Recent TV Bits

So a few interesting things are going on in television at the moment. I’m going to come back to Kangaroo because I think it deserves a bit more detail.
But I’m not exactly impressed by Five’s recent hiring of Richard Woolfe from Sky One. But then Dawn Airey herself fills me with dread a bit.
Most visibly, she returned the Five logo to our screens, and in doing so, lost me as a viewer. More than that, she’s been busy commissioning “fast-turnaround” documentaries – i.e. worthless tabloid-esque garbage. Out go those worthy early evening arts programmes, and in come filler that might wash for a digital channel that’s looking for an occassional hit, but don’t really work for a major “terrestrial” channel.
Five’s schedule is lazy at the moment.
Sky One is a channel that has never done what it has promised. It doesn’t help that it continually shifts gear and can’t decide what type of channel it wants to be. At the moment it thinks it’s a big entertainment channel, so we have Noel Edmonds and Shane Ritchie presenting big audience shows. And Gladiators is coming back for a second series, although not with all the first series’ line-up and the long standing referee.
At other times, Sky One has aspired to be like HBO. But it no longer seems to commission drama. It’s been a while since Dream Team was cancelled, and while Mile High and Is Harry On The Boat are regularly repeated on Sky Two and Sky Three, there’s not been anything along to replace them for a while. We’re now limited to the odd Ross Kemp series which actually isn’t as bad as I thought it might have been, and the odd big budget Terry Pratchett dramatisation – most recently The Colour of Money.
For the most part it relies on The Simpsons and big budget imports like Lost, 24 and Prison Break. Fringe is the most recent of these. That’s not a bad plan, and they’ve bought well. But they need more in the schedule. It’s not a destination channel. Last week’s Media Talk podcast mentioned the programming on FX which is effectively a sister channel that often feels hidden away. I agree that merging Sky One and FX would give it a stronger programming footing. Currently, the Australian miniseries Underbelly, is superb.
Elsewhere Sky Real Lives is getting a vast amount publicity over a documentary it’s putting out this evening about someone who commits suicide on camera. I’ll leave the rights and wrongs for others, but I’d be very curious to learn about how this documentary ended up on such an obscure channel. As far as I know, Sky Real Lives isn’t known for its original documentaries. Surely it can’t just be a ratings grab?
Screenwipe last night looked at those dreadful “mission” documentaries that clog up too many networks and are often just sleazy attempts to get people to tune in to see naked people. I’ve never watched a Gok Wan programme in my life, and I’m not about to start now. But The Observer’s TV critic Kathryn Flett was one the “judges”. This doesn’t surprise me, as she’s by far the worst critic on that paper, and when she’s “away” I leap for joy and read someone who knows about television beyond the world of Big Brother and I’m A Celebrity. Brooker also concentrated on Dawn Porter who makes abysmal television too. I always point anyone interested towards her woeful Broadcast magazine blog entries.
Spooks finished on Monday night, and although the final episode wasn’t as strong as the penultimate episode, because we all knew London wouldn’t suffer a nuclear attack just yet as it’d spoil the continuity of Spooks: Code 9.
I did wonder how, when escaping Russian FSB agents in the tunnels under London, at the last minute the party broke up with Lucas ending up in Charing Cross, while Ros and Connie somehow ended up at London Bridge. Last time I looked, that was quite a hike. Not as much as a hike as it was starting at Liverpool Street which is also an awful long way from Charing Cross.
But when all’s said and done, roll on the next series…