TV Wasteland

I’m beginning to think that we may have reached the end of an era. Picture this if you can, I am sitting on the sofa typing this, having done a quick round on Facebook and Twitter, some members of the family are getting ready to go out, and my husband sits on the other sofa READING A BOOK! Now this is not unheard of in our house, but the frequency with which this is now happening is alarming! After all it’s winter, it’s cold out, it’s dark (low energy bulbs) we’ve had dinner and what we would normally do now is sit down and watch the telly but there’s NOTHING ON!

Now don’t get me wrong, I can live without it, in fact large parts of my childhood were spent devoid of TV. I still remember my parents excitedly anticipating watching Wimbledon, because, in the early Seventies, TV was finally coming to Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, that and the cyclone warnings still stick (possibly those should have been a little more memorable – but that’s another story). However, since then TV has been a big part of my life. The return to England brought Dallas, Alias Smith and Jones, The Good Life, The Generation Game and bless ’em Morecombe and Wise. In the university common room, I watched Hutch get shot and saw Evonne Cawley (Goolagong) damage her Achilles Tendon and bow out of Wimbledon. The 80s – the Jewel in the Crown, Edge of Darkness – the Nineties – ah now the Nineties.

In the early Nineties a nice man knocked at our door in London and said we could have another phone line and free movies for a month if we signed up to all that Cable London, Sky etc. had to offer. Our son had just been born, Twin Peaks and the X-Files were heading our way and we couldn’t get out much, so movies, the Cartoon Network and the Children’s Channel filled our home. Again I would like to remind all two of my readers that I can use other landmarks to mark off my life – but I don’t want to bore you two any more than I am already, with an account of my annual holidays, work failures or hospital visits.

My point is this, in the past 20 years we have enjoyed most of what modern technology has had to offer in terms of our viewing pleasure. I love TV, I enjoy, movies, series, science fiction, police drama, the occasional true story, costume drama and current affairs, and have sought to find those dramas where ever they were offered. The West Wing on Sky, The Wire on FX, but they’re all gone or are going. The great TV dramas that we once cosied up to on week nights, from ER, Stargate Universe to Caprica, are all disappearing with very little worth the extra money for (over and above the BBC licence fee) in their place. Terrestrial TV, Freesat, is looking better than it has for a while, buying box sets of series like Dexter, makes sense if we drop our subscriptions, and if we do that we might treat ourselves to the iTunes purchase of The Daily Show since More4 has dropped the only decent satire they have, and if I am thinking like this, the original TV Addict (no I didn’t go on the show) where is TV going to go in the next few years?

There is no doubt that social media is cutting into the viewing habits of young people, as a teacher of Media Studies, I can no longer assume that they know the texts I am discussing, pretty soon I will have set watching a DVD as homework and they will view that with the same disdain they apply to being asked to read a book. However as I sit by the fire, using my new technology inkpen and inkpot, with the wide screen silent on the wall, we are seriously considering cutting our subscription to the all bells, all smells, plus, any time, all channels, interactive vote here, TV and going back to the good old minimalist TV provision of terrestrial telly buying in the extras and renting via the internet. Probably the only thing that stops us doing that right now, is our APPALLING BROADBAND provision! Maybe…..maybe I should stop watching TV altogether – like this article here says – turns out it’s bad for your health!  5 Ways Your TV Is Killing You!

2 responses to “TV PLUS OR MINUS?

  1. Sorry for commenting so late but what you say resonates with my own experience. We have the all singing, all dancing TV subscription which entitles us to multiple channels, playback etc. And yet I can’t find a thing to watch. What I do use the TV for is watching DVD boxsets of my favourite TV dramas. When I watch live football I do it on-line, where for £2.50 I can watch live the match I want without having to pay Sky each month for a package of games most of which I’ve no interest in. And I’ve developed a task for listening and watching lectures given by eminent scholars on-line. (Great accompaniment to doing the ironing on a Sunday afternoon.)

    I used to teach a module on TV and Popular Culture, which the students responded to like it was a module on Victorian Literature: only interesting if you enjoy cultural heritage.

    Strangely though I miss the TV…


  2. Hi,
    Thanks for the comment – first ironing -really!? Second yes due to our experimentation with Apple TV and Youtube on the telly, we too have been checking out lectures – TED and other stuff. Our relationship with sport is minimal but us over indulgent parents keep our subscription in order to tempt our son (now at LCC first documentary showcased at the Barbican this week) back to the sofa to watch the football, but I think we need to move on. I took a wander round your blog – caught your thing on fees – why I’m so angry… I was at Sussex Uni only yesterday, a parent with Open Day explorer, thinking a) yeah I want this to be worth it b) one mark short in the summer could cost us thousands of pounds if she has to re-apply c) don’t think like that d) I’m sure my parents never took me to uni open days. Still fish n chips on the pier were good.


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