I really did not value British TV until 'PBS America' arrived.
What we get here (in England) is a very limited version of what you have.
This is what I've noticed, so far.
Most of the documentaries are incredibly boring. Much, much worse than ours (the problem with ours is too many endless talking heads). There was one on Victoria that gave me jet lag and then a thing about flea markets and it was shocking how bad it was. So dull. Lighten up! Crack a joke sometimes! Get some fucking homosexuals on maybe. DO SOMETHING!
There's a sort of antiques thing, people buy stuff and then sell it at auction and they compete to see who gets the most profit...we have a similar thing, but our antiques shows (all 1500 of them) always feature quirky, jokey smiling folks. Our shows always have a sort of warmth. The American ones everyone looks sour-faced and I've noticed this with the American Antiques Roadshow. Awful soulless locations and dreary boring dealers. Our Antiques Roadshow is usually set at a stately home or a place of significance and beauty. Everyone laughs all the time and there are many characters and obvious eccentrics.
Then there's a thing called Test Kitchen...from this I've learned some useful tips and the man in the bow tie is sort of likeable,I guess... but it's too stark in that horrid kitchen. Everyone looks like they're at school (& not enjoying it).
What the fuck is going on? I love American humour & Americans are often warm and friendly people, so why does this not translate onto the way they make these shows?
PBS has been a pretty boring station for awhile. All the good documentaries were on cable channels like Discovery, History, Nat Geo, Smithsonian, etc., but even those channels are now being taken over by reality tv shows and endless shows about bigfoot and aliens.
The Ken Burns documentaries are good, but PBS support of trash like Downton Abbey has turned it into a toff version of Bravo.
PBS is one free network in the US, OP, along with 999 others. God, you're a moron. Brits watch more American exports than your own original programming. PBS co/produces Abbey, one of the worst shows ever written.
PBS America es como beber onda y pensando que es el champan
Eat shit, you fucking Brit. PBS is the only good channel on American Television anymore.
R2, some nerve comparing PBS to Bravo! You'd never see anything like Live from Lincoln Center or Nova or American Experience on Bravo - or any other channel. PBS is the last channel on TV that has actually stayed true to its intention and hasn't sold out. PBS has stayed the same, the American public has gotten stupider, and according to the OP, so has the British public.
OP, why don't you toddle off to Tesco's and buy some horsemeat lasagna?
Because network executives are humorless shitheads.
The Americans here are doing a fabulous job of making the US sound like a bunch of assholes (thanks guys!).
OP, one of PBS' appeals is that it is earnest and plain where the rest of American TV is slick and highly produced. What you are seeing is indeed one facet of American culture, what we think honest, educational programming should be: unpretentious, a little tedious, a little slow and sometimes sour. Perhaps this is the American character when you strip away the sex and advertising.
See if you can find something called Market Warriors--it has what you are looking for (including the gay, sometimes).
American Experience and American Masters are my favorite shows on PBS. Masterpiece Classic and Contemporary can also be good.
Mostly agreed, OP. PBS is a pie of not many slices: UK imports and occasional co-productions; a bit of live performance music; cooking and home improvement-related programs; documentaries; and Americanized versions of Antiques Roadshow and its orbits (Dickinson's Deals and all the rest, which seem to have lost a lot of steam in the past couple of years).
PBS documentaries are serious in tone - and often in subject. Some of the multi-part Ken Burns sorts and the American Experience series are quite well done, however. Other series such as Nova (science) do often fall short on tone.
The PBS version of Antiques Roadshow aims very pointedly at human stories above fascinating objects and backdrops. Far fewer objects are featured, and the appraisers are prompted to draw out the human interest aspects above all else. Lately the show has almost completely ignored furniture; they don't even seem to bother having a large grouped massed as a backdrop. It is a very American thing to play up the "Wow!" reactions and the wow factor, and so they do, to a fault. Market Warriors is a deadly dull show with dimwitted "expert" pickers. To be fair, the UK series like Antiques Road Trip and Bargain Hunters on which it's based sometimes go a little too far-fetched with their colorful personalities and mock competitiveness, but at least the experts betray some knowledge of their trade. The Lara Spencer Flea Market show or whatever it is called is even worse: just idiots goaded into buying cheap tat and spray painting it in a Barbie pink and gloss black tiger stripe pattern for resale to more unsuspecting idiots. Numerous UK antiques shows have been remade and reworked in the US, none of them very well at all.
An example of USA v. UK television is THE GREAT BRITISH BAKE OFF (American Version coming soon).
The competitor's on the original BBC show are charming, kind and supportive. I guarantee when the USA version is released the players will be mean spirited, foul mouthed and psycho. It is a shame that American producer's always exploit the worst of the USA.
