Written by TV

Some New TV Notes and Thoughts!

Why have one Meteor “quick turnaround” documentary tonight when you can have two? Yes, both BBC Two and Channel 4 have decided that there’s enough footage from Russian dashcams to fill an hour explaining to viewers what meteors are.
Now I’ve seen neither of these programmes at time of writing, and I’m sure they’re both excellent and worthy programmes. But who needs longer than ten days to make a documentary anyway?
Well done BBC One. Continuing to annoy viewers and get worse than usual ratings by scheduling their new crime drama, Mayday over consecutive nights from Sunday to Thursday. The series features the disappearance of young child in a small town.
By starting it on Sunday night, BBC One manages to get a day’s head start on ITV’s big new crime drama, Broadchurch, which is set in a small town and follows what happens after the death of a young child.
So similarly themed, and competing against one another at 9pm on Monday. Yes, 51% of us may have DVRs, but that leaves 49% who don’t and will have to choose or use the iPlayer/itvPlayer (and I’m guessing that there’s a big crossover between non-DVR owners and non-broadand subscribers). This week’s Radio Times claims that this is the “best week for thrillers for years” so we can assume that they’re both pretty decent.
By pointlessly scheduling across the week (see previous blogs, ad nauseum) viewers lose out.
I see New Tricks is left alone on Fridays though…
Incidentally, digging out the links to those two aforementioned shows reminded me just how abysmal the TV sections of both bbc.co.uk and itv.com are. Yes, the BBC has no money, and it’s therefore built a generic systemised bit for each show, but ITV could surely do better? It’s all seemingly also database driven, and despite Broadchurch being the big new drama series of the Spring, there’s no page on their website for it. I had to link to the press page above.
I’m not quite sure why as we use the internet more, TV does such a bad job online, on demand viewing notwithstanding. You end up better off visiting Wikipedia if you actually want to know about these programmes.
Top Gear is coming to an end of its run with a putative “Christmas special” going out in March over two weeks. The old geezers visit Africa. But I still find the “review” of the latest Kia a couple of weeks ago a little unnerving.
Yes Top Gear has fun with its reviews, so aside from the usual they did things like get Eric Clapton to plug his guitar into it. And for some unexplained reason, got Bruce Willis, seemingly on the set of Die Hard 5 to give it the thumbs up. Matt Le Blanc was involved too. So far, so Top Gear.
The “review” ended with one of their irregular “playing sport with cars” pieces. They tried rugby at Twickenham – I assume just before the old turf was pulled up and a new pitch was laid.
Anyway, to play the match they had no fewer than ten Kias. Now one or two cars I can understand the car company giving out for review. I noticed three Range Rovers in one shot last week for Nevada-set review. But ten? And not all of them were the model under review anyway.
Perhaps the Top Gear production team bought them. It’s a show that probably has one of BBC2’s bigger budgets, and it’s a cash cow for BBC Worldwide. But I’m not sure. What I do know is that the cars did not just experience regular “wear and tear” that review vehicles might ordinarily get. Instead, they all got thoroughly bashed around as they collided with one another on a muddy pitch.
The BBC of course has editorial guidelines on this sort of thing:
Reviewing Products or Services
We must ensure there is no element of plugging when we review products or services. We should review a range from different suppliers. We should not normally give details on air of how and where to obtain products or services. Such details should only be given in exceptional circumstances when there is a very strong editorial justification and we should cover a range of outlets.
In the case of books, CDs, DVDs and other similar material we may normally accept copies for review. Those responsible for reviewing or covering theatre, concerts or other events or performances may accept review tickets. However, if we are reviewing products of any significant value, such as a washing machine or a car, we must return the product to the manufacturer or supplier.

Previously Top Gear played football with Toyotas, and I was suspicious about it. I just think that when reviewing strays into entertainment as these “sports” features with multiple vehicles getting damaged tend to be, that questions need to be asked.
Anyone else notice that ITV has been running ads for itself on Channel 4? On the one hand, this does seem to answer a concern that I’d had that TV channels were too eager only to advertise to their own audience. If I never watch a channel at all, I’m never going to see their promos, except on a sister channel.
But the country’s biggest commercial channel advertising on a competitor? It takes you back to days in Channel 4’s early history when ITV sold their advertising and we’d get junctions where a continuity announcer would say something like “next on ITV, Magnum PI! Over on Channel 4 now, experimental dance.”
The rules seem to be that you can advertise specific programming on a rival commercial channel, but not details of the time the show will be on. I still wonder that other media isn’t used more.
Working in radio, I’d heartily recommend that – we have no problems with you saying what time your show will be on. But as I’ve mentioned before, go to the US and outdoor is used an awful lot. I’d imagine with more digital screens, cinema is much more cost efficient too.
Anyway, I must lighten up a little. Comic Relief is coming up. And in no way will Comic Relief’s commercial partners all get a warm and fuzzy two minutes on prime time, commercial free, BBC One, to explain what a difference their supermarket/stationers/clothes store/airline made.
I’d better go and donate now…