Celebrating a decade of The Medium Is Not Enough

Gentlemen prefer blondes

Bloody hell. I’ve been doing this for a decade.

Yes, 10 years ago back in 2005 (sort of, subject to blog migration, blog splitting, blog reunions, etc), this blog emerged into the light of the Internet with its first two posts: a preview of Prison Break, the not-unpopular Supernatural and the still-unseen Global Frequency; and tedious cruft about The Omega Factor.

Since then, The Medium Is Not Enough has celebrated nine birthdays, and for a little nostalgia, you can look back and see what I’ve learned over the years:

  1. 2006
  2. 2007
  3. 2008
  4. 2009
  5. 2010
  6. 2011
  7. 2012
  8. 2013
  9. 2014

In that time, TMINE’s changed a lot and after the jump, I’ll do my regular once-a-decade potted history of the blog. I won’t pretend it’s made me rich and famous, but it’s led to my writing for a fair number of magazines, a few appearances on the BBC, write-ups in the likes of The Guardian weekend guide, getting quoted in newspapers around the world, a couple of awards, Charlie Brooker owing me a favour, and drawing the attention of Adam Buxton (in perhaps the wrong way).

It’s also helped me to meet and make friends with a lot of very lovely people online. Indeed, one thing’s remained constant: how great you guys are who come here, read TMINE and comment nicely on things I’ve said, even if for some bizarre reason you don’t always agree with me. Hopefully, I’ve helped you and certainly you’ve all helped me, so I’d like to thank everyone who over the years has regularly commented here and been lovely. Yes, all of you:

Year one
Anna, Holyhoses Rob, Jason, Lisa, Marie, Matt, Rosby, Scott, Stu

Year two
Anna, Holyhoses Rob, Jason, Lisa, Marie, Matt, Rosby, Scott, Stu, Iko, Poly, Mark, espedair, Linda, cindylover1969, Fraser, Kev, Craig, Lesley, Jonathan, Phoenix

Year three
Anna, Lisa, Marie, Matt, Rosby, Scott, Stu_N, Stu, other Scott, Stuart, Iko, Poly, espedair, kaballa, Electric Dragon, Linda, cindylover1969, Fraser, Kev, Craig, Lesley, Jonathan, Cackle Jr, Murray, Mark, Toby and Phoenix, Persephone, Jane, TemplarJ, Vin and Andrea

Year four
Anna, Lisa, Marie, Matt, Rosby, Scott, Stu_N, Stu, other Scott, Stuart, Iko, Poly, espedair, kaballa, Electric Dragon, Linda, cindylover1969, Fraser, Kev, Craig, Lesley, Jonathan, Cackle Jr, Murray, Mark, Toby, Phoenix, Persephone, Jane, TemplarJ, Vin, Chris, Andrea, Dan, Rev/Views, Aaron, Jaradel, Nik, Joe, Bob and Sister Chastity

Year five
Aaron, Almost Witty, Andrea, Anna, Bob, Cackle Jr, Chris, Craig, Dan, Electric Dragon, George, Iko, Jane, Jaradel, Joe, Jonathan, kaballa, Kev, Lesley, Lisa, Marie, Matt, Nik, Phoenix, Poly, Rev/Views, Rosby, Scott, other Scott, Sister Chastity, Stu_N, Stu, Stuart, TemplarJ, Toby, Vin, Brian Clegg, DOPEaddict, dreamer-easy, ecg, Erin C, Jemima, Jonathan Burt, Julie Paradox, Karen, Mark Carroll, Mark Clapham, Rachel, redscharlach, Robin Parker, Sabine, Skreee, SK, Steerforth and Virginia Moffatt.

Year six
Toby, Marie, Jane, Rullsenberg, SK, Bob the Skutter, Stu_n, Aaron, Hannibal, Electric Dragon, Mark Carroll and the other David (and everyone else I couldn’t mention that year!)

Year seven
Toby, Rullsenberg, SK, Bob the Skutter, Aaron, Mark Carroll, Stuart Ian Burns, Robin Parker, Adam Bowie, benjitek, TheReader76, Craig Grannell, the other David et al

Year eight
Mark Carroll, Gareth Williams, GYAD, Toby, Rullsenberg, SK, Bob the Skutter, Robin Parker, Hazel, Julia Williams and benjitek

Year nine
Mark Carroll, Gareth Williams, GYAD, Toby, Rullsenberg, SK and benjitek.

Year ten
Mark Carroll, Gareth Williams, GYAD, Toby, Rullsenberg, SK, benjitek, Andy Butcher and Ian Mond.

I’m hoping you’ll all stick around for more!

I’d also like to thank those people lurking behind RSS feeds and Twitter who push up the web traffic, even if they never feel the need to comment (my wisdom is truly awesome and can inspire silence in those who receive it), as well as those whom I talk with regularly on Twitter, including @SnarkAndFury, @IainMHepburn, @cathoderaytube, @cameronyardeJnr, @AlexRomeo, @ThierryAttard, @Ladyteruki, @crimetimeprev, @paulwhitelaw and @lukecustardtv.

