Whilst writing recently about Sir Terry Pratchett’s annoyance at being asked to edit the character Death out of a film script based on the book Mort, I began wondering about other things Americans have said about British Film and TV that have annoyed or irritated me. Now I don’t have a particular problem with Americans, (Apart from the ones that voted for George Bush obviously) but sometimes some of them do seem to say the daftest things.
One ‘Joke’ I heard was: ‘Today Britain’s longest running sitcom went into production for it’s third season.’
Which is utterly, Utterly UTTERLY, wrong.
Britains longest running sitcom is Last of the Summer Wine 1973 – to date (BBC One) Episodes:295 (pilot + 31 series) and is the worlds longest running sitcom.
Americas longest running Sitcom is the Simpsons, 1989 – to date Episodes:486 (22 Series) which is still cheating since it’s a cartoon, but we will let that pass.
Other long running British Sitcoms include:
My Family 2000 – 2011 (BBC One) Episodes:119 (11 series)
Birds of a Feather 1989 – 1998 (BBC One) Episodes:102 (9 series)
Dad’s Army 1968 1977. (BBC 1) Episodes:80 (9 series)
Red Dwarf 1988 – 2009 (BBC Two / Dave) Episodes:55 (9 series)
It ain’t alf Hot Mum 1974 – 1981 (BBC One) Episodes:56 (8 series)
Steptoe and Son 1962 – 1974 (BBC) Episodes: 57 (8 series)
Only Fools and Horses 1981 – 2003 (BBC1) Episodes: 64 (7 series)
This clearly comes out of the problem Americans seem to have with British media knowing when to stop. The Office, reached a natural conclusion, so they stopped making it. Instead of something like Friends which went on at least 2 seasons past it’s sell by date.
The other main example that annoyed me was the claim that ‘Stargate’ was the worlds longest running Science Fiction Series, that turned up in various glossy media mags when the last series of Stargate proper was about to be broadcast.
Now don’t take me wrong, I quite liked Stargate, though it was a little too fond of the flashback episode, and the last episode was possibly the biggest anti-climax in the history of Science Fiction television. But the idea it was the longest running Sci Fi Show in the world had me and quite a few other Doctor Who fans jumping up and down on our sofas with unmitigated fury.
Doctor Who has racked up 777 episodes in its 48 year history of on and off again production, 695 of these were consecutive, beating Stargates 214 by the proverbial Mile. And Doctor Who has the highest ratings of any Science Fiction Show Ever, Star Trek Included.
With knobs on!
Na Na – – Na – Na – Naaa.
And a great big long raspberry.
Now writing this led me to think about other things, American Television production companies have done which have annoyed me.
Dragging Series on long after they have finished is one such thing, I mean Earth Final Conflict Finished, it ended, it was done with, but still they had to try and resurrect it, in a way that was seriously irritating.
Another annoying thing is that often they come up with a really good idea, (Oddessy 5, John Doe,) lay out a grand story arc, (Oddessy 5, John Doe,) that will take several seasons to cover,(Oddessy 5, John Doe,) finish the first season on a cliff hanger (Oddessy 5, John Doe,) and then cancel the show just because it wasn’t the most viewed show in TV. (Oddessy 5, John Doe,) Now I know these are commercial enterprises and need to make a profit and all that, but some kind of nod to the people that actually like the show must be in order surely.
Granted the shows are aimed at American audiences and I am looking at the issues from a not very important market on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, but surely one aspect of developing audience loyalty is being loyal to the audience. This means not just making the show entertaining but also making the story lines complete. It doesn’t seem to me that it shows any respect for the audience if you end a show on a big cliff hanger with a hundred loose ends, rather than an end to the current story neatly, with an opening for another story if the show has a big enough audience.
The big cliff hanger can work if a show is already hugely popular, but not if it isn’t. American TV seems to me to have no real willingness to show loyalty to it’s audience, or to demonstrate any respect for it based on recent experiences.
OK rant over.
Have a good one.