I actually don’t know! I mean three programmes I can’t get enough of watching at the moment, ‘How I Met Your Mother’, ‘Being Erica’, and ‘Friday Night Lights’. These are by no means marquee, household names, but I love these programmes. It’s the fine balance between comedy and drama, sure ‘How I Met Your Mother’ is more comedy than it will ever be drama, but the drama pieces in it have that “I learnt something today” kind of feel to them. But when UK television channels make that bold leap into securing the rights to broadcast programmes before they “hit it big”, you can’t help but think, you better follow through…
How I Met Your Mother: I remember my first glance of How I Met Your Mother very well, and ever since, I’ve not watched another American comedy, NEIGH, PROGRAMME OVER ANY GENRE that comes close to it. It was a Sunday in the Summer of 2006, the 13th of August if my memory serves me well (I didn’t google it… HONEST!), just came back from my first completed month of my new job. I went upstairs to my room, turned on the PC and then the TV next to it as I tend to have it on in the background for something to watch while the PC gets going. I was flicking through the channels… not much on, not much on at all, the same old rubbish that seems to be on television on a Sunday. But then I saw this programme, a new programme. I didn’t think much of it at the time, just thought I’d keep it on the channel as I like to give new programmes a chance. It turned out to be ‘How I Met Your Mother’, with the episode ‘The Wedding’. The next couple of Sunday’s, they had me working an extra half-hour so I’d just be clocking off as HIMYM was starting. Of course now we’re in the 21st Century, I didn’t panic, I knew of such sites like youtube or veoh that would have fellow fans upload episodes. And I only watched the episodes BBC Two were showing at the time, I felt like I had the patience to wait episodes out, and I also wanted to stay on track and not be episodes ahead so I could talk to friends about the episode aired that night. But then BBC got stupid. They started messing around with the start time of each episode. These are the listing times of HIMYM by the BBC from …/07. So from a comfortable Dinner Time slot of 6:30 on BBC Two, it moved to closer to midnight, AND THEN beyond to be listed as late as 2:45… IN THE MORNING! In the UK, this happened to Third Watch, when episodes were too gory or violent and such, they’d put the one episode on at about 3am on a Sunday because of it, but where’s the violence in HIMYM? Slapbet? PA-lease!
So it seemed upsetting how a great programme seemed to be neglected by the BBC, but I stayed up and still watched all of those episodes late night like my life depended on it. Then a cable/satellite channel came to my rescue, ‘Trouble’ showed HIMYM seasons one AND two in one hour blocks EACH DAY. So as much as I loved watching it online and the sporadical listing times on BBC Two (sense the sarcasm?), I found a home and so did this gem of a programme! But then ‘Trouble’ hit financial problems and so ceased broadcasting, so then Channel 4 under it’s E4 sister station bought the rights and now it’s really found a home, they showed Seasons 1-3 in hour blocks each day, Season 4 and 5 one episode a week, that’s fine, so it took 4 years for HIMYM to find a home in the UK.
Being Erica: Now this programme is just so clever it doesn’t know what’s good for itself. It’s Canadian, and we all know “if it’s Canadian, it’s underrated and goes along without fanfare”, step forward Celine Dion, Keanu Reeves, Alanis Morissette, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Carrey, Will Arnett, and of course, Ice Hockey. Long story short, I don’t think Canadian music, television, and cinema get much recognition, and this programme is no different. The story of a woman that has more regrets in a lifetime than Cheryl Cole has in a sitting of X Factor auditions, where Erica is special is she has a “therapist” that can take her back to the point of which she regrets, and as a present-day Erica’s mind in an adolescent Erica’s body, she can alter her choice. Before you get all “Back to the Future/Dr Who” on me, she learns a lesson, she never alters time with the choice as when she comes back to the present day, there isn’t some change in the space/time continuum, she merely realises that her first choice may have been her right choice all a long.
