Remote control

Yawnfest. The Amazing Race is a show about ….. zzzzzzzzz. Sorry, I fell asleep there.It’s June – summer time! Sadly, for a TV reviewer, trying to find something good to watch on telly from now until August is like water-divining in a desert under which is buried millions of tonnes of toxic waste (OK it’s a stretched metaphor – but bear with me). It’s impossible to find anything unless you really start digging, and even if you’re lucky enough to come across some undiscovered well of sustenance, chances are it’s contaminated with green ooze and suitable for consumption only by the inbred mutants who starred in The Hills Have Eyes. Presumably, broadcasters believe that after midsummer everyone will be going on holiday and as such will be abroad or lying in the sun, so there’s no point in showing any good stuff until the autumn, when the dark closes in and the nation sits huddled in front of the box, trying to keep warm.

Well, buddies, I’ve got some news for you. Perhaps you haven’t been studying the weather reports from your little television producer bunkers, but so far there’s barely been a day this ‘summer’ when it hasn’t been as wet as a fish’s wet bits, and what do you think people do when it’s sodden and they’re in their summer cottages? Watch telly, that’s what. Either that, or play ten-year old editions of Trivial Pursuit, drink moonshine and stab each other. One of the many problems with watching television for extended periods, other than a decline in short-term memory and social functions, is that it’s simply not made, these days, to be watched for long. I’m not talking so much about the lengths of the programmes themselves, but rather the variety on offer. It’s so easy, cheap and appealing to show repeats of sitcoms and soap operas, for example, and we get so many of them, that it also gets very difficult to find anything that might stimulate your thought processes as opposed to induce loss of rational consciousness. It’s come to a pretty pass when the adverts incite more emotions in the viewer than the programmes themselves do – intense loathing and paranoid depression, mostly.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all in favour of selective vegging in front of the old mind-control box, but MTV3’s summer schedule, for example, is filled with The Biggest Loser, The Amazing Race, Salatut Elämät and Emmerdale. I mean, could it be any more boring? No. Personally, I’ve taken to reviewing my DVD collection and rediscovering some old gems. The World at War might consist of 26 episodes and run for 22 and a half hours, but it’s also the best television documentary ever made, even if Finland barely gets a mention. Frankly, YLE Teema should dedicate one day to showing the whole series. Once you’ve seen it you’ll realise that those shock-docs that Nelonen and Jim love showing simply don’t cut the mustard. Mind you, once I’ve gone through that and the complete David Attenborough nature collection, I don’t know what I’ll do. Trivial Pursuit, anyone?

Nick Barlow
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The writer knows the art of channel surfing.