Australian Networks need to respect Australian viewers in order to limit piracy

The sixth season of The Good Wife “premieres” tonight on Channel Ten at 9:30. The US premiere was only two and a half weeks ago, and three episodes have aired over there as of last Sunday. A two and a half week wait isn’t that long when it comes to Australian Networks airing imports after the United States, but compared to the less than 24 hours it took for Homeland to reach Australian airwaves on Monday, it’s too long. Similarly, Channel Ten was eager to premiere two of the new shows of the United States 2014-2015 television season, Scorpion and Madam Secretary, both of which started before The Good Wife even though all three shows premiered on CBS on either the 21st or 22nd of September.

What is frustrating about this is that The Good Wife has just started its sixth season and already has an established audience. Why is it so difficult for them to fast track a show with an established audience when they’re bringing new shows, with a higher likelihood of cancellation, as soon as they possibly can? Furthermore, Madam Secretary is paired with The Good Wife on Sunday nights on CBS, because they believe the shows will attract similar audiences. It would have made sense for Channel Ten to adopt a similar tactic, as it can use an already established audience to build an audience for a show that is perceived to be similar. Better yet, these two shows would also fit well with Party Tricks, Ten’s new Australian political drama starring Asher Keddie. Once again, even though the wait is only 16 days, if the wait was less than a week, there would be less incentive for Australian fans of The Good Wife to pirate the show. And Ten is not the only network doing this.

Channel Seven has the rights to the ABC Network’s How To Get Away With Murder, which premiered to 14 million viewers, and broke DVR records with an additional 6 million people watching the recorded show within a week. When are Channel Seven airing the show? Next year, presumably after the Australian Open is finished. The best way to capitalise on internet buzz is to premiere the show as soon as possible after it airs in the United States. Admittedly Seven has better ratings and attracts an older demographic than Ten and are therefore less susceptible to losing viewers to online piracy, but fast tracking these shows would still lead to them making more money from advertising. Similarly, the fourth season of Scandal, one of the top ten dramas in the United States, debuted nearly two weeks ago and Seven is yet to air the third season. I’m fairly sure very few Australians are aware that the show exists, but those who do have probably already seen the third season anyway.

The Foxtel channel Showcase fast tracks Game of Thrones, Mad Men and other premium dramas that air on HBO within 24 hours of airing in the United States; the summer drama The Leftovers has already completed its first season and is premiering on Showcase later this month. The Comedy Channel fast tracks John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight from HBO within 24 hours (this is one of my favourite shows right now), but it took them three months to air the most recent season of Louie. As stated earlier, Ten fast tracks Homeland, a show that used to be fantastic, but won’t fast track other favourites. This is a widespread problem that isn’t limited to free to air networks but also channels that people pay to watch. Australian networks need to respect established audiences for their imported shows and fast track those shows. It will increase their viewership and reduce the impact of online piracy

Women as puzzles: Why I’ve given up on Doctor Who

Two weeks ago I stopped watching Doctor Who, which is somewhat surprising, since I’ve been watching the reboot since 2005. And when I say I stopped watching, I saw that it was time for the show to start and decided to watch something else. At one point Doctor Who was a very good show, and in fact my favourite show on television. In 2007 and 2008, my Doctor Who mania was at its peak, and I was really excited that Steven Moffat, writer of my favourite episode “Blink”, was going to take over the showrunner duties when it was announced in 2008. Then David Tennant announced his retirement, and I was disappointed that the two weren’t going to work together. Surprisingly, my issue with Doctor Who since Steven Moffat has taken over as showrunner is that the writing just isn’t as good. Every series of Doctor Who has some dud episodes, and I even used to love those. But the issues with Moffat’s writing go further than an episode that is so bad it comes back around to being enjoyable. This is your SPOILER WARNING, I’ve tried to be as vague as possible, but sometimes that’s just not possible.

