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03 March 2010

Channel 5

I'm sure I used to watch Channel 5 from time to time, but the other day I realised I couldn't even tell you what its channel ident looks like. So I decided to check out what I was missing and I've analysed the station's output between 7 and 11 this week.

This week on C5 started badly for me: three films in one weekend featuring Adam Sandler. The Radio Times previewed one of them with the comment: "Sandler is at at his most unlikeable". Wow. That's very unlikeable indeed. Other films shown this week are Deuce Bigalow, Hang 'em High and A Fistful of Dollars. Nothing very appealing, really.

On weekdays, the fixed element is Live from Studio Five at 1830. Charlie Brooker's skewered this better than I could, but when a programme loses gravitas with the departure of Melinda Messenger, you know it's in trouble. It stands at the start of the evening schedule like a red flag on a beach. Go beyond this, and you've only yourself to blame.

C5's big on imported crime series: three episodes of Law and Order, two each of CSI and NCIS and one of The Mentalist. Apparently  CSI is one of the most popular tv series ever made, which explains the proliferation of spin-offs into different locations. I've never watched any of them, so I shouldn't comment. But I will. It's exactly that kind of proliferation, of endless repeatability, that puts me off. The programmes become their own kind of narrowly defined genre, with (I suspect) the same basic form each time, and only the details changing. You could say the same about Agatha Christie novels, of course. I used to read them, but in the end the invariability of form becomes frustrating, the comfort begins to feel claustrophobic. I know people who started watching Lost and by the third series were acting like addicts: they knew they shouldn't carry on, but couldn't leave it. So, there's a big part of C5's output I'm not going near.

The rest of the schedule is pretty run-of-the-mill documentaries: animals (Zoo Days, Monkey Life), big and small things for big and small boys (Building the Ultimate, Ice Road Truckers, The Gadget Show), human interest (Extraordinary People, Highland Emergency, Build a New Life in the Country), and cooking (Chinese Food in Minutes). It all seems a bit like a knock-off of someone else's idea. They only need a Come Dine With Me clone to have the full set.

So, I'm satisfied that I'm not missing anything but disappointed that the Channel has such a lack of ambition for itself. But C5 never claimed to be anything more than this. It and I will continue to get along without each other very well.

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