Having read AM’s dilemma of frequently falling asleep during a TV programme after throwing a full glass of whiskey in to him ... fuck all to do with the programme ... I am in agreement that the choice of viewing during lockdown is quite stunted to put it bluntly.
As a person who is very particular of the programmes he watches - as like AM I hate losing time to something I would count as annoyingly wasteful - I prefer to decide to waste my own time on my own terms and have spent many days lounging in the garden, I also have a tendency to watch the more National Geographic or Attenborough themed programme rather than the mind numbing reality shows that are abundant on our screens today. If they really want to do a reality TV show then why don’t they set up camp in Wormwood Scrubs for six weeks? Now that’s reality!
Back in the day all we had were 5 TV stations, a supposed improvement upon the 3 UK stations we originally had plus of course the illegal RTE. And gone is the famous Test Card. I wonder if that wee girl is still alive?
Programmes like Lost or Twin Peaks were also off the menu for they tended to start off interesting and then it is as if the script writers very quickly are ‘lost’ for ideas and how to end the show. And now like Killing Eve (first series was brilliant) they tend to become a rehash of the same story line over and over again … mundane and time to switch off. Oh, I never watched a complete episode of Twin Peaks or Lost, never mind their series … just had an instinct that it was likely to lead complete confusion and infuriate at the same time…best avoided. Monkey Magic tended to be more entertaining with no thought required! Just like Danger Mouse, the 5 minute animation that was so loaded with adult humour that I’m convinced Pixar and the boys all took their cue from it.
But since the advent of Sky, Virgin Media, Netflix, Amazon Prime and now Disney+ our choice has been greatly enhanced and how we view completely changed. The old established channels are now referred to as ‘terrestrial channels’ which creates the impression that we have decamped earth and moved to the moon.
The compulsory TV license is no longer sufficient to cover your viewing costs. Now you must also subscribe to all those other options. It has become expensive to view with other life essentials now taking a back seat so as we can view essentials ... such as food.
No more squirming or fidgeting to avoid a toilet run before a break in a programme so as you didn’t miss anything, simply pause or catch up later ... viewing is so much easier today that we no longer miss out on anything. We simply have the choice as to when to watch and we can binge out on our favourite shows and the latest film releases. Conversations about having missed programmes are now centred around, I haven’t watched that yet but must watch it later.
Nevertheless, Sky and Virgin Media have weighed us down now with so much choice, but with such choice inevitably quality suffers.
Now we have hundreds of channels to choose from. With themes ranging from the paranormal which are usually about as paranormal as finding a set of scuba diving flippers in the grocery aisle at Lidl (which actually did happen to me … mad shop … once came across an ARC welder in a different aisle), buying bling jewellery, restoring cars that nobody wants, auctioning of granny’s auld junk and loads of channels on weapons of every type especially those that expound the virtues of having a weapon that gives you the upper hand on your neighbour should your relationship suddenly sour … literally on gently squeezing the trigger you are assured that the result will lead to your neighbour being shredded in to thousands of pieces …. job done and problem solved … hurrah for Dixie!
As quality suffers so do we. After tedious times of surfing through the channels and finding nothing of interest we resort back to the days of 3 channels with the customary response of there’s nothing good to watch. Currently I would say that the number of channels I actually watch are limited to one or two fingers in numbers.
However, Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+ took viewing to a new level. Now we are freed completely from time restraints in viewing and can have total control as to when and what to watch … bingeing on box sets is the new norm ... we no longer need to wait 7 days to watch the next episode. But has the quality improved?
In my honest opinion, yes it has, as Netflix in particular have spent millions on their programmes in order to entice the viewer away from Sky or Virgin Media. Quality wins over quantity. But choosing a programme or film to watch is really down to personal taste so here are a few recommendations from Mallory:
Ozarks – We are into season 3 now but it is well worth watching. About laundering money for a Mexican cartel, living and dealing with red necks, corrupt politicians, marriage problems and the Mob. Great viewing by a group of talented actors … loved Laura Linney in the Big C.
Narcos – Mexico – one of best narcotic series ever written. They covered Escobar in Colombia too. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant. Subtitled and in English which gives it authentication. Characters are all real life figures.
Better Call Saul – the prequel to Breaking Bad. Breaking Bad was a series that I very nearly switched off after watching two episodes and then in the third the story line like a brick to the head it hit me … loved it immensely, the programme not the brick! But like it - this is brilliant and unusually so as prequels tend to be rubbish just as most spin offs from the main theme tend to be. The aspect of Better Call Saul and Breaking Bad that goes under the radar is just how violent they really are. The violence is subtly handled so as not to be a feature that sells the show, the story and characters do that.
Now you might think that Mallory loves his drug shows and you would be right but only particular ones: those that are well made and not totally reliant on violence to sell it. Oh, ‘She who must be Obeyed’ loved Mindhunter thought it was superb. I never watched it.
On a completely different theme to watch … Stranger Things/ Watch this with the kids all the time … love it … there are so many old TV and film themes running through this that we play a game where we try to spot these. Brilliant show though.
Disney’s Marvel films are a must. I was never into that genre of film until lockdown and now with my youngest I have watched quite a few….thoroughly entertaining stuff with Ironman (always admired Downey Junior’s acting skills. Downey, mmm … I wonder if he ever played for Derry?) And Guardians of the Galaxy, like Danger Mouse quite witty and extremely entertaining. But our super heroes are quite destructive in saving the planet: the end justifies the means or the carnage along the way, I suppose!
And to finish: we since lockdown, as a family have what we call ‘Movie Night’ once a week …usually Thursday night. Everyone can have what they want, popcorn, crisps, Doritos, a drink (glass of whiskey included) … whatever, and each gets their turn at picking the film. Amazon have a lot of films that were supposed to be released in the cinema but instead are released on their platform … pay per view but a hell of a lot cheaper than going to the cinema! Plus, sometimes you can forget that you are part of a family.