There’s an annoying trend that I’ve started to notice more and more frequently in Brit TV programmes. It’s something that our compatriots in the States have known as part of their televisual entertainment, possibly since the old gogglebox first found its way into households, here in the UK however we seem to have mostly resisted this particular annoyance, but just lately it’s started to creep into our programming.
What am I talking about? The seemingly essential recap of what’s happened previously, before we can settle down to enjoy our programme, that’s what!
I can appreciate the need to recap at the beginning of a new season – we can’t be expected to recall with crystal clarity the events of the previous episodes after a gap of many weeks, but I’m less tolerant of the reminder that’s slotted in to the beginning of the latest instalment solely to remind me of what I watched only a week previously. It strikes me as something of a nonsense to add this needless segment, particularly since they tend to get attached to the sort of epic long-running sagas that almost every viewer will almost certainly be up to speed with – and if they do happen to miss an episode, there’s every chance they’ll have taken the opportunity to catch up before tuning in for the next gripping instalment! Do we really need to be reminded about something we already know in these situations before we can see what happens next?
Far worse, however – and utterly pointless – are the completely unnecessary rehearsing of what happened ‘before the break’, where the viewer is subjected to a rehashing of the last 30 minutes of programme, being forced to relive what they’ve already watched in some ghastly Groundhog Day moment every single time the programme returns after an ad break. What on earth is that about? Has the demographic for television audiences suddenly started to be dominated by goldfish? Do these people seriously think that our memory spans are so short that in the space of two insurance commercials, a fishfinger advertisement, a reminder of the latest DFS sale and a heart-wrenching appeal for some worthy cause, we are going to forget what happened in the last 15 minutes of programme we watched? Worse still, do these idiots think their viewers are so dim that they’re not going to notice the cynical recycling of clips that reduces the amount of work that production teams have to do by at least a third, rather than making decent programming that fills the whole slot for which it’s intended?
Or perhaps I’m the one who’s being cynical? Perhaps this is a necessary evil hallmarking the advent of the soundbite generation… A world full of people for whom anything longer than a six-second Vine or 140 character tweet is simply too much for the capacity of their attention spell?
Somehow, I think not – because if that were the case, we’d have to apply the same principles to everything in life, and that simply doesn’t work:
Can you imagine if every post I wrote was preceded by a 300 word recap of the previous blog post? There’s simply no way you’d put up with such nonsense. Or imagine every time you logged in to SL, spending your first 15 minutes catching up on all the salient points of your previous session? Maybe it would go something like this…
‘Welcome back Serendipidy Haven! Before the break, you’d spent the night dancing away to an eclectic mix of music at the local pub with some friends: Albert, Orinoco126, Betty and Fairypoop. You played guitar – rather badly, I’m afraid. The conversation mainly covered such diverse topics as cheese; life, the universe and everything; the cost of light bulbs and hardcore pornography… blah, blah, blah
And so on for another three notecards, followed by 20 screen caps of the key moments and a short video of the best bits, and all before you have the opportunity to get dressed and check your alphas aren’t showing or even get started on anything that you’d logged in to do. It just wouldn’t work – yet, how many of us, without the option of fast fowarding to the new stuff, would simply put up and shut up?
I do fear for the state of the human race when it seems that those very things that are supposed to stimulate and excite us are also the very things that are being dumbed-down, cut short and reduced to mere repetition of what has gone before. What place does creativity and innovation have in such a world? A world of smart technology, but dumb humans? It’s only a matter of time – if such trends continue – that our whole lives are reduced to a retweeted meme of a recap of a recap of a recap of a recap…
If that should ever happen, you’ll find me in SL: And don’t expect me to bring you up to speed when you join me!
If I go on
With you by my side
Can it be
The way it was
When we met
Did you forget all about those golden nights?
(The way it was)
The Killers – The Way It Was