Steven Moffat doesn’t write very good female characters. Karen Gillan, Jenna Colman and Alex Kingston are terrific actors, but the characters they play have been somewhat lacking. Following the announcement of Peter Capaldi as the twelfth Doctor, Ryan McGee wrote that under Moffat, the Doctor’s female companions aren’t really people, but puzzles that need to be solved. With Karen Gillan there was something about a crack in the wall. River Song’s identity was a mystery, and she kept meeting The Doctor at various points in time. The Doctor kept meeting various iterations of Clara throughout time, but they were all different people. Or copies. I don’t think I ever watched the episode where they explained that. I don’t really know much about these women other than their relationships with the Doctor or perhaps their occupations. Amy was a model and Clara is a schoolteacher. Even that is problematic. Amy Pond chose a profession that judges women on how they look, and Clara is in a profession that is dominated by women and doesn’t pay very well.

When Russel T Davies was running Doctor Who, it wasn’t a perfect show. There were some terrible episodes, but there were also some great ones, like Midnight, and the Doctor’s companions were three dimensional characters. Rose came from a working class background, worked in a shop, and had a mum and a boyfriend. It seems like an okay life, but she got bored, and who wouldn’t choose time travel instead of working in a shop? Furthermore, the fact that Rose didn’t know her father formed a significant part of her character and resulted in some fantastic storylines. Martha was my favourite companion for a while, even though I’ve spoken to people who think she didn’t bring anything to the show and could have been replaced by anyone else. Her main personality trait was that she was in love with The Doctor, but there was more to her than that (if anything, my least favourite aspect of the Russel T Davies era of the show was his obsession with Rose/Ten and it made me retroactively dislike Rose). What I admire most about Martha is that she chose to leave The Doctor because she knew that if she stayed with him she wouldn’t be able to move on with her life. Sure, she enjoyed travelling through time and space, but there’s a difference between the future and her future, and she knew that her future wasn’t with The Doctor. Despite my initial dislike for Donna, she ended up being the most interesting of Ten’s companions. She wasn’t interested in him romantically, and she was an antidote to his ruthlessness when it came to punishing aliens. In “Turn Left”, there was the element of what would happen to the world if Donna hadn’t been there to stop The Doctor on her wedding day. And despite the awful way that Donna’s story ended, her defining characteristic was her compassion. After Donna lost her memory in Journey’s End, her grandfather Wilf told the Doctor that she was better off for being with him, which was a problematic piece of dialogue. It can be interpreted that the Doctor was the Henry Higgins to Donna’s Eliza Doolittle, but the truth is that they changed each other. I’m not saying that Davies’ writing was perfect, and that there weren’t issues with his female characters, but they were better characters than Moffat’s puzzles.

The issues with Moffat’s female characters also extend to his villains. This article on io9 reveals that every female villain Moffat has written on Doctor Who is basically his version of Irene Adler in Sherlock. And Steven Moffat completely ruined Irene Adler. The series 2 premiere of Sherlock, “A Scandal in Belgravia” is based upon the short story A Scandal in Bohemia. Irene Adler is nicknamed “the woman” in both stories, but for different reasons. In Arthur Conan Doyle’s story, Sherlock calls Adler “the woman”, because she is the only person who was ever smart enough to beat him, and he respected her for that. In Sherlock, the nickname is given to her because she’s a prostitute, and while I like how Moffat’s Adler used her sexuality as a weapon (I have no problem with this), she didn’t beat Sherlock because she was blinded by her love for him. Then Sherlock got to be a hero a second time because he saved her life in the Middle East. That’s not the kickass Irene Adler I signed up for. And The Doctor is basically an alien time-travelling Sherlock Holmes.

A couple of weeks ago I said “Doctor Who is a show that’s on television.” There’s nothing worse than seeing a show you used to love become a show that is just okay. What do I prefer? I’m not saying that you’re a bad person for liking the show. You’re not. But I’m done with it, at least until Moffat leaves. I would encourage anyone who is having similar problems with any show to stop watching, you have no idea how liberating it is. Doctor Who needs to improve a lot before I’m back on board. What gets me interested in television is complex characters rather than someone who has to be the smartest person in the room. When the show gets a writer who can do that again, I’ll give it a chance.