Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Things They Should Invent: PBS donations conditional upon changing how Masterpiece is listed

I've been rather baffled and slightly irritated that PBS insists upon listing Downton Abbey as Masterpiece Classic in TV listings, when we all know that people are looking for Downton Abbey.

Wil Wheaton recently had the same complaint about Sherlock, which is listed under Masterpiece Mystery.

I don't understand why PBS does this or what they think they gain by listing popular TV shows under a less popular generic name, but I have an idea for how to stop them:

Everyone contact their local PBS station and promise to pledge money next pledge season if they start listing these things in a normal way. Then, as soon as we see our favourite programs being listed under their actual title, donate.  If they don't, don't donate (even if you normally do).


Lorraine said...

Since you're in Canada I'm guessing you get PBS via DPTV, but at any rate, it's probably a safe assumption that most if not all PBS member stations are organizing much fundraising around the Downton Abbey brand, if not by running previous seasons as "pledge programming," Certainly the phenomness of the conspicuous uptick in the "Lifestyles of the Rich and British" genre and the related "manor house porn" genre (which TVO seems also to have picked up in ernest...) not to mention the revival last year of the "Upstairs Downstairs" franchise. They know Downton is a hot brand. I understand wanting to help the Masterpiece brand ride on the coattails of the Downton brand, but getting un-subtle with that kind of thing can only backfire and insult the audience. That society matron type (was the name "Shively" or something?) who talks about loving Masterpiece and contributing for that reason is a master stroke. Making "Masterpiece" the principal field in the listings is just subtracting information and irritating people. It's like another pet peeve, looking in Zap2It and seeing "PGA Golf." Would it kill them to put the name of the tournament in there? Even for the majors they don't.

On the other hand, they'll put "Prostate Problems? Get Relief Fast!" or "I Hate My Wrinkles!" in as a main title when I'm sure just "infomercial" would work for most if not all viewers.

impudent strumpet said...

Yeah, the infomercials are a whole nother problem. I use fitness TV programs to exercise, so sometimes when I look at my onscreen program guide under "Fitness" I see what looks like a new instructional program, only to find it's an informercial attempting to sell me DVDs or equipment.

laura k said...

I also hate these listings!! I thought it was a Netflix problem, since that's how I watch TV shows. But this post makes me realize it's a PBS problem.

The Netflix search function will find the titles anyway - but since the titles are then so long, only a portion of the title will be visible. Example: when searching for Inspector Lynley Mysteries, I find multiple instances of Masterpiece Mystery: Insp, with no way to know which episode the title refers to or in what order they are, until you click on them, one at a time. And when you do, they reorder, so you're still lost. Maddening.