THE EDITORIAL: The State of Today’s Television Viewing

The origin behind televisions being widely available in our homes was to increase information and entertainment to the masses over the decades. A platform for informative documentaries to ground-breaking comedy and a place to watch blockbuster films without having to visit the local cinema. However, today’s television content has left me feeling extremely worried and desperate.

I like to think I am a fairly open-minded individual. I don’t like to jump on the bandwagon of new shows or on the flip side, I wouldn’t disregard a show based on other people’s opinions alone. When the news that Big Brother was to be produced and broadcast in Britain 10 years or so ago, I was genuinely interested but I didn’t anticipate the circus that followed it after it became an annual addition to our television screens.

Despite being a SKY TV customer, I rarely watch much television and only use it for particular interests like football for up to date information. I can’t remember the last time I started channel surfing the planner on SKY looking for something to either educate or entertain me.

In the past, I’d struggle to find anything across the dozens and dozens of channels and usually opt for the informative and humorous re-runs of QI or the simplistic but witty show Scrubs, but it starts to lose its potency after they’re the only choices of entertaining or informative television viewing.

Occasionally Film Four often throws up the odd classic film to enjoy but compared to when that channel was first launched, the content has dropped. Perhaps I am just being too particular here but they have an abundance of independent and cult films to choose from but yet I just see the typical films being aired every week on this channel. What happened to the genre specific themes?

Lately I have been watching more television without being the person in control of the remote and there are some shocking shows available today. From America you have the likes of 16 and Pregnant that’s a documentary following underage parents cope with parenthood, it’s cringeworthy.

Or you have shows like The Hills or Jersey Shore, again cringeworthy but that’s the point. TV shows seem to have a “it’s so bad, it’s good” philosophy for capturing viewers.

In Britain, we’re following this trend with shows like This Is Essex which films rich ‘it’ boys and girls from the county past the east end of London. When did car crash TV become so popular?

Occasionally there is the odd gem on television that’s new, like the BBC’s production of United, a drama based on the Manchester United tragedy from 1958 which I saw last night on iPlayer. It’s highly recommended viewing.

But even the BBC is guilty from producing bad programmes. The return of Doctor Who on Saturday was tragic enough. For a person who grew up watching the show back in the Eighties, only to see it take an extremely long absence from the TV screens, I was happy to see it return with better production….but now I just want it to go away again for a very long time.

There’s far too much over indulgence on television today but people will keep paying their TV licenses and SKY subscriptions no matter what trash appears on their screens.

I don’t want this article to end in sour grapes however and Television isn’t totally appalling these days. Just the other day in a rare channel surfing occurrence I saw that the ‘Showcase’ channel (203 on SKY) was showing the 1936 American exploitation film Reefer Madness followed by The Zeitgeist Addendum, Peter Joseph’s documentary sequel. I never expected either of these shows to ever be aired on television but I doubt many people knew or bothered to watch them.

The new SKY Atlantic channel isn’t a bad addition to the package with a better platform for airing shows like Battlestar Galactica, 24, The Sopranos and the new Game of Thrones.

For the meantime I’ll keep my SKY TV, but if things don’t improve by the end of the year then the BBC can kiss my arse if I’m going to keep up paying a license to watch a majority of turd all year round.

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