What Next?

By Rev/Views

In between watching the massive pile of TV shows I like and writing about the Wire I've been left thinking about the mammoth gap between a lot of the TV being shown right now and... Well... The Wire (but also The Sopranos, The Shield, SFU and other really great shows). Right now things are pretty formulaic out there in the world of TV. Now the US, with it's huge size and massive population is a lot better off, when you have so many people there's room for diversity and you can support a channel like HBO that puts out shows which don't draw masses of people watching. Shows which get a lot of critical support and maybe DVD sales, but when they're aired they might be TIVO'd or watched on the repeat.

The thing is, over here in Britannia there's nothing like that what so ever. We've got the BBC, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5 and then a bunch of channels either devoted to repeats (It's OK Dave, I still love your repeats or Top Gear and QI) airing American shows (I love you too FX, even if I never get to watch you), assorted documentaries (probably a lot repeated from elsewhere, I don't know - I just watch the Attenborough and shark ones) and daytime TV. There is no British version of HBO. We get occasional joint ventures between the BBC and HBO (Extras for example) but that's as close as it gets. There's no dedicated subscription style channel that concentrates on just pumping out the quality cultured TV that may not appeal to the masses but still rises to the top of the pond and says "Hey, this is what you could be watching if you wanted to think as well as be entertained."

We're approaching a recession for sure, the signs of it are everywhere, loads of people have been laid off - myself included, my latest job lasted a whole month before I was cut because of a need to save money. I'm now stuck filling the time in between job applications & interviews doing volunteer work and writing (often on here) and I'm not the only one. There's plenty of people who are feeling the crunch in many other ways, far worse than my own minor worries. My point is, during times of recession people cut back from consuming and enjoy whatever entertainment is available. For the individual person TV is one of the most freely available, also during times like these people become more creative, seeking respite with a place to escape too (not from - that's an important distinction) for a while. So we should see an increase in creative shows, exciting things that allow people their half hour to an hour away from the struggles. Something to remind us that there have been better times and there will be again.

And I think that a channel like that could be a great way to do this, the UK is capable of very exciting shows that put an interesting twist on an old concept (Life on Mars, Red Dwarf) and reviving classics with a charismatic lead (Doctor Who). Those of us stuck on the wet and windy isle of tea drinkers are a pretty damn creative bunch, our novelists demonstrate that. But right now there is precious little good new British TV out or coming out soon. Skins was decent-ish, but didn't really do anything special or clever beyond making many people feel like their own adolescent lives were empty in comparison, Moving Pictures was a great concept that got lumbered with a really poor linked show, but what else? I do apologise to those people who enjoy watching them but shows like Merlin, Bonekickers and Torchwood really don't count as quality television. Fun yes, but I'm yearning for that level of show above just entertainment. Maybe if I wasn't a self confessed p**s poor script writer I could try and help myself. But when you just have the ideas and not the ability it's better to stick with what you can do (I guess that means writing words about other people's brilliance for me), no-one needs another wanna-be swanning about trying to push their latest pilot script. Actually, they do - just as long as it isn't me.

I don't often write like this, I prefer to talk about the shows and DVD boxed sets rather than anything personal in nature and I don't intend to make a habit of it. But I'm just wondering, I'm I alone in my dissatisfaction with the batch of shows released this year? I thought the Writer's Strike was going to result in a huge selection of very imaginative new shows, but instead it's brought us a lot of remakes and nothing that really grabs. While the BBC has brought us "Hole in the Wall"...

Seriously? Where outside of Japan and the Internet is that show good enough to remake?

If anyone needs me I'll be hiding in a cave watching The Wire on repeat and muttering "It'll be all OK" over and over.


3 comments so far.

  1. Aaron 9 October 2008 at 23:49
    The US has its own version of Hole in The Wall. I caught an advert for it while watching a Chicago Bears game...
  2. Rev-Views 10 October 2008 at 00:53
    I think I shall just go weep softly into my Baltimore P.D. bedsheet set at that piece of news.
  3. Paul Benjamin 11 October 2008 at 09:24
    To be fair the Japanese version of "Hole in The Wall" was genius, but soley due to the awesomely ironic hole layouts and the antics of the celebrities involved (Hang Man Choi standing still while the wall broke around him stands out as a personal favourite).

    I highly doubt the British version will compete...

Something to say?