The sun now sets on TV

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Round 2!

TV is a huge of part of almost all of our lives, it offers a medium from which we can get our news, draws inspiration for all those office water-cooler conversations.  It has the power to make us smile, make us weep, make us feel more informed, make us angry, unite us, divide us.  It has allowed us to be more connected to the world around us, it has brought so many important events into our homes, both inspiring and depressing. TV allowed us all to witness the collapse of the Berlin Wall, it allowed us to take those first steps into freedom with Nelson Mandela, it sadly brought us all too close to those horrific events on the 11th September, 2001.

Now I personally have never been a fan of the bashing of TV, never been a fan of those who labour under the delusion that by not owning a TV, one becomes a superior human being.  After all, it is not the TV itself that ‘dumbs people down’, it is what they choose to watch on it.  There are plenty of intelligent, engaging programmes around that allow people to become engaged in for example politics, the natural world around us, to educate us about history, about engineering, about science. There are even some quality dramas around, which can both entertain and engage us.  Even the news, obvious agendas aside, is still a useful way to allows us to keep up to date with current affairs.  TV isn’t just about shallow, vacuous pesudo-reality shows, its not just about an endless stream of insipid talent shows, there is still plenty of engaging, interesting content to be found on the box in the corner of the room. (Disclosure, I do enjoy light entertainment quiz shows such as The Chase or Pointless, I never claimed to be a role model!)

Rambling aside, do I think TV is still relevant in this digital age?  In a word, no.  The purpose that it once served, bringing the world into your front room, can now be served much quicker through using the internet.  If you want to read the news for example, you can now almost instantly read whatever story you were interested in within seconds.  Thanks to social media and YouTube, you can get even closer to any breaking news around the world, and you can see the stories for yourself, rather than through the eyes of a national news organisation with whatever agenda it has.  The internet age is allowing more and more of us access to real, factual accounts of events and lets us put our own interpretation on them rather than viewing someone else’s.  Even in terms of entertainment, the internet age is slowly winning over the age of the TV.  Online streaming services (such as Netflix, my own particular choice) allow people the choice to watch what they want, when they want.  Whilst the selection is limited to whatever the servers host, people can still find whatever they like in there and watch it instantly, without adverts and they can watch as much as they want in one sitting.  In an age where people have less free time, online streaming allows the viewer more control.  Rather than having to stick to TV scheduling, people can watch their favourite shows at a time which is convenient to them.  On a personal level, I only ever really watch the television for football or any other big sporting event.  My entertainment mainly comes from sources such as Netflix, or through catch-up TV services such as the BBC iPlayer.  I even enjoy some original content creators online, both via YouTube and Maker/Blip or through their own websites.  I also still have a decent collection of DVDs, which provide the same function that online streaming does in that I can watch what I want, when I want.

The internet allows all of us to access everything instantly, whatever news or entertainment we desire.  When we are able to access everything now, why wait until the TV schedules will show something?  Why wait for the news bulletins at 6, or why wait for the 24 hour news cycle to cover a story when we can just go online and in seconds find out the information we want?

However I’m sure this discussion was had when TV took over from radio and yet radio still carries on today, strong as ever (granted mostly through people at work or people travelling).  Television won’t ever completely die, I feel we will still turn to television during the big events of the day, whether they be news, or sports, or entertainment.  But for most of our everyday lives, the internet/social media/streaming is now king.

My adventure with the boys from the Dwarf…

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(As someone who is notoriously indecisive, I’ll be doing a couple of these.  I also love film and TV, so yeah, there’ll be a bombardment of my mediocre offerings.  I can only apologise in advance)

Some of my earliest memories of TV have been sci-fi related.  One of my earliest (and longest lasting) loves has been the space sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf, which operates in a similar vein to Doctor Who in that the premise allows the characters to move freely within time and (mostly) space.  A brief introduction for the uninitiated, the show centres around the titular mining ship, wandering aimlessly throughout the universe 3 million years into deep space.  Contained within this ship are our cast of hardy space adventurers, trying to find their way back to Earth.  Our cast of brave souls is as follows:

Dave Lister:  The last human in existence.  Lone human survivor of a nuclear accident which wiped out the entirety of the Red Dwarf crew (he was in stasis at the time).  Lister finds himself awoken 3 million years away from the future, and away from home. Doomed to wander space and time forever, unless he can find a way home.  Loves: slobbing, beer, curries and more slobbing.  Hates: cleanliness, order and pot based noodle snacks

Arnold Rimmer: A hologram of Listers dead bunkmate.  A man of tremendous cowardice and great pettiness.  Totally dedicated to his (non) career, to the deficit of his relationships with his fellow humans.  The character I probably identified with most as I was growing up incidentally, make of that what you will!

Kryten: A service robot rescued from the wreckage of another spaceship, arguably prissier than C3P0.  Kryten lives to serve, takes great pleasure in menial tasks and is almost entirely subservient to the rest of the crew.  Develops a rebellious streak as time goes by (not always consistently, but this is a comedy and notoriously inconsistent with almost everything it does)

The Cat:  A creature evolved from cats, behaves pretty much as you’d imagine a human-cat hybrid would. Vain, self-obsessed and incredibly stupid.  Pretty much the comedy foil to every other character.

I know it’s a long winded opening but it’s all necessary to reach my point. Which is basically if I could enjoy a consequence free visit to the future, I would spend it with the boys from the Dwarf!  It’d be interesting to visit alternate dimensions and visit my counterparts, to see how changing even the smallest decisions in my lifetime would affect me.  I’d quite like to visit the backwards universe, cause it would probably be the only time I could experience a world without crime, without war and without hatred (although granted Christmas wouldn’t be anywhere near as fun, and don’t get me started on the lavatory or eating arrangements!)  It would be interesting to see if we really are alone in this universe, if there is any alien life hiding in the darkest recesses of existence, and whether or not they are friendly (for the record, there are space creatures in RD, but they’re all creatures of human design.)  Mainly I guess it would just be nice to spend time with characters who I grew up with and being part of their unlikely band of brothers.  Others may wish to spend time upon the Starship Enterprise or suchlike, exploring the universe with a brave and dashing crew.  But that’s not for me, give me this rag-tag bunch of smeg-heads any day of the week.  Plus who doesn’t want to be waited hand-on-foot by the admirable Kryten!