Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Comfort TV

I know I've talked about this before, but it's something I keep coming back to - the fact that, as I get older, I find myself watching less and less of what might be called 'mainstream' TV.  Thanks to the plethora of digital channels we can get, even free-to-air on Freeview, I find myself spending evening watching some highly esoteric programming.  I've just spent the last hour, for instance, watching a guy trying to locate the parts he needs to restore a World War Two German Panther tank that he's bought.  Along the way, he also tried to find out the tank's provenance, including what had originally knocked it out of action in 1944, which involved firing anti-tank guns at metal plates to try and match the shell hole in the Panther's side.  (They concluded it was probably a British 6 pounder anti-tank gun which did the damage).  Following that, I've switched channels to watch an old episode of The Man From Uncle, which is even camper than I remember it from when I first watched it as a kid back in the late sixties and early seventies (it was a repeat, even then).

These two programmes are typical of my viewing fare these days: a mixture of eccentric restorations and childhood nostalgia.  If it isn't someone restoring tanks, then it is Wheeler Dealers and Shed and Buried, (which are pretty much the same thing, except with cars in the case of the former and, well just about anything they can find in a shed or barn, in the case of the latter).  And if I'm not opening channel D with the Man From Uncle, then its The Avengers, The Saint, Minder, The Persuaders, The Sweeney, or any other action series I remember from my childhood.  Then there are all the old movies they show on Talking Pictures TV, the shows involving people buying and selling stuff, be it at storage auctions, pawn shops or out on the road, not the mention the 'reality' series about car repossessions and the like, and you get the picture when it comes to my TV viewing.  Oh, not to forget the off beat documentaries on BBC 4 (I was watching one about motorway service stations the other day).

Of course, it's really the TV equivalent of comfort eating: these TV shows are all nice and reassuring for a middle aged geezer like myself.  I already know the outcome of the dramas, I've seen them all enough times, so there are no nasty surprises.  Likewise the 'reality' and restoration type programmes - the end result is never really in doubt.  Besides, nothing in them is actually life and death.  It is all comfortingly trivial.  I should add here that I do watch some 'modern' TV as well - I still follow Doctor Who and I've been watching The Line of Duty since the beginning, when nobody else was.  But as I've mentioned before, I do find that contemporary TV dramas with their long-running story arcs which making missing an episode impossible if you are to keep up with the story, far too demanding upon my time.  I just find that I am no longer willing to make the commitment that watching them demands.  At least with Line of Duty, for instance, I know that it is a finite commitment of no more than six episodes a year.  I miss the good old days of TV when dramas has entirely self contained episodes, which meant that you could afford to miss them or watch them out of order without ruining the viewing experience.  I also have a problem with the fact that so many TV series these days are either on platforms I'm not prepared to pay to watch.  Especially as many of these shows are just rehashes of pre-existing material (Westworld for instance, is, after all, just Westworld, I'm not prepared to spend several hours of my life watching a story which was originally told perfectly adequately in ninety minutes).  Whatever happened to originality?  I'd rather watch the original.  Which is undoubtedly why I find myself watching the likes of The Man From Uncle again.

Labels: ,


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home