Now Showing: Everybody Dance Now

Yes, shows don’t have to be hits to be interesting or to supply some valuable commentary. This locally conceived and produced talent show was certainly not the former, attracting quite dismal ratings and being cancelled after 2 weeks but in many ways it can be regarded as the latter. Everybody Dance Now exemplifies how “white noise” not only applies to blogs but to television as well especially in terms of local content competing with that of overseas and how television 2.0 is upon us, for better and for worse.

Like the web, television is a level-playing field in which the people choose from a spread of shows (sites) that occupy the same platform and only the best (most-viewed) survive. But TV is very different; for one thing not anyone can do it, it takes a whole series of pitches and interviews and filming and negotiations before anything appears on screen and there is much more involved; while websites can be built with a few pages of code by a few people, television is built on a whole foundation of money, time and effort to get it going and if it falls it falls hard.

Like the web it’s been so heavily digitalized by cable TV, digital channels and web services that there is much, much more to see and heavier competition. With more and more shows being produced there is more white noise; even the icons like The Simpsons and Mad Men are having to fend off competition to be heard above the noise but the most evident victim of this has been Australian content.

Networks have a choice of cheaply importing overseas TV content to air or produce original local content that is expensive and may struggle to compete content-wise and quality-wise with it’s international rivals, Channel 10 show Everybody Dance Now was the result of option B.

While quality is subjective, as far as attracting audience goes the show just didn’t do it; with viewing figures that even “SBS would frown upon” to quote from the Switched On liftout of the August 29 Herald Sun it was revamped after 1 week and cancelled after the next. It’s a cogent symbol of the democracy of TV (the fact that the show was cancelled even though the host is married to the boss of Channel 10) but more clearly the level of competition that truly exists now in the sea of options from the bustling TV 2.0 that threatens to leave a whole nation of programming behind, ours.


Now Showing: Gilligan’s Island

Few shows have been as influential content-wise as Gilligan’s Island; pioneering and utilising both the comedic and dramatic potential of having people strandard on a deserted island that no doubt paved the way for other such movies and shows like Lost, Castaway, 7 days 7 nights and countless similar TV episodes on shows like the nanny and family guy; all of which have only this show to tip their white hat to.

But there is more to the show than just a premise, Gilligan’s Island boasts a whole ocean of interesting messages and discrete meaning that transcends it above a show into almost allegorical status or, short of that, mind-blowing status. Full steam ahead.

The foremost theory behind the show that has had conspiracy theorists and bloggers abuzz is the idea that Gilligan’s Island is a direct illustration of hell; a fact that creator Sherwood Schwartz has openly acknowledged1 and went on to admit that each of the 7 castaways represents the deadly sins: Ginger – LUST (clearly), Mary Ann – ENVY (jealous of Ginger), The Professor – PRIDE (due to his intellectual arrogance but bear in mind this is just relaying what the creator has stated – this blogger happens to be a Professor fan), Mr. Howell – GREED and Mrs. Howell – SLOTH (both also clear) and the heavyset hot-headed Skipper – GLUTTONY and ANGER2. People from all walks of life and personalities, united by the underlying fact that they’re sinners and will be jointly punished; who’s to say this isn’t meant to be referring to culture as a whole.

The show is clearly making a novel statement about the nature of evil; it began barely a couple of decades after World War 2 and one year after the JFK Assassination; in the former case we saw an unbalanced artist become one of history’s biggest tyrants and the latter, a dyslexic from Louisiana assassinate one of America’s greatest Presidents; the show may’ve wanted to emulate the notion that evil can come from anywhere and despite who the person is which is also why, brace yourselves, Gilligan represents Satan. Yes, even a dopey sailor can unknowingly be the true beacon of evil on this show, not only is this shown through his constant wearing of red but the fact that it is always him that is the centre of any complication and always him that ends up sabotaging the survivor’s escape plans and keeps them on the hell that they’ll therefore never leave.

This careful allegory acts as a chilling warning to the viewers; that is is sinful indulgence and immorality that can lead you to hell (the castaways were on a pleasure cruise when the boat got marooned on the island), that hell is a terrible place and one you don’t want to be in (the castaways are exposed to nothing but treachery and discomfort on this island throughout the series from dictators to cannibals to even an obnoxious theatre critic one time) and most of all that hell can never be escaped; the castaways never leave the island despite any and every attempt and the series ends with them still there.

The show’s conclusion in the early 70’s saw the beginning of a new time, the wounds of previous evil had relatively healed and a new era of love and moving forward had dawned and would remain undisturbed, for a little while. Rest assured though Gilligan’s Island will always be there, as a meaningful message for all future generations to heed; a group of castaways not unlike you and me forever frozen in time on a hell of their own doing, never able to leave and all they wanted was a 3 hour tour, a 3 hour tour.

1Inside Gilligan’s Island by Sherwood Schwartz (April 15, 1994) St. Martin’s Griffin ISBN-10: 0312104820 / ISBN-13: 978-0312104825


3 Ibid

By The Television Code Posted in U.S Shows

Now Showing: Impact of Social Media

As my blog seeks to shine light on the interesting background and messages of TV shows; it is therefore simple to see how Social Media has had an enormous impact on this topic with many new shows now having social media as their background and in some cases, their content too.

Why? Well, it makes absolute logical and financial sense; current statistics indicate that 55% of women and 45% of men all tweet while watching TV and that over 40% of TV watchers in America watch TV whilst using their devices1. It’s a huge amount of eyeballs and by creating a funnel between social media and their TV shows, they’ve allowed for more of that viewership to fall upon their shows.

