Friday, October 13, 2006

Daddy, what were you doing during the Television Wars?*

Thought I'd bump this from the comments section of the previous post, where it might get a bit lost.

In response to this question for patroclus from cello:

Qu'est-ce qu'il ya P? I just thought I detected a sly dig at TV. You know you're a bit susceptible to that. 

And given whose blog this is, and how a TV programme is at least partly responsible for your current state of bliss, it seemed a little unjust. 

But apologies if I was being over-touchy. I am starting to get paranoid, seeing telly-haters under every bed. Maybe I should start a McCarthyesque campaign to rid the country of TV detractors.

I steamed in with:

I'm not even sure what counts as 'television' these days. Does watching imported DVD's on my laptop in bed count? Because that's all stuff I choose to watch, so it's mostly great.

I genuinely can't remember the last time I watched television as transmitted. I have a dim recollection of flickin g through the four channels I can get, screaming with rage and frustration and then going to do something else instead.

I can certainly imagine not bothering to get an actual television set, the next time I move. Might get a DVD projector if I can afford it though.

...and patroclus herself then came back with:

Ooh, no, I wasn't having a go at telly. I was just referring to the fact that big chunks of script had started appearing in this here comments box.

But on the other hand, the last time I turned the actual telly on (rather than watching a DVD) was to watch the last ep of GW back in May, so James also has a point. People *are* still watching telly, it's just they're watching it in DVD form, or as clips on YouTube, or as illegal downloads of stuff that's not available here yet. 

So when C4 (for example) thinks that twenty- and thirtysomethings aren't watching its quality Friday night programming, it's not that they aren't watching it, it's just that they aren't watching it on the TV set on a Friday night. 

And with the actual telly, it's just too difficult to identify the good stuff among the 8,000 channels of rubbish. It's a chore even to flick through the Sky menu, there's just so much...

Ooh, bit of a tirade there.

So, throwing it open local-radio-stylee, how much do you hip young(ish) blog commenters watch actual traditional telly?



* sadly, the answer would get me into trouble. But it's quite rude.

49 comments:

jk said...

Personally, I watch neighbours daily on a projector screen in the uni bar, and that's about it. Television doesn't really feature as a part of my life at the moment; even when I'm at home, I'd rather curl up with a book - although I do sometimes make an effort to watch certain programmes if they've caught my eye. [Insert sycophantic GW comment here.]

cello said...

He-he, this is fun. The marvellous thing is we're all right. If you want to know what 'telly' is, ask people what they think. They would certainly call DVDs telly as well as downloaded clips on their mobile phone.

But broadcasting is a very important part of TV. Green Wing would never have created the community it has without a broadcast. Well, it would never have been made in the first place of course without the likelihood of a largish audience to sell advertising to. The good (?) news is that people are spending just as much time watching broadcast telly as they ever did - nearly 4 hours a day - and the new forms of telly (including YouTube) are in addition to that, often displacing things like reading newspapers or going out.

And you know what you need, P, with your dilemma of 8,000 programmes to choose from? You need an editor of choice, a trusted aggreggator of digital content, sometimes referred to as a TV channel. You should try BBC4 and More4 sometime. I think you'd like them.

Also important to realise that you are very far from an 'average' viewer and research of one is jolly dangerous.

Kalista said...

I used to watch an awful lot before I moved to uni. Now I just watch neighbours. Despite what people say, I reckon tv is fab in the most part- and lots of it makes you more intelligent I reckon- bbc4 taught me loads!

skeadugenga/kate said...

I watch less than I used to, mainly because the type of programme I like has migrated to digital channels and I refuse to pay extra for something I thought I'd already purchased with the license fee. Yes I know its just paying once for the box for freeview, but its the principle of the thing. So I watch a lot of dvds and pick the occasional highlights out from the terrestrial channels, maybe 3 or 4 programmes a week (Jane Eyre, Galapagos, Extras and Mitchell and Webb this week). Other than that, the TV is off. Although I must confess, its been on more this week, while I tried to catch the Barclaycard ad! Just the once, you understand!

Anonymous said...

