hygiene hits a low here, as he's shown picking his backside and smelling his finger, while it's heavily implied that he sleeps with his next door neighbour but treats it as a one-off while she wanted something more. The cad.

2 Migraine (1982)

One of the more existential episodes, as Murun suffers badly from a migraine and encourages three friends to go to a remote pub with him, before being unsure whether the pub actually exists. Even despite his migraine, Murun's anti-social tendencies can be gleaned here, whereby he hates being brought into conversations, and decides to leave his friends to their own devices and go to sleep instead.
     A slight episode even by the incident-light standards of the series, what causes this one to rank so highly is the innate depression at the heart of the main character. Murun Buchstansangur isn't an uplifting series, and many of his problems are self-imposed. This is a series that would sometimes screen later in the evenings, and its scheduling among the likes of early Brookside did not see it appear out of place.

1 Navy Blue
Raincoat Lining (1982)

Murun's neighbour reveals that her boyfriend is cheating on her, which further complicates their relationship status, and sees the narrator describe Murun as "very depressed". When the status quo is resumed at the end, Murun finds himself reflecting more on his own problems, still torn that he can't find a piece of navy blue raincoat lining which reminds him of his childhood.
     Murun Buchstansangur was a very "80s Channel 4" kind of show, where the bleak frequently met the experimental and sometimes avant garde. Rather than a cartoon for children, each 3-5 minute episode is more aimed at adults, and features a distressed central character gazing into the abyss. The 1982 episodes are particularly downbeat, as Murun, while able to afford clogs and a watch, doesn't have a bedsheet that adequately covers him.

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