Not that I’m the ideal candidate to provide an assessment on modern trends in television, being it infuriates me as much as it entertains me. Therefore, as I can do grumpy, please accept I’ve titled this a “grumpy old git guide,” and act accordingly; i.e., don’t read this if you wholeheartedly adore every program every television company has ever unashamedly lobbed in your direction, but continue if you’ve ever considered they could’ve done something a tad better. If I submit Strictly Come Dancing, I believe you’ll wish to read on.
In fairness, it would be unfair to rant on Strictly, being I’ve watched more Dale Winterton’s Supermarket Sweep than it, and that equates best in seconds; write about what you know, they say. The bare fact remains, for decades television changed little, save graphical improvements via technology, better presenting skills, and the axing of Crossroads in 1988.
But research, which, though limited, I do do, I note ITV revived this unbelievably dire soap in 2001, and this, in a large part, is symbolic of my first concern. The fact an entire board sat around a table and not one of them thought reviving Crossroads was imprudent, and for want of a more abrasive word, a fucking dumb-ass idea, least they never bravely stood up and said so; twats. The typicality of this coincides with my imagining, that it must be the twentieth anniversary of the day Hollywood officially ran out of ideas.
For here is an era where decisions to control the pandemic slammed the final nail in the coffin for cinemas, crucified going out in general, yet massive advances in home technology was needed, but clearly, and proudly too, an accomplice to the murder. We had no choice but to cave.
There’s an element of self-harm in the movie business, technology governed, it seems. CGI is so overwhelmingly dazzling, having a plot doesn’t appear to be important. But herald in a new era, where we take computer graphics ability to project anything a director could possibly dream onto the screen, as red, and we’ll demand narrative; least that’s the future I hoping, but doubting.
One website suggested TVs of the future will be paper thin, to match the plotlines of the content on them, I’m guessing.
They scramble, clutch straws, despite a blossoming movement of self-publishing, where incredible authors bypass publishers yet are invisible to movie studios. There are millions of new and ingenious plotlines, if you hunt past big publishing houses only content to unleash Stacy Solomon’s ghost-written autobiography, or another infamous disreputable celeb. Too much like effort when money can be raked in with the frightful rehash. Yep, the only conclusion the misers arrive at, is to trash the reputation of a known classic with a remake. And young, naive to the original, and elders revelled in retrospection, amass.
Up to 1937 approximately 750 artists drew over 2 million sketches for Disney’s first full-length cartoon, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. The film contains more than 250,000 separate pictures, and in June this year, the company announced it would produce a live-action remake, ergo, the monumental task, not to mention the writer’s cramp, of these incredible and unrecognised artists will be binned to a lost archive, forever. That, to me, is a crying shame. And what is above this sacrilege, billions will flock to its side.
So, I’ve discovered the future of visual entertainment, far later than everyone else, and it’s not movies. If you think Devizine is lacking content recently, it’s because I’m going through a lethargic phase, succumbing to television; if you can’t beat ’em, join ‘em. I’ve begun the compulsory mind-numbing practice of modern television viewing, hopeful this era, where despite 999 channels, 99% of it is total crap; Babestation to QVC Shopping, whatever is next? The Tree Channel, the Paint Drying Channel, there’s simply too much choice of shite, the needle in the haystack must be somewhere.
I firmly believe what is next under threat, now cinemas have taken a hit, is the television channel as we know it. Streaming is the new method, and if it leaves one man standing it will be a channel deigned personally to suit you, through recommendations based on previous watching habits. My issue with this is the “series,” a trend hardly original, as like me I’d imagine you grew up with an unmissable series; Trumpton, The Magic Roundabout, I could revel on.
My complaint with this trend, is unlike a movie, no longer does anything ever conclude, unless ratings plummet. A perpetual cycle of endless hour episodes, which, like soap operas of yore, demand you watch tele indefinitely. They glue you to the sofa like nothing before; a success Dallas, Eastenders and Home & Away could’ve only dreamed of. Just how much fucking TV does Cobra Kai, expect me to have to watch, just to find out what happened to the doughnut Danny Larusso kicked the arse of?
