Why Britain can’t do The Wire

prospectFlicking through the Guardian Media this am, I found this interesting piece on the state of UK TV drama. The full feature is worth a look at prospectmagazine.co.uk here.

One of the many interesting observations is the quirk that in the US soaps play in the day, whereas over here they dominate our primetime slots. That’s true. But what has interested me for some time is the reverse.

Not one of these glossy high-quality US primetime shows has cut it on UK primetime – invariably they get shunted to late night on pay-tv, or worse, dumped on daytime.

Now, I love having Psych or Monk or Diagnosis Murder on in the background while I’m working, but I do still find it odd to find the X Files or Desperate Housewives on at 11 in the morning. It’s like these once proud water-cooler moments have withered in front of my eyes, and now have to schlep for a living against reruns of The Champions or Space 1999.

The Prospect Magazine feature’s main contention is the centrality of the writer, or rather writers and the writer’s room, to US production – a point often made by Lee Goldberg in his excellent blog. While this is obviously true it is important to remember that  the writer’s room can also churn out turkeys, and is a system created to support US TV’s insistence on producing truckloads of the same show.

For example, I love Monk. But did it really have to go on for 8 seasons? I recently watched season 6 again and I don’t think I laughed once. Not even when Sarah Silverman was on screen. The ideas were obvious and the writing flat. Sometimes less is more.

Still, must be fun to have someone to bounce ideas off. Can’t wait to try it one day!

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About microfilums

Writer & director.
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