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Low quality channel with nothing to write home abo
Jan 20, 2003 01:44 AM 12992 Views
(Updated Jan 20, 2003 01:46 AM)

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Here's my theory about what happened with the disaster known as Zee English: last year, the finance department at Zee was finalising the budgets for the various TV channels of the Zee Network. Unfortunately, one of the employees accidentally deleted the spreadsheet row that contained the details of Zee English. Because of this accident, the budgets for all the channels were finalised and Zee English was left with no money.

Perhaps my theory is a little far-fetched (it is), but what else could explain the prevalence of sheer mediocrity on this channel? In the past year, hardly any new series have appeared on Zee English. Let's see what we have:

B-Grade comedies: Shows like Veronica's Closet, Police Academy, Suddenly Susan are pitched as outrageously funny comedies but are so sad that talk show hosts on NBC (the network that aired them) like Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien make jokes about them. The humour is either forced or in the case of Police Academy, the ''leave your brain behind'' type. If you find situations like ''Guy slips on banana peel, goes sliding into another person eating ice-cream, making that guy spill his ice-cream all over the person standing next to him'' funny, you're probably the right audience. For the rest of us, however, we deserve something better. And I'm not even going to talk about the embarrassment known as ''Black Scorpion.''

Infinite re-runs: This bugs the hell out of me. Zee English is not content with showing just one re-run of a series. Oh no, it must do at least five to ten of them. Hey, ''Fresh Prince of Bel Air'' may have been funny the first time they showed it, and maybe even the second time. But frankly, the eight re-run is just not interesting. Ditto for serials like ''Full House'' and ''Friends''. How many times must we watch the same show over and over? Actually, I'd like the readers of this review to find me at least two series that have not been shown before. ''West Wing''? No. ''La Femme Nikita'' - no, probably the fourth re-run. ''The Sopranos'' - shown at least twice. ''Benny Hill'' - yeah, right (it's a show from the 60s!)

''New'' series that aren't: The Zee English try to make it look as if they're bringing in new series, but anyone with half a brain will immediately realise that they're simply taking old series from a couple of years back and showing them again. That's how series like ''Central Park West'', ''The Gregory Hines Show,'' ''For Your Love'', ''Candid Camera'', etc., which were first shown two years ago, surface again. That's not imagination, Zee, that's deception. Your audience is not stupid.

The only serials worth watching, in my opinion, are ''Seinfeld'' (which is also on re-run, incidentally) and perhaps ''Mad About You''. The rest are just filler. A channel that has only two respectable shows? I'm not impressed.

I assume that Zee English is pitched as competition to the two main English channels - Star World and AXN. I doubt either of those channels is particularly worried. Star World regularly introduces new series and is my favourite channel, while AXN has found a comfortable niche in ''action and adventure'', and also have some cool shows. (CSI: Crime Scene Investigation is one of my top 5 serials of all time.)

If that weren't enough to kick Zee English's butt, both Star World and AXN have digital picture and sound, while Zee English doesn't. The difference is prominent. As an aside, they should also consider replacing the programme voiceover person, who has a fake accent with pathetic pronunciation. Star World only has the lady who pronounces the ''Pentium processor'' as the ''Pantium processor.'' ;)

To summarise, low grade shows, re-rerun after re-run, and an inexplicable reluctance to introduce new serials, make Zee English a loser in my book. If it intends to pose any serious competition to the other established English channels, it better pull its socks up, go digital, and find the money to pay for some high-quality series.

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Zee English