You're right, OP, there is a boring strain to the documentaries on PBS. It has always been this way.
When I watched it, I liked Frontline (which can be boring, or very good, depending on the subject), Bill Moyers, Austin City Limits, sometimes American Masters.
Ken Burns gets a lot of attention, but what he does is take interesting subjects...and make them boring, in many episodes. Nova = very boring.
I thought "How Not to Live Your Life" was one of the funniest series ever.
Now I'm anxiously awaiting the return of "Whitechapel."
The only thing I like on PBS is As Time Goes By. Go figure.
OP, if PBS programs suddenly featured "quirky, jokey smiling folks" who were laughing "all the time," regular viewers would freak out. American viewers mostly turn to PBS when they want to see educatonal/information programs presented in a serious manner. A staid, restrained tone is the PBS signature. It's a refreshing break from the ghastly short-attention-span frenzy on commercial network channels.
I don't think you have a channel similar to PBS in the UK; I watched British television daily on Sky TV from Ireland for years and never saw one, although the earnest tone of the programs on the ROI Irish-language channel (then state-sponsored) came very close. British channels like BBC, ITV, Channel Four and so on mix serious fare with glitzy frivolous fluff. That's not how PBS rolls.
I find Ken Burns' docs to be the worst. He scored with the Civil War, but Baseball is the most boring doc in the entire cosmos.
His latest docs are expanded, much duller versions of American Experience episodes. I swear, he watches an American Experience ep and says, "Ok, I'll do a three parter on that." The AE eps on the Prohibition and the Dustbowl were better than his drawn-out stuff.
And The War -- omg. Bad enough he did his version, but WNET in NYC did its own version which featured every old Jewish man who was in WWII. For weeks, there was nothing on PBS but old cranks talking about France and this doll he met over in Coney Island and "I tole awl my frenns I was gunna marry her. And I did!"
PBS's heyday was in the 1970s when it got a lot of government funding, thanks to people like Fred Rogers (go ahead and make fun of him -- he was a good liberal who got Congress to fund PBS very well). The people on charge of PBS today are neocons who who squawk with delight when fat pig Chris Christie deigns to be interviewed by two-faced Steve Adubato.
And god bless Bill Moyers and Frontline.
NOVA and Nature are crapshoots. Sometimes they can be very interesting and sometimes the eps are a bore. Depends on the subject matter and the director. Depends on mood, too. Sometimes you're in the mood to watch life along the slopes of an active volcano and sometimes you'd rather be in a coma.
It's true they were both more interesting in the past. One of my favorite Nature episodes was "Look Who's Talking" about parrots, cockatiels, parakeets and their owners.
I actually used to watch This Old House with Bob Vila and "Nahm" Abram. Something happened to it and Vila got super serious. They replaced him with Mr Nonentity In Eyeglasses and everyone switched channels to HGTV.
There used to be some good gardening shows on PBS, but they've gone the way of the dinosaurs. I used to watch Sesame Street when I babysat my nephews. It was a fun show with lots of music, graphics, characters. Grover, Kermit, Burt, Ernie, Cookie Monster, the Count, Sherlock Hemlock, Guy Smiley, Mumford, Placido Flamingo, Roosevelt Franklin Elementary School, One day I was channel surfing and found that Sesame Street had turned into the Elmo Show. Elmo is a fucking bore, a mentally retarded puppet who has to have every human emotion and experience slowly and carefully explained to him. What lazy bastards CTV turned into. It was all about marketing as many red puppet products as possible.
I still enjoy PBS. Its earnestness is part of its appeal. I particularly like their science documentaries.
All of PBS is a crapshoot, although, that said, I will admit it is a shade better than alot of the drivvel on television now. It isn't even worth turning the television on during the day as it is so horribly bad. Cozi TV started out OK but is now a huge, crashing bore and Antenna TV is going down the same road with incredibly boring, assinine movies. I have no idea what happened to This Old House on PBS, but it was one of the better ones. I agree with the overratedness of Ken Burns' crap only I don't even think the Civil War show was that great, too much squeaky, squawky background fiddle music, and as far as something as boring as baseball is concerned....
Many documentaries are designed to tell one what to think and have way way too many talking head "experts" prattling away about bullshit, half the documentary is sometimes watching someone's nostrils and mouth move.
Will agree with Market Warriors, I very much like that show and I think Miller is the irritant you are supposed to "love to hate"--would like to go to bed with Kevin Bruno.
I have yet to see American plays with American actors on PBS, they are all British.
If the republicans have their way, PBS will be denied any more government support.
[quote] I really did not value British TV until 'PBS America' arrived.
