Question of the week: what do you think of TV at the moment?

So I’m going to assume that you all watch TV still, this being completely the wrong blog to come to you if you’re not. But how are you finding TV at the moment?

I’m finding it harder and harder to summon up enthusiasm for current TV programmes. This isn’t nostalgia for the “good old days”, since the vast majority of old TV shows were rubbish – that’s why I try to give you the cream of the crop. It’s just I’m not enjoying TV as much as I did a few years ago, and I’m not sure why.

Now US cable TV is largely getting better and better all the time, even while mainstream US TV is getting worse and worse – this year’s season has been packed with some indescribably bad turkeys, with no real break-out show on any network. The mid-season replacements haven’t done anything to improve the situation either, with just Shameless, Portlandia and the US version of Being Human catching my interest this season (all cable shows). A few have distinctly come off the boil (Royal Pains, 30 Rock, Burn Notice, Southland, House, Stargate Universe and Chuck, to name but a few, the latter of which is starting to resemble old episodes of Relic Hunter in quality). That just leaves the likes of Community, Archer and Modern Family to really maintain my interest at the moment.

British TV is proving similarly unappealing. While there’s no doubt some great stuff out there, it lasts for all of three episodes before disappearing and every time I tune in to watch something new, it turns out to suck. Being Human (no spoilers please, I’m two episodes behind) has been dreadful this season, Outcasts was painful. I haven’t managed to get through Mad Dogs or Bedlam. I’m still stuck on episode two of The Killing, which is actually really good TV, and they’re up to episode 16 at the moment.

It’s reached the point where reading The Age of Innocence and watching movies is proving more interesting than TV. Now this might be a temporary blip, since there are some appealing pilots on the horizon. But am I getting old or are you finding TV similarly unappealing at the moment?

As always, leave a comment with your answer or a link to your answer on your own blog

  • Mark Carroll

    I’m not finding TV much worse than usual. You mention few things catching your interest, but there’s rarely more than a few things that I’d make more than negligible effort to see, usually none of them I’d buy a DVD boxed set of afterward, so it seems rather business as usual to me. Mind you, it’s only US non-cable I’m actually current on; half of what I actually watch at the moment is old British stuff. I’m expecting a dry summer indeed. Perhaps we’ll get the death rattle of L&O: CI or something but that’s about it (and that probably on USA so I won’t see it anyway).
    Sorry to hear that “Being Human” is much fallen.
    So, say, two years ago, would your list of currently-decent shows have been rather longer?
    I wonder if you’ve now seen enough, and developed enough of a critical eye, that it’s rare for you to see anything where, for you, its novelty outstrips its glaring flaws.

  • Robin Parker

    It’s all about The Killing which has overtaken my life to Wire-esque levels. Now caught up and pained at having to wait between eps as we enter the finale. Reminded me what’s missing from so much British TV drama today: letting the script be heard without constant music and fast-cutting.
    What I saw of C4’s The Promise looke pretty good.
    Other than that, it’s BBC4 factual and 30 Rock re-runs all the way.

  • Mark Carroll

    Now I think further, mainstream US TV dramas seem dominated by police procedurals that no longer hold my interest. CSI’s probably the only older one I bother with. My son wanted NCIS taped but he loses interest when it’s on so that’ll stop. Sure, I’ll watch Criminal Minds or whatever (can’t even remember which that is, there are enough FBI ones) if someone puts it on, but I probably wouldn’t bother to do so myself. Mind you, last I looked UK TV had plenty of police procedurals too (many American imports).
    Interesting you suggest that movies are still okay. Might knock my earlier theory.

  • I’m not aure I agree about Being Human: nothing could touch that first series when everything was shiny and fresh, but I did really enjoy this season.
    Largely though – and I am sure you won’t be surprised to read this – I’m with Robin Parker. The Killing is THE best thing on TV, and probably the best thing to have been on in ages. Proper grown-up drama. Sublime. Sarah Lund has definitely entered my TV heroines academy.

  • Hannibal

    Nothing much of interest new; though still enjoying House. Currently rewatching all of Buffy and Angel from her first box set onwards. Enjoying it muchly.

  • Mark Carroll

    While I still enjoy House, including the latest episode here in the US with the bullrider fellow, and I still do bother to actually try to get to watch it, it “came off the boil” for me once it stopped much exploring the consequences of blunt honesty in social interactions; it was partly that thought experiment that drew me into its earlier drama.

  • MediumRob

    I’ve watched the last two episodes of Being Human now. Episode 7 was a definite improvement on the rest of the season but I found episode 8, while still better written than most of the rest of the season and containing many good moments, wandered too far into the gothic vampire tradition and was largely predictable. Shame really.

  • I’ve not watched the last BH ep yet. 7 was a big improvement, but it’s clear this series had a budget of approx. 64p. Looking over the run, huge chunks of it were filmed inside the house, and it really felt like a four-episode mini-series dragged out to eight episodes. Painfully, too. Given that the first two series were pretty much full-on for their entire runs, it’s a massive shame.
    Sad to hear Chuck’s gone downhill, too. That’s always been a variable show, but I really liked the first three seasons overall, and also how the third ended. I was rather hoping they’d leave it there, but of course it’s much more fun to drag it on with no cash and then—presumably—unceremoniously axe it abruptly, making no-one happy.
    Still, I enjoyed Charlie Brooker’s series and, um, catching up with Lie To Me on the Apple TV’s been fun.

