Television in the COVID Era

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by TommyR01D, Mar 24, 2021.

  1. TommyR01D

    TommyR01D Captain Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2011
    Location:
    UK
    Similar to Morpheus 02's recent thread but with a broader scope, the pandemic has big implications for the content of our entertainment as well as for its production.

    Some programmes are released very quickly (most obviously the news and those which comment on it) but a lot of material for scripted series, non-topical panel and game shows (such as QI) or "reality" TV doesn't get broadcast* until months or even years after it has been recorded. Ordinarily viewers wouldn't notice this unless they watch very closely for the year mark at the end of the credits, but a year into this pandemic it can be quite jarring to see supposedly-new episodes coming out in which characters/panelists are mingling unmasked. It was especially prominent in December when we had to sit through so many Christmas specials (which unlike normal episodes are explicitly set at a certain time of year) that were obviously shot ten months** earlier.

    This problem is especially bad for animated productions which generally take a lot longer to make than live action ones. To take Family Guy as an example, S19E05 debuted on 8 November 2020. It opens with Peter reading the Quahog Informant and exclaiming "God, can you believe that Trump hung himself in prison?". A caption then reads "We wrote this in February 2019. Were we right?", to which the answer so far is no. The previous episode featured a cutaway gag set in a pancake hospital, with a nurse interrupting to say "We need this wing for COVID.", which I presume was a late-stage edit.

    This puts the creators of scripted media in a difficult position: If they start writing the pandemic into new episodes then they may find that it has already ended by the time those episodes come out and so they will look horribly dated. On the other hand if the disease sticks around*** and they don't write it in then the whole story could end up effectively taking place in an alternate timeline and based on a worldview that is obsolete.

    A lot of comparisons are being made to the Spanish Flue epidemic of a century ago, but of course there was no television back then. I wonder if there were any radio dramas (or even book and magazine serials) from back then that were supposed to be set in 1920-1921 but still had the Great War going on?

    *If "broadcast" is even the right word now that so many shows go direct to streaming.
    **Possibly as much as twenty-two months in the case of 'Cats Does Countdown.
    ***Full lockdowns will probably be gone this year at least for the first world, but experts are warning that some degree of masking and social distancing will persist for years afterwards, to say nothing of the long-term economic and psychological damage.
     
    Morpheus 02 likes this.
  2. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Location:
    JirinPanthosa
    I think we've forever eliminated the normal season cycle. Where one season happens every year, and it runs from fall to spring.

    My feeling about TV writing in the pandemic is, unless you're specifically a show that deals with current events, write for a world where COVID doesn't exist. Nobody wants COVID in their escapism anyway, and that way you avoid being dated.
     
  3. douwed

    douwed Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2016
    Location:
    The Netherlands
    There have been a couple of Phillipino series that also deal with Covid and they are still enjoyable. Gameboys (also on Netflix) is a good example.
     
  4. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Ontario, Canada

    I dunno if I agree with that. If anything, I think with all the delays that Covid has created, combined with the necessary precautions, unless a show has already filmed enough episodes pre-covid, I think there have in fact been more gaps between seasons.
     
    auntiehill likes this.
  5. Forbin

    Forbin Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 15, 2001
    Location:
    I said out, dammit!
    The Connors is going with it. They're dealing with masks and vaccines in real time just like the rest of us.

    When The Rookie came back a couple of months ago, they ignored COVID, but they dove right in on a topical plotline about racist cops abusing their power.
     
  6. Oddish

    Oddish Commodore Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    A few years from now, when masks are no longer a thing (though many people will continue to wear them long after nearly everyone is vaccinated and herd immunity has contained Covid), the reverse will be true.

    Assuming a lethal strain doesn't evolve and wipe us all out.
     
    Amaris likes this.
  7. The Wormhole

    The Wormhole Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Location:
    The Wormhole
    You're a cheerful one.
     
  8. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    There's 2 Mythic Quest: Raven's Banquet's specials that came out recently.

    One was made on Zoom during the Pandemic.

    And the more recent one is the first day back at work after the pandemic.

    Here's the season one trailer, because you have no idea what the hell I am talking about.

     
  9. Oddish

    Oddish Commodore Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Don't underestimate the power of the microscopic. Remember the original "War of the Worlds"?
     
    Amaris likes this.
  10. Owain Taggart

    Owain Taggart Vice Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 30, 2009
    Location:
    Northern Ontario, Canada
    After? We're still fighting it. Canada for instance is currently fighting the battle of the 3rd wave.
     
  11. FPAlpha

    FPAlpha Vice Admiral Premium Member

    Joined:
    Nov 7, 2004
    Location:
    Mannheim, Germany
    My take too. Some shows take a good look at such big events and try to determine if it actually fits into the theme of the show. A medical drama could very well include Covid. a cop show would just be cops wearing masks whenever they exit their car.

    Some events like 9/11 don't even get mentioned, for example on Friends which is a comedy show and happened to still run during the era ( even though they included subtle hints such as characters wearing FDNY shirts and caps).

    If the pandemic is over in this year, at least in the US, i think studios will push with enormous effort to return to the previous schedule. They have lost a ton a money with all the delays and have to make up time so i expect fall season 2022 to be back on track, maybe even fall season 2021.
     
  12. Oddish

    Oddish Commodore Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Fatalities are way down, though. The most vulnerable people (remaining) were first in line for the vaccination, so a higher percentage of people who get it recover.
     
  13. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Essential workers and first responders get vaccinated first.

    Which is what is happening now.

    How many people world wide play world of war craft?

    4.8 million as of 2020.

    First, that seems low.

    Second, if those are prepandemic numbers, then its probably doubled or tripled in the last year.

    Ergo...

    MMORPG techs and clerks are essential workers.

    Society will break down if their furlough continues.
     
  14. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Location:
    JirinPanthosa
    Why all this panic about COVID variants when influenza has been evolving new variants for centuries? COVID has no evolutionary incentive to become more deadly, just more infectious. Without the huge percentage of asymptomatic cases we have no pandemic cause carriers know they’re carriers and stay home.

    There’s also the point that COVID disproportionately hurt the elderly because you can’t teach an old immune system new tricks. Soon it won’t be a new trick.
     
  15. Oddish

    Oddish Commodore Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2020
    Admittedly, the damage done by Covid was about 10 times worse than a really bad flu season. But, a sizable percentage of them were in nursing homes and assisted living centers. In other words, they were frail and probably had significant health issues.
     
  16. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2000
    Location:
    In the lap of squalor I assure you.
    Nursing homes contribute to %35 of CBS's total viewership.

    I can imagine a scam where the nurses buy paramount plus memberships for hundreds of elders, and then sell it on to friends and family.
     
  17. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Location:
    JirinPanthosa
    More than ten times worse, if you count the long term organ damage.

    But it seems the odds of a variant becoming bad enough to become more deadly is low. More virulent, sure. Resistant to vaccines, maybe. But so confusing to our immune systems that it becomes that much more deadly? The odds are a lot lower. Remember most of the COVID deaths are immune system friendly fire.