I can’t watch that much TV, least dedicate myself to one particular series, no one can, I cry, surely? But of course, they do, they must do. Begging the question, just how much TV do others endure, and in turn, when do they hoover, wash the dishes, etc. I’m gonna need a Fasttrack to Domino’s Pizza if I’m to complete one of these drawn-out series.
What is more, you’ve no outside conversation unless you’re up to date with series eight hundred of Game of Thrones, unless you’re obsessed by some tacky Korean sci-fi series, as if Phillip K Dick was never born. Discuss the current political crisis and you only anger, mention Squid Game and you’re in with the in crowd, despite the uncanny similarities. Why watch Squid Game, when we’ve already got our fair share of cephalopod invertebrates, mostly single-celled, playing games with our lives and projecting their ink sacks over a majority, in our government?
And the bottom line is, no matter what you select on your big screen, work-from-home Dad’s playing catchup on the PC, mum is gossiping on Facebook, son lives inside a Minecraft realm, and with the attention span of a goldfish, daughter flicks furiously through trending homemade disasters on Tick-Tok; no one is actually watching the dammed TV! Maybe the reason why plotlines are inconsequential.
So, my bittersweet honeymoon with the modern TV series begun a few years ago, when they stretched the plot of Westworld to its death. The 1973 movie with Yul Brynner, where a western theme park’s robots malfunction had a plot which took director Michael Crichton under an hour-and-half to conclude, and while exceptionally well produced and enjoyable at first, the series dragged on like a conversation with Uncle Albert. I endured it through season one, but by the end, knowing the synopsis anyway, I grew tiresome of the trifling twists and turns. It never came to a natural finale, concluding I only continued to watch it for the nudie bits.
If Westworld put me off the whole shebang of the seemingly endless series, Manifest reinforced this notion. Intrigued by extra-terrestrial themes since ET, it came with a mystery one couldn’t help but be eager to know the reasoning for a plane’s disappearance and reappearance some years later. It was clear as time went on, though I suspected alien abduction, and many clues suggested thus, it wouldn’t explain itself until an insurmountable number of episodes, which by the first few my patience worn as thin as my diminishing fringe.
It was when the family randomly picked a series called Resident Alien, my enthusiasm elevated to the stars. Finally, here was something which engaged the whole family, laughing, at sci-fi, together, like Futurama had never been created. The difference here though, I assess, is we started at the premiere, so impatiently await the second series, rather than others where I tend to play catchup and maybe, I fear, it’s not the series itself, but me, and my viewing habits, bad viewing habits. Because while my daughter can effectively “binge” watch, I begin the process in good faith and promptly abandon the idea, like being forced against my will to run a marathon; I’d be cool with it for the first twenty metres, then I’m out by the sight of the first pub I pass.
Destined to find the right series to engage my dwarfed attention span, I tried Peaky Blinders, but peaked too soon; aborted on episode one. Engaging the Trekkie within, I assimilated myself into Star Trek Discovery at warp speed, and it managed to boldly go where no modern TV series had gone before, resistance to the entire three seasons was successful, though it reduced me to tears, to watch a promising retro series dwindle to some future so sadly farfetched and predicable, a little piece of Dilithium popped into my mouth and went back down.
Herein lies my newfound faith in TV, at the dawn of a family decision to get the Disney+ app, I’d begun The Crown just a week prior, gulp and confess I’m loving it. Rich in British history, portrayed ingeniously and eloquently, debatably accurate as it maybe, it’s nearly converted me, once antimonarchist into an ardent royalist; I said nearly, and only from my respect of the eleventh doctor, Matt Smith and by a fascination with secretly snogging lead actress, Claire Foy wrapped in nothing but a Union Jack on the grasslands of Sandringham; have I got a crush on the Queen now? How devilishly patriotic of me.
