Ok, so what has happened to The Gadget Show?
Let me start off by saying that I’ve always been a big fan of the show – but I just don’t like the way it’s been going lately. It seems every week to feature more and more of the “challenges,” and focus less and less on the actual gadgets. In fact I’d even go so far as to say that the gadgets have become nothing more than bit-players in ridiculously overblown, insultingly contrived and ultimately un-entertaining, over-produced challenge extravaganza’s! As well as failing in the entertainment stakes, these challenges also offer absolutely NOTHING in the way of consumer information – unless (as on last Monday’s show), you have a real need to know which portable device is best for texting and tweeting while paragliding!!!
The nature of the challenges – usually something in the order of adrenaline fuelled cross country races – mean that most of the gadgets featured are of the “extreme sports” variety. The type of gadge I’d wager that are not exactly at the top of the interests or wishlists of the vast majority of gadget and tech enthusiasts. This results in a situation where the Producer’s have to try and shoe horn mainstream gadgets into the challenges in the most pointless and pathetic of ways (as in the above example).
Classic Gadget Show challenges used to be interesting sidelines – an adjunct to the meat of the programme, but now they seem to have become the main event. Because they used to be less frequent and take up a smaller proportion of the total running time, they were welcome diversions. They did, also used to be more interesting and somewhat more relevant. There have been some great challenges and ventures in the past – such as the water bottle jet buggies, the hoverboard and the Worthing birdman project’s to name but three. But now all we get are frenetic, shouty and pretty fake seeming farcical races, contests or collaborations.
Perhaps the producers mistakenly believe that kinetic energy always translates into exciting TV? If that’s the case then they certainly prove that wrong! Or maybe they’ve been influenced by the success of Top Gear? In fact many of the challenge segments do seem to resemble half-arsed copies of previous TG features – right down to the use of tanks and helicopters and all manner of other blatant attempts at emulating Top Gear-like bombastic-ness. Somehow though, these attempts at upping the ante just don’t seem to work. Top Gear is a completely different type of programme – it manages to get away with it, as it hasn’t been a consumer show in a long time. If TGS want to be Top Gear but with gadgets instead of cars, then they should just go the whole hog and get rid of any allusions to consumer info (by doing things like telling us the price of the ridiculous tandem BMX’s or other rubbish featured in the challenges) – and just become a knock-about entertainment show like Top Gear or Scrapheap Challenge
A real Gadget show should be keeping us up to date on the latest mobile phones, TV’s, MP3 players and other such gadge – and the latest developments in the associated technologies – as well as giving us a tantalising glimpse of what’s just around the corner. On the increasingly rare occasions that TGS do this, it’s always a woefully inadequate effort. They start enthusing about some phone that’s been around ages and is yesterday’s news – totally ignoring what is currently cutting edge. Or they feature old news that most of us are already well aware of – such as the recent LittleDog & BigDog feature, and the feature on the latest ep about thought controlled computing. When this feature came on I thought it was going to show some latest breakthrough in what is an exciting and interesting field – but one which we’ve all seen many time before on many other features in other shows (often not even technology shows). But alas no – it was just a brief re-hash of what we’ve seen all over the place many times in the past. The show is currently recruiting a new researcher – although the current researcher featured in the associated video seems more like a runner – perhaps this explains the obvious lack of research that exists on the programme. If recent features such as the “BigDog” one are anything to go by, it seems that the level of research for the show consists of looking on YouTube and doing a feature on some old vid from there!
If the challenges weren’t annoying enough, it’s in this last aspect of paucity of research, and lack of quality gadget news that the producers really show a total lack of respect for their previously loyal viewer base. They’ve committed the worse sin and act of laziness that any technology programme can commit – they’re guilty of being less well informed and offering poorer insight, than is already possessed by the audience. And that, for a technology show, is unforgivable.
The trailer for tomorrow’s show though, does seem to be much more gadget-news based. So maybe they’re about to go back to real technology journalism and everything I’ve said above is unwarranted. Let’s hope so.