Quality Telly 2

TenkoWhen I noted the ending of Secret Army’s recent complete rerun on UKTVHistory, I recalled that Tenko had recently precede it, but that I hadn’t watched it, and could only remember it vaguely. At that point, my recollection was that although it was in a similar vein, it didn’t have the same feeling of reality that former series seemed to enjoy.

At the time, I suspected this was because Secret Army had the easier job in so far as it was easier to recreate the setting of wartime Belgium, and have the cast made up with appropriate fashions and make-up to look as if they were of the period, adding to the atmosphere of the series. Tenko, on the other hand, was tasked with recreating Japanese internment camps, and internees that were maltreated, exhausted, undernourished, starving, and lacking medical attention, where the action was set in soaring temperatures and extreme humidity (but was filmed on a set in ‘sunny’ England).

Now that Tenko’s complete run has concluded, I think my original thought that it didn’t succeed in the reality stakes in the same way that Secret Army did was valid, but irrelevant. I don’t know if I watched the original series through to their conclusion, but did so on this occasion, and believe that short of starving the cast, it did as well as Secret Army, especially with its conclusion, and even the later two part ‘Reunion’ episodes.

Once again, I’m left with the belief that the 1970s saw a rise in the quality of television material, which was followed by a its demise during the 1980s.

It’s almost as if those two decades saw all the good ideas being discovered, and produced when real imagination and creativity were at their peak, and ever since then, as we passed into the 1990s and beyond, the explosion in the number of television channels demanding quick content, and technology that makes it increasingly easy to produce ‘standardised’ Special Effects’ in increasing numbers, has resulted in little more than repackaging of the most popular material in ‘New Clothes’, and its dispersal to the masses as fodder to attract sponsors that want a ‘Sure Thing’ to guarantee a return on their investment. Very few will deviate from safe programme formats, and take a chance on losing their money.

And that’s a shame.


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