Lazy TV Journalism

Tonight, [channel] Five shows the first episode of what we’re told is the hot new US series of the Autumn – FlashForward.
But their advertising campaign is a bit odd: “From the US network that brought you Lost…” run the trails. That’s true – they both air on ABC in the US.
But that’s really incidental to the series. They don’t share producers or production teams – there may well be crew members who’ve worked on both, but that’s neither here nor there. The two have nothing in common aside from being commissioned by the same network.
It’s a bit like saying “Spooks… from the network that brought you The Weakest Link!”
I was thinking some more about this when I read something in the Guardian Guide previewing the fact that True Blood finally debuts on “terrestrial” television next week, when Channel 4 starts airing it after an initial run on FX (and well aftter the second series has finished in the US).
Because True Blood comes from HBO, and HBO commissioned The Wire, it has to be mentioned in the copy.
That’s really not relevant. Yes, we know we get “edgy” fare from HBO, but then this is the channel that also shows “documentaries” including “Co-ed Confidential”, “Real Sex”, “Pornucopia” and “Cathouse” amongst others. Strange that they never get a mention!
Meanwhile, a couple of weeks ago, the excellent French thriller serial Spiral returned to BBC Four – indeed BBC Four now gets a production credit! But of course, it has to be referred to as “the French Wire“.
It’s nothing like The Wire.
It’s an excellent series in its own right, set amid the various strands of the French judiciary system as well as petty criminals, drug dealers, and goodness knows who else.
When Spiral first came out, the comparison was made with CSI because it was beautifully shot, and there were scenes of forensics. But again, the comparison was a misnomer. And of course, even though this was only 2006, and The Wire started airing in 2002, nobody in the UK had heard of that series then.
Private Eye has a regular feature in which something is referred to as “the new black.” Perhaps this needs replacing with a comparison with The Wire?
Doc Martin – Cornwall’s answer to The Wire
Dragons’ Den On Tour – Duncan Bannatyne is Dragons’ Den’s equivalent of The Wire’s McNulty
Derren Brown – Magic’s equivalent of The Wire

Etc. Ad nauseum.
OK – so I made those up, but you understand my point!
I realise that we need cultural touchpoints, but you’re not a script-writer having to make an elevator pitch to someone in a Hollywood elevator: “It’s a cross between Speed and Pretty Woman set on a space station!”
There are other reference points out there.

1 Comment

  1. So true. Who cares which network brought America ‘Lost’? ‘FlashForward’ clearly aspires to be that sort of show – simply by riding on the back of it makes me instinctively doubt it’ll be as good.
    Gary Glitter – Britain’s answer to Michael Jackson (in *that* way).

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