It's getting so you can't turn on the TV anymore without seeing yet another police file re-opened, regurgitated, re-enacted, rinsed and repeated.
What’s happening to our TV landscape?
Call me crazy but I’m just a litle bit over all these crime docos, re-enactments and profiles of killers, drug runners and gangs every second night.
I thought we already had Underbelly? Who are all these other baddies? They’re really doing my head in….
It’s getting so that I can’t turn on my TV anymore without seeing yet another police file re-opened, regurgitated, re-enacted, rinsed and repeated.
In the last 12 months we’ve been bombarded with a parade of documentaries, factuals and hybrids in-between. Australian Families of Crime, Australian Druglords, Gangs of Oz, Crime Investigation Australia, Beyond the Darklands and next week something called Police Under Fire: Mad Max (it’s a case from 1986 for goodness sake). They come on top of other cop factuals including The Force, Recruits and assorted imports featuring cops with dogs.
I have no issue with drama being driven by the cop / crime genre. It’s a story generator, it puts our central characters into heroic roles, it even makes economic sense. They give our actors and writers jobs and when they get it right, they really deliver (Underbelly season 1, East West 101, Rush).
But ever since Underbelly we’re seeing not just a flood of copycat drama (Underbelly movies, Killing Time, Wicked Love: The Maria Korp Story and more on the way) but docos that showcase shock-and-awe cases. This notorious killer. That underworld family. Maybe we need a new law that says television networks shouldn’t profit from the proceeds of crime either.
Last night’s Australian Druglords narrated by Gary Sweet made the most of police footage of a sting of convicted drug trafficker Richard Buttrose. Yes the footage was too good not to utilise. Five years ago it probably would have made a meaty story on 60 Minutes. These days that kind of footage winds its way to an edit suite, and is linked together with a few re-enactments, a forensic psychologist and a celebrity actor.
On top of that these cases infiltrate our other shows. A Current Affair devoted a segment to the same show last night. Getaway recently profiled King’s Cross. Heaven forbid if turning on Two and a Half Men becomes the only crime-free safe zone left to us (hmm, so thats why it rates)….
Some argue that networks are even “glorifying” criminals. I don’t subscribe to that theory. Many of the principal characters in the Underbelly series wound up dead, behind bars, bereaved or as hollow shells of their former selves. Sure the production is sexy, but the moral lessons are considerable.
I’m guessing the answer from a Programmer will be “this stuff rates”. Sure. Gordon Ramsay used to rate too, before he flooded our schedules. A some point we will no doubt reach saturation point and the impact of all of these shows could see them implode. Personally, I’m at that point already.
Excuse me while I go and find my old DVDs of Dallas and have a bit of fun again.