Television, she is a fickle mistress. Sometimes it’s great, mostly it’s awful rubbish. Then, in the early 90s we experienced a sudden uplift in the number of television shows from different countries dropping into our television schedules. This wasn’t a completely new thing, as we’d been used to imports since the early 80s, with Dallas, Dynasty, Neighbours and others besides filling many people’s television time on terrestrial TV. But, because it was part of the schedule, it was accepted and seen as normal.

However, the early adopters of BSkyB and Sky were caught up to by the rest of us, because it became clear that there was a healthy appetite for television imports, so broadcasters realised they didn’t have to go wasting time and energy coming up with so many new ideas, and could instead go shopping for other people’s instead!

This approach swings in all directions, of course, with British television finding plenty of traction in other countries, but I’m concerned here with the big imports, mainly American, to UK screens, which I just never watched and can’t see that happening, unless I end up in traction for a few months.

1. The West Wing

Let’s get straight down with it then, shall we? Never seen The West Wing. Read about it. Heard about it. Seen clips of it. Seen lots of photos and responses to it. But, as will become a common thread here, I never caught it near the beginning and thereafter it’s a bloody hard slog to get involved with these. Yes, yes, it’s brilliant and I should watch it. But I don’t care enough about actual American political bullshit, let alone spend days of my life watching made up versions. Sorry.

2. Mad Men.

Another ‘brilliant’ show, of which I have seen not one jot. I don’t know anyone who has either I think. Certainly no-one who’s so ‘stoked’ about it that they’ve mentioned it to me. Looks great from what I see, and I like one of the guys in it, but watching Americans being cool, or not, or whatever suggests a real buy-in is required and I haven’t handed that particular buy-in token to this show.

3. The Killing/The Killing.

I could also put Wallander/Wallander in here, but The Killing is far more recent. Police procedural dramas leave me cold, unless there’s something funny or ironic in it. If there isn’t then I just feel like I’m watching people pretending. I know that that is what it is, of course, but once you get that thought into your head, it’s impossible to get it out. Gloomy murders, bleak personalities, broken lives? Taggart. It’s all just Taggart.

4. Lost.

This was more a personal thing than anything. Someone I don’t like really liked this and went on and on about how amazing it was and how it would ‘bend my mind’ and I thought, fuck you and fuck that. Turns out that Lost bottomed-out anyway and pretty much disappointed everyone who watched it, so no biggie there. I like the general premise of this but, even after the fact, and the opportunity to watch it without being bothered by the connection to the aforementioned cock-end, I look at those two massive series boxed-sets and think, ‘Sheesh. That’s one for after the car crash’.

5. Downton Abbey

I’ve included this just to break up the obvious point here, that I don’t buy into the hype and dramatic lead-ins to big US imports, irrespective of their massive production values or big name stars. Downton Abbey is one of those things though, and there are lots of them, where UK television attempts to create the same level of excitement but has neither the balls nor the money to do anything original or exciting. The biggest things on television from the UK are retreads of old ideas, even literal old programmes. The idea that a whole new generation needs to see this kind of massive stately home drama horseshit is beyond me. It’s so very serious and dry and all I think of when I look at it is PG Wodehouse. Gosford Park is to blame for this, and that was a load of boring old ballbags.

So, there. How very exciting and fulfilling that must’ve been. I will pipe in here though and say that I do quite like The Mentalist, although it’s not very good anymore. Suits is promising too. Just saying like.

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