As channel 7 CEO said; “Viewers are changing the way they watch TV and we’re changed the way we produce shows to cater for this. Social and interactive elements aren’t an afterthought anymore, we are integrating them into the making of our shows”.2 And they have, both in Australia and other nations.

So what shows are we talking about? Well while almost everything you see on TV now has it’s own socially-driven page to stir up discussion and gain audience opinion but few television shows have so wholly integrated themselves with the social media change than the new dating show “Ready for Love” on which 3 eligible bachelors are matched-up with a woman via social media. It’s a far-cry from the old dating shows of someone picking from 3 people behind a wall, having 2 people meet in a dark room, someone choosing from a pool of 25 possible partners, selecting a date based on the dinner they serve you (boy do i watch too much TV). But anyway besides from sending the message that love can be found through social media, “Ready for love” fully capitalizes on the fact that social media can provide a useful tool for conducting social interactions and objectives as well as having a large in-built audience that can transplanted onto the particular show which indicates a new trend of more shows building their foundation on such sites and basing their content around it.

Another show that is just as adept at using social media as it as good at crashing it, is Q & A. It’s an interesting case where the show doesn’t base its content on social media nor did it arise from social media, the show started in 2008 when both Facebook and Twitter were still quite young and the show’s concept was already rock-solid; who wouldn’t want to tune in to see politicians slipping up and hot topics being very controversially commented on. No, the show was impacted by social media through it’s ability to augment the show using it; giving people at home a voice to share their view, have it displayed on the screen during the show and starting a conversation with others and engaging in fiery open debate ; it’s democracy squared. Like Robert Hassan stated, if we wanted to write for ourselves we’d do it in a notebook and keep it locked in a desk but the vast majority want to write for others and write to have it read and make an impact, through social media we can and via more and more TV shows like this, we will.



By The Television Code Posted in Other

This TV blog has the thoroughness and depth of analysis that my blog seeks to undertake although mine will be perhaps more on the informative, exposition side rather than the review side. Excellent blog though.

By The Television Code Posted in Other

Now showing: The Simpsons

By the start of the 1990’s; seismic changes were occurring across the social, political and economic board: technology was booming, the economy was glooming and the new millennium was quickly approaching. The world was growing up and it was time for television to grow up with it. This meant going back to basics; “goodbye” to the fantastical Jeannies, Samanthas, Munsters and Addams that permeated the 60’s and 70’s and a “Hello Newman”  to an onslaught of the more grounded shows of Seinfeld, Frasier and Mad about you; shows that poked fun at the mundane and allowed for self-reflection as we geared towards a new beginning.
However one show was to come along in 1989 and mark a perpetual midpoint between those two eras; combining the fantasy with the reality, the mundane with the insane and would quickly develop into an undisputed cultural, social phenomenon that continues to this very minute. It’s name: The Simpsons.
The premise is simple, a dysfunctional family in a middle-class town is nothing new but via the magical tools of animation, their simple troubles was put on an imagination hyper-speed that propelled the show into the forefront of global attention and audience wonderment.  Just as the word has been digitalized, the same was the happen for TV through this show where animation could provide a “richer and more appealing…experience” for audiences just as technology could do so for learning according to the 2003 PITAC – Report to the President Information Technology:  Transforming our Society.
Simpsons was a revelation for television and the way content could be presented; any global location could be visited without buying a ticket, the world’s biggest stars could appear without them even leaving their house, children could be strangled (don’t do it though) without lawsuits, elaborate locations could be filmed without hiring a single designer. Anything was possible with just the flick of a pencil and that was a game-changer.

Over 500 episodes it’s maintained a stratospheric quality of writing, visual quality and storyline concepts as well as providing valid social opinions and views in every episode, often several in one. No matter the target; every Simpsons plot has messages even if it only pertains to the current state of family life or human behaviour. Read a synopsis on any episode and you can see it all for yourself (be prepared to read between lines though).
This blog offers an almost peerless episode-by-episode review and commentary of Simpsons episodes; that can not only aid a catch-up and provide laughs but really enable you to see for yourself all the cultural and social messages which this post is trying to get at and that the show is putting out there, assuming my post didn’t already thoroughly convince you :P

Some prime examples of Simpsons commentary to get you started is the environmental and slightly anti-consumerist “Trash of the Titans”, the anti-tabloid “Homer Badman”, the delightfully pro-gay “Homer’s phobia” and “Sideshow Bob Roberts” one of the many, many political episodes.

The show really spear-headed a new direction for 21st century life; taking risks. Here was a family and show that broke almost every taboo in TV: In the 90′s it was unheard of for a family on TV to ever be seen going to Church or even watching TV! Simpsons did it. TV kids never misbehaved and families never openly fought. Simpsons did it. No show ever overtly satirized current and sensitive issues. Simpsons did it. And since the Flinstons in the 70′s there was no animated series on primetime but Simpsons did, is and continues to be the ultimate. What’s more is The Simpsons was the flagship show of Fox, the first new network on American TV since the 1940’s which many believed wouldn’t survive. But here we stand in 2012, more TV networks and controversial shows than you can poke a remote at, all because of the bulletproof precedent that was set all those years ago: The Simpsons did it.

So there you go; the broad implications and messages that lies beneath a show that many perhaps doubted were there. May The Simpsons continue to make us laugh and reflect life through yellow-coloured glass and may you tune in again soon as I lift the lid on another great show.
By The Television Code Posted in U.S Shows

The linked blog offers an almost peerless episode-by-episode review and commentary of Simpsons episodes, by reading it you can not only catch-up and have a laugh but really see for yourself all the cultural and social messages that the show is putting out there, assuming my post didn’t already thoroughly convince you 😛

By The Television Code Posted in Other