I was sitting with a group of people the other night, and the topic of favourite TV shows came into the conversation. The days of favourite sexual position and, ‘Is Meg Ryan’s face natural’ had become a thing of the past. As I was summing up my top 5, I realised that 3 out of my 5 were from the UK or British television. “Why was this?”, and before I could answer my own thought like a crazy person, everyone around me rattled off names like The Young Ones, Monty Python, Absolutely Fabulous, The Office, Red Dwarf and Top Gear. At that point I realized I wasn’t the only one. People love british television.
Most of my life, I always accepted that the reason why I loved British TV was because I am an Australian. Australia and the UK has always had the un-explainable bond since the plucky Brits sent us all here on convict ships. Our sense of humours have always been very similar, and watching old re-runs of Fawlty Towers and Mr. Bean still makes us laugh our Australian asses off. Back in 1996, the people of Australia decided against becoming a republic saying that, “We like the bond the Commonwealth gives us with the British, plus we don’t want to miss out on the new season of Coupling”. It probably is a lot more complicated that that, but that’s what I like to think.
|The Office’s Ricky Gervais Vs Steve Carrell = No Competition|
But recently, this generally isn’t the case. It isn’t just British and Aussies that find UK TV funny. The Americans have been stealing UK TV shows for years and remaking them into complete rubbish for no apparent reason. The Office for example, was built around Ricky Gervais’s personality and awkwardness, which to me, cannot be remade by a very irritating Steve Carell. Skins, which is probably one of the most impressive TV dramas ever made, was remade into a sickening MTV version which could only be described as vomit inducing. And don’t get me started on the Vicar Of Dibley. Yeah sure, the show isn’t 100%, but Dawn French is comedy royalty. Making a US version with Kirstie Alley and calling it, “The Minister Of Divine” is frankly a complete insult to British comedy. Why can’t American’s watch the original versions of the shows, are they too stupid to understand British culture? Do they get confused at the terms, ‘wanker’ and ‘pillick’? Whatever the US networks are thinking, they aren’t treating the US public as the smart, educated people the majority of them are, they consider them more like mindless drones running around with buckets on their heads running into each other.
|MTV’s Jersey Shore – proving once and for all that
MTV US are about the dollar rather than quality programming
US TV isn’t all bad though, but the of it is. US networks are finding it hard to jump off that reality bandwagon that died along time ago. I turned on MTV the other day, and was completely blown away by the shows this network actually throw buckets of money at. I believe now that MTV is run by a bunch of 10 year kids, and an ex-pornstar. This is very sad considering that MTV was a pioneer for the music industry for so many years, and that it somehow decided one day to become a reality TV conveyor belt spitting out mindless junk for the stupid. An un-named US Senator was addressing a press conference last week, and told the public that the US is proud to be leading country of entertainment for over 80 years, and frankly, that just isn’t true. The British have long claimed this title, whether it be movies, music, art, literature etc, they have been the top dogs for a long time.
If you were to ask yourself, what has been the greatest TV show of all time, what would it be? Was it MASH? The Simpsons? Seinfeld? Friends? Well.. no. Not even close. The greatest show of all time happens to be a small pokey British car show hosted by three middle-aged men called Top Gear. Don’t believe me? Well here is some numbers: When MASH’s last episode, “Goodbye, Farewell, And Amen” aired in 1983, the total audience numbers were estimated at 105.97 million people, and due to limited syndication, remained the highest viewed US show in history, only just recently surpassed by last year’s Superbowl. The last episode of Seinfeld reached numbers close to 76.51 million viewers worldwide, which still remains as NBC highest rating show of all time. Top Gear however, reaches worldwide audiences close to 389.31 million people per episode. Per episode. Those numbers are astonishing considering that at it’s base, Top Gear is still only a road testing show.
You look at the formula for most TV shows over the last 50 years, and you realize the ones that succeeded had a fair whack of complete dumb luck. Top Gear is a perfect example of this. BBC has no idea at the time of filming the re-hashed version of the 1978 TV show, that it would become more popular for its antics rather than its road-testing of cars. They have no idea that the hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May would become so tight, and their on-screen chemistry would be unrivalled by anything shown on the TV. They did however, underestimate the world’s insatiable passion for the motor car. The show is fast, informative, and above all, fun. Watching three middle-aged guys build completely useless amphibious cars and try and drive them across the English channel is hilarious. Jeremy Clarkson proves that you can always keep that inner child aspect of your life, and I believe that is what people feel when they watch the show. But if you look at Top Gears formula, its simplicity is what get’s it home. It’s not complicated, it’s entertainment in it’s purest form.
So in the end, why do we all love TV shows? We love them because after a crappy week, you can sit down and have a laugh and feel like you are a part of something else. As the US lose grip on what is actually classed as proper entertainment, the networks are spending all it’s time concentrating on creating revenue-making rubbish, and anything that is any good that out of the US these days, is pretty much immediately cut for reasons unknown to science. But you can always rely on the British to bring out more TV gold. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.
P.S One more thing to the yanks, Reality TV aside, if I see one more crime/police/fbi style show to come out to strike fear into your citizens, I’ll punch myself in the groin. We get it… the black or latino guy did it. Give us a break.