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Oh, said Tim, as he came back into the room, did you switch the television off? It was getting annoying, I replied, from under the cat. Which was sad, given that I was watching a programme about sculpture -- a subject which interests me -- specifically land art -- which should at least have shown me new good things, which (like any child of the internet) I value immensely. Alas, it was less fun than feeding the keywords into google. Which then got me thinking about how much I'm finding television annoying nowadays -- it's increasingly turning into a long fight to find nuggets of goodness in an ever-expanding sea of sludge. And when I do find something interesting it usually has someone stood in front of it, waving his arms and saying something (which sounds) unrehearsed. It's not unrehearsed, of course. Like the artificial authenticity of Cloverfield, it's an authorial position, designed to denote trust and a sort of chumminess. The see! he's just like me! effect.

Why does it annoy me so much? Is it just because the person in question has no chance whatsoever of being like me, if he's been selected as an everyman? Is it because they play with the idea of peeking behind the curtain, but only show you another stage, full of cameramen selected for their smiles and researchers who classify as TV attractive? Or is it because it takes you yet further from the subject?

Whichever, there are a series of things I've seen enough of already -- even though one or two of them have only been fashionable for a year or so. Sorry, your time is over, already. Enough of:
  1. Celebrities being sent on holidays. Because I don't want to spend my time in front of the television seething with envy, resentment and irritation at the sight of the overprivileged maundering over how amazing everything is.
  2. Cure my bad behaviour by putting me on TV. This is work, for me, and hundreds of thousands of people like me. And you're making more of it by suggesting there's a career/celebrity jackpot in parading it on television.
  3. Arm-waving people saying they don't know what to think about something. Er, hello. That's what we're paying you for. I'm assuming there's a researcher and a writer on your team. If you don't know, ask them.
  4. Documentaries sexed up with artificial crises You're lying. Your crew and cast know you're lying. The audience know you're lying. The embarrassed looks are kind of a giveaway.
  5. Artificial controversies Those people with loud, unusual ideas about things are merely the rich version of that guy on the street corner whose rantings you dodge on the way to work every morning. Stop wasting time and money on them.
  6. Putting backstage centrestage We love those making of documentaries because you're making something cool, which makes us curious to see how it's done. We don't actually care about the process for its own sake, sorry -- though you do, obviously, it's your job.
Well, I'm out of rant, and the postman still isn't here with my new hot water hose. The postal depot for me, then, if I want a working washing machine! It'd be easier if anyone actually bothered putting those little missed parcel notes through the door. Although, if their stationery-ordering process is anything like mine, I can quite understand why it doesn't get done. Later!

Comments

( 41 worms — Feed the birds )
celestialweasel
15th Sep, 2008 09:33 (UTC)
I find 4 most annoying though 2 and 3 are probably the most pernicious.
I have probably said before that one of my running jokes is a fly on the wall documentary where I work, I'd like to see the bastards make this look exciting! Episode 9 - Duncan finds that having done an update from Subversion, the software no longer links. Or maybe that should be a 3 episode special.
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 11:10 (UTC)
it would probably speak to me
A little bit of "modern times" style camerawork, a sarcastic voice-over. Actually, it would make for a much more relevant "3 minute wonder" than most of the ones that have me leaping for the off button after C4 news.
(no subject) - zengineer - 15th Sep, 2008 17:31 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestialweasel - 16th Sep, 2008 12:06 (UTC) - Expand
viscount_s
15th Sep, 2008 10:27 (UTC)
Amen & seconded to your rant - I'd prefer half the number of channels & twice the amount of quality.
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 11:06 (UTC)
I have this fear that the half of TV they'd get rid of probably would include everything I *do* like watching
jinty
15th Sep, 2008 10:27 (UTC)
This is why I only have 1 or 2 programs on my telly list at any time
...and often not even that. (Currently, to no-one's surprise, it's QI.)

I hate that mean-spirited sort of telly where people are supposed to enjoy the sight of people being horrible, to each other or at the world. Like where Gordon Ramsey is humilating his kitchen staff or whatever.
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 11:05 (UTC)
Re: This is why I only have 1 or 2 programs on my telly list at any time
Actually, I should have had "Bullying behaviour presented as entertainment" as number seven. Possibly with "I can get this from my workplace any time I feel the lack" appended as the comment.

I wish he did, but - undyingking - 15th Sep, 2008 13:28 (UTC) - Expand
land art is teh awesome - cleanskies - 15th Sep, 2008 12:33 (UTC) - Expand
Re: land art is teh awesome - crazycrone - 15th Sep, 2008 13:06 (UTC) - Expand
timscience
15th Sep, 2008 11:41 (UTC)
I'm actually OK with number 6.

