We all watch US TV don’t we? I certainly do. There are some things they do very well. Crime drama, Sci-fI, Fantasy/Horror are ail done with Hollywood production values and mega budgets.
One thing that I don’t envy our transatlantic cousins though, is the amount of adverts that infest their TV channels.
About 20 years ago, a good friend of mine, Dan, moved from Sussex, where we used to live, to San Francisco. He went there to teach English as a Second Language to Asian students, and as a consequence kept his English accent intact for many years, making him something of a novelty in the Haight Ashbury district where he lived.
Five years after he’d decamped to the states, he came home – accent still pristine, amazingly – to visit for a couple of weeks, American friend in tow.
We were sitting watching Star Trek the Next Generation, on BBC2, and after about 15 minutes Dan’s friend said “Did I miss the ad break?”
We looked blankly at him, and Dan laughed. He explained that “back home” there would have already been a commercial break between the first scene and the opening credits, and another 10 minutes later.
This seemed ludicrous at the time……
Ah, how times have changed.
Now, not only do we get five ad breaks in some allegedly one hour programmes, (one particular episode of US second-guessathon, Lost, billed as running one hour ten minutes on Channel 4, actually clocked in at a little over 43 minutes) we also get before, during, and after “sponsor clips”.
However, by far the most horrendous, crass, ill-conceived idea to be vomited forth from a TV executive’s bile infested pit of a soul in the last few years is the, for want of a less polite term, the Trailer Banner.
This abomination, in case you’ve been living in a cave somewhere since the mid ’00s, is a brightly coloured, scrolling banner that pops out from the bottom left hand corner of your screen to tell you what brain rotting dream food is on the way.
This is, of course, bad enough, but it’s the timing that is what makes it so diabolical. Because when do they pop these informative little gems into existence? Over the closing credits? Over the sponsor clip that we’ve seen four times in the last hour?
No, they drop it in at that vital point between the final burst of robots trying to sell you things and the end, where all the action or drama in the show happens. Moving death scenes, cliffhanger near-death chases, weepy romantic tragedies, just some of the things not even remotely improved by having electronic graffiti unfurled over it at the crucial moment.