I half watched TV last night, while doing one and a half repeats on Juno (I’m aiming for 2 a night – it MIGHT happen), and what I watched confirmed a pet theory of mine. I was watching free-to-air TV (as none of the movies on the multitude of Satellite TV Movie channels did anything for me) and ended up with CSI and Damages, as the best of a poor lot (this was on the basis that the ABC probably required more concentration than I was willing to extend). My theory is that when ass and class meet head to head, class will always be the loser.
The Ass/Class theory has been with me a while, and has almost always applied to TV – especially anything with Eddie McGuire involved. Anything with the word ‘Reality’ in front of it is also there and anything which audiences vote on is likely to be there too. All definitely cases of Ass beating Class. I mean – more people voted for American Idol than the American President – Oh my Sainted Aunt!
Barnum had a similar theory – he suggested that no-one ever went broke under-estimating the intelligence of the average punter. As he was also the man who came up with the whole ‘Never give a sucker an even break’ idea, this worried me.
What really worries me is not that the TV executives under-estimate the intelligence of their audience, but that they actively seem to be working to minimise their expectations and extend their stupidity. Journalism masquerading as ’60 minutes’, Morning television pretending to be current affairs, daytime TV purporting to offer political analysis. To say nothing of supposed quiz shows, so-called reality television and docudramas, all this stuff seems to me to work very hard at squashing any original ideas, critical faculties and insight out of their audience. And don’t even get me started on advertising!
This is NOT television reflecting reality, but rather television actively attempting to shape the world – or at least its perception.
Which is why I don’t watch commercial television much.
All of which brings me rather neatly to children’s television. (What a great segue!) I love ABC kids. I enjoy watching their offerings with my children. They never watch commercial TVs kid’s offerings (See above re advertising). But those of you with young kids are likely to be aware of the 4-430 line-up on ABC. We watch Peppa Pig, followed by the beautifully animated Bottle Top Bill. Then we have Shaun the Sheep (an Aardman animation, by the crew who brought you Wallace and Gromit) and then my favourite – Sitting Ducks. This half hour of TV (usually preceded by Playschool) is a joy.
It has no advertising. It has no suspicious content, it is perfectly designed for kids (and big kids who love good animation). Why is it, that when they make such crud for adults, they can make such joyous, original and intelligent shows for children?
My only concern is that after longer than I can remember, the ABC is changing the time of Playschool. For at least the last four years, the 3.30 timeslot has been sacred time in our house. 25 minutes of quiet, while I can organise dinner and do the washing up. I’m not sure how long Playschool has been in that slot, but I have a feeling that it’s almost as long as Playschool has been on the air.
For me, the main charm of crap TV will always be that allows me to do complex knitting! If I don't have to concentrate on the script, story or characters I can do lace and cables! (And go to the loo in the ad breaks!)