  • I disagree about Being Human, which I loved. But then I think you knew that(-:
    My problem is probably opposite to yours, in that I don’t get enough time to watch tv at all, particularly now we have teens joining us on the sofa in the evenings, which means there’s alot more vetting going on, and we tend to either watch stuff really late or just miss it. Have not seen the Killing because Saturdays in our house is now overtaken by watching DVDs, and for some reason our tv only records the four main channels. (don’t ask). I know there’s catch up, but we often don’t have time for that either. STILl haven’t seen last episode of South Riding which I really enjoyed, and managed to miss all of Marchlands.
    Aside from Being Human, I really loved Human Planet, and am sure would like the Brian Cox prog, but have missed it so far.
    I wonder if your problem is that you’ve just got jaded with watching too much TV? That happened to me for a long time with reading, because I was always reading from a critical point of view, I stopped being able to turn off my inner critic and enjoy something for what it was. Harry Potter sorted that out for me(-: But it is rare for me to enjoy a book with the same degree of enthusiasm that I did when I was younger. The Book Thief is the most recent book that has blown my mind, but I find they are few and far between now. Maybe something similar has happened to you with TV.
    Or maybe it’s a blip and you’ll get over it.
    Or maybe most TV is shit now(-:

  • Chuck’s been okay when Timothy Dalton’s been around and it’s just about picked up again after Lauren Cohan (who I liked in Supernatural and has apparently been slumming it on Vampire Diaries since) joined in, too. But it’s lost all the things that made it interesting in the first place and looks as cheap as chips.

  • Oh, and keep forgetting to mention, but we really enjoyed watching Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day. Partly because Wroxeter where it is filmed is down the road from where my mum lives, so we’ve visited it before (and are now looking forward to visiting the Roman Villa), and partly because it was really fascinating watching these six disparate guys getting to grips with roman building techniques. I loved the episode when they went to Ephesus and were looking at the facade of the library(which is amazing) with admiring builders’ eyes! It was also touching at the end when they had finished and realised what they’d achieved. The archeologist bloke was a bit of a dick, but the rest of it was great.

  • Mark Carroll

    I’m enjoying The Book Thief. Thanks for the recommendation. (-:

  • @Mark Carroll, oh glad you’re enjoying it. Am taking it to swap at the Windsor Bookswap tomorrow!

  • There does seem to be a lack of quality television at the moment. Chuck has been pretty poor this year and is close to dropping off my watch list. Being Human I enjoyed although the last episode was a bit too long and overly angsty for my liking.
    I’ve been watching the second season of Justified. It’s a good show, not a classic but good enough to watch each week and remain interested in the story arc. It really improved in the first season once they decided to focus on being an arc driven show rather than a crime of the week caper.
    I’ve also been watching Limmy’s Show on iPlayer (it’s a BBC Scotland show), it’s a sketch show with an odd sense of humour which won’t be everyone’s cup of tea but I love it.

  • Watched ep 8 of Being Human. Oh dear. “You’ve got a fight on your hands”? The only fight will be to recommission a series that’s lost a lead, its fire, its budget, its consistency and most of its quality. I can’t recall the last time I was so disappointed by a series and seen such a dip in quality. Even Red Dwarf 7 was better.

  • I think TV is in a super-weird moment in history. One one hand you have so much disposable trash competing for lowest common denominator with shamelessly needy mediocre plot lines. Then there’s the “entertainment news” full of pundants clogging up the 24hr news cycle.
    Yet at the same time TV has also become the dominant form of story telling in a high-art form as witnessed by Mad Men, Breaking Bad and a number of others.
    Of course all this is complicated by the fact that people are turning off their sets and watching more and more online.

  • George

    I am like everyone else here… I love the Killing.. its great.. and I cannot wait to see series 2 (though Mrs espedair is worried that all the characters in this series will not appear!)
    I am sad that Outcasts, Survivors and many others will not live on
    I love UK Law and Order… its a guilt pleasure…
    I look forward to the 3rd series of Spiral…
    I really must finish The wire…
    I cannot wait for NEW WHO!

  • Didn’t really take up Outcasts or Survivors, and the Wire got worked through boxsets at as fast a pace as we could cope with (max 2 episodes in a night) but otherwise … wow, are you me in a parallel world? Watches The Killing – check; L&O:UK as a guilty pleasure – check; awaiting Spiral 3 (come along bloody BBC!!!) and excited about the return of Doctor Who – well, check, checkity, checkness!
    Watched Time of Angels again on Friday night for the UMPTEENTH time and still tingled with glee at the finale ‘Me!’ (now viewable with less Norton)

  • bob

    Series 3 of Being Human is my favourite. I was always a bit disappointed with it before as I felt it never lived up to the pilot. But this year, I’ve been in awe. Loved it.
    And it’s already been picked up for another year, Craig Grannell.
    I’m feeling like there is nothing exceptional at the moment (since Being Human ended) but that is because they shifted Breaking Bad. Sigh. But still, there is more than enough that is entertaining and I am watching tv every day. I think it’s a personal thing Rob has. Tv hasn’t got worse.