Too lit­tle too late

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Eguide Television - TIM MARTAIN

RE­CENTLY I fell from grace and I hold Chan­nel 9 en­tirely to blame.

As a staunch and vo­cal anti- piracy wowser, it was with deep re­gret that I was forced to re­sort to, ahem, ‘‘ shady’’ means to track down the fi­nal episode of a muchloved se­ries from com­mer­cial tele­vi­sion.

Why did I have to do this? Here is the sad story of my hypocrisy.

Some time ago a friend rec­om­mended a new Amer­i­can TV se­ries to me called Spar­ta­cus: Blood and Sand ( pic­tured).

As good for­tune would have it, only a cou­ple of weeks later it be­gan screen­ing on GO! and I be­came an in­stant fan of this shame­lessly sexy and ex­plic­itly gory glad­i­a­to­rial soap opera and have since fol­lowed it through all three sea­sons.

And I am proud to say, I have watched it all on free- to- air TV. I have been con­tent to wait for each new episode each week. I was happy to sup­port GO! for opt­ing to screen such a great se­ries on Aus­tralian TV. I’m a man of prin­ci­ple like that.

But then dis­as­ter struck. A cou­ple of weeks ago the third sea­son wound up with a two- hour dou­ble episode.

I had other plans that night, so I set my DVR to record th­ese pre­cious fi­nal two hours, I even pro­grammed it to record for 10 min­utes over time, just to make sure. So imag­ine my hor­ror when I dis­cov­ered that I still missed the end of the dra­matic cli­max.

I turned to the in­ter­net for sat­is­fac­tion. Nine’s wholly in­suf­fi­cient on­line catch- up ser­vice does not in­clude any of the shows you might ac­tu­ally want to watch, so it was with heavy heart and wounded pride I found my­self down­load­ing that fi­nal episode from a tor­rent, all so I could watch that fi­nal eight min­utes ( yes, eight min­utes) that I missed.

This means, for some rea­son, Spar­ta­cus ran al­most 20 min­utes over time. Now, why is that?

What was on be­fore it? A re­peat of The Voice at 5pm, a re­peat of The Big Bang The­ory at 7pm and an episode of Top Gear at 8pm – cer­tainly nothing live to air that might have run over time by ac­ci­dent.

Spar­ta­cus: Vengeance was sched­uled to start at 9.30pm, but started about 10 min­utes late.

Firstly, how did the night’s pro­gram­ming come to be 10 min­utes be­hind when it was packed with re­peats and pre- recorded shows, the run- times of which would have been clearly known prior to go­ing to air?

And sec­ondly, how the hell did Spar­ta­cus drag out to be nearly a fur­ther 10 min­utes be­hind dur­ing the course of its own run- time?

All the com­mer­cial net­works are guilty of run­ning shows over time and a for­mer com­mer­cial net­work pro­gram­ming direc­tor has ex­plained this phe­nom­e­non as a rat­ings- grab­bing tac­tic – in­tended to boost view­er­ship for a show by en­sur­ing that some­one switch­ing over to watch some­thing at 8.30pm inad­ver­tently catches the fi­nal 10 min­utes of what­ever was on at 7.30pm, which they didn’t ac­tu­ally want to watch.

But the side- ef­fect is that it be­comes ridicu­lously difficult to plan your night’s view­ing be­cause nothing starts or fin­ishes when it is meant to and try­ing to record some­thing be­comes a com­plete headache. Even a blowhard like me got suf­fi­ciently an­noyed to look for what I wanted on­line.

Look what you made me do, Nine.

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