Square Eyes TV Festival
The second annual Square Eyes Festival, the festival for all that you can find on your television screen and possibly for some of the reasons why or how it got there, opens on Friday 4th of November and runs through Sunday 13th of November at Birmingham's Midlands Arts Centre (MAC).
Square Eyes will be offering exclusive screenings, events, workshops, panel discussions, and Q&As focused on TV programs like Blue Peter, Doctor Who and The Twilight Zone, alongside more recent Midlands-based productions such as DI Ray and the BBC’s excellent adaptation of Kit De Waal’s My Name Is Leon.
Industry bods will be about if you're a great networking type and are interested in breaking in. Or, if you simply like watching TV and wonder why there's something for everyone who has ever sat in front of the box.
Murders, Mysteries & Monsters
One of the festival highlights is sure to be Murders, Mysteries & Monsters on November 5th, presented by sometime Outsideleft contributor, author, and educator, Carl Sweeney. Carl looks at the history of the anthology TV series, which has its antecedents in the 1950s and remains popular today.
“TV anthologies are the televisual equivalent of the short story, the anthology has fallen in and out of fashion over the years, but at its heart lies a purist’s take on the power of storytelling.”
Reviewing two seminal anthology series from the world of US television - Alfred Hitchcock Presents (later renamed The Alfred Hitchcock Hour) and Rod Sterling’s mind-bending sci-fi series The Twilight Zone, audiences can enjoy a screening of one classic episode from each series – the Roald Dahl penned Lamb To The Slaughter for the former, and the William Shatner-starring classic Nightmare At 20,000 Feet for the latter, alongside in-depth discussions of both series and their impact on the world of television. You can book a place at Murders, Mysteries and Monsters here.
Square Eyes may be a charming or charmless archaic title in need of some explanation or updating, depending on how you view it, for a room of under 30s. Even ‘on TV’ can be an arcane concept. Go ahead and ask how many under 30s even own a television. Festival producer, David Baldwin says, "The screen is getting smaller, the screen is becoming portable, the screen is many different things now." But the essence remains, David says, "TV at its core, is about storytelling and that has never changed."
In TV, what constitutes storytelling is under threat by reality. As to are the numbers, so the budgets.
But the content. Is it now greater than ever? When it moves closer to actual relatable and a less performative version of verité then I think it may be. Consider perhaps what Issae Rae has done in television from the Misadventures of an Awkward Black Girl to Insecure, from YouTube to HBO, to creating an agency for underserved Black creative talent. Unparalleled, really. There's H-O-P-E.
Networks could have done Insecure and perhaps eventually will.
However, the great invention of the last century, this gogglebox, alongside everything considered essential back then, like cars say, television just gets bigger and gets more complicated to use, complication is a feature set you pay more for. The picture gets brighter as it gets darker. The Silent Generation. The acquiescent generation. Their greatest accomplishment stands as a witness to their compliance. Their enduring legacy. That’s what they left us, TV and a bunch of pictures and they didn’t see through. Ask any late-model Gen Z or Alpha kid, about the golden age of television. They’ll simply look right back at you in askance. It is so over.
Even now, you'll get more hits on your Soulmates profile if you say you never watch TV. I guess you could try that old sack of potatoes trick in the coffee shop test to see how popular TV is. What gets more people hitting on you in a coffee shop? 1. If you have a sack of potatoes on the seat next to you, or 2. If you have your big screen TV that you just picked up on sale in Argos?
TV for me, is always a conundrum. Maybe the Square Eyes Television Festival will help me figure that out. But I'll have to be home in time for Match of the Day.