Television: highs and lows of Summer 2013

I don’t watch much TV these days. I get my news from the internet (Twitter and various news apps), and there are very few ‘entertainment’ programmes that interest me. I’ve been a great fan of CSI, so I’m distraught that the Miami franchise has been pulled without reaching a proper conclusion, and that the final series of CSI-NY is being shown currently. That will leave the Vegas series, and without Grissom and Catherine Willows, who I felt to be the strongest actors, it’s not what it was.

However, there have been a few programmes this summer that I’ve enjoyed. They include ‘The Returned’ (amazing, with a sequel to look forward to), ‘Top of the Lake’, ‘Under the Dome’, and ‘Guilty’. There is also Brian Cox’s ‘Science Britannica’, which I’m enjoying in spite of being no fan of the presenter. In the case of ‘The Returned’, I will associate it with my travel earlier in the summer, since I watched it in so many different places (it aired on a Sunday night, when I was often en route to somewhere, so I saw several episodes in hotels).

One related topic that I have a major issue with is the way the BBC and the other providers are pushing internet catchup services, which seem to assume that everyone always has excellent WiFi access, everywhere. For example, something called the BBC Radio Player has been extensively advertised recently. OK, if you are in an area with good WiFi you can use it to listen to services like Radio 5 live, but the implication that you can use it while travelling is simply misleading! For example, I am writing this post on a Virgin train from Glasgow to Crewe. There is WiFi, but you have to pay for it, and the service quality is inconsistent from my experience of using it in the past. Then there’s an advertisement where someone is watching athletics on TV, and then goes outside to keep watching it online. That’s asking a lot of any home broadband service, and could easily give the impression that anyone could do something similar. And my final gripe is with the BBC iplayer, which still doesn’t work properly on some devices – for example you can stream programmes with the Android version, but not download them, which would be far more useful, e.g. for travelling. The basic message is that all these services are being over-hyped when the necessary infrastructure to support them simply isn’t in place yet.

I was recently in a department store where the latest TV equipment was on display. Very impressive high resolution screens and extensive connectivity options (USB ports etc) are a feature of these latest devices, but again, they depend on an internet connection. Whether it is ever worthwhile investing in one of these ‘super TVs’ depends on what happens to TV services and programmes going forward, as well as the availability and cost of internet services.

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