Autumn has begun, and that means only one thing: The Fall TV season has started, and we're on the cusp of a very special time for nerdy TV shows. That is, unless you're like me and live in the UK, in which case: The Golden Age will not be Televised... yet.
Gotham. Arrow. Agents of SHIELD. Constantine. The Flash. Hell, Star Wars Rebels - there's plenty of shows I'm excited for coming up in the next month, if I didn't live here in England. At the moment, it's sort of like looking into the great unknown. Outside of Rebels, none of the above shows actually have Broadcast dates in the UK yet (and even then Rebels has only been confirmed for its première episode, not the season that starts 10 days after that première in the US), and some like Constantine don't even have broadcast channels yet. American fans of course, know when these shows will be on - Gotham and Agents of SHIELD have already started this week!
It's something UK fans have had to put up with for a long time - Star Trek in its various forms flitted between the BBC and Sky during the nineties, Lost, celebrating its 10th anniversary this week, originally began on terrestrial Channel 4 before being controversially switched to cable-only Sky after two seasons. But what is a UK fan meant to do when all this exciting new Television has yet to reach our shores?
We sit and we wait. But that way, we lose something that makes modern pop culture what it is these days - being part of the big conversation.
Television has always been a social beast, but these days even solitary viewing has become surprisingly public through the rise of Social Media - live-tweeting episodes no longer is in the confines of the public themselves, creators and broadcasters are taking it on themselves to update social media with a play-by-play of an episode as it goes out. The water-cooler moment of a show doesn't need to wait for the water-cooler any more, it's instantaneous, out to millions of voices on the internet. Discussion is crucial to our enjoyment of fiction, we love to extol what we loved and vilify what we hate - and having access to a massive audience to share those opinions with at the touch of a button is addictive. It helps elevate watching something into an event.
So whilst everyone else is off talking about these shows, we have to slam our hands over our ears and hope we don't hear too much whilst Channel 4, Channel 5, Sky One and others hold back broadcast. No one ever wants to be the person who turns up late to the conversation.
So what can you do about it, really? I guess piracy is an inevitable touchstone to turn to in such conversations - there's been plenty enough debate of whether it's justifiably good for a program or ultimately too damaging, and I'm not here to advocate a point one way or the other. Personally I don't, but at times like these when there's a bunch of new shows and there's no sign of them coming across the pond soon, I can see how people get tempted.
But what we can do legally, outside of twiddling our thumbs? Not much - but we can look to other shows that are starting to do it right when it comes to keeping the gap between US and UK broadcasts down on both sides of the pond.
It didn't start out like it back when it was on Syfy, but over the years - especially under Steven Moffat's run, Doctor Who has gotten its broadcasts down to the same day for the UK and the US, something that's really helped propel the series to the world stage. Americans are watching Doctor Who a handful of hours after Brits are, so they're joining the discussion while it's still on. At times it's been even closer than that - The Day of The Doctor was simulcast in not just the US but across 94 countries, the biggest showing of a TV drama ever. I'm not saying every episode of a show should be broadcast like that, but it speaks to the cultivation of a wider, global audience that Doctor Who has developed over the past 9 years that it's now capable of such a thing.
Of course, it's quite simple for Doctor Who, as it's broadcast by the same company in the US and the UK - BBC and BBC America as part of the corporation's Worldwide branch. But it's not just happening with UK-based shows that have that benefit either, the US are starting to get in on it as well. Game of Thrones, broadcast in the UK on Sky Atlantic, has always been relatively close to its US broadcasts - usually the Monday after HBO's Sunday evening airing. But this year it changed for the better: Sky Atlantic kept its Monday 9pm showing of Game of Thrones for Season 4, but at the same time offered a direct simulcast of every episode at 2am for fans who didn't want to wait.
The rise of streaming services in the past few years has already culled the relevance of broadcast schedules on a national level a lot, but it's time for that to start happening internationally and get TV programmes in everyone's hands sooner rather than later. It's great to see that maybe, just maybe, we're on the cusp of better global broadcasting for some of our favourite shows - but for now here in the UK, whilst America tucks into the Fall season, we get back to twiddling our thumbs.
We're honestly quite good at it, at this point.
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