I have found some good stuff amongst the 8000 channels of crap. Niche documentaries about the development of the computer, interesting physicists, that sort of stuff. I tend to give new comedies a go and stick with them if they are any good. Newsnight review can be good or at least provoke shouting at the TV. Finally I watch ch4 news to see my mate Johnny Miller hasn't been killed in the latest horrible place they've sent him to.
Cello maybe you can tell us why good telly seems to cluster around particular days of the week. Thursdays at the moment, whilst the rest of the time there is bugger all on.

james henry said...

I heartily approve of BBC4 and E4 - just a shame I can't actually get them.

One thing I do miss is the communal element of telly - there's no programmes I watch at the same time as other people any more (or I'm watching it in the same room as them). Oddly, GW seemed to bring this about by being quite a specific sense of humour, which drove people to the forums to find someone else to talk to about it, thus building a rather lovely community which provided writers with free meals, girlfriends etc..

patroclus said...

Cello, I was just thinking that - the programmes have to get made in the first place, don't they? Otherwise we'd all end up watching other people's home videos on YT, and it would be like round-the-clock You've Been Framed. Brrr.

Also: there was a niche documentary about the development of the computer? Why did no one tell me?

cello said...

BARB doesn't even try to count students away from home. Which is just as well I guess or Neighbours and Deal, No Deal would record the biggest audiences on telly and that would just be depressing.

james henry said...

Ah but soon, could programmes be made by releasing a pilot show on the internet, then, if it's popular enough, getting enough people to subscribe to (say) another six episodes, then going off and making them?

You'd still need an existing production company in the first place though I suppose.

patroclus said...

Let's not write Neighbours off completely - after all, it did give us the lovely and talented Guy Pearce, and the 'Bouncer's Dream' episode, which served as an artistic precedent for other, later televisual dream sequences...

james henry said...

All dream sequences are bad.

There. I said it.

cello said...

Realdoc, in answer to your question (as far as I am able)it's very much a case of one man's meat etc etc. The fact that you are enjoying Thursdays is because you like intelligent British comedy. Don't we all on this blog. BBC2 are using the pull of Extras to give Mitchell and Webb a bit of audience inheritance. If you loved cooking or property or history or nostalgic drama you'd be loving another day on another channel.

cello said...

Very nice idea James, and who's to say it won't happen. Certainly a different way to make pilots maybe.

But I fear the crucial phrase in your idealistic scenario is 'if enough people like it'. The best way of ensuring that is to broadcast it, publicise it and get people to talk about it. Social currency is part of what people want TV for and that doesn't work if only you and two other extremely discerning people in Norwich have seen it.

patroclus said...

>>The best way of ensuring that is to broadcast it, publicise it and get people to talk about it.<<

What if all that was done through blogs and e.g. MySpace sites? It's a model that (allegedly) works for bands like the Arctic Monkeys - why not television programmes?

Anonymous said...

'All dream sequences are bad'
James about 600 threads on the GW forum have just bitten the dust.

james henry said...

I just wrote a long and eloquent post along the same lines as Patroclus, which Blogger promptly ate. So clearly the technology isn't quite there yet, but it soon will be.

But yes, I actually think marketing a new programme to an already existing niche-market, such as, say GW fans, might be the way to go. Programmes will have to be cheaper and more imaginative, but surely this is a good thing?

Realdoc - yes. Not saying they don't cause some interest, but bad narratively.

I'm off to play warcraft now - patroclus can text me if a fight breaks out while I'm away...

Terri Nixon said...

And hallelujah for that, RD! (sorry, did I say that out loud? No. I typed it. *shrug* Whatevahhh)

My house has the TV on permanently, well, almost. Until "grown up telly time" at around 7.30 (okay, Coronation St) Dom, who's 6, has his programmes on. I'd hate to admit that if it wasn't for the fact that he's rarely watching them, just dipping in now and again when he's bored of throwing himself around the garden or making his action figures beat the living pulp out of one another. Paper aeroplanes is the latest but still the TV stays on in the background. And then I'm either watching stuff that's being transmitted (cos sometimes even if it's something I've got on DVD it's nice to know there are others out there watching it too) or I've got Black Books or Green Wing doing its thing in the corner of my living room.
Telly. Love it, even when it's crap.

chatterbox said...

