The Loneliest Jukebox

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

On watching television and being watched

No, not a more passive version of the Pierre Bourdieu book (yours to buy here, UK readers).

My blog has praised and criticised TV programmes since its inception (here, here and here, for instance). It strikes me that TV can be very good at times - The Shield, Curb Your Enthusiasm and more. But at other times, the content and the planning are just plain dumb.

For instance, last year I was in Las Vegas. One of the regular activities for employees in the MGM Grand is to pull the punters into a room to watch new TV shows, mainly sitcom pilots, in exchange for gift vouchers. (I saw Seinfeld alumnus Julia Louis-Dreyfus in The New Adventures of Old Christine, which is still being shown.) Prospective viewers are asked to quantify numerically, by turning a dial, whether they thought the characters are dumb, sympathetic, friendly and so on. This data is then used to help fine-tune a show, or decide whether to show it at all. Thus the network executives defer to the drunk, sunburnt and shell-shocked - who have better things to do than watch TV if in Vegas - in deciding the viability of future shows.

Mine's a double JD and coke: roll tape.

Talking of being on TV, readers in the ITV London region can see me in Surveillance City*, starting on ITV1 London, Thursday, 13 July 2006 at 23:00 hrs. I appear in one of the later episodes. It's billed as a "New series investigating how and why cities keep track of their citizens. Featuring an insight into the advances in mobile phone technology that allow anyone to be filmed or photographed. Plus, the estate which allows its residents to monitor the activities of their neighbours." (And produced by Roger Bolton's Flame TV.)


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