Posts in Television

A new trend among Arabic satellite channels

Continuing from the engaging debate on Subzero Blue, I would like to add my voice to that of MMM and salute the recent addition of MBC4 to to the Arabic satellite channel lineup.

Nowadays, it seems competition among Arabic satellite channels is raging for Western programing. It began with Saudi-owned MBC 2 nearly three years ago, as it emerged with a revolutionary English channel featuring American sitcoms, dramas, talk shows and fairly new movies. After enjoying the top position as really the only player for several years, the channel faced fierce competition from Dubai-based One TV, which adopted a similar format but introduced more recent programs.

Now MBC4 is here and looks sharp as can be. In addition to sitcoms and talk shows, the channel features some of the best in American news shows like 20/20, 60 Minutes and others.

We have been flipping through these channels for a while now and they are beginning to dominate our viewing time to the point that we find our paid satellite subscription to Orbit is a useless, really a waste of money. The Orbit package just doesn’t provide anything special and worse, they seem to enjoy showing B-grade movies that few ever heard of.

Paid satellite packages like Orbit, Showtime and others are facing fierce competition now. Unless they really think of something new to offer they will soon bite the dust, at least in this region.

As a media voyeur, I believe the regional trend amid free-to-air satellite channels is English-packaged programming. What is happening now reminds me of the black day when Jordan TV decided to cancel all-English JTV2. Shrewd officials at the channel insisted on mixing Arabic and English programs into one "super channel," as they called it, thinking it would bring more viewers to JTV. They were mistaken.

I was among many who stopped watching the national channel all together after they canceled JTV2. After this influx of successful English-only channels, I bet officials at JTV2 are realizing how flawed their decision was.

The scissors at work

Logo_done Thanks to an earlier post by Subzeroblue, I found Dubai’s new all-English channel "One." The channel is apparently competition for the popular Saudi-owned "Channel 2." I have been following it for a while and I must say they have a good collection of high-caliber Western shows, including CSI, the Sopranos and others.

The channel also provides a good collection of fairly new and "slightly" older Western movies. One thing that is proving an irritant, however, is their excessive use of the editing scissors! It seems the people behind this brand new channel are ultra conservative, as they edit out almost any display of affection including pecks; even cuss words are edited out!

Personally, I think this is too much and extremely, extremely annoying! It is even worse than Jordan TV. Well, I’m glad I’m not paying for this channel.

But to be fair, I must say that last night I enjoyed watching The Insider in spite of being annoyed on a number of occasions by the channel’s editing. I saw this movie years ago when it first came out and watching it a another time was highly enjoyable, particularly because it deals with the field I chosen for a living: Journalism.

One blunder I found in this movie was the choice of an Egyptian to represent a Hizballah fighter. A great director like Michael Mann should have known better. Hizballah fighters are Lebanese, speaking an entirely different dialect. Also the Arabic translator that was supposedly translating for Mike Wallace was speaking gibberish! I couldn’t understand a single word of what he was saying! Again, this shouldn’t be expected from a legend like Mann.

24: The first season

24: Season 1

We just finished watching the first season of 24 and what a treat it was! It’s probably one of the best shows I have seen in a while. What made it unique was the unexpected development of events all during the show and the ‘non-Hollywood’ ending that kept us on the edge of our seats.

Keifer Sutherland’s performance was exceptional. I just can’t agree with anyone criticizing the role as he presented it. He is indeed the star of the show and one of the main reasons behind its success.

We are leaving in a bit to return the six-disc set, which contained all of 24’s first season. We are hoping to get our hands on the second season. It might be hard work to watch all of it before our trip to Jordan, but we’ll manage somehow!

Sex and the City

We finally put our hands on the fifth season of Sex and the City. It is a surprisingly hot commodity here in Doha. We have been dying to watch it since we basically moved here. We finally got it. We watched four episodes last night and can’t wait to see the others.

I still enjoy the show but for some reason, I felt the fifth season was not as funny and as witty as the previous seasons. Don’t know, maybe it is still too early to judge.

I finish work at 8:30 tonight and Jeff is coming to pick me up to go the City Centre — Doha’s biggest mall — where we are planning to get some food and watch The Human Stain. I saw the trailer last week and it looks like it might be interesting.

Six Feet Under

Jeff and I recently got introduced to Six Feet Under, a TV show about a family that owns a funeral home.

We rented the first season from our favourite DVD store here, “DVD Corner” and watched every single episode. We were hooked!

The storyline is very intriguing and the acting is fantastic! Thesecond season is expected to be released in the US on 6 July. Someday it will make it to Qatar! I can hardly wait. We’ve also found the third (or maybe fourth??) season is running on Orbit’s “America Plus” channel. We are sorta stuck in the middle on this thing.