Thursday, May 18, 2006


One of the real benefits of DVD has been the ability to catch up on the best small screen drama from around the world.

British broadcasters seem happy to buy up the best series and then shift them needlessly around the schedules so that anybody with any sort of life or, God forbid, a job has no chance of seeing them.

There must be a reason why we're subject to endlessly naff, cheap-to-produce reality shows instead of quality drama at peak viewing times, but the only one that makes any sense is the one that says that all our license fee money and all the merchandising money from Doctor Who spin-offs (and it's a LOT, let me tell you) isn't enough. They want all that extra income from those 'phone our premium rate line now to win a few bob or vote for your favourite contestant' shows too!

We've had to suffer the indignity of seeing incredible shows like The X Files, The West Wing, Six Feet Under, Nip/Tuck shifted all over the schedules to the point where even the most die-hard fan can't keep track. Thank God for DVD!

I bring all this up partly because I'm just starting the wonderful second series of Battlestar Gallactica on DVD and partly because I've just finished watching the complete third season of Nip/Tuck on DVD.

This is a series I would have missed without DVD, and it's one well worth a few hours of your time. Like all the best American drama, it's wonderfully written, with strong, believable characterisation and a superlative cast that deliver every line to perfection. At times the plot is ludicrously over-the-top, and the desire to show it's cutting edge and 'controversial' sometimes seems a tad extreme - there's lots of sex, of the decidedly kinky variety, and lots of 'oh I can't look' close-ups of surgery - that one just knows has been placed there to provoke people. But one never comes away from an episode thinking 'that bit-part player couldn't act' or 'a child of five could have done a better job of writing an original script', the way one does with so many British drama series (oh, to heck with it, let's name names - why IS everybody giving 'Best Drama' awards to the unbelievably third-rate Doctor Who?!)

If you've missed Nip/Tuck (or West Wing, or Lost, or Prison Break or 24 or Rescue Me... well the list goes on and on and on!) you owe it to yourself to check it out. And then ask yourself why it is we need to pay an extortionate license fee to the BBC to 'maintain the quality of the TV that's offered', when the purely commercial fare from abroad is SO much better! If anybody needs a nip and a tuck, it's surely the television license fee and the number of reality shows they're peddling.

1 comment:

Brian Sibley said...

Never caught this show but you've made me want to watch it.

As for the licence-fee issue, you raise an interesting and justifiable question. Without defending the BBC, I would say that it is -p and has been for many years - "damned if it does" and "damned if it doesn't". By which I mean that if it offers (as I belive it is impelled to do by its Charter) programming that is NOT being offered by the independent/cable/satelite providers (high-end quality dramas, expensive documentaries, and anything which might be viewed as 'esoteric', it is accused of being 'out of touch' with the tastes and demands of mainstream viewers thus demonstarting that the licence fee is an irrelevence.

If, on the other had, it joins in the dash for viewers with reality shows, quizes and phone-in-a-vote programmes, it is condemned for wasting public money and conforming to the standards (?) set by the lowest-common-denominator...

The BBC began when there was NO competition. It is now at a watershed. I belive the Corporation needs the courage to do what it can do best and which no one else either can afford to make (because advertisers pay according to ratings) or have no inclination to make.

But that would require the Government to support them in that endeavour - not slap their wrists if they were producing programming that fell shorty of the ratings for 'Big Brother' or 'I'm a Jerk Get Me Out of Here'...

It is not a problem that can be easily fixed.