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May 27, 2006

Greek TV fiascos

Fans of complaining about the BBC's schedules back in the UK would have a field day here in Greece.

Time-keeping seems optional for most channels. If you want to watch something it is usually safest to turn that channel on at least 15 minutes before the advertised programme time. Sometimes we have switched 'Malcolm in the Middle' on at 8pm when it was scheduled to start, and literally seen the last four minutes of the show. So more like 'Malcolm right-at-the-end'.

Things change a lot too. We settled down one evening to watch Pirates of the Caribbean as scheduled in the TV listings. "I see not these pirates" I commented as the opening scenes of "Pretty Woman" filled the screen.

Another trouble is that because the Greek television media here is barely regulated - that is a topic for a post in its own right - channels can show as many adverts as they want. So very often an English language movie will feature around 25 minutes of advertising per hour. You can start watching a 90 minute film at 10pm, and not have it finish until 00:45am!

Or take this example of bizarre scheduling. Claire started watching a mini-series called "And the Sea Will Tell Us" on the Makedonia channel. It was on at the same time each night for three days, and then disappeared from the schedules without a warning, so she didn't get to see the end. About two weeks later we were flicking through the channels when she suddenly spotted it again. They were re-showing one of the episodes she had seen a couple of weeks before!

Or the fact that sometimes the Star channel thinks that playing two-part episodes of Smallville in the right order is optional. Still, even in the wrong order, at least they cleared up one mystery. I've really enjoyed Smallville over here, and couldn't understand why I had never watched it back in the UK - until this week. It turns out that the first episode I saw in the UK a couple of years ago was one where for ongoing-story-arc reasons the young Clark Kent was acting out of character like a boorish jock, and trying to resist the temptation of using his special powers to get onto his senior year american football team. I just assumed the whole thing was about sulky teenage superheroes, jocks, and being unhappy in USA high schools, and life's too short for another series like that when you've already watched Buffy from start to finish.

There also seems to be very little monitoring of the actual output. Both Claire and I have started watching or tried to record programmes that were broadcast in silence. Then there was the time Claire settled down to watch a movie. She got seven minutes into it and the screen flipped and it re-started from the beginning. She got seven minutes into it and the screen flipped and it re-started from the beginning. She got seven minutes into it and the screen flipped and it re-started from the beginning. She got seven minutes into it and the screen flipped and it re-started from the beginning. She gave up the fifth time the movie started playing the loop.

And there is also the basic question of taste - Easter Sunday's afternoon treat on one channel was a one-and-a-half-hour "best of" Benny Hill compilation. Complete with all of the 'hilarious' sketches where Benny does his impersonations of Japanese people. Benny Hill on Easter Sunday I stress again. Right-ho.

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Ok, I know it's only tangentially related, but I thought you might be interested to know that they are filming Smallville on our block this week... I had no idea it was a Vancouver production!

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