But with access to Star Wars’ Mandalorian, you see, I sworn to myself I’d finish the first series before starting this, but the greatest of temptations perverted the promise, a Jedi mind-trick no doubt, and now I’m in galaxy far, far away, with baby Yoda(!), as well as part of Buckingham Palace’s furniture. That’s why I’m writing this now, proud to be balancing two series at once, which I fully intend to complete both, even if I brain haemorrhage; as if men really could multitask.
Though it’ll be hard to confuse the two, the lives of our royal family are similarly as far away from my own as that of the Mandalorian. It seems to me, whenever times get hard for the royals, which inevitably they do, I’ll admit there’s some real tough decisions and stressful situations, larger and more concerning than anything I’d ever have to overcome, at least they can, as they tend to do, ride across their vast green and pleasant private land on a gallant white stud. The economic equivalent for me would be to hire a pig and bare-back ride it in circles around the back garden, which simply doesn’t have quite the same impact.
Television is the convenient escapism for vegetables, unlike the internet being a reality-driven fingertip encyclopaedia for prospective nerds, and for this reason the merger of the two will undoubtedly change them both. Whether Hollywood steps up its game, the TV series trend continues, nothing can alter the DIY ethos of the very thing which threatens them both. For I really fear none of this makes one iota when considering the affluence of homemade videos, and how this attracts the youth more than the definitive CGI explosion, which is old hat by comparison. And that’s something I simply don’t get, I’m afraid, something so far-flung from my expectations of normal and decent viewing.
Hey, don’t get me wrong, I’m a self-publisher, always been washed up on the banks of an underworld of DIY creativity, be it vanity, I don’t know why, but I genuinely understand the desire of every kid to be a “YouTuber,” I just don’t get the content. Tick-Tok is no-man’s-land for anyone over twenty, yet a glimpse of what they do appears on YouTube and Facebook, enough for me to shudder at its true horror. It saddens me when an amazing band are live streaming, playing the music they worked so hard to create, to an audience of six, meanwhile some brat is streaming his screen playing Grand Theft Auto, consisting of running around a city as a female avatar, punching random strangers in the street, to an audience of 99K+. Philosophical argument aside, I’d play devil’s advocate and suggest perhaps it’s better them act violently virtually than really, but more so, my mind boggles, why the bloody hell would anyone want to watch someone play a videogame, when the whole concept of videogames are a universe away from watching TV, rather about immersing oneself into the game?
That said, Minecraft YouTubers have made a mint, advising gameplay to younger disciples, and some do it in such a way it’s as entertaining as a TV presenter, Graham Norton at the very least. And if it’s not this, it’s titillating trending videos on sites like Tick-Tock, a phishing so-called magician turned prankster, with an abundance of micro-bikini-clad girls, more bikini-clad girls swapping their outfits in the street without exposing themselves, or where the latest trend seems to be young girls wearing a baggy tee, which is a t-shirt to you and I, and over a backdrop of bass, suddenly pulling their top tight around their stomach and boobs. If you ask why, I really haven’t a clue, but hundreds upon hundreds of girls are queuing to get hits for their lightly covered tits; would you even know about it if was your kid? Whop-bang, I’m suddenly aged and completely out of touch with modern viewing, perplexed and mystified, other than to assume it’s the lowest common denominator of soft porn.
And that is the terror of the future of television, endless blipverts of insane youngsters doing whatever they feel like, and videoing it, incriminating themselves via peer pressure.
A mile away from sending your toddler off the shed roof to obtain £250 from Harry Hill, for that’d be relatively sane compared to some of the complete codswallop I see passing my social media newsfeed every second of everyday. It leaves me suspended in an era I’m lost with, and with great worry, this reality piffle is the future of television, rather than an extended series of fictional mush. Bring back Crossroads, for fuck’s sake; all is forgiven!
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