Well I love my Sky+ box - I can focus on the channels that are variations of 4 and the Beeb and record whole series in a Green Wing or West Wing orgy... This is a bad thing for those with obsessive personalities, but a good thing for those that like brand loyalty.

As for marketing, it seems to me that this is already happening in a small scale at the moment - the GW forums certainly discuss and advertise programmes that others might like, and I've watched programmes and bought DVDs as a result of recommendations.

cello said...

I must stop responding and go home to my lovely family.

BUT, so many interesting points in what everyone is saying.

How do you think the ready-made niche markets get created James?

And those word of mouth/mouse internet phenomena like Arctic Monkeys and Sandi Thom turn out to have only got big when picked up by mass media.

But I'm not saying that won't happen to Tv programmes. I'm just saying there is something unique about experiencing things at the same time as other people (like Terri says)that will ensure broadcasting has a long and happy future alongside TV in other new formats.

Disintermediation only matters if you really distrust the mediator. Most of the time mediators are a very good thing.

Bye for now.

skeadugenga/kate said...

Not disagreeing with you Cello, but wanted to say that
I'm grateful for the technology that now allows us to pick what we like, when we like. I can remember pre-internet, pre-video, pre-dvd days, when you grabbed the Christmas Radio/TV times as soon as it came out, to see what big films were going to be on over the holidays. I definitely wouldn't want to go back to that, even if the price we pay is that TV is less of a shared experience.

patroclus said...

>>Disintermediation only matters if you really distrust the mediator.<<

Or if the mediator won't let you on to the medium in the first place.

rob said...

All dream sequences are bad. There. I said it.

Have you never seen Spellbound?

Anonymous said...

I watch hardly any 'telly', the only thing I tune in for regularly is the Thursday night comedy bits on the Beeb and Kerrang on a Friday night (got to get my fix of men with eyeliner bedecked in leather trousers). I've really found of late that there's just nothing to interest me as I don't do soaps, reality TV or Robin Hood (sorry its Michael Praed all the way for me), but I quite like this cause it gives me more time to blog, chat and read, plus I watch heaps of films (and spend half my life capping). Each to their own and all that :)

Sylvia said...

We recently acquired this wonderful hard drive recording doodah (old news to most I know) which lets me start watching a programme after it has started but before it's finished. It is so cool. Kids' bedtime can occasionally get in the way of some evening viewing but this gizmo lets me start watching ten minutes later, and if there is enough lead time I can then fast forward over the commercials. So, telly watching on the night, but ten minutes later than rest of the country.

leonie said...

I don't watch telly at all.

just as you say, I download American and British stuff that I can't get over here or if I can afford it I get the dvds if they're available. and I go to the cinema.
but then again, I live in Germany and there is just so much shit on here, and the rest is incredibly boring. I just really can't be bothered to look for the good things on telly any more because there is so much bad stuff to suffer through.

I am still so embarassed at my dim-witted remark about your cocaine joke. went right over my head. *wheeeeee*

Rose said...

Bleeeee!! Rob said the S-word in a cunning plan to get me waxing lyrical about completely ace films wot I luv and not what I actually came here to talk about.

Anyway, I'm a bit rubbish with telly. I always forget or am out when things I like are on. Most TV programmes I watch are sneaky downloads of the things I care enough about to track down. Occasionally I'll just turn on the TV and something good will be on. Doesn't happen often.

Happily, this post has reminded me that QI is on tonight. Ta, James!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am somewhere in the middle of all these points of view.

I watch around two to three hours of broadcast television a week.

The rest is all either on dvd boxsets or programmes that are currently being broadcast in the states.

Right now I'm on a weekly televisual diet of series 3 of Lost, Studio Sixty On The Sunset Strip and Heroes (a thriller about people with superpowers - I think you'll like it James).

Apart from that, I'd far rather spend my time online or at the cinema (god bless my Unlimited card) than watch 'strictly dance fever' or whatever else - although I will admit a guilty love for X-Factor.
Oh the shame.

