A New Hope and how entertainment has changed…

I can still remember the first time I ever saw Star Wars Episode 5 – The Empire Strikes Back. I’d been invited to a school friends birthday party at which they brought out a film projector. Just to further date things, it involved a reel of film rather than HDMI and USB connectors.

Today I sat with my son and spent 30 happy minutes watching Star Wars Episode 4 – A New Hope together. For the non-geeks, that’s the original Star Wars with Luke Skywalker escaping a desert with Alec Guinness, and rescuing Leia. The time was cut short when I had a heartfelt request that he’d rather be playing Lego Star Wars than watching a film.

He wanted to be part of the action, not sitting and simply watching it. And viewing it through his eyes, I suddenly realised how slow the film actually moves compared to some of the things he loves – like Pixar’s output. Even then, he provides a Director-style commentary about what’s on the screen, what’s about to happen, and anything else that pops into his somewhat random mind.

It’s a feeling I often get when I attempt to watch television. As much as I can still love a slow-moving, atmospheric film, the examples of something which draws me in on television are few and far between, so I usually manage about 5 minutes before I feel like I’d rather be playing a game and actually achieving something for myself. Or writing, blogging, or doing other work.

It’s tempting to say every TV show should include as much interactivity as possible, but given the fact that I’d rather poke my eyes out than suffer the hugely successful talent shows which take this approach, it’s not the only solution.

The solution for TV and movies for me is that we get an ever increasing range of niche channels and programming which allow me to watch something over than the same episodes of the Big Bang Theory for the umpteenth time, just because it’s the least irritating option available.

Give me a custom channel of motorsport, Swedish crime television and technology/sci-fi and I’m happy – which is almost possible when I pull together about 20 different services myself, but it’s not quite as effortless as it should be by now. Why can’t there be a central hub for all channels from which I can pull what I want, and pay in aggregate, and why should so much be hampered by copyright after being shown years ago in the U.S? I’m happy to pay for legal access or put up with advertising to be able to watch, but so much is simply not available…

For once, I can’t conclude with a simple solution, but it’s definitely an indication to me that despite the brilliant rise of Youtube, iPlayer, Lovefilm etc, there’s still a long way to go before we reach the perfect entertainment solution.