I don’t know what to do with myself. Sunday nights aren’t the same. Since Spooks finished, I’d managed to fill my calendar with other social engagements. But last night, ridden with flu-like symptoms, I had to face reality. Literally, reality TV. And it is garbage. I miss the days of Frost, or any good two-part British drama starring someone like Joanna Lumley that I could get my teeth into. When Toyota sponsored ITV with goldfish, or Stella Artois used Jean de Florette’s soundtrack in their adverts that would cushion a Channel 4 feature quite comfortably. Those were the days.
Armed with my box-set of The Wire, I will tackle any I’m a (Wannabe) Celebrity out of my screen. Yet, as much as I do love The Wire, there’s only so many times I can watch it. It’s frustrating that nothing else seems to stand up next to it; it’s a benchmark that could be exceeded and yet, we don’t. We just claim everything is “The new Wire” or “The greatest thing on TV since The Wire”. It’s not. We might have changed from having goodies catch baddies to not really knowing who’s who, but that’s as far as we got. It doesn’t even have to be a cop-drama we make, or even a whole season, it just has to demand more from us as viewers.
Hour long episodes of stupefying television will do nothing for you. Escapism is old. With a change in our viewing habits (we tend to binge on complete series rather than watch weekly), I can’t help thinking that we only watch TV when it’s on and as it’s on because we have nothing else to do. Television has to stop being the medium of the bored; it’s dumbing us down. With so many catch up channels, repeats and record functions, it doesn’t matter what night you designate as your ‘night in’ (although I’m sure they will become many and varied over the coming months) we don’t even have an excuse to miss aforementioned garbage. We’ll find it, even when we’re not looking for it.
God of television, wherever you are, broadcast something that’s worth me staying in to watch. I am not prepared to spend winter freezing in an Edinburgh tenement getting engrossed in the politics of non-celebrities being asked to eat bugs in Australia. It’s mushing my brain, and we can do better than that.