Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Primeval & Castaway - disappointing damp squibs

Recently I’ve been disappointed with a couple of TV shows that haven’t lived up to their expectation.

ITV’s Primeval was created in a bid to tap into the audience who in their millions had tuned in on Saturday nights to the BBC’s resurrection of Doctor Who. (What a terribly worded sentence—no Clear English awards here!)

But could ITV deliver a distinct sci-fi series, with an emphasis on time anomalies and strange creatures, to compete with the BBC’s time lord?

One the one hand ... it’s been commercially successful, with sales to international broadcasters in Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, New Zealand and Spain. The UK viewing figures have been sliding a little since the 6.7 million who watched the opening episode. But they’re still way ahead of the combined BBC3 and BBC2 viewing figures for Torchwood (the Doctor Who spin off).

But on the other hand ... it’s boring and tedious. It’s hard to work up any pathos for the characters, something which Russell Davies has licked over on the other side. And story-wise, it feels less catchy that Crime Traveller. Spiders and centipedes, monsters in lakes and swimming pools. Torchwood was a whole lot more enjoyable to watch. Primeval turns out to be an uncomfortable mix of science fiction and natural history, and I only like the first.

BBC’s Castaway 2007, which I trailed on AiB a few weeks ago, has turned out to be a damp squib too.

They’re a nice bunch of people, though the deliberate absence of the very young and very old is unfortunate. (The participant’s ages are 19, 22, 22, 22, 24, 24, 27, 27, 33, 37, 41, 42, 56, 65.)

Overall, nice people, with fewer squabbles than we’re used to with reality shows set in Australia.
The tasks haven’t been too enthralling: killing chickens and sending people to live in a hut and be battered by the overnight rain didn’t make compulsive viewing. And I don’t seem to be alone.

Viewers have been turning off in their millions, so much so that the weekly hour-long show has been pulled off the Sunday night BBC1 schedule, and will now go out as three half hour shows at 7pm on Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evenings.

And the nightly BBC3 catch up shows have failed to excite the multi-channel audience, with just 58,000 tuning in.

The public poll currently running the BBC’s Castaway website is fairly damning. Think I’d vote for a surf board to allow them to escape (though in truth, they’re in a nature reserve and there’s a big road leading out to nearly civilisation).


John Self said...

Hang on! Over half the castaways are under 30! From where I'm standing, that's no shortage of the very young...

Alan in Belfast (Alan Meban) said...

No - very young. Children. The beauty of the original Castaway - the (unread) book of the series I found when unpacking some boxes of books last night onto new shelves - was that there were entire families involved, not just single twenties and thirties (one of whom managed to fall in love and get married between selection and going down under).