Are You Paying Attention? Then I’ll Repeat

One of the most annoying features of current TV is that it assumes a lack of attention. Almost every series begins with a recap (‘last time…’) – and don’t even get me started on the routine spoilers (next time…) which have me lunging for the remote and shouting at the screen. I don’t want to know what’s going to happen next time! I’ll watch it next time! Why would you spoil it for me? But programme makers seem to assume that without these constant recaps and titbits we won’t have the concentration to watch anything. To be fair there are occasions when in a long-running series like Casualty, you might need bringing up to speed on an old story but in other cases they are particularly annoying: a series such as the fly-on-the-wall Ambulance, for example, has at least five minutes of exposition before this week’s episode actually begins.

But whilst I expect a bit of catch-up at the beginning of a programme, I don’t expect repetition in the middle – and the recent documentary about Harold Shipman was a serial offender in this regard. Fascinating though it was, The Shipman Files was a shapeless miniseries with three episodes covering material that could have been done in two, and zipping back and forth for no discernible reason. This made it a frustrating watch, the more so since the subject is an important one. How was a trusted family doctor able to get away with what was basically mass murder? Harold Shipman had his own private concentration camp; he murdered people in their own bedrooms as well as on hospital wards, and like Jimmy Savile he got away with it. A shame, then, that the documentary should be so shapeless and repetitive. I also think there should be a moratorium on calling things ‘a very British’ or ‘a very English’ whatever – what does that even mean?

I think we should be told.

Kirk out

6 thoughts on “Are You Paying Attention? Then I’ll Repeat

    1. LOL! I always think ‘miseries’ when I read that and normally I’d hyphenate it but the non-hyphenated spelling seems to be ubiquitous

  1. I’m with you all the way on this one; I think programme-makers are infantilising us for 2 main reasons: they probably think [with only a smidgeon of justification] that a sizeable proportion of the potential audience will be attracted by this over-simplification of presentation [Ratings! Ratings! Ratings!]; but also [and here my cynical side asserts itself] because they think that minimising the potentially controversial content of the programmes will deter those who might want to question the status quo, which as we all know, boys and girls, isn’t socially acceptable, now is it?

    I watched the first part of the Shipman mini-series, but having foreknowledge of the concluding 2 parts from the Radio Times, I didn’t feel that they were going to shed much more light on his motivation, so I baled on it. As you say, it could have been done better. Cheers, Jon.

    1. You’re right, they shed virtually no light on his motivation despite going on and on about what it might be. The problem is that it’s a vicious circle; the more repetitive programmes are the more you’re tempted to check your phone or whatever

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