Anonymous said...

Since coming to New Zealand I have started watching more TV as TV. But still I must admit that I am still sworn to DVDs and DVD box-sets. Because it is oh-so-easy to miss an episode on TV because I might suddenly have a life, or someone higher up in the food chain might choose a different channel, or it is simply not available here, but when you have the DVD/downloaded episodes and have planted yourself down for a full marathon of Black Books/Scrubs/etc. etc., there is simply no stopping you.

Also I love how if I miss something/really love a certain part, I can actually scan the DVD back and forth and watch that bit again.

And... NO COMMERCIALS!

chatterbox said...

But, *poking this debate with a stick*, aren't tv ads one of the things that people still have as shared experiences? Are they always a bad thing - if we didn't have them we would have to pay subscriptions. *Retires to safe distance*

Angelina B said...

I think where ads are concerned, most telly watchers have a shared experience in trying to avoid them (certain Barclaycard ads excepted maybe). Though Chatterbox is right, without them subscriptions would be higher, so I'm not sure what's worse; having to avoid the ads every 15 minutes or having to pay more money for the 8000 (mostly crap) programmes.

Living in a shared girly house the TV is on pretty much 24/7 with things like Hollyoaks or some Next Top Model programme, which can make you feel like your brain is slowly turning to mush. I don't know what I'd do without DVD boxsets... start tracking down the Hollyoaks cast and forcing them to watch proper grown up acting possibly...

d'hoffrynsfavourite said...

I don't even have an aerial for my tv coz its used solely for dvds.

did you lot know that C4 are launching a vod service for tv & internet later this year? It will have catch-up plus an archive of older progs to choose from, from C4/E4 & More4.

Sorry if this sounds like I'm just doing a pr job! I'm just really excited about it & thought you might be interested, could definately help Patroclus search for progs she's missed & James watch E4...

helen said...

I don't watch much, Have I got News for you which has just started again and QI on a friday night and I normally catch extras and that mitchell and webb look, apart from that it's DVDs all the way, GW, Black Books, Monty Python...etc. And I'm 15 (not your average teen though)

Lyn said...

I watch tv daily even though there isn't a lot I like. I also go to the pictures every Saturday and sometimes watch dvds. Currently pain is preventing me from working but when I work its Saturday pics and rare tv but still some. Course I am in Australia with 5 free to air channels. I am 52, probably one of the older blog commenters.

Jen said...

Being 18, I just had my weekly fill of an hour and a half of 'Trad-TV' on Thursday night: Extras, Mitchell and Webb and Mock the Week.

Oh, and I watched the new Qi last night.

Mainly though, I watch DVDs and UKtv Gold reruns. Mostly on my computer.

Whoever said it was right; kids just don't watch TV anymore.

Loganoc said...

Well, maybe this explains the fact you've not mentioned the Mangan/Rhind-Tutt Barclaycard adverts that currently have me squealing at the TV occasionally. I watch loads of telly, I have to admit. Mostly comedy. AND downloaded stuff too.

Anonymous said...

At the moment, I would rather stab myself in the eye than watch some of the Friday night television they play at the moment. (In particular, the Charlotte Church show).

I tend to just watch Thursday night telly. That's about it, really. Otherwise, it's just old DVDs (or occasionally the vintage video) for me.

Anonymous said...

I often think I watch very little TV, but then when I think about it I actually watch more than I think. TV at its point of transmission, perhaps not so much - I watch Have I Got News for You regularly, and then there are the programmes that become 'events' of sorts in my week - the Doctor Whos and BBC period dramas of the world - which I tend to try and watch with people.
But most of the rest of my telly is in DVD form or on the interwebs. I sneak Studio 60 and Battlestar Galactica from people in the States and continually hope they'll appear over here.

Piers said...

"Ah but soon, could programmes be made by releasing a pilot show on the internet, then, if it's popular enough, getting enough people to subscribe to (say) another six episodes, then going off and making them?"

The figures don't really work out yet, but some of us are starting to have conversations about how to fund shows without them having to pass through the Magic Living Room Box.

