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The TOTEM Poll: Totally Off Topic, Everything Media
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Old July 27th, 2009, 02:39 AM   #1
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Overhyped Drama on TV

Let me start off by saying that I don't actually have a TV. I torrent and download pretty much everything I watch so I might be more exposed to this because of the TV that I do watch.

Recently I've been noticing that television programs, primarily some wildlife shows but other types of reality based programs as well, are really over hyping the drama and danger that the characters in that program experience. Or perhaps it's just me. I like to relax with a nice, mellow wildlife or travel documentary. I'm not interested in remaining on the edge of my seat, sweating it out over what's going to happen to some personality on the program next. It seems some of these shows have moved their focus away from the subject and onto the crew though.

For example, I just downloaded a 5 part BBC series called Amazon Abyss. After watching an episode you'd think that death lurked around the corner of every rock or bend in the river. They play up the fact that there are piranha in the river even though a human has never been known to be killed by them. The narrator carries on about lack of visibility and how they can't see the bottom, let alone each other. They're in about 10 feet of water.

Another program that I thought was a fantastic opportunity to show off the peoples, wildlife and topography of Africa was Expedition Africa, that is until I saw it was a Mark Burnett production. The entire show centered on the bickering of the participants and again, the constant danger.

Last but certainly not the least would be Whale Wars. OK, the people are engaged in a dangerous choice of hobbies, going after whalers in the Arctic, but really, does the power going out for 3 minutes warrant 15 minutes of airtime on their dire and deadly situation?

Does anyone else find some of these programs these days to be way over hyped or is it just me? Does it annoy you as well? Does Extreme Home Makeover really need to run against the clock while dragging every tear it can out of the people on the receiving end of the new home? It certainly seems that if you have a dramatic vocal ability you could make a killing narrating a lot of these programs on TV these days.

I just wanted to get that out. Rant over. :)
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Old July 27th, 2009, 07:05 AM   #2
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Yeah, IMO also just about every TV documentary I've ever watched is HUBAR (hyped up beyond all recognition). Chris will probably cringe for my using a twisted term like this on DVinfo, but I would label most of these shows as "docu-tainment."

Being in the human spaceflight business, I've seen very few space documentaries that were not similarly hyped, and/or stretched out, and/or done in such a sloppy way that the voice talent couldn't even be bothered to pronounce terms correctly. The whole "2 minutes of info packed into a 60 minute program (including commercials)" thing annoys me to no end...draaaaaagging out a small story. How many times have I told myself, "I could sit down right now and before bedtime write a better 60 minute documentary script with more facts and life than this."

Ah, well, there is never enough time to jump into a big project. But one day I shall do it! Hopefully many fellow DVinfo'ers will also jump in and raise the bar on programming quality.
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Old July 27th, 2009, 07:32 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Pete Bauer View Post
Yeah, IMO also just about every TV documentary I've ever watched is HUBAR (hyped up beyond all recognition). Chris will probably cringe for my using a twisted term like this on DVinfo, but I would label most of these shows as "docu-tainment."
Oh good it's not just me then. Right now I'm editing a DVD of a trip I took a couple of years back. In that trip I traveled roughly 12,000 miles through the US. I went down the west coast, into Mexico, around the south west and then straight up the center back to Canada. I'm hard pressed to pull out an hour and a half of fun, useful, interesting footage out of the hours of video that I shot. Now, if I were to include the times I ran out of gas, got bogged down in sand, stuck in the rain, lost, etc then I'm sure I could have a full 12 episode season of 30 minute programs but I'm not in it for the money or to drag it out. I want people to enjoy themselves and see the beauty of the U.S., not my mug bickering about being stuck in the sand in Slab City. Docu-tainment. Good one. :)
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Old July 27th, 2009, 11:07 PM   #4
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And what about those "seconds from death" (or whatever) reproduction where they reconstruct airline crashes? Every time you come back from a break they take their opportunity to refresh the memory of your goldfish.

Andrew
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Old July 28th, 2009, 05:39 AM   #5
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Yo. . .it's all about ratings and whatnot. Just like reality TV isn't very real, because when you put real people in front of a camera and just start rolling, not much happens, and so producers must either script or seed drama into these shows, they have to similarly hype up your documentaries, fearing that the core subject matter without the drama/danger factor isn't interesting enough for the dumbies of the world. Which it may not be.
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Old July 28th, 2009, 11:04 AM   #6
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Originally Posted by Andrew Smith View Post
And what about those "seconds from death" (or whatever) reproduction where they reconstruct airline crashes? Every time you come back from a break they take their opportunity to refresh the memory of your goldfish.

Andrew
Those "Worlds Wildest Videos" do that all the time. "A crazed aligator goes bezerk in a suburban town, almost killing some of it's residents" meanwhile, the video shows a gator just laying there, on someones lawn. Or, "Quick thinking by this driver, avoids near death" meanwhile, the car just swerves on ice to avoid a pretty minor accident. Things like that, make me laugh sometimes though.
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