Blog Posts from July 2004

Goober & The Ghost Chasers

Hear themes from cartoon shows that take you right back to being aged five.

And if that link wasn’t interesting enough for you, try this…

Twelve Microphones That Changed History

Published: 8 Jul 2004

Who Killed Saturday Night TV?

Ye Cannon and ye balle

This was the title of a documentary on Channel 4 last saturday evening. While it was very entertaining, and had Noel Edmunds, Little and Large, Les Dennis and a whole heap of other key figures, it didn’t really have any clear thoughts on why no one watches TV on a Saturday night anymore. 20 million used to tune in for the big shows. Now it hovers around 6.

It’s not just saturday nights either.

One talking head had a clear idea what a lot of us are doing, though. Statistcally, half the nation rents a DVD/VHS on saturday night. People are still watching their TVs, they’re just not watching terrestrial output. Not much anyway.

Comments on a blog.
Off The Telly

One thing the doc didn’t mention was that 20 years ago there was a mountain of US imports on our TV screens. The A Team, Dukes of Hazzard, Baywatch; that sort of thing.

Perhaps the people now renting DVDs miss a bit of big budget escapism. There’s certainly little or narrative based entertainment around now. And the two main channels wouldn’t touch US imports with a barge pole.

The DVD watching stats quosh the notion that we’re all going out more.

Can you blame people for renting or buying their entertainment. If you were a fan of the Simpsons, for example, you would have pulled your hair out watching the same episodes over and over again on BBC TWO. Why did they repeat season one and two soooo many times? If you have Sky One you could have seen new episodes every week except that you’d get colossal ad breaks in the middle. Doh!

Chances are, if you have some disposable income, you would simply give up on TV and buy the DVD. What if you were a fan of The West Wing? How much crap would you take from Channel 4? Would you stay up later and later each week until eventually you’re in the early hours of the next day, enjoying your favourite show but wondering why you have to be nocturnal to watch it.

Another example: Curb Your Enthusiasm, best comedy to come out of the US in ages, had two seasons on digital BBC Four. Very few saw it. Four have now lost rights to subsequent seasons. Does this mean they keep hold of season one and two? Who got season three and beyond? When will I get to see? Will it ever be shown again in this country? If they do show it again, will it stop suddenly mid-season because of a darts tournament?

You can see why many people might just give in and buy the DVD. Why they might be falling out with television. Imagine you tune in at 6pm on BBC TWO for what is traditionally the Cult TV slot and find there’s another selling-your-house programme. You can see why someone might feel TV isn’t really worth the trouble anymore. It doesn’t reward loyalty.

It’s not that the medium of TV isn’t working, it’s that there’s no consistency any more. A series might not mean series in the old sense of the word. A series might mean three shows in a row, football, two more, Children in Need, another at an odd time, then suddenly cancelled. They never used to do that to Terry and June, they didn’t do it to The Dukes of Hazzard. TV just isn’t dependable like a DVD is dependable.

You can’t build a relationship with something so fickle as TV.

Published: 13 Jul 2004

Comments

A visitor‘ left this comment on 13 Jul 04

Excellent Rant, Tim. Wholeheartedly agree. Back in the old days I used to religiously watch Babylon 5, and experienced the ever deepening butt-fvck of Channel 4 pushing the show back, later and later, each week, until it was 6am. I got so chuffed-off that I wrote my only letter of complaint to a TV company. I got some patsy-ass PR reply about the “difficulties of program scheduling” yadayada.

As for Star Trek TNG, DS9, V’ger etc. on BBC2, don’t even get me started. Why did they suddenly decide to show TOTP2 one week instead? Who are these monkeys in scheduling.

All I can say is that living in America has it’s benefits – there is plenty of new good TV here (24, CSI, Stargate etc.), and they stick to schedules. But I record the shows, as no one in their sane minds can withstand the incessant ad breaks.

In fact, you’re right, just rent the DVDs of your favourite shows – the picture quality is fab, you can watch it when you want, there’s no ads, and often some interesting special features.

TV is dead. Long live DVD.

– b.

Ben

Giraffes are insincere

the great s and gHad an almost religious experience at a Simon and Garfunkel concert this week.

They were pretty awesome and sounded very together. And vocally as good as they ever were.

Glad I saw this gig in Manchester as London audiences are infuriating.*

Surprisingly there was a lot of humour in the show. The band came on for an encore wearing bright yellow jackets they’d borrowed from the venue stewards. These were the same canary colour as the ticket. S&G were taken by surprise. It was pretty funny. Erm.  You had to be there. Huh. I’ll get my coat…

*S and G did two dates in the UK. One in London and one in Manchester. I preferred Manchester. London gig audiences are appalling. They treat the bands on stage as something to be mildly diverted by in between endless trips to the bar. You can’t watch a band for more than 5 minutes without some tosser shoving past you with a tray full of pissy lager. WATCH THE BAND!

Published: 17 Jul 2004

Comments

moog‘ left this comment on 17 Jul 04
i totally agree. Boyfriend and i saw them in Hyde Park and the audience were just bloody awfle! the front circle of people in front of the stage who had paid hundreds of pounds to get in the circle pretty much sat through the whole thing!
the people around us were singing along so much that it was quite hard at times to hear the people we had paid to see.
but they were dead funny, and it was a good gig!Visit me @ http://jealoustwin.blog-city.com/

Docs Rule

Contol Room

If you saw and enjoyed Michael Moore’s FAHRENHEIT 9/11 chances are you’d get a lot, perhaps more, out of another documentary on release at the moment called Control Room.

I’ve often been amazed just how selective, or just plain wrong, the news about home can be in other countries. This doc shows how Al Jazeera tried to cover their ‘local’ war in an even handed way (whilst constantly being accused of bias by British and US news agencies) and counter the selective coverage offered by the world’s news.

What stands out is just how our news reporters were duped by staged events like the toppling of the Saddam statue. Al Jazeera reporters, who had the vital local knowledge so lacking in western news services, saw right through these things. In the same way we can hear the difference between a Yorkshire and Lancashire accent, they knew the Iraqi men who danced on the toppled statue were not locals.

Then there’s the BBC reporter saying ‘…listen to these children cheering for President Bush!’ (shot of children chanting something with the word Bush in the middle) – the kids were actually saying Bush is a son of a bitch. Unlike Moore’s frenetic F 9/11, which shoots from the hip somewhat, this remains level headed throughout, gentle even. There aren’t so many laughs, but then it’s not a very funny subject.

Published: 25 Jul 2004

Sean Langan

sean langan

Sean Langan

Quality TV Alert!

One good journalist is worth a thousand average ones. With this in mind watch Sean Langan this Thursday on BBC Four in MISSION ACCOMPLISHED: LANGAN IN IRAQ

Sean makes politically illuminating travel documentaries which attempt to awaken the lazy western TV viewer to the realities of the wider world.

His series on Islamic countries called Langan Behind the Lines was, in my humble as a sock opinion, the best, most courageous television of the last 10 years. Friday’s doc sounds like a follow up to that series, focusing on Iraq.

His more recent series for Channel 4, Travels of a Gringo, took him to South America to meet the people who pay the price for our cheap bananas, coffee, etc.

All his work has struck me as extremely timely, bold and at the same time devoid of vanity, as good journalism should be.

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