Casting a brief glance over this month’s TV offerings, you might be forgiven for thinking that you’ve seen a lot of these shows somewhere before. The broadcasting high point of Christmas and the New Year are well and truly over, and with it the box marked “original drama” seems to be running low. Sure, over on Sky you’ve got the return of two of the most talked about drama series in recent years, Game of Thrones and Mad Men. But for students stuck with their JCR’s freeview or iPlayer, you can’t scan the latest programmes from ITV and the BBC without feeling like you’ve seen them somewhere before.
It’s the battle of the stale and predictable talent show formats, and The Voice is coming out top as Britain’s Got Talent has been forced to retreat to another time slot. This isn’t all that surprising, considering how much money the BBC has ejaculated over its pet project in an attempt to make sure that it’s not an embarrassing flop.
In what is presumably an attempt to distract from the fact that they’re jumping on the bandwagon a few years late,The Voice has been repackaged as something of an anti-Cowellian talent show. And, to be fair, the ratings demonstrate that this is a tactic that has so far paid off. Gone is the ritualistic humiliation of the audition rounds, as the programme repeatedly emphasises that it’s musical talent, not appearance, which matters. But it’s here where this utopian idea of a friendly TV talent show format begins to show cracks. So, Jessie J, with your punchy nickname, trademark bob, attention-grabbing outfits and all round carefully cultivated public persona, tell me more about how image really doesn’t matter?
On the topic of repackaging, TV critics have been gleefully digging out the metaphors for Julian Fellowes’ Titanic, aka Downton Abbey-On-Sea. Its lack of success has opened the flood gates for more “witty”gags: Titanic is sinking! They said that its Fellowes pedigree meant that it couldn’t fail, but the jagged iceberg of popular opinion is ripping holes in its stern! Or something like that.
All Titanic has drawn attention to is that Downton Abbey (whisper it) wasn’t very good in the first place, so sticking the same plots and characters in a setting that’s going to have everyone yearning for the good old days of Jack and Rose was never going to be the best move. And if you thought that the epic love story of Jack and Rose was a bit soggy, wait until you meet Annie and Paolo. Their longing glances over the cutlery have finally culminated in a marriage proposal, a plot line wetter than the ship’s passengers once they’d been dunked in the water for about an hour…. OK, enough with the tasteless Titanic metaphors.
Oh, and check it out- Annie is played by Jenna-Louise Coleman, the same actress who will soon be taking over as the next Doctor Who companion. In a ground-breaking move, one leggy, beautiful young female companion has been replaced by another leggy, beautiful young female companion. An eccentric, unpredictable, centuries-old man kidnaps attractive, impressionable girls and takes them away travelling with him? I’m pretty sure that’s what they were warning us about in primary school. Stranger danger, kids.