Too little too late
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.