TV

We have a TV at home, which isn’t switched on very often. I watch the Tour de France in July on Eurosport, Doctor Who in the late Spring on BBC1, football matches when there’s a World Cup or European Championship on, the Eurovision Song Contest each year in May, the Six Nations and other rugby internationals, a general election every four years or so, and I used to watch Test Match cricket until that disappeared off to Sky Sports, which we don’t get. And that’s about it. Now I read that the BBC on Saturday put on a surprising number of programmes that I do want to watch, and as a result is apologising to the viewing public at large. Bah!

(As it happens I wasn’t at home to watch, anyway, and missed most of it, except for the second half of Ireland v Scotland in a pub in St Andrews.)

P.S. Oh, and I watched the finals of both Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor just before Christmas. So that’s a little bit more TV to add to the annual viewing cycle.

6 thoughts on “TV”

  1. “Oh, and I watched the finals of both Strictly Come Dancing and the X-Factor just before Christmas. So that’s a little bit more TV to add to the annual viewing cycle. ”

    Why on earth did you do that to yourself?

    Regarding Dr Who, what do you think of the new series vis-a-vis the old? I really loved the old ones when i was a kid (was a member of the Dr Who Appreciation Society and everything), and I actually think the new ones are really good, in their own way.

    I actually have a thesis running around in my head about how the new Dr Who reflects a significant shift in social attitudes, and about how you can trace popular British attitudes over the last few decades through aspects of Dr Who – for example, notice how much *younger* The Doctor gets, as well as how sex with companions is now countenanced. Unthinkable 30-40 years ago.

    I have a similar thesis about how The X-Files and 24 are fantastic barometers of popular American political attitudes and optimists, and that there is a marked shift between the two programmes, which peak either side of 9/11 and have clear connections to either the post-Cold War era of Clinton prosperity (i.e. suspicion of the big state) and post-9/11 submission to the judgement of senior state figures, as well as the endorsment of ‘necessary evil’ practices like torturing terrorists (unthinkable in The X Files: Mulder and Scully would never have allowed it, and only the liars controlling the Government would have done it).

    I also have a similar thesis about how the rise of modern mass entertainment has facilitated a corresponding rise in mediocrity and the rise of general infantile attitudes towards everything and everyone.

    I bet the world can’t wait for me to finish finals so I can share my wisdom.

  2. Why on earth did you do that to yourself?

    Why ever not? They were great fun. Peculiar that the only chap who could in fact sing in the final of The X-Factor lost the popular vote, but there we are.

    Regarding Dr Who, what do you think of the new series vis-a-vis the old?

    I think the new series is a triumph. I haven’t seen any of the old Dr Who for, what, 25 years, so I’m not sure I can do a direct comparison. But the people doing the new shows have kept an adult audience of people who enjoyed it when they were small and got a new generation of children interested in Daleks, and that’s a major cultural achievement.

    actually have a thesis running around in my head about how the new Dr Who reflects a significant shift in social attitudes

    Well, yes, obviously. There’s been various pop culture analysis of Dr Who over the years, e.g. here (and scroll down).

  3. the rise of general infantile attitudes towards everything and everyone.

    A socialist fogey writes: I’m inclined to blame popular consumer capitalism. If the only value attached to something is that it sells, and if we proclaim demagogically that one person’s view is as good as anybody else’s regardless of its content, then what we will have is the politics of the saloon bar. Instant opinions, ill-informed where they are informed at all.

    When somebody’s buying your product, you can’t criticise them: you can’t say “look, your opinion is nonsense”, you can’t say “you ought to do better”. Instead it’s “we want to hear YOUR views””. How about – “we’d like to hear your views provided you’ve thought hard about them first?”

    But who cares, it’s only entertainment….

  4. “If the only value attached to something is that it sells, and if we proclaim demagogically that one person’s view is as good as anybody else’s regardless of its content, then what we will have is the politics of the saloon bar. Instant opinions, ill-informed where they are informed at all.”

    wow, you’ve just described the BBC’s ‘get interactive’ policy!!!

  5. Chris, it’s a hefty time commitment and you can’t just casually dip into it, but I think you’d like The Wire a LOT – I’ve just discovered it myself after seeing too many people whose opinions I respect absolutely frothing at the mouth about it, and they were absolutely right.

    Essentially, it’s a 13-part series (I’ve only watched the first so far; there are five to date) about a drugs investigation, but the level of characterisation, quality of writing and awareness of the wider political ramifications of every incident is in a class of its own. It has a genuinely novelistic density that’s quite unlike anything else I’ve seen recently – and if rumours that later series are even better turn out to be true, I’m in for a major treat.

    Apparently it hasn’t been a big ratings success, which doesn’t surprise me – it’s too intricate and complex for mass audiences (not to mention occasionally impenetrable – the DVD subtitles were invaluable for decoding Baltimore street slang in the early stages), and if you don’t watch it from the start you’re likely to be left floundering. Almost uniquely for an American drama series, episodes don’t begin with “Previously on The Wire…” – it would be a complete waste of time.

    Chris Bertram enthused about it a couple of years ago.

  6. There’s a celebrated scene here.

    I have a friend who claims she turns on her TV only twice a year – for Wimbledon and the Royal Institution Xmas Lectures.

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