I’d like to tell you how fucked up German broadcast television is.
Really, it’s an insult to viewers.
There’s no continuity. Unless it’s some staged “reality show” or “docu-drama” featuring a local wanna-be starlet with big tits or a Promi washed-up celebrity we’ve never heard of, it’s impossible to follow any weekly TV series. Characters’ age, voices, hair styles and relationships change abruptly. The dead can reappear at any given moment.
No, we’re not talking about marathon sessions of Walking Dead, this is regular TV programming where an Ashton Kutcher episode of Two and a Half Men immediately follows one in which Charlie Sheen is very much alive — as if the producers of an evening’s light entertainment had intended viewers to track parallel universes, alternative time lines and cases of déjà vu. You could, for instance, be sitting down to watch the next three Season 8 episodes of NCIS (because we were somewhere in Season 8 last week, right?) but, instead, you’re shown three random episodes from previous seasons where the deceased are back on active duty.
Seriously, they do this! It’s an incoherent mess.
Even blockbuster movies can get interrupted by the news, the weather, and a disproportionate number of adverts for dairy products before the next movie starts, leaving the viewer to plot his own story about how the previous movie ended. Oh, and next week there will be no NCIS at all; instead, we’ll just drop in two episodes of some new Canadian series, and two weeks after that we’ll start NCIS again. From the beginning. Of Season 5. Meanwhile, the Canadian show gets slotted in between another set of dairy product adverts. Or another channel entirely – who knows, who cares?
Certainly not German TV viewers. They seem to have lost the plot entirely because this nonsense has been going on for years.
Soon enough we began to follow the supernatural adventures of Detective Burkhardt (the Grimm) although sometimes we did get irritated by inexplicable jumps and plot holes because, alas, some of the more juicy scenes had been crudely butchered censored out. Childish – but hey, this is Germany where real tits are suitable for prime time TV while a fake severed arm isn’t.
Occasionally, we missed the regular broadcast slot of Mondays at 21:15, so we caught the repeat that was shown after midnight and following what appears to be a haphazard sequence of CSI: NY episodes (and the obligatory dairy product adverts). It was then that we noticed the lack of illogical jumps; a direct comparison between the 21:15 and past-midnight episodes eventually revealed that the latter hadn’t been butchered. Great! Hooray for severed heads!
Order had been restored.
This became the slot we followed henceforth. Season 1 flowed into Season 2, but then things got rather haywire: previously-aired episodes of Season 1 appeared randomly. WTF? Although Grimm is a monster-of-the-week show, there is a story arch which now got unnecessarily fragmented. We were not impressed but soldiered through to the expected cliff-hanger at the end of Season 2.
A few months later Season 3 dutifully appeared. Regular after-midnight viewing resumed.
All was well until, suddenly — no Grimm!
“Maybe it’s because the World Cup is on,” we figured, “it’ll probably be back next week.”
Well, it wasn’t back the following week, nor the week after, nor did it ever reappear after the World Cup. Somewhere in the first half of Season 3, VOX simply ceased broadcast of Grimm — just like that, no explanation given other than a silent “Fuck you, dear viewer! Here’s a bunch of adverts and repeats of other shit instead.”
They’re turning the act of turning on the TV set into a pure waste of time by turning away viewers. I’m trying hard to understand how cord cutters fit into their business model.
American viewers, meanwhile, are gearing up for Season 4 while I’m getting ready to give up on TV and either stream via Netflix or just get the DVD box sets — so we can view them in sequence, uncut, and uninterrupted by dairy product adverts.
Image credits: NBC + George Spigot