Now who’s never felt that way before? You wish you could change your pivotal decisions, and learn from past mistakes? This show is clever for that, and entertaining, and I thank E4, the sister channel for Channel 4 for bringing it into my life, but like the older sibling with a toy I was playing with, they dangle it in front of me, it gets my attention, I love it, but then it’s snatched away, or at the very least slowly but surely being taken out of reach. From a respectable slot as the “exit programme” to One Tree Hill at 10pm on a Monday, last night’s episode was it’s last at that time slot, it is now going to be moved to 12:15am on a Monday night/Tuesday morning… What the hell E4? It’s the same rubbish ‘How I Met Your Mother’ had to deal with on BBC!
Friday Night Lights: Now this is a programme that I’ll be honest, it took me two bites of the cherry, I seriously didn’t see the point, I won’t lie, I like my sports and my television programmes fast paced. I don’t know if it’s an age thing, a wisdom thing, or merely a change of circumstance, but I now love this programme! First time I saw it, it was itv4, 9pm on Tuesday’s if memory serves me well, on the first episode, much like Peter Jones on an episode of ‘Dragons Den’ “I was out”, I didn’t like it, it was slow, gloomy, I didn’t have the patience, I didn’t have the desire to watch any more than 20 minutes. Now this is where I think I went wrong, thanks to a lot of television nowadays, most programmes, and films for that matter, try to deploy a “hook” within the first 15 minutes of the introduction, something that makes you think “I’ll give this a chance, I mean <insert incident here> happened, I OWE IT TO MYSELF to see what happens! In films it could be an explosion, in a tv programme a dead body, it could be anything.
Friday Night Lights, it sticks to what it knows, a town, a “sleepy town”, not a lot goes on in the town except for sports, in this case High School American Football, but instead of being narrow-minded and thinking “I don’t like American Football, this won’t appeal to me”, you see the almost unfortunate fact these townspeople don’t have a lot going for them, so they need High School American Football as much as the team needs their support, the pressure the players are under, the coaching staff, the special treatment, the fame and the aspiration, it’s all there, and these are 16/17/18 year olds playing High School American Football, and a whole town turns into a ghost town every Friday Night. The only parallel in the UK I can liken it to, is when England are playing in a World Cup, maybe a European Championship, but definitely a World Cup. I went to a friend’s to watch Germany vs. England, and went to the local supermarket, it felt like the opening scene of 28 Days Later, I kid you not, I even found myself turning the radio on my phone in case I missed any of the action. Now picture those people watching that Germany vs. England match, instead, watching High School American Football, not watching it on television, going to the stadium, a town’s population going to the local High School. And people do that in America, granted Texas, and the other “Southern States”, but still, it’s there, almost a ritual.
THAT’S the story, not the incident in the game. So first time I saw it, I didn’t see this, I was very “nothing’s actually happening”, so I switched it off. Second bite was a friend that lent me the whole of the first season on DVD, maybe I wasn’t prepared to watch the programme on a weekly basis, but on DVD it was more enticing, I’d watched half the season within a day. So by the time I finished watching the DVDs, I’d heard ‘Friday Night Lights’ season 2 was going to be put on itv4, Thursdays at 7pm, I was looking forward to it. There’s always been that “Oh, dad’s on the tv, better just leave him to it” in our house, so when it’s 7pm, he or my mum are watching something, or I’m out, so I only watched two of the first five episodes in season 2 on tv, as broadcast, I put a ‘Series Link’ on Sky+, so I watched them either on that or on itv4+1 at 8pm, either/or really. But come episode six, maybe seven, itv4 did what BBC had done with ‘How I Met Your Mother’ and what E4 are doing with ‘Bring Erica’
It’s an unfortunate series of events when a programme moves to midnight and around that time of night as it’s almost like saying “we have the rights, we’ll broadcast it, but can you watch it at a decent time… NO!”. So before Sky+ what did people have to do if a programme was on so late? We have Sky+ but we switch it off at the mains at night, save electricity and the environment or something like that! So from 01:00/01:15/01:30 on a Thursday Night/Friday Morning, it’s now on Saturday Night/Sunday Morning at 00:15… Fantastic! The little amount of television I DO WATCH due to the rubbish on it ‘Big Brother’, ‘Identity’, ‘Friends’ (seriously, I loved it, but it’s like NEVER ENDING though it ended in 2004!), ‘Piers Morgan on…’, ‘Police, Camera, Action!’
Is it me or is it the networks/channels?