Top telly

This week’s Telly Addict, over on the Guardian website, is overcome by unplanned gloom this week, with all three programmes under review set on the wrong side of the tracks and reflecting the seamier side of life. Sorry. It just happened. Top Boy, which ran from Monday to Thursday on C4, is set on a fictional Hackney estate where drug-dealing and internecine warfare is rife; Misfits, back for its third series on E4, is a sci-fi comedy that’s also set on an estate, this time the unnamed Thamesmead in Bexley/Greenwich, and revolves around young offenders on community service; and Braquo, a thrillilng new French cop import on FX, which I’ve already written about, is set in the underbelly of Paris, where violence on both sides of the law is a way of life. As is drinking at work.

It’s all pretty gritty. But vital in many other ways. I loved Top Boy, written by Ronan Bennett and superbly directed by Yann Demange, although why it was force-fed to us in four days I don’t know. Is this new concertinaed scheduling orthodoxy a reaction to DVD box-set bingeing? If so, I can see the logic, but it does mean that a drama as important and impressive as this feels as if it’s being rush-released, and that the channel that’s showing it has no confidence that an audience will stick around for it given a whole week between episodes in which to lose interest. Do we have such short attention spans?

This week’s Telly Addict comes with a warning again: this video contains scenes of nudity and language that some viewers may find offensive. Brilliant.

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One thought on “Top telly

  1. I think that this “event scheduling” of drama is actually counter-productive. If you miss an evening’s programme, even with a PVR, you end up very quickly falling a long way behind.

    How many of us can make the commitment to be available to view every night of the week? If you schedule your series with just a single episode a week, then I have plenty of time to catch up with shows I’ve missed. If I really want to sit down and watch them DVD boxset-style, then there’s nothing to stop me doing that by recording them and playing them all back.

    As things stand, I have all four episodes, unwatched on my PVR. And with every passing day, the likelihood that I actually watch them diminishes (I will make a concerted effort to watch however).

    I know schedulers like to make “bold” statements, but this kind of scheduling barely even allows for word of mouth growth. If Top Boy had been on weekly on, say, Mondays. I might have told people at work how good it was (had I seen it) giving them a chance to catch up on 4OD, or perhaps catch a same-week repeat. They would have had six days to do so, and be in a position to watch the second episode the following Monday. Instead, there is a “pressure” to watch the show before Tuesday’s broadcast. And so, it’s as easy as not to give up.

    Very occasionally, this kind of scheduling makes sense. But for the most part it doesn’t, and fewer viewers watch as a result.

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