TV Diary: Why?

This wasn’t just a way of padding Do You See over the slow Bank Holiday weekend. I had been thinking about how most of the TV items here (and there aren’t enough) aren’t so dissimilar to the movie reviews. Nothing wrong with that – a lot of them are great – but we don’t consume TV in the same way as films at a cinema, and I thought I’d have a go at writing about TV in a way that might more closely reflect how I use it.

At a cinema, I am sitting down and giving pretty close to 100% attention to the screen, uninterrupted, through the whole movie. At home, I don’t do this very often. Even when I do, most channels provide interruptions anyway. And the phone might ring, or I pop into the kitchen for a drink or to put the oven on. Most of the time I’m looking at a book or magazine, or here at the PC browsing or chatting on AIM. Also, we don’t watch individual TV shows in quite such an isolated and dedicated way on other levels: cinema might involve reading reviews, making plans, watching the movie, then discussing it with friends afterwards. A TV show might involve just switching over from one show, then on to another straight afterwards – and one show can affect the others you watch. The actions of seeing a film at a cinema have some sort of other affect: the ritual seems to do a lot to suspend whatever mood I’m in, whereas this isn’t at all true of the vast majority of TV I watch. Also, we don’t review everything on TV, the way all proper-release films get reviewed everywhere – routine reruns of shows we love, news or sports coverage, will get ignored, unlike a big new series of something like Dr Who or Footballers’ Wives.

I thought the diary method I tried might suit these ideas, might offer a different way of talking about TV. It did mean I kept comments on each show short, but that’s not necessarily so bad. I don’t know how far I got with any of these notions, but it seemed worth the attempt.