Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Premiere season

Next week is a big week in America. Forget about this week, with school starting, the 'lawmakers' reconvening in Washington, Obama making a key speech about the healthcare reforms. Next week is huge. Next week is when all the primetime dramas start.

Unlike in Britain, the TV networks don't seem to stagger the start of their TV autumn schedules. Giving you one decent new programme one week, followed by another a couple of weeks later, in a reserved, British kind of drip-feed - as if it would be bad for us to gorge us on 12 new dramas all at once. Here, in true American style, they give it all to you in one shebang.

So next week, I notice, House, Gray's Anatomy, Desperate Housewives and Heroes all have their 'season premieres', plus several big new shows the networks have been been flogging kick off. I particularly love the language they use to big everything up. It's all premieres, finales, blah blah blah. Even a repeat of the season premiere of my current favourite show, Mad Men, which I recorded by mistake thinking it was the second episode, was called an 'encore presentation'. Not a repeat, but an 'encore presentation'.

Next week could be, then, when I finally get to grips with the American TV schedules. I've hardly watched any since being in the US (unless you count the endless episodes of Dora the Explorer and Wonder Pets imprinted into the back of my brain). It's the usual story - multiply the number of channels and you simpy multiply the level of crap. I can't stand the constant interruption of ad breaks (ironic for someone who has been known to make a living out of writing about advertising). And I can count on one hand the number of American TV shows I follow.
But the shows that I do like, I like enough to want to follow properly. And when I have tried to follow repeats of any programme I might like, I've been baffled.

There I was, nearly at the end of last season's Gray's, when the schedulers, for reasons unknown, decided halfway through August to rewind the series to about Episode 2. And then screen all the others in double episodes on seemingly random nights, so now we are back to where we were just before the new series kicks off. It's baffling; so are Dr. McDreamy and Moody Meredith engaged or rowing? Is Izzy dying of brain cancer or fine? Perhaps the fact that the acting doesn't seem to reveal such things suggests that I'd better stop watching....

I also get the feeling that many of these series have now, as they say, 'jumped the shark' - run out of steam, adopted ludicrous storylines and become totally un-watchable. Desperate Housewives was dreaming up increasingly desperate plotlines when I last saw it; Lost (which is finally going to end next year) lost me years ago. And American networks don't seem to know when to stop - unlike the Brits, who pull the plug early on in the fear that viewers will get bored, and then try to flog the dead horse with increasingly rubbish Christmas specials. I used to love ER, but when every single member of the original cast has left, isn't it time to move on?

Nevertheless, when American TV is good, it's really good. So I'll be on the the lookout for the new ER, Mad Men or Friends, and will let my Brit friends all know if I find it......in the meantime, if any fellow expats have tips on quality US fare, let me know.

26 comments:

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

I'm with you on ads, crap satellite tv & not knowing what to watch. We always stock up in the UK on dramas, things like Damages, Heroes etc. Bi tbehind tho, not started Lost yet & gave up on 24 after 3 seasons. Do you know House with Hugh Laurie? Supposed to be v gd. Medical drama ish but nevertheless gd I'm told. Need to track that one down. I guess you get to see the new series befor e they get to the UK though so once you are back in Blighty, you'll have the same problem that you'll have seen all the series which will just be arriving in Britain. But of course you cd just watch British tv, which will probbaly seem the height of quality compared to the American tv diet you will have had!

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Or fix up a proxy server and watch British TV - we've just been watching ITV for the football and IPlayer also works. CBeebies too, although I don't seem to use that nearly as much as I thought.

House is my favourite. Paradise, we have the first season on DVD which I can send to you if you want? Looking for the second but it'll be a dodgy Bosnian copy.

Also, The Wire is good. But all old now, just new to us...

Nicola said...

I think you just need to get with the programme and begin your addition to real trash tv - ie. The Real Housewives. Currently it's the real housewives of Atlanta. They are all stark staring mad and thank god they are no friends of mine. Train wreck of a show each and every week and therefore utterly compelling.

I also love Entourage (HBO) and Nurse Jackie (Showtime - unfortunately season 1 just finished and not sure when season 2 is due to start but they might show repeats). Other than that I watch BBC America. Jonathon Ross. Reruns of Top Gear.

Ooh - and Trinny and Susannah have a new show called Making Over America. Typical T&S stuff but as I haven't seen it for ages I am just loving it.

Good luck!

nappy valley girl said...

Paradise - House is one of my favourites. Definitely get hold of it if you can.

Brit in Bosnia - I think box sets are probably the answer...haven't seen the Wire, but plan to watch it at some point....

Nicola said...

Oh you might also like Jon Stewart on The Tonight Show (every night on the Comedy Channel) and Real Time with Bill Mayer on HBO - both satire news shows that prove intelligence and sarcasm is not the sole proprietry of Brits.

nappy valley girl said...

Nicola - I keep meaning to catch with the Trinny and Susanna after reading a very funny article about it, and how Americans don't like being told how dowdy they look! Heard people talking about Real Housewives but assumed it would be rubbish - however, will give it a go....

Karen @ If I Could Escape . . . said...

Mad Men started a couple of weeks ago -- the new series has been fab! Ahem, I'm ashamed to say I'll be tuning in to America's Next Top Model tonight!

Potty Mummy said...

Sorry - the NEW ER? I thought the final final absolutely last episode had already been screened?

Expat mum said...

BBC America!

Almost American said...

