TV Traveller Blog - Matt Graham

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Discovery’s new miniseries KLONDIKE, the Selfish Gene, and the Survival of Humanity.

07/08/13

  KLONDIKE is the Discovery Channel’s first ever scripted miniseries, about two men seeking their fortune in the Yukon gold rush in 1890’s Canada.  The show is produced by British veteran Ridley Scott and like US series DEADWOOD is about the wild frontier of North America. The frontier we often romanticize in the present as being all about “rugged individuality” and the “pioneer spirit”.  The idea that “its good to be selfish” underwrites much of society, and we’ve long talked about “the Selfish Gene” as something scientifically “good for …Read more...

Local vs Global

30/07/13

People like to recognize what they’re watching on TV.  Its reassuring.  But sometimes its good to see something new. Television allows us to go beyond our own experience and sample the experience of others.   In other words, TV allows people in one part of the world to watch what is Familiar in another.  That’s not always popular “locally” where some fear that TV audiences in one country could become seduced by “foriegn” shows from another country. Australia is a country with a historically complicated relationship to ideas …Read more...

“Sweet Talk”

22/07/13

KALAAM NAWAEM, or “Sweet Talk” has been called the Arab version of THE VIEW. If you have not already heard about it, “Sweet Talk” is an hour long women’s talk show that has been on air since 2002.  It has been a huge hit in the Arab world for sattelite broadcaster MBC.  The show has been credited with pushing social boundaries and in 2011 even hosted US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (see picture). In the West we often think of talk shows as day time filler programming, …Read more...

Why has Canada’s CONTINUUM been so successful?

16/07/13

A policewoman from the future is sent back in time to catch Terrorists who have declared war on society. This is CONTINUUM, a new science fiction show from Canada. The policewoman (known as a”Protector” in the parlance of her society) is named Kiera and she pursues these Anarchists through time to present day Vancouver. Once she arrives there however, she discovers that in fact these supposed “Terrorists” are actually right about quite a lot, and her own society which she so dutifully ‘protects’ is actually a lot less …Read more...

Mi pasion es por la velocidad — Univision’s new NASCAR telenovela…

08/07/13

On the NASCAR circuit, a beautiful female racing driver is torn between two male drivers, against whom she must race.  It sounds like a B movie, but its actually the plot of Univision’s new web based-Telenovela, ARRANQUE DEL PASION (FIT OF PASSION). The show premiered two months ago, airing on Univision’s web site as a series of five to seven minute episodes. The web show is evidence of the fact that America is changing, and with it, the country’s broadcasting landscape.   NASCAR is something that seems hopelessly …Read more...

Why are Telenovelas so huge in Africa?

01/07/13

When television executives from Telemundo visited Abidjan on the Ivory Coast in 2006, they observed how Muslim prayer times were brought forward – so that the locals could get home for their favorite telenovela. Latin Telenovelas are huge in Africa.  They’re so big that Africans have started making their own.  Here’s an image from a South African telenovela which was broadcast last year:   Now, nearly eight years after this initial visit, NBC Universal’s Telemundo is finally launching a pay tv service in Africa in August.  The service …Read more...

A Short History of Reality TV in Hungary

14/06/13

Hungary used to be a grim Communist dictatorship where people could be shot for wanting a better life – until a group of intellectuals led a popular rising in 1989.   These intellectuals started a massive process of change in Hungary, but they found that it did not quite go as they had planned…because it quickly led to a new crisis; only a few years after the Velvet Revolution, the Hungarian people were apparently using their new found freedom to stay at home and watch WHO WANTS TO …Read more...

Why is Homeland is a hit in Spain…?

07/06/13

A recent report in the Spanish press stated that the most popular American series in Spain was HOMELAND, which at times had almost 10% of Spanish viewers — a figure representing millions of people. The drama has become the most popular foreign show to appear on Spanish screens. HOMELAND is a good example of how shows from different cultures can work all over the world; its an adaptation of an Israeli original series (see an earlier blog) which was successfully made into a big budget US drama, and …Read more...

A key lesson in adapting drama formats…

31/05/13

  The LA Screenings show how much crossover there is in the global entertainment industry. THE BRIDGE tells the story of a body found exactly midway across the international bridge between the United States and Mexico (and a virtual metaphor for international co-production; though the show is made by Shine America with FX, the original version was Danish-Swedish), almost the only place on Earth where the First and and the Third Worlds actually meet. Attentional looks at the way audiences react to shows. A common reason however behind …Read more...

The Queen of Communism

22/05/13

You might think that one of the world’s last remaining Communist countries might be an unlikely testing ground for your new show, but in the case of Korean show QUEEN OF HOUSEWIVES, that’s exactly what’s happened. Communist Cuba has no relations with South Korea (which is the site of the biggest US military base in the world) but the story of a housewife trying to help her unemployed husband get a job has been a massive hit in the Island republic, where its broadcast on state-run Canal Havana. …Read more...

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