Here’s to another 10 years of television, my writing about television and your good health.


A brief history of The Medium Is Not Enough
The birth
It might surprise people to learn that The Medium Is Not Enough is actually Spanish by birth. And that it wasn’t originally called The Medium Is Not Enough.

In fact, TMINE was conceived in the Spanish city of Zaragoza, a few fateful hours before I was about to have my wallet, phone and camera stolen, when I met fellow journalist Dennis Howlett in a bar. Dennis was waxing lyrical on the virtues of blogging and how publishers didn’t realise it would change the publishing model forever. Now journalists could talk directly to readers without the need for publishers.

“Hmm, maybe he’s onto something,” I thought to myself. “I should look into that when I get home.”

And I did. Once I’d sorted out my problems with my phone, etc.

Having a Mac running OS X Server, which had a blogging system built in, I thought I’d start there, serving everything from my own flat and home computer. Which I did, on June 21st 2005.

The Word Is Not Enough was born.

Actually, I’d been trading as The Word Is Not Enough for a couple of years at that point, offering my exciting skills in writing, editing, IT support and database development – yes, the word is not enough these days: you need to be multi-skilled – and that seemed like a good name for the blog as a result.

Trouble was, like a lot of people in those days, I wasn’t quite sure what to write about. Personal things? Personal interests? Whatever came to mind on any given day?

For a while, the last of those options ruled, but given I wrote about both IT and TV and blogs needed a focus, I decided to split them all off and brand them accordingly: The Word Is Not Enough would remain my personal blog; The Hardware Is Not Enough would be where I wrote about IT things; and The Medium Is Not Enough would be where I wrote about anything in the media.

Three things rapidly became apparent:

  1. I shouldn’t name anything or be involved in marketing in any way
  2. I honestly didn’t have that much to say about IT or my personal life that I wanted to share with the entire world
  3. I did have a lot to say about the media

So TMINE flourished, and everything else died a death. Thankfully. Can you imagine how much effort it would be writing three blogs a day?

The blog hasn’t evolved technically much since those early days. It’s moved from my home Mac to first Dataflame, an utterly inept hosting service, and then to Livingdot, a cheapish hosting service that works about 99% of the time, except when The Guardian suddenly links to you. I switched from my Mac’s built-in serving software to Movable Type, which seemed better than WordPress at the time, but was probably a bit of a mistake in retrospect. I’ve changed themes a couple of times, added in Disqus for commenting. But largely, technically, the TMINE you see now is the TMINE of the past eight or nine years ago.

In terms of content, though, it’s been a big roller coaster. US TV has been a constant from the beginning, but time was when I wrote about anything, from art to books to music to newspapers. Turns out that I don’t have that much to say about those, but I could happily write about whatever film, TV and theatre I happened to see. Except I didn’t get to see as much film and theatre as I wanted, so TV took precedence.

For a while I used to cover UK and US TV equally. On the US side, I created what’s still this ‘ere blog’s raison d’être: to preview all the new US shows so that readers could look out for them when they arrived in the UK. On the UK side, I covered the likes of Big Brother and Space Cadets at first, as well as Gordon Ramsay’s many series, but UK TV eventually fell by the wayside as I discovered not only did I not have the time to watch it and review it as well, I’d actually stopped liking it for the most part.

That led to my decision to start waxing nostalgic over old TV shows that I did like, first in Weird Old Titles/Sequences then Lost Gems/Nostalgia Corner then The Wednesday Play.

Occasionally, I’d try to look at other countries’ TV but I couldn’t find anything good. Then, the US TV was struck dumb by the 2007-2008 writers’ strike, so I decided to give Canadian TV a try. From that tiny maple leaf grew the blog’s current more diverse mission statement: to find the best TV from around the world and try to promote it, while simultaneously warning people off from the worst TV in the world. I can just about manage that within reason.

News, I used to deal with differently, blogging about news stories as they came up. But again, that’s a lot of work and it turns out you need to have an instant, not necessarily well thought out opinion on the news to do that.

But then, after one fateful holiday away, I decided to recap a while lot of news in one go, to popular acclaim. Before I knew it, I’d accidentally committed myself to getting up at 6-7am every week day to summarising the previous day’s media news in a series of bulletpoints, thankfully without having to pass comment on it.

Doctor Who I studiously avoided for the entire Christopher Eccleston season, before eventually being forced to expose my inner nerd and start covering it in some quite serious detail, including reviews of episodes, the latest news and reviews of all the Big Finish audio plays. That’s died off slightly, thanks I think to the departure of David Tennant, after which the enthusiasm for the show was never quite the same. And the Big Finish plays all started to become very, very bad money-suckers, and as much as negative reviews are fun to write occasionally, writing them every single time just starts to become joyless.

Comics I’d steered clear of in general for much the same reason as with Doctor Who – too nerdy. And because I didn’t read that many. But after outing myself as a Wonder Woman fan on what is still every single day the most popular entry on this blog, and following the DC nu52 digital relaunch of all its comics which meant I’d never ever have to set foot in a comic shop, I decided to start reviewing all the comics in which the Amazon Princess appeared. At first monthly, the task became so onerous that I ended up dropping it for a few months, before deciding to turn it into the far more alliterative and manageable Weekly Wonder Woman – which also provides the most popular new entry for the blog each week.

