Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Small Print

A busy weekend just gone and a busy week at the moment, which means that it was only this that I got around to reading Charlie Brooker’s weekly Screen Burn column in The Guardian’s free listing magazine, The Guide, from Saturday. It wasn’t exactly the typical fun read, instead turning out to be a dire portent of the horrors to come.

One of the nasty habits the UK has picked up from the US is to fuck around with end credits on television programmes. Granted it’s not exactly in the same league as conducting into illegal invasions of foreign countries, but the nerd in me loves the end credit sequences to find out who was involved in the making of the programmes. That aside, it’s just nice to have a brief respite to digest what I’ve just watched.

Over the past years the UK channels have begun screwing around with programme end credits more and more. It was bad enough having the continuity announcers with their unusual dialects mouthing off over the end music. Then we had the credits squashed to one side as the screen was invaded by a visual trail for the upcoming programmes.

Of course the real offenders were the independent channels. ITV may do it, but I rarely watch anything they have to offer so I don’t really know and don’t give a shit. Channel 4 is more problematic, ruining the playout of the imported American dramas.

Except now the BBC are seriously getting in on the act. On the BBC website, their Credit Guidelines page spells out how the “end credit architecture” will be applied to programmes, starting from Monday June 4th 2007. A number of mock-ups show how programme end credits, now centred, are going to be reduced by less than 50 percent so that all kinds of other crap can be sprayed over the screen.

So this:

Becomes this:

Or this:

The thing is, I can fucking well read. So before the television is turned on I look through the Radio Times (other listings magazines are available) to find out what’s on rather than automatically flick the box on and simply let the evening pass, staring blankly at whatever the hell is on. Surprisingly I’m also picky about what I watch, which means that I don’t simply stick my snout in the same channel however much they try to convince me.

Which means I don’t need to know – or don’t want to know - what is on next before the programme I’ve actually elected to watch has finished. Especially if it’s cocking Judge John Deed up next.


At 2:44 am, Blogger deepstructure said...

actually those are much better credit killers than what we have over here. someone put some thought into that. and really, in this day and age of imdb and the interwebs it's not surprising they use that space/time for self-promotion.

but i did appreciate your comment about the credits giving you time to digest what you'd just seen.

At 9:47 am, Blogger Jason Arnopp said...

I know you're not a Doctor Who fan, Mr Dog, but by God, there'll be uproar about this end-credits business over at the Outpost Gallifrey website...

At 10:24 am, Blogger Good Dog said...

Christopher, it certainly is a better design than the tangled mess of words and images that collide on screen in America come the end of a programme.

There were instances on local stations when it appeared the next programme was starting before the previous one had finished.

Obviously there are sites like IMDb that help out if you simply wanted to check the credits out of curiosity, but really I liked the time to simply take in what I'd watched.

Jason, well the BBC Credits Guideline page does say this will only apply to 'some' programmes, but I suspect that certainly applies to primetime shows where they want to audience to stay tuned to the same channel for the whole evening.

I suspect Doctor Who will get it, we'll just have to wait and see. It kicks off in two and a half weeks. Come Saturday 9th June, will that noise we all hear be RTD having a complete hissy fit?

At 8:28 pm, Blogger Robin Kelly said...

I totally agreed but then some BBC wonk explained the high percentage of viewers (can't remember the stat just much higher than expected) who switch over as soon as the credits starts.

Advertising what's on next significantly increases the amount of viewers who stick around. It's very annoying but as we go increasingly multi-channel, ratings panic will always win out.

But there's no excuse for the coming up next week spoilerfest bollocks.

At 9:19 pm, Blogger Good Dog said...

Robin, holy crap! That implies a portion of the audience doesn't care what they're watching as long as there is something to watch. Or they can't read, maybe, and need to be told what else the channel is going to spoon-feed them.

It also suggests that these folk are perhaps switching over because words scrolling up the screen isn't their thing and they want screamy-shouty, jingly-jangly images right in their face without delay. Or there is something else they are planning to watch anyway.

The ones that stay are zoned-out stumps who probably turn the television off long after there eyes have glazed over, their mouths are hanging open, and there is a thread of drool hanging from their chin.

Turn off the bloody box, read a book and learn something you brain-dead muppets! Aaaaarrrggghhh!


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