Past EED rants


Live leaderboard

Poker leaderboard

Voice of EED

Thursday 2 March 2006

Yank TV shenanigans [Lurks]

I don't even have a real TV set or TV receiver to plug into our projector. The reason for that is because anything I want to actually watch I just leech a torrent of and watch it when I want. A lot of that is US content, captured from HDTV sources, so I get to see it in hi-def on my 9-foot screen with surround sound months before it shows up on Brit tele and it doesn't cost me a penny. Morally dubious but hey. Recently I thought, hmm there's been no recent episode of Threshold up on the usual download sites, what's that about? I look it up and ... it's been shitcanned! No word on to that effect (it's too busy sucking the cock of the big yank TV networks for advertising I guess), I needed to do a Google to find that out.
The thing about Yank tele; they are great ones for doing interesting series with big budgets and lots of writing talent etc. However the crazy thing is how the networks behave like Fox, CBS etc. If ratings fall below some measure they want, they will simply can the show on the spot and not show the episodes they have already paid for. There's many examples; Firefly, Inside and recently Threshold.
Firefly was the greatest folly ever demonstrated by a TV network in the history of time. It had such a cult following that there was attempts to raise the capital to continue the series via third parties and of course the movie followup was an instant success. Stuff like Inside and Threshold, okay fair enough they might want to can a series but what's with this shit of not running the final few episodes up to the final?
I mean these things are still pulling viewing figures which puts the UK to shame (yanks do like their tele and there's a heck of a lot of them) so you'd think they'd be some kind of uproar. Hang on a moment, why am I watching your channel when next week's highly-hyped episode might not even get aired? It's baffling to me. It's not just that either. There's the huge month long breaks in a series because of some random reason like ... the superbowl or the kids are on holidays or something. Doesn't continuity enter into it? Aren't people more likely to come back to watching it if it's fresh in their mind last week? It would appear not.
But then television is a much more ambient thing in the US. They have it on everywhere and people just have this constant drone of a television night and day. That's why every episode of a series needs a full minute to explain what happened in the series last time because a) they might not have seen the show before and b) even if they did, the average yank television watcher has the attention span of a goldfish. They also seek to combat the second point by having every episode stand alone and largely based on exactly the same story that's in every television series, just insert random mix of characters and period/genres to fit.
It's just remarkable to me that the US has the greatest television drama making expertise in the world and budgets we could only dream of and yet the networks have the most profound disrespect for viewers that it's possible to have. It's all about one thing, eyes on your screen. Forget the demographics or what type of viewer you've got being exposed to your adverting, it's eyes on screen and that's it.
Fairly tragic really and after awhile it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy just as has been the case with American television news reporting. They figured out people were a bit more interested in stuff tha that happened local to them, so they shift coverage onto stuff that happened in country -> state -> city -> street until no one knows anything about anything that happens outside of their state and hence no one is interested in watching it and bingo, the chase of the all-important eyes-on-screen number now means you've created an inward gazing ignorant society with no better grasp of the world stage than your average random media-controlled dictatorship.
What does it mean? Well it means we'll keep getting big budget tele in 40 minute episodes (Europe isn't going to put up with the mind-destroying advert intervals that the yanks do) which have five minutes of "Previously on Generic Big Budget TV Drama..." but you'll get one series of it, no matter how good it is unless its some comedy drivel. It's not all so bad, they do have HBO. The last refuge of the thinking American television viewer but you've got to wonder how long until they sell out too.
I just wish we could have half those budgets for new television drama and something of the American ambition with regards to programme making. It seems the only thing Britain is ambitious about on this front now is documentaries and then only because of the unique way the BBC is funded and the fact Sir Attenborough is a national hero. British drama is automatically better acted and more sincere than American drama and that makes stuff like the super low-budget Sci-Fi classics like Blake's 7 still more engaging to watch, for me, than the multi-million dollar series finale of Star Trek: The Exquisitely Made-Up Foreheads.

1 comment:

  1. An interesting thing here is the way in which network operators are responding to the growing demise of advertising revenue due to the advent and increasing adoption of the PVR.
    One of the things those in the industry are working towards is forcing the regulatory authorities to relax things like paid for product placement inside scheduled programming.
    I for one can't wait to see Captain Kirk pause during battle, turn to camera and say "Scotty, you're the greatest engineer in the Federation. Due in no small part to those excellent folks at 24-HR-SUPPORT-4-U in Wisconsin. No job, or starship too small!".