I’m glad the cat likes it. I don’t. Increasingly, free to air TV is wall-to-wall ‘reality’ TV shows. Married at First Sight, the Bachelor, the Block, Bride and Prejudice, The Biggest Loser yada yada yada. And (oh joy) it seems Big Brother is about to reincarnate. Cue eyeroll. I can’t fuckin’ wait.
Big Brother was one of the first ‘reality’ shows. Some time back in the ‘nineties Pete and I had flown up to Brisbane from Melbourne. Back at Melbourne airport we had to pick up our car from long-term parking. We shared the bus that shuttles commuters from the terminal to the car park with a bunch of people who’d been to visit the Big Brother house in Brisbane. We listened with our eyebrows inching ever higher as these people talked about the contestants as if the whole contrived nonsense was real. I suppose that’s why ‘reality’ shows are so common. They’re popular.
One of the few ‘reality’ shows I’ve been known to watch is Masterchef. I like cooking shows. But I won’t spend a moment of my time on My Kitchen Rules – the ads are quite enough (do they have MKR in the US or UK?). MKR is a prime example of the adversarial ‘reality’ show model, where one couple among the contestants is designated the bitches, another is the nasties etc etc. It was tried one year on Masterchef and I was just one of the many viewers who switched off. The following year the show returned to being a cooking contest, with contestants competitive, but supportive of each other.
I’ll watch an occasional bit of something like Border Force. It’s quite interesting to see what people try to smuggle into countries. The rest are, as far as I’m concerned, contrived crap. I’d rather play Solitaire. I’m not much interested in soaps, either – although Home and Away seems to be the only one left. I don’t watch the show, but one can’t avoid the interminable ads.
While I’m being a grumpy old boomer, have you looked at breakfast TV lately? No? Neither have I. Pete watches it but when he turns on the telly, I get out of bed. There’s about five minutes of actual news and a heap of light entertainment, affording random people across the country with five seconds of fame to make the weather report interesting, chats with visiting musicians and lots of jolly japes with the team of presenters.
And talking of news and weather, how about the dolly-birds made up to look like avatars standing somewhere telling you a story the news reader could have covered just as easily? I shudder to think how much it costs to send a camera crew out to film real events like fires and floods, or the footpath outside the supreme court. Although, of course, sometimes the dolly-bird just stands in front of a screen showing the flood/fire/drought/court house and pretends to be there.
These days all the watchable shows seem to be on the TV channels’ secondary services: shows like New Tricks, Poirot, Midsommer Murders, DCI Banks etc. And so are all the good cooking shows. Nigella, Rick Stein, the Cook and the Chef etc. That’s all well and good but the ads drive me nuts. They’re not too bad at the start of the show, occurring every ten minutes or so. But later in the program, when the Powers That Be assume they’ve got you hooked, it seems you get five minutes of ads after two minutes of show. If you channel-surf it doesn’t help much because all the TV companies seem to be in cahoots when it comes to programming and placing ads.
Which leaves me with our rather large DVD collection. But I’ve seen the ones I want to see and reruns are down to every now and then.
There’s always streaming services. But we’ve tried Netflix which in Australia doesn’t come close to the American offerings. Since I’m not a great watcher of the box at the best of times and Pete couldn’t find much to whet his appetite, we didn’t renew after our three-month free trial which came with a new telly we bought.
But then we found Amazon Prime, fairly accidentally. I signed up for my one-month free trial so I could watch Amazon’s screen adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s wonderful book, Good Omens. It was fantastic. Then Pete had a look at what else was on their list, found a lot to interest him, and signed up for a year at a rather better price than Netflix. Using his login I watched the excellent series, The Looming Tower which is about the 911 attack.
And then a new thing happened. Disney has started its own streaming service, Disney+.
Oh my. That means Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and National Geographic. That’s me in a teacup!!!
I’ll be able to watch all the Star Wars Rebels animations and Disney’s new spin-off, the Mandalorian. And whatever other goodies they put out.
I can’t wait. Really. I mean it.
Meantime, here’s a trailer.