(with apologies to Zodiac Mindwarp and The Love Reaction)[1]

 

Regular readers (hello Mum!) of my utterances on this site may be wondering what I have against TBN[2]. Well, not much in all honesty. I mean, it’s sporadic at best. The good shows are really good, the bad shows are often given up on after a few episodes (or in one case, about fifteen minutes) and occasionally we find ourselves watching repeats of BBC shows that a) we have already seen and b) we have already paid for, thanks very much, what with the licence fee and that, eh? There have been attempts at fitting in with the zeitgeist, of a sort, seeing what my chums on social media are getting all lathered up about and giving them a go (the shows, obvs, not my soapy friends[3]) but then I find myself not saying anything on said social media as, well, it’s never worth telling your mates that they have no taste or judgement when it comes to visual pleasures and honestly, as much as I respect you if you keep going on about The Witcher then we are going to have serious words involving my YEARS of study to get my PhD which tells me with absolute certainty that I know that I truly know nothing but that some of your tastes are, at best, to me, questionable. No, leave it Gary, it isn’t worth it, alright? And for godssake if we ever get out of this lockdown thing you are NOT to dress like that in public!

Anyway, TBN and us (me and MDBJ) have a relationship best described as “it’s complicated” but that doesn’t mean what you’re thinking, keep it clean now. You see (assuming you’re still awake and reading this) we sometimes give another service a go.

Amazon Prime.

Right, I’ve said it, so now let’s get to the nitty gritty of how utterly, utterly horrific it is (and later on, time permitting, we’ll get to why AFP[4] and TBN are basically the greatest evils we face (or certainly in the top 20ish)). A standard night in with TBN usually involves about five to ten minutes of scrolling, looking at things, watching a bit and then moving on to the next thing before actually finding something to watch for a bit. A standard night with AFP, well, I lose track of time quite easily (MDBJ blames the wine but I blame the boogie, which I’m told you shouldn’t do) and can tell you that hours have gone by trying to find something to watch. That we will both like.

Ahem, we both have to like it.

Now, MDBJ’s wish is her oft-repeated (sometimes at volume) command so there we are. In terms of television we actually do not watch that much on AFP. We go there for movies, and that’s rare as well. Looking at my list for AFP brings all the usual things you might expect of me: mostly gentle, warm comedies such as Stan and Ollie, Comfort and Joy, and, um, also that film with Anita Ekberg as a killer nun.[5]

You may recall from my first blog that I was a bit critical of Picard, saying that it could have easily been twenty minutes shorter and that’s each episode, not the series as a whole. Because it could have been. There was too much in the way of exposition and recapping and this is really getting me down. We’ve all noticed that a certain kind of show (mostly the ones that have commercial breaks and are ‘lifestyle’ based) will tell you every now and then what you have just watched on it. This we can only assume is for a number of reasons. They think you’re dumb/not really paying attention/channel surfing all the time, OR, it’s not got adverts in it (yet). Actually, there is one show from the BBC that we watched a while ago, the one with Monkman and Seagull and I’m sure it did that as well, y’know? A half hour long show on BBC2, but pretty clearly set up with these little reminders in it already to you, the viewer, suggesting that the whole thing was made with the repeat, commercial market in mind. I’m sure there are other shows that have done this but that’s the one that I think I first noticed it in (who knows, I might be making this up as I go along, after all).

But I digress so let’s get back to AFP. Even Sweep doesn’t like it much (and if anyone wants to fund research into the appeal of TBN over AFP to my nearly six year-old daughter then please do[6]) and she will watch pretty much anything (her latest journeys into the circles of hell include something called Titipo, pictured below

Fig. 1: Titipo (2018-), a spin-off series to Tayo, the Little Bus (2010-19)

Fig. 1: Titipo (2018-), a spin-off series to Tayo, the Little Bus (2010-19)

(a Korean animation about talking trains, I’ve got pills to help me now) and the spectacularly appalling Robot Trains (I just can’t even, it’s like Pavlov’s Dog but I cry when I hear it) but Sweep likes them. Watching them makes her happy and frankly that’s nearly all I care about.[7] But in terms of AFP there is little that grabs her. I wonder if it is the look of the screen overall or maybe that she is more familiar with TBN? I’d guess it’s the latter as she rarely sees us watching things on Prime but we have tried her with a few things and none of them seem to stick (to be fair, a lot of the stuff there she’s already seen on TBN or the iPlayer but she’d happily watch them on either of them, if only there was some way of researching this more fully…). But it turns out that she has watched some things with STG on the Chromebook (other kinds of book are available) and that something called Just Add Magic is ‘teeny good’ Teen Titans Go! is ‘big good’ but most excited reactions come from things she has seen on other platforms. Saying that, and she is beside me as I type this, looking at Prime’s offerings it is bl**dy Paw Patrol that is getting her most excited. I’m off to get a sturdy branch (and she’s being sent to help MDBJ with mindfulyoganess or whatever it is this week).

