This brief interview with The Times is to promote the forthcoming new season of House on Sky 1 in the UK (another News Corp property – this is what the media institutions like to call synergy). It makes the claim that House is now the world’s most watched TV show. If so, it’s an interesting step up from what it was a few years ago: CSI Miami, which is utter tripe. I was reminded of this when I watched episode 1 of the current CSI Trilogy being shown on channel Five at the moment.
The CSI trilogy is another example of synergy (there’s a lot of it about) – persuading fans of one show (the Vegas original, perhaps) to watch episodes of the other two. I only watch Original (the one I used to call Beardy). I never warmed to the New York one, and David Caruso, in Miami, is hard to take.
Meanwhile, Doctor Gregory House, modelled on Sherlock Holmes, a drug-addicted misanthrope, is the world’s most popular TV character, and Science Fiction once again proves itself to be the most popular TV genre.
Whether it’s CSI (forensic science), or House (medical science – and, most importantly, the scientific method), we just can’t get enough of geeky people on TV solving mysteries (medical or otherwise) using science and technology. Isn’t that interesting?
Now the BBC has cancelled Robin Hood, the only surviving Saturday night escapist fantasy dramas are Doctor Who and Merlin. Robin Hood got under 2 million viewers for its last episode. Amazingly, this is mainly because it was shoved over onto BBC2 so that BBC1 could keep Andy Murray on screen.
Why not put Andy Murray on BBC2? Because received wisdom is that if you encourage people to reach for their remote control, they will notice all the other buttons as well as the one you want them to push. “Sod this for a game of soldiers. I’m not watching that snobs’ channel. What are Ant and Dec up to?”
Since Merlin is (a) rubbish and (b) looks expensive, it’ll be next for the chop, though it may get one more run.
The comment thread on the above-linked story tells the tale: very few defenders of the awful Robin Hood. Why was it so bad?
The simple answer is: contempt for the audience. Because people who work in the media often have contempt for the very people who ultimately pay their wages by watching their shows, it may seem odd to you. But they see shows like Buffy, The X Files, Supernatural and Smallville. and they don’t think, “These are slick shows with great teams of writers, character-driven plots, and pretty decent actors…” Instead, they think, “We could produce crap like this. Those people will watch anything. Let’s hire some cheap writers and unemployed actors who won’t care that the script is terrible.”
So they go off and produce crap, and lo, the prophecy fulfils itself. Doctor Who continues to be a success not because those people will watch anything, but because every now and then there’s an episode like “The Girl in the Fireplace”, “The Empty Child,” or “Blink.”
Sadly, nobody at the BBC (or ITV) seems to realise this.
In related news, Ravi Somaiya in the Guardian asks why summer blockbusters are so dire? Simple answer: contempt for the audience.
Found these via BoingBoing (of course):
1. Further to our discussion of copyright, there’s more great news about online photo archives. We already know about the LIFE magazine collection being hosted by Google. Well, now the New York Public Library has a Flickr photostream. Not brilliant resolution from the ones I’ve looked at, but no copyright restrictions either. This is all part of the ever-growing Flickr Commons, which is dedicated to sharing some of the world’s great photo archives. Of course, this makes it even more preposterous that Flickr is blocked by many county education authorities.
2. Here’s an article about what it means to share everything about you life on-line, whether you’re taking hundreds of photos of yourself by holding a digital camera at arm’s length, or posting the minutiae of your daily life on Twitter. Snip:
Could the negative side effects of lifecasting, microblogging, and oversharing online be worse than just an increase in narcissistic behavior?
After all, Warhol might have been prescient about the democratization of celebrity but shortsighted on the media that would allow it to happen. In 1996, transmedia artist Nick Philip of Imaginary Foundation created a t-shirt design with a more accurate variation on Warhol: “In the future, everybody will be famous for 15 megabytes.”
3. Finally, as if you hadn’t guessed from the photo at the head of this entry, you can now buy (for $40), a Tippi Hedren Barbie as an homage to Alfred Hitchcock’s The Birds. An ideal Festivus gift for the film fanatic in your life.
Anyone interested in the history of radio broadcasting could do worse than pop over to the
Internet Archive, where there is a selection of old Columbia Workshop radio dramas. This is US radio from the same era that brought us Orson Welles’ Mercury Theatre broadcasts, including the notorious 1938 version of War of the Worlds.
Read more about the Columbia Workshop on Wikipedia.
Horror genre students might want to listen to the Mercury Theatre’s version of Dracula a well as the legendary War of the Worlds.
Mercury Theatre Presents: Dracula
Bonekickers, crap drama starring that Julie Graham, has been axed. Actually, for a summer show, its ratings weren’t that bad – 4.something million for something so badly scripted is quite repectable, I think.
I think the real reason it has been cancelled is to do with the critical reception and the fact that personnel changes at the BBC meant that nobody was left behind to defend it.
It was one of those things, with a decent script and less cheesy dialogue, it might have worked, but like most British TV attempts at genre, it was thwarted by deeply dumb writing, which spoke of the general attitude that the people who watch this kind of thing obviously don’t care.
Where does the perception that people who watch genre shows don’t care about quality scripting and dialogue come from? Probably from the evidence! It’s bewildering, for example, why anyone watches Heroes, but they do, and the show’s producers pay way too much attention to the opinions of the fans on the internet forums. The original Star Trek flopped after three of its planned five seasons, and the scripts in the third season were unbelievably bad. Still, the show refused to die.
Trailer 2 of the new J J Abrams Trek film is out. It’s got that Sylar from Heroes in it as Spock, which is an example of an actor lurching from one bad script to another.
What do you think? Do genre fans not care about scripts?