Looking through the Berlin Wall… Walls don’t work
The Downside of Binge TV Watching
As we move away from the traditional platforms of television viewing into the world of digital delivery, I have started to notice some flaws that may have always been there but were never quite as apparent as during the ‘binge’ viewing session. The sad thing is that these are not unique to any one platform, any one internet provider or the device upon which you decide to watch your chosen ‘binge’ session. In fact the only relation these issues have with technology is the ability to actually ‘binge’ in the first place. I am talking about sloppy content.
In days of old, you would watch your favourite TV series with at least seven days between each episode. Sometimes it may be longer if you were away on holiday, sometimes shorter if you recorded the odd episode to ‘catch up’ but never, ever all 12 episodes back to back across a weekend, curtains drawn and phone off the hook. This allowed for content creators to let simple, small things slip through. Continuity errors were often missed by the viewer because frankly, seven days had passed and you had forgotten the number on the motel unit, the name of the guy behind the bar or whether it was his sister that served the drink in episode one, and why has he now gone in episode 5?
Now, all that’s changed. Our brains are on the ball, watching every moment pass en masse in one afternoon. We notice how the stories flow; we can see storytelling dynamics with greater clarity as characters are reduced in value, sometimes even removed for no good reason and how plot lines are changed to support the various writing teams involved in a production or the styles in which they write.
Most recently I noticed this in a comedy series from the UK. Watching at least four half-hour episodes a night, I looked on as funny became stupid, characters disappeared for no reason, and plot lines changed out of the blue. Series 3 was awful, series 4 got better again, continuity errors rang out like air raid sirens because I was so ‘up with the play’. Casting my viewing net, wider it became apparent that these issues were not unique. Errors and changes that previously would have just slipped by have started to rise to the top. Formulas for writing typical drama can become so much more apparent when you watch them back to back, they rise in the same place, fall in the same place and become rather boring in the same place. Could this be because the writing teams are still expecting seven days between episodes? Time to freshen the pallet? The time that is no longer there.
So maybe the world of ‘binge’ viewing does have its downfalls? Not in the world of instant gratification but in the ability to create compelling content. Material that flows and remembers its story line and now has to take into consideration the fact that we are watching what is, in essence, a 9 – 12-hour movie. Of course, some content has grasped this and is receiving rave reviews around the globe. ‘This is Us’ and ‘Game of Thrones’ are two that spring to mind. The first in its debut series and the latter well into its timeline, but sadly others just keep churning on formula.
No longer can you change the characters, or the comedy style expecting viewers to forgive and accept because in the world of ‘binge’ sloppy content becomes so much more evident and far less acceptable.
Just when your head is filling up with the latest computer designed, artificially intelligent reality augmented hit records from the digital divide The Mavericks come along and insert a tiny bottle brush into your right ear, push it through and out the other side and deliver another album full of raw, bouncing sounds. A breath of fresh air is left, as you sit (if you’re old enough) remembering this is what music used to be like.
‘Old Man’ i hear you say, ‘It’s just country’ … but is it? The opening track smacks you straight in the face with a swelling Polka style track ‘Rolling Along’ complete with accordion, mariachi horns and tight harmonies and if you don’t tap your foot… your DEAD!
From there the album just gets better and better. ‘Easy As It Seems’ with its driving pulse takes you back to a place in time, before globalisation and 70-year-old first-time parents. The shuffle and sax of ‘I Think Of You’ is taken straight from 1958, soaring rich vocals over a bounce that causes the ankle to move without you even knowing it. Track 8, ‘Ride With Me’ plants the image firmly in the mind of your parents doing the twist in pencil skirts and skinny ties as the album crash to ‘I wish you well’ that sadly sounds a little like ‘Now the Carnival is over” in its feel but hey ho. If the album has a weak track it has to be ‘Goodnight Waltz’ and I suppose only because it reminds me of your poor relations wedding that you never wanted to attend in the first place.
If you’re looking for something that is refreshingly different to the top 40, want to tap your foot and take a little walk back to a simpler time then Brand New Day could just do that for you. Worth a listen on all streaming platforms, if only once.
So this is our last day on the island of Phuket. Where have two weeks gone, and so fast? An amazing trip, amazing people, strange sights and sounds and smells, Crazy but organised chaotic driving and a full-on sensory overload. Tomorrow we will be heading to the airport and on our way back to beautiful Wellington. Before we leave though I have two little stories to share.
I have just returned from a trip to fill our rental car with petrol. Along the way, I was stopped by a Thai Army and Police checkpoint. I must admit I was a little nervous however as I pulled up the soldier saw my Avis sticker on the front of the windscreen, smiled and waved his finger. This is so not what I had read before coming here however I was very pleased indeed. I drove on rather happily.
Arriving at the petrol station, the young man who served me, put in my petrol, asked me where I came from. I said New Zealand and was about to start explaining the islands off the coast of Australia when his eyes lit up and said ‘oh you have the ice mountains!’ I smiled and said yes, yes we do at which point he said ‘Lord of the Rings.’ Well, I must admit it makes a change not to have the All Blacks shoved in my face once again, so I proudly said ‘yes, Lord of the Rings’ he was so excited it was cool moment indeed.
On another level, this trip has been rather poignant for me. Every day we have traveled we have had no choice but to drive past local rubber plantations. Tall, straight trees planted in rows, giving dark covered shade, with small gathering bowls hanging off the side of each tree. Every day as I looked into those plantations I could not help but think of my Father. At the age of 18, he fought in the Malayan Emergency, a little-known police action to stop the communist Chinese coming down and taking over Malaya. It was in a rubber plantation; I guess very similar to the ones I have seen that he was ambushed and shot in the leg from ricochet shrapnel that killed the young soldier walking in front of him.
As I looked into those plantations, I could not help but think what that would have been like, miles from home, in the heat of the jungle. Sadly, in some areas of the planet, we have come no further but looking through the local plantations I can see the traffic and the everyday life of Thailand. A fantastic place, warm, friendly and full of the hustle and bustle. It has been great meeting you, and I hope we meet again someday.