Monday, July 20, 2009

La Tele en Español - Updated

Watching television in Barcelona is an experience in and of itself.  First, there's the question of scheduling.  Many times, what appears in the T.V. guide doesn't match what's actually on the  television, or programs will start ten minutes before or after their official start times.  This of course makes planning when to sit down and veg out a little problematic and requires a certain amount of flexibility about shows you're willing to watch, so be warned.

Speaking of shows, the most popular ones tend to be U.S. series like CSI, Lost, and Desperate Housewives on Spanish T.V.; while on the Catalan channels, there seems to be an affinity for eighties English comedy like Black Adder, Alo, Alo and the Young Ones. They are all dubbed, meaning you'll have to speak Spanish or Catalan to understand.  And, sometimes they'll change a character's history like Manuel from Fawlty Towers, who is from Mexico and not from Barcelona as in the original version, which sheds some insight on the Catalan personality and their sense of humor.

As for actual Spanish series?   Most dramas are basically popular US shows (like ER) set in Spain (Hospital Central), while the comedies all seem to center around a bar.  That said: there are two with a paranormal twist Hay Alguien Ahi and El Internado that seem to combine a little of the Ring with Medium, but are still fun to watch, and better than Buffy.

Daytime TV, meanwhile, usually consists of shows with an attractive female host and a panel of Spanish celebrity watchers.  For at least two hours, they will discuss the latest of both the world-famous like Brangelina and the less so, such as Julían Muñoz and Isabel Pantoja who are the ex-mayor of Marbella and a convicted convict and his Flamenco signer girlfriend, or is it his ex now?  It's difficult to keep up with all the twists and turns that include suitcases full of money and pet tigers.  Also, sure to be mentioned is the ugliest woman I have ever seen: La Duquesa de Alba (pictured).  Why she is so famous?  Because her family owns more land than the king of Spain, proving you don't have to be a Hilton or pretty to buy celebrity - just super rich.

Both public and private channels have commercials which can last from thirty seconds to twenty-minutes with the time growing longer as the show progresses.  Why so long?  I think they figure it will give people time to do things like cook dinner or hang the laundry.  Of course, then people won't see the ads playing which might explain why they're so much louder than the actual shows. 

Movies, like I imagine in most places, are popular with most coming from good ol' Hollywood.  Be sure to tune in five minutes before to hear a person explain what the movie is about, why it's worth watching and a general overview of the plot.  This is also true at cinemas where all the information is provided on a pamphlet prior to viewing.  The desire to know things beforehand isn't exclusive to movies, however.  A big game-show fan?  You'll know before the program if there's a big winner as it'll be announced on the evening news.  All of this makes me wonder if there's a Spanish word for spoiler?

Finally, the influence of the states can't only be seen in the popularity of its shows and movies, even the nightly news is not exempt.  The fastest rising star is a sports caster with a pretty face named Sara Carbonero (pictured) and the use of flashy graphics in lieu of substance is becoming the norm.

Then again, if you're living in the third happiest city in the world, why sit at home and watch T.V.?


  1. Jeremy, the Duquesa owns 3/4 of Spain or even more, that's why she's so famous. She has so many titles of Nobility that if the King meets her, he has to take a bow...

  2. I think spoiler = 'aguafiestas' when is a person who commits that kind of crime.