Thursday, September 18, 2014

The State of German TV and Entertainment

As an American, I can pretty well vouch on the fact that TV in America today.....is sliding downward in a spiral, and barely ten-percent of the programming is worth watching.  One or two shows a year....show up and probably are notable.

In Germany, it's a different type landscape and you stand here...shaking your head.

State-run TV has a standard balance of rules, and rarely will there be anything that you would consider "fresh".

The two big players of state-run TV (ARD and ZDF) will run the normal group of functionary shows.  There's the cop movies (Tatort or books-turned-into-movies).  Occasionally, a modern society dilemma (Chinese gangstas, missing Libyan wives, etc) will be thrown into the works to make it seem new, fresh, and really updated.

Then you have the romantic novels turned into movies.  This usually involves the French madam who falls for a mayor of some town, an Irish lonesome ballad, a Italian mistress novel, or the mid-forties farmer widow who advertises marriage but discovers that some neighbor gal is interested in a lesbian relationship.

Then you have the game shows with either mental stress deals, promi-star pretenders guessing the capital of Peru, or some kind of physical game deal where some guy tries to climb a wall while his friend is guessing the winner of the 1970 FIFA World Cup.

Around 9:45 each evening....one network will cut to a lengthy news piece and the other will cut to a regular movie, or to a political chat forum....where ninety-five percent of the German public will automatically flip to commercial networks instead.

The commercial networks?  There are around ten now.  Some run old American shows (there are shows from the 1980s on now....in primetime....that Germans seem to watch.  Don't ask me why Magnum is still that popular but he is.

They also run the game shows....although for higher amounts of money, and more physical action (racing bicycles or demolition derby being acceptable).

American wrestling?  Well....yeah.  At least one night a week....one of the networks will run two full hours of wrestling. Germans buy into this....knowing it's somewhat fake, but they like the stunts and the action.

Original programming on the German commercial networks?  They've tried forty different type of cop show formats over the years, and there's just nothing new to get your interest.

Reality shows?  They've done just everything from kid singers, to hopeless farmers hunting for hot lusty women, and cooking shows related to failed cafes, terrible cooks, or deadend towns with no consumers.  They've gotten former B-star promi folks to agree to spend three weeks in some Australian jungle....half naked at times....without their cocaine, weed, cigarettes, booze, or bi-polar medication.....shocking the public with snakes and an almost starvation diet.

About once a year....one new fresh comedy arrives from one of the networks, that goes out to surprise the public.  A loser house manager with dysfunctional family.  A grocery check-out gal that seems to be brighter than normal.  A husband and wife who spend every weekend at some camp-ground with a bunch of crazy folks.

Someone had the bright idea a decade ago to build up a show that features unhappy Germans....who basically pack up and leave Germany.  After a while, you began to realize that none of the folks ever had a plan, and fifty percent of them return to Germany within a year or two.

The same guys also worked up an episode where some blonde Marilyn Monroe-like German gal....slightly on the naive side....bumbling her way to LA to be shot for Playboy magazine.  Yeah, she was willing to bare her boobs and show some stuff....but Playboy just didn't seem to answer the buzzer at the gate when she announced that she'd arrived.  The gal....Miss Katzenberger....was an instant German reality star.  She's got a full-time contract now, and bumbles her way through events and travels....and the German TV audience loves it.  She's beautiful, pretending to be naive, and sparkling with witty sayings that seem to work.

Then someone had the bright idea that you could take a bald headed carpenter-renovation guy with a sense of humor and hated the idea of ever traveling.....turning him into an instant travel sent off to Iceland, Turkey or places where he's awful uncomfortable.  You felt sorry for him....but it was some weird form of entertainment that Germans bought off on.

This past month?  They took five entrepreneurs into a warehouse and put a hundred-odd folks up to sell their ideas to the entrepreneurs.  The cash ran up to 400,000 Euro.

The commercial networks have run just about every single type of cooking idea possible.....even putting some big-name cook into a prison to develop the cooking talents of some pretty tough characters.

The bottom line?  The state-run TV crowd and the commercial network crowd have just about hit the maximum limit.  And there's Netflix standing there....preparing to enter the German market.  They simply say they will take popular American shows.....add the sub-texts.....and research what Germans want to watch.

I'm thinking they will find that Germans have patiently been waiting for decently-produced German science fiction.  They will find that wild and wicked comedy that hasn't been the trend of German for the past thirty years....is what the public wants.

So before you slam me....that it's not fair for an American to slam German TV.....think about my commentary.  I'm already admitting that American TV has hit some barrier and is lacking.  I'm already laying the problems of creativity today....no matter where you live.  And I'm suggesting that the TV bosses....no matter if they are German or American.....have set up barriers where they just don't want new formulas.

Yeah, maybe it's time to bring back the Vikings, King Richard, King Ludwig, and soap opera shows on ancient Greece...just to be different.

1 comment:

Asifa Shukurat said...

The German is smart