The Loneliest Jukebox

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Friday, September 10, 2004

Schedule Victims Unit

One would have thought that a spell of sick leave was a chance to indulge in some trash TV or, in my case, US cop shows with high production values. The scheduling alone is enough to make me ill, however. Third Watch is on daily, with special 'adult' episodes broadcast at 2.45am on a Sunday morning. It gets pulled for the school holidays and reinstated on a whim later in the month. Because the show follows the Hill Street Blues tradition of rambling, interconnected storylines, missing an episode is not on (or I could get a life). The language and violence are chopped down to make it suitable for GMTV audiences. Channel 4 has carried over this fine tradition of messed up scheduling from its use of NYPD Blue in the graveyard slot, provided cricket didn't overrun or something. Both sets of New York cops (and medics/firefighters) are still in the immediate aftermath of 9/11, so far behind are the episodes being imported to the UK.

Five a.k.a Channel 5 has made a name for itself with US cop shows, notably CSI where the scheduling is logical and coherent. Then it can't decide whether to show the Shield on Tuesdays or Saturdays, before dumping it in favour of Cosmetic Surgery Live mid-series. Hopefully Vic Mackey and co will return after the latest crop of reality TV nosejobs. Five also offers us Law & Order reruns after midnight on a Saturday, with Benjamin Bratt's saintly character still partnering Lennie Briscoe.

Law & Order is designed to be super-syndicatable, with most episodes entirely self-contained (and most NY crime solved by the same detectives). This means that the various forms of shambolic inconvenience offered by cable TV detract from your personal life, not the storylines. That said, the morbid but watchable Special Victims Unit would benefit the Hallmark channel more if it wasn't shown five nights a week, which means blasting through a (US) whole season in just over a month. All these shows could probably build up a loyal base of viewers if they were on once a week at the same time. Not everyone has a Tivo box to juggle all this, and some of us would rather spend less time watching TV each week. I long for the day when I'm better and go back to having no time for TV at all.


I mentioned in a previous blog the missed opportunity to write up GameStarsLive! brought on by my illness. According to Halo 2 developers Bungie, one aspect of beta-testing the forthcoming game has been a malodorous nightmare, with 'hundreds of teenagers ... reeking like the contents of a Hobo's diaper.” I didn't miss much then.
Perhaps defumigating the gamers is a job for
John Redwood to sort out, in his new role as Shadow Secretary of State for Deregulation. After all, you can only fight red tape by creating more red tape ...


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