Just how bad can TV get? I think I was expecting something better from the thoughtful, artistic Vancouverites; something better than the awful American drivel with all-too-frequent commercial breaks, forced laugh tracks and endless reality shows, but we have been disappointed. When we first arrived we missed the wonderful innocence of CBeebies, even if our tribe were almost too old for it. We simply have not been able to find a replacement for CBBC – the channels available are endless violent, noisy or inane cartoons, and their effect on our children was awful. I’ve done experiments, watching them watching the cable channel, and watching them watching a film on DVD. During the former, they stare, open mouthed and blank, with no sign of enjoyment, but get aggressive and argumentative if we try and prise them away. During the latter, they laugh, mouth the words, roll about and get up at the end to rush off outside and reinact their favourite bits. No contest.
For us, we have found a fairly reliable news channel, and a few channels of endless Friends and Sex In The City reruns. When we arrived we were addicted to CSI and very excited to find Dexter on the schedule. Then we discovered the unwritten small print; “Programs may be changed at a moment’s notice, with no warning. If you thought you were going to get the whole of Season 7, week after week, think again.” Somewhere there is an evil scheduler, thinking “OK, we’ve hooked them on the storyline, now let’s throw in a couple of episodes from Season 2…. MWAH HA HA HA HAAAAA!” Our expat friends told us that they pay extra on their cable package for the UK channels but you don’t get the real thing, just endless Top Gear reruns and Cash In The Attic.
Do I sound like I am moaning? I was very unhappy to begin with; I think TV is part of our national culture, and the British are justifiably proud of our outstanding TV shows. Bear in mind that I am not a fan of soap operas, or watching sports on TV (except Wimbledon, and when was the last year I had time to do that?) With children and work, I rarely had the regular lifestyle to keep up with serial dramas, and I’m definately not a soap person. So I shouldn’t be surprised how easily TV has slipped out of our lives, and our decision this week to cancel our cable subscription was not really a hard one. I’m just wondering when the children will notice the lack of Spongebob?