Television shows treating viewers as stupid

Last updated 10:17 07/01/2014

It may be because I'm getting old and cranky (who am I kidding, I am old and cranky) but it's getting harder to find good television to watch.

This has coincided with me dropping interest in a number of shows I watched from the start and used to enjoy.

Over the last year I finally killed watching The Big Bang Theory despite, on the face of it, being an ideal candidate to watch.

I'm a former scientist, way too geeky for normal social interaction and I'm mildly misanthropic too.

But the character of Sheldon Cooper has gone so far beyond the 'quirky' spectrum and into the 'so annoying that I hope someone clubs him with a giant test tube' spectrum that I can no longer find any humour in it.

I also find shows more enjoyable if I can find some empathy with at least one of the characters - but it's impossible with that show now.

The characters have become caricatures (or maybe always were?) that there's no longer any reality in there to empathise with.

Is there anyone in this world who would actually choose to live with Sheldon?

Downton Abbey is another which I had to give up on for the sake of my own sanity. There's so much death and misery (and that shocking rape plot) for it to remain credible - so I put it out of its misery and deleted it from MySky.

I've also become bored with the formulaic 'Castle' despite loving both Nathan Fillion and Stana Katic, 'White Collar' which had some of the best 'buddy' writing in the earlier seasons and 'How I Met Your Mother'.

And if formulaic wasn't bad enough I'm now feeling more insulted than ever by shows which treat the viewer as if they're stupid.

There are egregious examples like our own New Zealand's Got Talent, The Ridges, The Radio and terrible imports such as 2 Broke Girls and Mrs Browns Boys - but anyone who watches those shows pretty much knows what to expect.

But they're not the only culprits.

Broadchurch, which will air over here on TV One shortly, is a gripping eight-part drama which stars the excellent David Tennant and Olivia Colman as detectives investigating the small-town murder of a young boy.

But even that managed to spoil the hard work done over the initial episodes with a piece of dialogue so out of place it allows anyone with an ounce of nouse to work out who the killer is.

That's if you hadn't already by process of elimination.

And, to top it off, it had the worst character of any television show of last year, played by Will Mellor, and a piece of symbolism in the last episode which was so outrageously laughable that I think a five year old wrote the scene.

Am I asking too much in wanting, for want of a better word, 'intelligent' television shows which don't give everything away?

BBC's Sherlock is a great example - it's escapism, both funny and annoying, but doesn't dumb down for the sake of making things easier to understand.

But who knows when we'll see the latest season in New Zealand. Those who are fans of the show will, once again, be forced to wait and hope they can avoid spoilers or take their chance on the internet.

I think it's telling that the vast majority of shows which I loved last year are foreign language (Les Revenants, Borgen) or from the BBC (Luther), Netflix (Orange Is The New Black, Arrested Development, House of Cards) or HBO (Eastbound and Down, Girls, Veep).

With the exception of the foreign language shows, of which only the good ones will be shown on English language television, the rest have audiences which pay for access and therefore expectation is likely higher.

Perhaps the pressure of advertisers isn't as high, therefore allowing the writers a bit more freedom to tell the story they want. Or perhaps cream just always rises to the top.

Regardless, I just hope we get some quality television to entertain, enjoy and make us think in 2014. I guess we'll wait and see.

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