The problem with so many ‘documentaries’

On my flight back from my recent trip to Europe I was excited to see that there was a LEGO documentary available on the in-flight entertainment system. I’m a mild fan of LEGO and a big fan of behind the scenes documentaries. Unfortunately, this one has all the trademarks of the crap that passes for documentaries on TV today.

Always has to have a time crunch. Will the shop open on time? Will the displays be done in time? Will the staff be trained in time? Will the equipment work in time? Will this shitty documentary be done in time? It’s like every home improvement show ever made: WILL THIS FUCKING BE DONE ON TIME?!

Always has to have some sort of human interest angle. Will this long-term unemployed guy get a job as a shop assistant? Will the mum of two get a job as a shop assistant? Will the designer of the photo-booth mosaic maker who moved his family from Mexico to Denmark get the job done in time (oops see the first category for this one, but inextricably linked to WHO CARES ABOUT HIS FLIPPING FAMILY?).

Always leaves the interesting questions unasked. Seriously, how about telling us something interesting about the mechanics of that machine, or how a design gets turned into a ginormous LEGO sculpture? Don’t just tantalize us with some shots of the factory in the Czech Republic where they built the gigantic LEGO Big Ben, tell us something about it FFS. It’s similar to the Great British Bake Off where they repeat the same lines endlessly (take the cake out too soon and it will be raw, leave it in too long and it will burnt) instead of telling us something we didn’t already know.  YOU HAVE PLENTY OF TIME, TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING, YOU STUPID GIT.

Always has to be some sort of competition. Of course related to the first two points about time and the wannabe employees competing for a spot on the team, but I can’t forget the giant Tower Bridge replica clad in LEGO to support two Range Rovers and break a record for most boring LEGO sculpture. I CAN’T RELATE TO ANYTHING UNLESS IT IS PART OF A COMPETITION.

Always has to be some sort of moment of peril. Will the Big Ben replica get into the store without doing any damage? Oh, shit, no damage done. Wait, what about this heavy photo booth mosaic maker thingy? Will that make it in okay? Of course fucking not, drywall gouged just days away from the store opening. OH GOD, WILL THE DRYWALL BE PATCHED IN TIME, WILL SOMEONE PLEASE THINK OF THE CHILDREN. Don’t even get me started on the fact that they could have removed two of the glass panels instead of only one.

Always have to hear from the dimwit on the street. The drywall is repaired, the store is going to open on schedule how in the world can we create drama? I know, let’s talk to the disgruntled whiners who crawled on their knees all the way from Yorkshire to London and have been waiting in line for 32 months only to find that people who arrived 32 seconds ago are ahead of them in line. IT’S UNFAIR, IT’S SO GODDAMN UNFAIR. FUCK LEGO AND FUCK THIS FUCKING STORE.

I find this particular approach to documentary making to be of British origin. Don’t get me wrong, American television “documentaries” have their own issues for sure (lack of any real content, 10 seconds of footage repeated 1400 times, screaming electric guitars, etc.), but the particular formula for this LEGO programme could have been written by David Walliams and Matt Lucas (cf. Come Fly with Me).

Please, hire a few more nerds next time.

8 thoughts on “The problem with so many ‘documentaries’

  1. winstonsdad November 2, 2017 / 2:05 pm

    Exactly I watched this when it was shown here and it was such a shame it took a trivial look at the shop opening rather than a serious look at the design and ideas behind the new store rather than what the staff were


  2. travellinpenguin November 2, 2017 / 5:06 pm

    I often wonder why docos can’t be about the topic without sensationalising everything. We went to a very good Janis Joplin doco at State cinema last night hosted by University’s Conservatory of Music. A man in his late 40s opened it . He lectured the crowd of baby boomers in the audience all about counter culture and the history of rock music of the late 50s and 60s. We were there! Most annoying as he didn’t know what he was talking about and drank wine through his 10 minute presentation. Annoyed big time. But doco was excellent.


  3. BookerTalk November 2, 2017 / 6:03 pm

    My other gripes with many of the documentaries now being made are that a) the presenters talk to us as if we are 5 year olds who have to have things explained in very simple terms b) the program begins by telling us what the program will be about, but seven or eight minutes later they are still in preview mode.


  4. lauratfrey November 2, 2017 / 9:11 pm

    Lol! I would like a Lego documentary about why they’re so sexist (I have issues with Ninjago…. I read a little behind the scenes stuff about the design team for these sets who are, yup, all men)


  5. Ernie November 3, 2017 / 10:41 am

    I hope your feel better with that off your chest. Dad

    PS I agree with you.


  6. Karen November 4, 2017 / 12:16 pm

    totally agree with you. makes me want to go read a Barbara Pym novel!


  7. Simon T November 28, 2017 / 10:17 am

    I get what you’re saying, but my trashy British heart thinks this version of the documentary is way more appealing than a technical one.


    • Thomas November 30, 2017 / 9:14 am

      It wasn’t always that way. I shouldn’t even really call it a documentary, it’s more of a reality show. British docs used to set the standard for informative.


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