Ok, you’ve just watched the first segment of a TV programme about ‘Dave’ – a man with an irrational fear of pastry who has just returned to his job at the local cake factory after a 3 year break. He is traumatised, but takes his first real step to recovery when he handles a box of jam tarts. The big question is: How will he cope when he is asked to put the filling in to the short crust apple pies? Join us after the break to find out – when we’ll also see how Dave takes his wife’s ultimatum (cut to shot of Dave’s wife):
“You either eat my steak and kidney pie or we’re finished, Dave!”
Oh, the excitement.
I’m tired and it’s a slow TV night, so for some reason that currently escapes me, I make myself a cup of tea and return to await the fate of Dave and his pastry paranoia.
Cue irritating musical sting, followed by a patronising voiceover
“Before the break we met Dave, a self confessed scaredy-cat when it comes to pastry based products. He’s been fighting his phobia for over 3 years now, following his horrific industrial accident involving a giant mixing bowl. The incident left him with terrible mental scars and quite a nasty flour intolerance.”
“We saw how the phobia had changed his home life with his wife Mandy and how he is now bravely fighting back by returning to his job at the local cake factory. Dave managed to successfully pack a box of jam tarts, but how will he cope with his next challenge?”
The logical part of my brain tells me that this recap is predominantly for those people who missed the first segment of the programme. It gives the late comers a chance to catch-up and hopefully increase the viewing figures.
However, another part of my brain says ‘Oh, you missed the beginning of the show? Tough! Get over it. Catch the repeat if you’re that perturbed or, better still, use your mind and intellect to work out what’s happened and fill in the gaps yourself’!
The ‘Infinity Re-cap
As if this wasn’t bad enough, we get exactly the same sequence of events at the beginning of the next segment, and the one after that until the end of the show. Only each ‘recap’ is longer than the previous update as the producers seem to feel the need to recap everything that has gone before. So in the end you have a programme that is scheduled for an hour. Of that hour there are approximately 15 minutes worth of commercials, taking the content down to 45 minutes. Then you have to factor in at least 25 minutes of recap footage, for those of us with early onset of dementia. Making the content of a supposedly 1 hour show, a mere 20 minutes. And this is when looking at UK TV – I wouldn’t even want to do the math for a US show.
Kitchen Nightmares USA
Speaking of US shows, I have now had to give up on ‘Kitchen Nightmares USA’. I was a big fan of the UK version of Ramsay’s culinary swear fest, but the US version is so dumbed down, I’d get more mental stimulus watching my underwear go round in the washing machine for an hour. Not only does it suffer from the ‘recap to infinity’ syndrome, it also has a bad case of ‘over dramatisation-itis’.
“There is full scale panic in the kitchen as Chef Ramsay discovers that one of the chefs has over seasoned the pork,” growls Hollywood Voiceover man.
“Hmm, there’s a bit too much salt in this mate,” Ramsay calmly states.
“Oh. Ok.” replies the chef.
My God, the drama, the tension. It’s almost unbearable. Hollywood Voiceover man then precedes to give a brief outline of the above conversation (that we have watched literally seconds before). We are also treated to a slow motion replay of the salt being poured into a saucepan and Ramsay tasting the dish. After a few minutes of this, I almost long for the post commercial recaps we get on some trashy UK programmes.
BBC & HBO – The Good Guys
This always happens to me when I decide to stray away from the tried and trusted providers of HBO and The BBC. Thankfully both of these are still making great TV. From HBO’s The Wire (only just being shown on British terrestrial TV this week) to The BBC’s Rome (actually BBC/HBO co-production) and dozens of others in between, they really are miles ahead of the competition. In fact, I will be writing a future post going in to more detail about what makes their programming stand out.
But for now I will try to wipe my mind of the ‘infinity recap’ and the mind numbingly banal subjects of most of our TV schedules these days, by digging out an episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm. 40 minutes of unpredictable BS-free comedy.
Just to recap . . . at the beginning of the blog we discovered how the author was annoyed with inane, repetitive recaps of events he’d only just witnessed. We then went on to look at . . . . . ok, let me just file that joke away in the file marked ‘Labouring A Point’.
As usual, I would love to hear your feedback, along with suggestions for future rants and musings. Please Retweet, follow and recommend to your heart’s content.