Some figures

Mad Pulp Bastard Bill Cunningham is also putting some thought into this.

And Joe Stracynski is making new Babylon 5 which will be released direct to DVD even as we type.

So things are starting to happen.

Spinsterella said...

To my immense frustration, I watch telly all the fucking time.

I'd really rather not, but I've got a flatmate, so it's Emmerdale-corrie-'Stenders-Holby then some repeat of some crime stuff. Telly all night every night.

Weekend daytimes I put the radio on through the tv, but if I'm not up early enough, it's telly all day as well.

Flatmate's not a blogger.

james henry said...

I sympathize, spinny, same problem here (when I'm in falmouth). Flatmate has tv on from 6 until 11, and either shrieks with laughter at it, or has the sound turned down and is on the phone. Sometimes also from 6 until 11. Which got me out of the habit of watching television at all. Which is perhaps no bad thing.

Jen said...

Hardly any of this generation of chunky kids actually do stay in on the couch to watch TV.

They'll have to rename the new 'Couch Potato Generation' to something like the 'Leather-look Ergonomic Office Chair Generation'.

Or something.

I think it maybe a little biased to do this mini data check on a blog. We're obviously of the 'Leather-look Ergonomic Office Chair Generation'...

Paul Pennyfeather said...

TV is my best friend.

I am watching Prime Suspect.

It is very good and on ITV1.

I also very much liked the episode of the Sopranos that was shown last Thursday.

I realise that I do not fall into the demographic for James' survey, being neither young nor hip.

caskared said...

I've been listening to the discussions on the future of linear television on the Media Guardian podacasts - pretty interesting (although the prevailing smugness does irk).

I opine that I want to keep linear prgrammed broadcasts - how else would I have flopped in front of the tv an learnt about the day the first controlled nuclear happened or all about Turing? Or eased into Sunday mornings with the former incarnation of Popworld? I live outside the UK with no tv (although I help make tv here) and I survive on box sets and youtube but I need to know what to look for - I get reccommendations from people I know with telly back in the UK (or Netherlands or wherever there is English language tv). Otherwise, I just search for the same things exhausting the supply.

Plus, the comment above about the shared experience - Doctor Who on Christmas Day, I'm looking forward to it already, I'm 27 and I'll be there in front of the same set as an over-excited 11 year old and his parents, my family and a septegenarian - and it will be an event as we will know a thousand other houses doing the same.

the whales said...

I haven't watched terrestrial tv for two years. Nor have i even watched the six DVDs i bought a few weeks ago. Nothing overly "political" about it - i just get bored and restless. It's too passive. I might as well turn the thing off and just stare into space doing nothing. And generally i prefer doing *something* - even if it's just staring into space making up my own thoughts rather than letting tv do it for me.

Plus, like 95% of everything, 95% of tv is disgraceful rubbish. I'm prepared to accept that there is some terrific television out there - but i can't be bothered to find it, nor to schedule my life around it. Not when there are better things to do.

Ummm...like stare out of the window...

the whales said...

ps - i don't know why i just said any of that. I was being entirely unhelpful!

kmb said...

I live in foreign climes, but our TV programming is prolly just as crap as yours. I tend to do most of my TV watching in DVD or CD form. I ordered both series of GW from the interwebs, and have been having a glut of those. Someone at work has downloaded the first few eps of Extras series 2, so have also been watching them. There's a local drama I watch religiously, but apart from that, it's DVDs and dodgy downloads.....

Mangonel said...

Totally off subject - where's quinquireme.blogspot gone? I can't think of anywhere else to ask

Kellycat said...

Ditto Mangonel.

Either Patroclus's blog has taken a totally new direction, or she's been hi-jacked by a filthy search engine...

POE said...

I rarely watch things live anymore. I got my PVR over a year ago & it changed my viewing habits completely (not least because I can record 2 channels and watch a third at the same time).
Before my recent holiday I set it up to record most of the things I would miss whilst away. I returned to just over 80 hours of programmes. As I was away for 3 weeks it works out at just under 4 hours of TV a day. And yet I couldn't name most of the shows I watch. Also, now I frequently watch at double speed if there's no dialogue.