Man – and indeed woman – cannot live by simple reviews alone. We’ve got to have a bit of fun. So I’ve tried to intersperse reviews and news with more jovial, irrelevant content as well. The birth of YouTube and the advent of universal broadband greatly helped many a TV blog, including this one, by providing easy access to streaming, copyright-violating TV clips. Once the YouTube archives reached a serious size, I was able to embrace the whimsy with features looking at the best sketches of A Bit Of Fry and Laurie, Big Train, Ron Swanson and, of course, those lovely 1970s public information films.

As you might have gleaned, I (and TMINE) have something of a feminist tendency, so the idea of objectifying women was something barred from the beginning of the blog, simply subconsciously, rather than as an actual rule. On the other hand, pictures of men were fine, as long as they were whimsical enough.

One particularly odd and whimsical day, as David Tennant was quite popular, particularly among TMINE’s readers, I decided to include a picture of him for no particular reason. And purely for the sake of a pun, I decided to caption it ‘Sitting Tennant’, as he was indeed sitting down in it.

Little did I know I was launching a weekly reader competition that would last for another four years, and even spawn a video.

Once that was up and running, though, a little female balance was required, and in search of a helpful pun that would be the yin to Sitting Tennant’s Yang, I soon hit on Random Acts of Ali Larter, which was somewhat helped out by Ali Larter’s occasionally random publicity choices. When Ali decided to get married and have children, it was up to Scarlett Johansson and other blonde actresses to take up the mantle of randomness in what became simply Random Acts.

That included my ‘TV wife’ Gavin & Stacey’s Joanna Page (TV wife in the sense of she’s almost exactly the same as my wife), whose entire body of work I decided to review as a project that was surprisingly enlightening – you’d be surprised what she’s been in and who she’s worked with… assuming you’ve never read Today’s Joanna Page.

The result of all this blondness, though, was the ultimate blonde meme, launched in the somewhat intermittent Meme/Question of the Week: the great blonde elevator.

That one lasted. Unlike Dick Heads (pictures of Richard Armitage’s head), Morris Minors (looks at some of Chris Morris’ rarer works), Lee Majors (looks at some of Stewart Lee’s bigger works) and A pack of Lambert Golds (looks at Verity Lambert’s best works). As always, if you can’t commit the resources to something, don’t start it…

The key to longevity
So what is the key to longevity? To keep writing a blog for 10 years? Discipline for one thing. Having a regular schedule helps, since if you’re feeling uninspired, you’ll always have the schedule to prompt you.

Don’t let it take over your life either, as it’ll kill you – if you’re blogging every day, you’ll end up hating it, exhausting yourself and/or running out of inspiration. Don’t blog when you’re on holiday, for the same reasons. If there’s only one of you, you’re never going to compete with a professional, staffed magazine with multiple contributors, so don’t try.

Having something that does inspire you is important, too, otherwise your blog will go the same way as The Hardware Is Not Enough.

But ultimately, and I know I’ve already thanked you all already, having readers – the right kind – is what motivates you. There have been many times when I was on the verge of quitting – for example, every time I come back from my August holiday but particularly around a year and a half ago, when I was thinking “If I can just make it to 10, then it’ll be fine to give up. You’ve come this far.” If there hadn’t been any commenters or people weren’t reading, I’d have given up. But thankfully, you were all there.

However, I never would have made it beyond the first year if I’d not got the impression that maybe I was writing something people wanted to read. So I guess I should say a final special thank you to Marie Phillips, who was the first regular commenter on TMINE and who was kind enough to flag TMINE up on her Struggling Author blog, attracting the attention of many other lovely, like-minded people. Without her, I think TMINE would have gone unnoticed by anyone and that would have been that.

Thanks Marie!

I wonder what happened to her

  • Rullsenberg

    Ah such happy memories and have enjoyed reading this 10 year review. I've been most lax here as FB and Twitter (slightly less) took over ftom blogging. But your site has provided much pleasure and congrats on the 10 year anniversary!

  • tassiekev .

    Thanks Rob, really enjoy your writing & humor – not sure how long I've been reading but TMINE has worked its way to the top of my (many) RSS feeds. Here's to another 10 – doubt that I'll last that long but I hope you keep going for many, many years. Best wishes and congratulations.

  • Mark Carroll

    Yes, you are writing something that people want to read, so thank you for all your work writing it! This is actually one of only two blogs I check daily.

  • GYAD

    Congratulations Rob, and here's to another superb decade!

  • JustStark

    You watch TV, so we don't have to. And for that we will be eternally grateful. Long may you continue.

  • bob

    Happy anniversary!

    This is definitely my top place for news, accurate and amusing reviews and international telly.

  • Andy Butcher

    Happy anniversary! Sorry, somehow managed to completely miss this post earlier…

  • Thanks everyone for your well wishes! You're all very kind – I just hope I can keep entertaining you all!

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