Along with "Encore presentation" another phrase I hate that they use on TV here in the US is "Next on [insert name of show here] . . . " It always makes me think the show isn't over, whereas what they really mean is "Next time on [name of show] . . ."

I mostly watch PBS and BBC America, except for a few shows like Grey's Anatomy and Survivor (known in this house as The Idiots.) There are a couple of new sci-fi shows this fall. Defying Gravity has already started and I've quite enjoyed it so far. Then there's another one (can't remember the name or the network) where everyone in the world loses consciousness for several minutes and while they're unconscious have visions of their future. Could be interesting.

I have friends who love Real Housewives but I've never seen it.

Iota said...

Scrubs. Especially if you're married to a doctor.

The ads are SO annoying, aren't they? I don't watch anything unless it's recorded so that I can fast forward through them. I really hate it when the breaks are so unintelligent, eg you have an ad break, then you have the end signature tune of one show, the opening signature tune of the next, and then another ad break. Grrrr.

BBC America is ok, but you have to develop a taste for Gordon Ramsay. He's on endlessly.

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

The Wire is good (we just bought the box set for the first 2 seasons). I had very high hopes of it going in as every said that it was as good as The Sopranos which I ADORE. It's not but it is still very watchable.

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Bones - you have to discover Bones. I'm reduced to waiting for the DVDs to come out (strangely cable is the one bit of technology Mr Muddling doesn't do) ... utterly wonderful (especially the cameo from Stephen Fry as his shrink)

nappy valley girl said...

Nicola - thanks for the advice. Saw Jon Stewart once the other day and he was v funny.

Karen - yes, Mad Men is definitely on my list. Loving the new series and Peggy trying to be hip and cool.

PM - sorry, was being confusing. By 'the new' ER I meant something that might replace it. Like 'the new black'. Kind of. Or whatever....

Expat Mum - trouble with BBC America at the moment is all stuff I've seen before. Maybe in a year's time it'll be more useful...

Almost American - I've seen the trailer for the one where people black out - I think it's called Flash Forward. Looked good, if a bit Heroes-derivative. And yes, can't stand 'Next on...' or 'Coming up next' - I never know if the programme has finished or not!

Brit in Bosnia - thanks. Have heard mixed reviews, but will try it.

Muddling Along - anything with Stephen Fry in it has got to be worth a go....

nappy valley girl said...

Iota - sorry, missed you out. Like Scrubs, have never really got into watching it regularly though. Maybe I'll give it another go (add it to the long list of medical dramas I already watch...) As Gordon Ramsay - hmmm. not sure about him, especially after cheating loverat revelations last year...

Mwa said...

Ever since I became addicted to the internet, I have completely lost touch with my tv. I sometimes walk past and glance at it guiltily.

When I do watch something, it is on DVD. We are nearly at the end of the West Wing box set. I'm going to need something to replace it. I voted Mad Men, but husband isn't convinced. He says it's something with alien happenings.

Iota said...

The Office, American version. But you'd probably be best off getting it on dvd and starting from the beginning. I think it's better than the English version, actually.

Vic said...

Dora the Explorer definitely doesn't count.
I'm fairly religious about the TV I do watch (and both I and the husband will admit that there's a hell of a lot of it). I have to say, I much prefer the few weeks after the premiered have aired and you start to be able to get back into a story.

Julie said...

Hi there,
Absolutely loving your blog :-D

Would love for you to take a look at mine sometime:

www.madenglishwoman40.blogspot.com

Best wishes

Julie

Paradise Lost In Translation said...

Gordon Ramsey a cheating love-rat?? I didn't know that!?? But then I live in ALbania & you don't get that kind of news on BBC.co.uk........
AMAZING what you find out reading people's blogs.....

AND I've got a whole raft of potential viewing suggestions to find on Amazon, or dodgy Albanian pirate copies of. Hooray. Thnx guys, er girls mostly...

Almost American said...

Endless Gordon Ramsay is still better than endless Benny Hill - thank goodness BBC America has changed their programming since I first signed up for it 4 years ago!

nappy valley girl said...

Mwa - Ah yes, the lure of the computer. But nothing beats a really good drama when you've had a hard day of childcare...

Iota - I love the British version. I'm worried that watching the US one might ruin it for me...what do you think?

Vic - Agreed, the premieres (and finales) are usally totally over the top. But the marketing is clever enough to make you believe you simply HAVE to watch them...

Julie - thanks. I'll be over to have a look.

Paradise - I think his - ahem, alleged, infideilty, was more a News of the World/Daily Mail story than BBC. Speaking of which, if I ever want to catch up with UK gossip, I look at the Mail website. I hate the paper, but have convinced myself the website is just about acceptable...

Almost American - Ah Benny. I remember finding him very funny once. Aged about seven....

Brit in Bosnia / Fraught Mummy said...

Back again, am just ordering a load of box sets for my mum to bring out here next week and thought this was the place for inspiration. Had to say that I read about Gordon being an alleged cheating love rat on the Guardian website, so you should try them and then not have to feel bad about reading the Mail! Paradise - I'll keep you updated of any useful info like that if you want! Have a friend who's sole job is to make sure I don't miss out on proper celebrity gossip...

parentingBYdummies said...

I have TV show premiers coming outta my ears. My Tivo is literally smoking, it's working so hard. I know I should get a life, and I've tried but I'm really just no good at it!

Brian Miller said...

lets hope EVL stands for something more than the obvious...though it would work on my car. it really is. lol. congrats on the POTD mention!

Iota said...

Hm. I think it'll be ok if you just think of it as a totally different series, and don't try and make comparisons.