Diary

The Netflix

13 January 2018 | Diary

Enjoying some time in bed with the sniffles, I decide to sign up to Netflix — or “Net Flicks” as I naively thought it was called until today. When did I get so old? Why can’t we live forever?

A universally popular TV-streaming service, I think, probably beats staring at the formation of cracks in our ceiling that some say looks like Sir Roger Moore and others say looks like a knackered bedroom ceiling.

Besides, I must admit to harboring a degree of curiosity about this thing everyone’s talking about. First time for everything, I suppose.

I’ve resisted Netflix for some time, in part because it’s one of the things contributing to the BBC’s redundancy and I hate to think of Messrs Attenburgh, Castle and Blobby not having anything to do anymore.

But it’s a tad hypocritical to worry so much about the Beeb when I don’t actually give them any money, isn’t it? The TV license, you may not know, can be avoided when you exploit the simple loophole of slinging the telly out of the window. Just make sure it’s not going to fall through the roof of a detector van before you push it off the ledge.

Anyway, what strikes me first and foremost about Netflix is its uncannny resemblance to the in-flight entertainment systems you get on airplanes.

The main comparison lies in how, despite there being a bewildering range of programming on offer, it never has quite what you want — presumably because the aim of whomever curates programming for each of these cloud-based services is to mollify a bored, anxious, probably grounded, international audience.

The effect is that you sit in your own stench, contemplating the likelihood of a pending fiery death, wile fingering a just-about-responsive interface composed of colourful, twerp-proof Whytech buttons. Yes, it feels very much like something that should be stuck in the back of another passenger’s reclined, dandruffy head.

You ask it to show you The X Files which can’t be done but, God bless it for trying, you can have any one of seventeen other things with David Duchovney instead.

You try to browse the comedy section but you end up viewing the first 13 seconds of something called Mindhunter thanks to a slow-loading banner ad.

Beyond a huge number of expensive-looking superhero- and monarchy-based exclusives is what can only be described as “an abyss of tat.” Firmly in this category is an awful lot of old BBC content. Obviously Netflix will have paid the BBC some money to show these programmes but I wonder if the The Big British Castle also receive royalties after a certain number of viewings? I don’t know for sure, but this is what happens with books — you get a certain amount up front and then a percentage after selling, say, 10,000 copies. Or so my publishers assure me.

This gives me an idea. Could we not rescue the BBC from its funding crisis by leaving old episodes of Blackadder playing from beginning to end when we all go out to work? You’d leave in the morning with Brian Blessed on the screen and come home in the evening to the fate of Speckled Jim. Meanwhile you’ve made 20p for the BBC. If everyone did this, Aunty would be rolling in pence.

Better still, we should choose to play old episodes of Bottom, just so the campaign can be called “Bottoming”. That is, #Bottoming.

Part way through an episode of an alienating, joyless cash-in called Star Trek: Discovery, I find myself wondering which is the button that will tell me the time remaining until our destination.

Might go back to staring at those ceiling cracks.