Sunday, 31 March 2013

Trailer trash documentaries

Call me a grumpy old man if you like, but I have to agree with The Plump, who thinks that way too many modern historical and archeological documentaries consist of a tiny kernel of interesting fact hiding inside thick layers of repetition and eye candy, in the form of reenactment, CGI and the climactic unveiling of a facial reconstruction.

The one thing I'd add to his critique is the repetitive three part structure that seems to be compulsory for most classes of documentary these days - spend the first ten minutes on a trailer of clips from later on in the documentary, with a voiceover telling the viewers what they're about to see, followed by the actual documentary, followed by another selection of clips from the documentary, with a voiceover explaining what we've all just seen.

What was so wrong with saying what you have to say once, starting at the beginning, then proceeding in a logical sequence to the end and relegating the trailers to the breaks between programmes?


Meridian said...

It's called "The Discovery Channel". They pioneered the format, and most other documentaries are either made with them, or for them. Yes, it has ruined documentaries. TDS once said that their target audience was 14-year old boys. Which explains everything you need to know, from the topics they cover onwards.