As for STG, well, um, she’s mostly shouting about when does she get to watch The Mandalorian? Now, you’ll recall that the grown-ups have seen it and that MDBJ did NOT like it. Which means that I get to watch it again. With STG. Hmmm…there’ll have to be negotiation first. Not least in the matter of who gets to sit in Daddy’s seat. Surprisingly, STG thinks it’s her and I think it’s mine (we probably are a sitcom family but with less harmony – saying that, have you seen how much Jay drinks in Modern Family? I’m amazed he can do anything given the bucket of whiskey he always seems to have in his hand, is that the answer?) The question of volume control ownership will have to be addressed to boot, never mind the bit where I get annoyed at the demand for snacks…

We think STG uses AFP to placate her little sister, basically. And we’ll try to watch The Mousealorian soon.

As for me and MDBJ, well, not much on AFP to report. Good Omens was nearly as good as I’d hoped it would be and we did see it before it got to the BBC and even MDBJ liked it (and eventually she got round to reading the book – I know, had I known she was a heathen when I met her then none of this might have happened).

As for Outlander, again it’s confession time, I’ve only seen the bits I’m in (when I did ADR for them which was nearly six years ago now), but it simply didn’t appeal.[8] I’m not sure MDBJ has seen any of it.

Fig. 2: The author took this selfie in his trailer on Outlander (and pics of his lunch are available too).

Fig. 2: The author took this selfie in his trailer on Outlander (and pics of his lunch are available too).

We did watch the first season of The Tick and it was, um, thankfully brief and we also watched, um, that thing with the fella in it. You know him. The guy that was in the one with the other guy. And that woman. No, the redheaded one. Her that looks a bit like the lassie that works in the Co-Op, eh?

I think the real problem/issue is that there’s too much across all platforms. They sometimes get lost in the mix, I mean I could watch content all day and barely scratch the surface. I did watch the old Top Gear mob’s Grand Tour in order to see if the broader media reports were accurate about it and the main thing I took from the opening sequence of the first show was that AFP was trying to tell the BBC, in that vaguely pathetic way that sometimes happens, that AFP has more in its trouser department wallet, so there. I mean, that opening sequence dripped money at you. The problem was that the rest of the show just dripped.

So, I’m not really as annoyed about AFP as I am TBN for the simple reason that I have not really managed to engage with it over the years and I’m not sure why. More (funded) research is needed, clearly.

However, for now, and for all of you, I have had a quick look at it and here, now, in front of your eyeballs, is my great and (in)glorious recommendation for SOMETHING to watch on AFP:

The BBC iPlayer has season 2 of What We Do In The Shadows so we’re basically busy, call back again later…

 


John Ritchie spent the majority of the last twenty-five years working as an actor and performer across all media. He completed his PhD in August 2018. His thesis was written as part of an AHRC-funded project, British Silent Cinema and the Transition to Sound, 1927-1933. John’s main area of research is performance on screens.

 

Footnotes:

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mtnCcWOS7y8 is the video for the song, Prime Mover. Directed by Adrian Edmondson if memory serves. Nothing to do with this article other than the title but included here in case you like this sort of thing.

[2] ‘That Bloody Netflix’

[3] A very different website, don’t Google it.

[4] You can guess that acronym for yourself. Answers on a postcard please, to the usual address.

[5] Don’t ask why, MDBJ understands and that’s all that’s needed here…

[6] And be generous!

[7] Making Sweep happy is a big thing for me, given the current circumstances we all find ourselves in. I’ve even watched Frozen five or six times now (and it isn’t getting any better and it’s also on AFP).

[8] True story: I got cast, got sent the script for the episode, read it and started wondering why I hadn’t been seen for another (bigger) part? Got mildly worked up about it and spoke to my agent and so on and all the usual actorly stuff and then it turned out that the part I thought I could do (SHOULD HAVE BEEN SEEN FOR DAMMIT) had been cast and it was, well, Bill Paterson. Which really is fair enough as he’s brilliant.