To make up can we have double damage for number 4 please? Once for "Lost Land of the Jaguar" and once for "Pacific Abyss". With possibly a third for the upcoming Amazon programme.
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 13:48 (UTC)
possibly?
I think that's a likely shading into definitely
(no subject) - thegreenman - 15th Sep, 2008 20:36 (UTC) - Expand
brixtonbrood
15th Sep, 2008 14:12 (UTC)
Offender 2 comes in 2 types - the BBC-type where they actually do sensible and reasonable approaches to the bad behaviour - These are not necessarily a God Thing, for all sorts of reasons, but they are infinitely better than the Channel 4/5 version where the means of intervention has been chosen purely for its tellygenicness/shock value. [NB that not all the BBC type are on the BBC and unfortunately vice versa]

Prime offenders obviously McKeith and her gibberish, the show where they stuck tiny babies at the end of the garden because that's what they did in the fifties, and Tribal Wives. Supernanny hovers on the border because what she actually does is much more reasonable than the way it's presented.
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 17:09 (UTC)
it's just work for me --
--in fact, I've got a large resource folder from "The Baby Borrowers" with an "anything useful in this?" post-it note on it waiting next door. Yippee. Another Shockwave game to evaluate.

I'm assuming that everyone involved in Tribal Wives is actually a lizard-headed alien of some sort.
Re: it's just work for me -- - brixtonbrood - 15th Sep, 2008 19:41 (UTC) - Expand
brixtonbrood
15th Sep, 2008 14:15 (UTC)
4 is related to one of my least favourite types of show, the one where everyone is really worried about how well the subject's restaurant/guest house/shop/invention will do, and no-one ever says "Well, at least that free hour of prime time publicity on Channel 4 should help bring in the punters".
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 17:01 (UTC)
Yes, really. Why don't they just call it "Watch as I advertise my friends" and be done with it?
To be fair (ish) - jinty - 15th Sep, 2008 17:02 (UTC) - Expand
Re: To be fair (ish) - brixtonbrood - 15th Sep, 2008 17:11 (UTC) - Expand
steviecat
15th Sep, 2008 14:41 (UTC)
I chucked my telly out years ago. Didn't see any justification for the licence fee when I watched so little. I just get my mum to video me the v-e-r-y occasional thing then watch a year's worth over Xmas/New Year. I've zero interest in the lives of folk like Chris Evans (is he still on ?) Graham Norton and Jonathan Ross, and really dislike the music biz vibe of Jools Holland's show which seems to turn everything that's on it into the same sort of mush (save for the admirable Scott Walker, who did the show his way or not at all). I do enjoy some of those Beeb 4 documentaries when they end up on BBC2; and Attenborough, of course. But little else attracts me, has me wondering enough to want to watch. The last non-docu/music/arts ting I watched weekly (The Simpsons aside !) was probably Northern Exposure, back in, what, '93 ?
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 17:00 (UTC)
presented by Cat Deely and Phil Jupitus
Now a decent music show, that would be a thing. We should be so lucky.
henriksdal
15th Sep, 2008 16:49 (UTC)
Nature "documentaries" that feature the exciting life of the presenter more than the subject of the documentary - see anything with Katie f&cking Humble in it.
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 16:59 (UTC)
believe it or not
Pacific Abyss had her looking embarrassed.
Re: believe it or not - zengineer - 15th Sep, 2008 17:29 (UTC) - Expand
(Anonymous)
15th Sep, 2008 17:46 (UTC)
Oh man.
The recent Joanna Lumley "watch me pal around with the Norwegian working man and coo endlessly about how desperate I am to see the Northern Lights" special was exceedingly inexcusable, so number one on your list cheered me endlessly. Thanks for articulating the nature of a kind of programme I will never, ever, even in my laziest moments, watch again. Sick! I'm also perturbed by programmes like Maestro, or the one where Jo Brand learned how to play the organ. WHY?
PS How's your WoM story coming? I am writing my second strip now...let me know if you need an extra page!
brixtonbrood
15th Sep, 2008 19:37 (UTC)
Maestro should have been rubbish, but was inexplicably rather good - due mostly to a better class of celeb.
Actually I'm a sucker for celebs learning to do stuff, as long as they really are learning to do stuff, rather than being shouted at or thrown into pits of bugs in the hope that they have nervous breakdowns.
(no subject) - cleanskies - 15th Sep, 2008 20:38 (UTC) - Expand
twic.myopenid.com
15th Sep, 2008 20:16 (UTC)
I propose that Channel 4 should be closed down, and the money used to operate a 24-Hour Rolling Jonathan Meades channel. This would solve a lot of problems.

-- tom
cleanskies
15th Sep, 2008 20:39 (UTC)
Quick, start the Facebook group!
(no subject) - brixtonbrood - 15th Sep, 2008 22:30 (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - celestialweasel - 16th Sep, 2008 12:11 (UTC) - Expand
smallbeasts
16th Sep, 2008 08:15 (UTC)
Phonics
C4's Dispatches episode on phonics was very close to #5. After a whole episode on how the school's intensive phonics programme was a huge success, and the stupid government weren't rolling it out nationally, they briefly mentioned a damning Ofsted report. It turns out that the school has concentrated all its effort on teaching the kids to read, and forgot to teach any of them to add up.
celestialweasel
16th Sep, 2008 12:14 (UTC)
Re: Phonics
WTF?!?!?!?!?
A slight disconnect between the description on the C4 website and the Ofsted report or what?
Re: Phonics - brixtonbrood - 16th Sep, 2008 13:51 (UTC) - Expand
Re: Phonics - smallbeasts - 16th Sep, 2008 14:19 (UTC) - Expand
( 41 worms — Feed the birds )