Yes, because the only alternative to British tv is PBS
[quote] have yet to see American plays with American actors on PBS, they are all British.
This is a shame, because you could see lots of American plays with american actors on PBS in the 1970s. And WNET's broadcast studio is now in Lincoln Center. You'd think they could televise some classic plays from the Vivian Beaumont.
I remember seeing Wendy Wasserstein's "Uncommon Women and Others" on PBS starring a winsome newcomer named Meryl Streep
I remember American Playhouse. Specifically, I remember True West - it was good!
That is what they should be doing - performances of quality plays.
[quote]Awful soulless locations and dreary boring dealers. Our Antiques Roadshow is usually set at a stately home or a place of significance and beauty.
We're a new country. We don't have any stately homes
I have seen the British and the US antiques show (insane waste of time!), and yes the American one is incredibly boring and unwatchable
Have you seen the total shit that is on American TV?? Every channel has stupid so-called reality shows. Channels such as Bravo, Discovery, TLC, A&E, History, etc... were actually decent at one time. The dumbing down of the American sheep.
Totally agree, R27. Reality tv is really bad, ugly, depressing.
The Sopranos, the Wire, Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Walking Dead, Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Nurse Jackie, Big Love, Girls, American Horror Story, Grimm, Parenthood, 30 Rock, Sons of Anarchy, Boadwalk Empire, Justified, Louie, Homeland, Parks and Recreation, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report, South Park, Community, Southland, Bill Moyers, Frontline, Curb Your Enthusiasm and The Good Wife are some American shows I think are just fine. I'm watching some for a second time.
That was a response to r27. There isn't just "total shit" on American television.
network TV is 99% shit
Downton Abbey is simply trashy tv in Merchant Ivory drag.
British people are completely justified in attacking American trash TV! Brits NEVER produce trashy television!
What is "PBS America"? I googled it and there's nothing there about any such thing. Are we just talking about PBS?
One of the best things I've ever seen on TV was the American Playhouse production of "The Old Settler" starring Phylicia Rashad and Debbie Allen.
[quote]I remember seeing Wendy Wasserstein's "Uncommon Women and Others" on PBS starring a winsome newcomer named Meryl Streep
I remember that, too.
I also remember a PBS miniseries around the same time called "The Best of Families" which featured a young Victor Garber.
My husband loves that Better Off Ted or whatever that show is called with Ellen's wife in it. He's a Brit, check it out OP, it might be your kind of thing.
For fans of [italic]Are You Being Served?,[/italic] there's an interesting BBC docushow from 2010 on YouTube. I had no idea that Jeremy Lloyd is Joanna Lumley's ex -- he says she planted the seed for the show by telling him to write about what he knew (he once worked at a Grace Bros.–type store called Simpsons of Piccadilly).
[quote]What is "PBS America"? I googled it and there's nothing there about any such thing. Are we just talking about PBS?
There is no PBS America. As near as I can determine, the befuddled OP is trying to comment about PBS UK, a channel launched in the UK by PBS a couple of years ago.
[quote]There is no PBS America.
Yes, there is. That's what it's called here.
Well then I stand corrected, OP. A Google search seemed to only come up with PBS UK. I should have looked deeper in the links.
My apologies for the befuddled comment.
I remember when PBS showed international animated short films. They were fun. Lots of kids shows -- Zoom, Electric Company, Mulligan Stew, The Minute Detective, Wishbone, Reading Rainbow, Hodge Podge Lodge, Minute Mystery, 3-2-1 Contact, Square One
Market Warriors is worth it for PBS. I want to blow Kevin Bruneau so fucking bad!
I thought OP meant BBC America.
So far I have read 2 posts that mention they want to have sexual encounters with Kevin Bruneau--I wonder if he is aware that he's possibly becoming an antique sex symbol. R38, KPBS here in San Diego for some odd reason removed Are You Being Served from its Saturday night British comedy lineup and that was my favorite program partly because I worked in a store once and they do capture some of the give and take of working in one, even from an American perspective. I still would like to know what has happened to This Old House.
OP, here...thanks for all the feedback.
Really interesting. I now have a much better understanding of what PBS is all about. It just didn't seem to make sense.
'This isn't the America I know!' I thought.
A bit like going to some strange state where nothing seems familiar and having it explained by a native.
It felt a bit like that when I went to Pennsylvania...'Where's the joie de vivre? Why does everyone look so intense and cross?'...then crossing, in my rental car on my way back to NYC, into New Jersey and the atmosphere changing. People with their sunroofs open, breaking the speed limit, car radios blaring.
I thought R8's post was particularly illuminating, especially:
[quote]Perhaps this is the American character when you strip away the sex and advertising.
Great line and real food for thought.