Small Screen Surfin'

1 Conversation

Remember the vision of the new millennium? Flying cars, neon lighting, the rest of the
world somehow catches up with Japan?

We were all thinking we'd be moving forward in every way right?1 So then why is the media
industry so whack that we're stuck in a thirty year time circle?

I'll get to the relevance of TV in a second but the best example as far as media goes, is the 'pop'
music world. Once upon a sixties, bands would be created through a few mates getting together and
actually writing songs/music. What about now? Bands (if you can call them that) are built, the 'stars' are brought together by people that 'know what other people2 want' who think that all you need is looks to be a
pop star. You don't have to sing (look at Mrs. Beckham), you don't have to play (look at Busted), you
don't even need an original song. They're just repeats of songs done in the Sixties, Seventies, and
the few that got through the originality cull of the Eighties and Nineties. Nice cycle we've got going

Now TV has a similar problem as we hurple3
into future. We're at the point now (at least in the UK) where we're running out of new quality
programming that we've had to repeat old programmes, remake old programmes badly or make clones
of other programmes in a battle for ratings.

The easiest examples are sit-coms and children's TV. All the new sit-coms now are about families
and they're just not funny these days with their clich├ęd characters. We'll see the standard family:
Father, Mother, Son, Daughter. The dad will be the no nonsense-type, the mother will be the
authority, the son will be the stupid one and the daughter will be the rebel. Occasionally we'll have
another family member in a grandparent popping by or there's a third child: The sensible
(sometimes intelligent) one. We'll then be presented with a scene of the dad not wanting his
daughter to see boyfriend #936 while mamma is fine and casual or throws in the occasional sex

If it's not new family sit-coms, it's new series of unfunny ones OR repeats of 'classics'. Now I'm
a great fan of 'Fawlty Towers' but the endless repeats of merely 12 episodes drives you to
other places. The problem is that well-established comedies phased out and reached the end of their
lives in the 1990s (Vicar of Dibley, One Foot in the Grave, Men Behaving Badly) and there have been
no attempts to bring new entertainment to our funny-bones. There have been unfortunates in
'Father Ted' which could have ran for many more series but the death of the star meant
laugh-no-more. If the series had kept going we would have been spared the spawning of 'So
Graham Norton

Across the pond we are losing 'Frasier' because of a ratings drop. I think all the money
over there is going to keeping Friends alive. I challenge you, my fellow Brits, to name a funny
sit-com from this millennium.

Children's TV

Look at what these children are growing up on: 5 multi-coloured [ ]4. These things are
that bad they're repeating what I used to watch! Kids don't need to be patronised with 'Oooooooh
look children, Nimmyspit has stepped into the circle. The roooound circle. Point to the round circle'.
They need to be talked to, not at. But I drift from my point. We need new programmes that vary,
not each channel throwing 'Who Wants to Be A Survivor on Big Brother Link?' We've got to
attempt originality and not just rely on the past. Ironically it's these history dramas (Henry VIII,
Coliseum) that are showing what could be done. So instead of spending thousands on one-off
programmes, spread it across genres for six+ episodes. Make us see the future growing again.

Keep Surfin' (until it arrives in a new format in 2033)

Small Screen Surfin'


23.10.03 Front Page

Back Issue Page

1This column has
got nothing to do with my SSO problems last week...
2Apparently 13
year-old girls are the entire human population.
3Thank you Stephen Fry.4Insert
programme here: Teletubbies, Tweenies, Hoobs, Boo-Bahs, Wiggles.

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