Saturday, December 12, 2009

Je ne veux pas attender....

Ok, well yes I do.  I don't know if anyone will even get the joke, because of how dated it is.  You remember how when we were kids, we always got told about how European kids don't watch nearly as much television as Americans and they played outside or read, or whatever it is your parents wanted to you do instead?  I now know the reason why.

So we'll start with a brief explanation of French TV, as I understand it.  There are really only about 5 television channels in the country with regional affiliates based in the larger towns in each region.  Television shows also only last about 20 minutes, but unlike the US as well, they have a 10 minute commercial break at the end of the show.  There are no breaks in the show for ads, unless the show is long.  Then they will occasionally have breaks.

Now, as we were all taught in our French classes, there was one other option, one additional channel you could buy, called Canal +.  It's basically a one channel version of our cable systems in the US.  It works exactly the same as network television, except it's one channel.  Now, of course, that was a while ago.  Now they have CanalSAT, which is basically the French equivalent of satellite television.  They have something like 100 channels including programming in German, English, even some Eastern European, and most shocking to an American Al Jazeera.  Of course, they have the English version, but well, the Arabic version is way more fun to watch.

French shows are generally lost on me, as I am still even figuring out the way humor works in this country.  It goes without saying that American humor is greatly different from the French, but well, that's just a given.  They have a lot of panel shows.  They sit down, and talk about current events.  It's actually quite similar to the sort of stuff that Bill Maher did with Politically Incorrect.  It's not that I am not interested (and every now and again, something clicks) but it's just not something I entirely understand.

American television has caused me to be used to a system of sensationalism, and of big season premieres.  They hype up months in advance and talk about how great shows are, and we get all excited.  Of course, three-quarters of the show are crap, and will be canceled in a week. So in that way I have to say that it's refreshing to not have various forms of "must see TV." 

One of the interesting things that should be noted in France is that you actually pay a charge of 120 euros a year for a television tax.  However, all the money goes to public television.  Their public television shows movies, and other things that we would find questionable in the US.  (I have seen more boobs on French television than I have seen in real life.)  However, there are also no pledge drives, and they never had Julia or Jacques.  Whom I grew up with and love, madly. 

One of the things that's notable in France is the shear numbers of American television series that make it over here.  Of course there's Desperate Housewives, Lost, Gray's Anatomy, but these are network shows, and are wildly popular.  Even if I don't like them, I can see how people would enjoy them. I also do have to admit, I was incredibly excited when I saw that there was a station here that was showing Leverage, which I love, and sincerely hope that I will get to see over here.

More bizarre is the French love of old shows.  Of course, not being French, I consider, like most Americans, they either have no programming budget or they just have no ideas on what to run, so they show old stuff.  So there are a lot of old series that used to be popular in the US that are still on French television.  I have seen episodes of Charlie's Angels, Knot's Landing, etc.  So there's some stuff that when I see it, I just don't understand.

But this tendency is not limited to live action series.  I have seen Saint Seiya, Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, lots of Dragonball Z, and other shows of that caliber.  It's not to say it's not nice to have a bit of a flashback.  In reality, some nostalgia is a good thing.  Of course, this is French nostalgia, not American, so I'm a bit lost. 

My biggest issue has been with this station, June.  Basically it's a channel for young women.  So it's going to run love series, and crap like that.  What really makes me laugh is Dawson's Creek.  Yes, you heard me, Dawson's Creek.  I mean, seriously.  It was crap when it came on in the US, and it's crap now.  It doesn't age well, and when I point this out to the people watching it, they are unappreciative. 

I should also mention that I have been exposed to  far more of these shows than I care to remember, as my partner is a huge fan of such series as One Tree Hill, Dawson's Creek, of course, and the bane of my existence, Charmed.  So I had to sit through that back in the US. Woo hoo.....

 I should put a disclaimer on this by saying that this is my opinion.  I hate these shows, and that is my choice.  There are shows that I watch that my partner can't stand, mainly because I watched them ad nauseum.  I love Rachel Maddow, and he doesn't mind it.  Except that I could watch like 6 episodes in a row.  The same thing goes for Ina Garten and anything with Giada De Laurentiis.

Now after that, I need to take a lie down.  I've worked myself up, and I am sore from yesterday's trip to the swimming pool.

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