Cord-cutters, streamers, bingers… most of us have moved away from the traditional television model – “television by appointment”. Instead of watching a series episode by episode, week after week, interrupted by a hiatus here and there, we consume entire seasons in just a few days.
But the wealth of shows, movies and other programming now readily available to us via on-demand services, Netflix, Amazon and others has taken many to a point where they are faced with so much choice that they don’t know what to watch first. As a result, hours and hours of recorded shows keep piling up on their PVR, and sometimes a show is removed from their favourite streaming service before they’ve had a chance to view it.
A sense of fullness, of satiety, has set in – at least, that’s how I feel. Just recently, for example, I decided to create a new profile on Netflix and start from scratch, because my original profile had accumulated too many shows, most of which I had not gotten around to watching yet, and, frankly, it had become a bit too overwhelming for me. So, I created a new profile, tracking only a maximum of five shows at any given time.
Thankfully, I’m not defined by what my peers watch. I’ve never felt the need to watch a show just so I can engage in watercooler talk the next day. I only watch a show if, and as long as, it meets my astronomically high standards of entertainment – an assessment usually made within the first five to ten minutes of a show. And all of you out there in the TV industry, be warned: my standards are stringent and rigorous. You know, it’s easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for you to produce a show I like.
Must-see TV may prompt many sheep (and lemmings) to watch a specific TV show, but I can’t be swayed by such trite words and slogans. A show must grab me, really grab me, or it’s history. Case in point: Game of Thrones. I watched the first ten minutes of the first episode several years ago, and determined there and then that it was utter rubbish. (And I was right – but as I recently offered on Twitter, if anyone pays me $10.5 million – yes, that magic number that seems appropriate by way of compensation for torture – I’ll sit down and watch it.)
I rarely watch live TV. I simply don’t have the time. Everything gets recorded, or I’ll stream it from somewhere when it’s convenient for me. More recently I have become extremely dissatisfied with virtually all U.S. shows, particularly those found on network TV. There are still some gems on specialty channels (such as VEEP on HBO), but for the most part, “American” equals schlock – and it doesn’t make any difference whether it’s a network, cable or Netflix show. Indeed, except for House of Cards or The Man In The High Castle, original streaming shows can be as schlocky as the rest of them. As far as I’m concerned, Netflix can keep its dumb shows about shadow hunters or chasers, or whatever they call themselves nowadays, and anyone who wastes his or her time watching rubbish like Riverdale, for example, should seriously consider returning to the birth canal and attempting another entry into this world and hope for a better outcome the second time around.
Unfortunately, many of my fellow Canadians don’t much care for Canadian programming, but, ignoring all peer opinions as I regularly do, I like most of the very few shows our broadcasters produce. And as I watch CanCon (Canadian content), I curse them for not being as prolific as their British counterparts.
In Britain, public and private broadcasters turn out an enormous number of shows, mini-series and movies-made-for-TV, while American imports rarely scratch the five percent mark over there. By contrast, Canada’s private broadcasters aren’t really broadcasters, but merely playback machines for American content, airing the same show at the same time as it does on the originating U.S. network (known as “simulcasting” or “simsubbing” in the industry). Meanwhile, ITV, BBC and Channel 4 in Britain forgo virtually all American imports (which are stashed away on niche channels in the UK) and instead tell “their own stories”.
Canada’s regulator, the CRTC, will hate me for it, but I’ll admit it: I have cable-TV accounts in the UK and Germany, and I can access those receivers and PVRs remotely (for live or PVR’d TV pleasure in 1080 HD) via my Apple-TV that’s hooked up to my big-screen HD TV. Since I pay for them, I’m perfectly within my rights to access those services wherever I should find myself, the CRTC be damned. And it is solely on account of quality that most of my TV consumption these days is devoted to programming from the UK, Germany, Austria and Switzerland – with the occasional CanCon, Québécois or Australian show thrown into the mix.
Personally, I’d love to see more shows made in Canada with Canadian voices and telling our Canadian stories, but at this stage in the game, I’ll settle for anyone‘s story, as long as it’s a great story.