Category Archives: tv

On detectives

It’s the New Year, and both ITV and BBC have come out with their headline crime dramas to keep us cosy during the long miserable nights in that make up Dry January. For the BBC it’s Silent Witness and Death In Paradise, while for ITV it’s Endeavour and Midsomer Murders.

I prefer the longer format of the ITV series. I also like the fact that they tend to take their structure and references more seriously, too. Which was why the first episodes of both new series were notable.

Firstly Endeavour broke one of the Decalogue (the golden rules of crime fiction defined during crime fiction’s heyday). Fairly and squarely, no apology, 85 minutes in we get to the big reveal and it’s a rule breaker. There’s no way the writers didn’t know what they were doing. Interesting, if nothing else.

And then Midsomer Murders, only 3 days later, was an episode without a single murder. Let’s be clear, Midsomer is second only to Cabot Cove in terms of body count, so an entire episode without even one measly murder? Unthinkable.

Crime stories are predictable. They follow rules. That’s why we love them. It appears ITV has other ideas…

Telly

There’s only been 4 programs worth watching on TV this last “season”:

  • My Name Is Earl – they managed to find a premise that kept the humour going into a third series
  • Pushing Daisies – Americans try and make a series in the style of Jeunet and pretty much pull it off
  • Big Bang Theory – the geeks really shall inherit the earth
  • Dexter – utterly unexpected and really well made

Did I miss anything? Interesting (to me at least) that the two C4 programs are both half hour shows shown after 10pm, while Pushing Daisies and Dexter are both on ITV. Only 6 months or so ago everything I watched was prime time C4 or BBC2.  Either my taste has changed or there’s a real mixup happening at the moment.

As an aside, turns out Chuck Lorre (the man behind Big Bang Theory as well as Two and Half Men, Dharma and Greg, Cybill and Grace Under Fire) is a bit of a philosopher… Read all his vanity cards on his web site.

TV networks are dead

I have been saying this to anyone who’ll listen to my drunken ranting at web networking events for 2 years now.  I have believed it so much that every time I hear about another success of Sky By Broadband, 4od, BBC iPlayer or any other DRM crippled attempt to secure a dead position I snort derisively and start muttering under my breath.

TV networks are dead.  The business models they maintain are dead.  And the technology they are peddling now is to TV exactly what the Sony rootkit was to CDs.  Dead.  And likely to cause embarrassment.

Luckily Fake Steve Jobs is much more eloquent than I, and has the time to write something he’s actually thought through.

Er… Couldn’t find a winner?

Channel 5 has been slapped a huge fine and had to cancel two shows on the back of yet more premium rate phone in skullduggery.  No real surprise there, to be honest.  What is surprising is the following quote:

Daytime shows Brainteaser and its spin-off Memory Bank had faked winners on a number of occasions, Ofcom’s investigation found. When viewers with the correct answers could not be found to go live on air, production crew members pretended to win, it found.

I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Brainteaser (working from home for a year had its “benefits”), but the idea that not one person had rung in with the correct answer is horrifying.

Whither In The Night Garden?

I can’t be the only person wondering what on earth has happened to the BBC’s In The Night Garden… After much fanfare and promotion it took to our screens in March. They had announced 100 episodes, yet so far have only shown 10. More amazingly they repeated those 10 episodes after only 2 weeks, and then took the programme off air. A total of 10 episodes (each shown 6 times!) doesn’t really account for the marketing fanfare and PR machinery that went on.

Characters are still included in interstitials and so on, yet there’s no mention of where it’s gone. The Christmas merchandising run is obviously beginning (here, here and press release here), but those of us who’s children (and us) that had fallen in love with are left wondering what on earth is going on. It’s clearly captured the hearts and minds of its audience; “makka pakka” is the single most common search term to hit this blog, for example.

I Have therefore taken it upon myself to find out; for you gentle reader, as I know you are worried too. And indeed, it’s not that hard to find out what’s actually happened. This thread over at the CBeebies parent’s message board from 3 weeks ago (log in required) has the following statement:

“We’re thrilled that In the Night Garden has been so well received by young children around the country and I’m sorry the current run has ended.

“But I take heart in the strong reaction to the series ending that we have really connected with our audiences. Ragdoll is busily beavering away on new episodes and we plan to bring them to you as fast as we can.

“Each programme is carefully crafted and takes time to complete, so that’s likely to be in about 6 weeks.”

So

  • firstly, 100 episodes my arse, in fact they’ve only made 10 (despite the programme being announced in October 2005 and the toy deal being announced in April 2006),
  • secondly, only making the announcement on a hard to find and closed message board is not exactly looking after your audience, is it?
  • and thirdly, why on earth not just keep showing repeats? The kids don’t care and we’ve seen it a damn sight less than the Andy Pandy, Charlie and Lola, Our Planet, Muffin the Mule and all that other rubbish that’s replace it.

Boo, BBC, boo. You could have done this a lot better. On the positive side, it sounds like it’s only 3 weeks to go before new episodes grace our screens.

Blue Pontipines

If, like me, you’ve been wondering about the mysterious blue Pontipines (who are they, why do we never see them except in the dance, are they Pontipines at all, etc etc) I can shed a little light…

They are in fact not Pontipines at all, but Wottingers. Why they play such a tiny part in the show compared to every other character I’m yet to discern, but at least that’s a start.

In The Night Garden

Because it’s airing on CBeebies rather than BBC1 like its predecessor (Teletubbies) people don’t seem to have picked up on In The Night Garden yet. It’s mental. If you thought Teletubbies was weird when you first saw it this one is a whole set of steps further on. It has very high production qualities, Derek Jacobi narrating and an utterly utterly surreal character line up. Definitely worth a watch if you have kids under 3, mine both love it.

That said, there are 100 episodes, so in 20 weeks from now I may well not be so keen…