Living in Greece

A practical guide to moving, living, working & traveling in Greece, plus musing and misadventures from an American in Athens

More windows on Greek TV than my house

mega-windows.jpgPhoto from athens.indymedia.org

Anyone participating in the scourge that is Greek TV should be aware of these guidelines.

The TV schedule is an estimate

Just because “Sex in the City” is on at midnight today, it doesn’t mean it’ll be on the same time tomorrow. It may start at 23:00, 23:40 or 1:00. If you’re setting your VCR or DVD player, allow at least one hour before and one hour after the program’s scheduled time slot. Also don’t be surprised if the program never comes on and you tape something completely different. It’s not you.

Here today, gone tomorrow

If you’ve been watching “America’s Next Top Model” or “Gossip Girl” every day at 16:00 for the past month, it can suddenly change to 17:00 mid-week, switch from weekdays to only Saturdays or disappear altogether, even if it’s the middle of the series. Don’t get attached. The good thing is reruns will probably start again next month, so be patient.

Channels tend to play ancient TV series from America & Australia

Shows like “ALF,” “The Nanny” and “Bewitched” run now and again, and some people actually like it. There are some series, such as “Two Guys, A Girl and A Pizza Place” that I’d never even heard of until I lived here. If you missed seeing them as a kid, here’s your chance.

It’s funnier dubbed in Greek

“The Joy of Painting” with Bob Ross and his happy little clouds is even funnier dubbed in Greek — the voice, the choice of expressions, the laughing. For those keeping track, yes he’s dead (rest his soul) — like many other stars of ancient series playing here — but he’s got a second life in Greece.

CAPS mean nothing

Just because the show is CAPPED in Greek TV guides to indicate an English-language program, be prepared to hear Oprah speak Greek. There is no way to know when a program will be dubbed or subtitled, or half dubbed and half subtitled. Sometimes the earlier showing is dubbed, and the 2 a.m. showing is subtitled; sometimes not. Sometimes a BBC program will be half in English and half in Greek with people interviewed in French or German, so you’re in luck if you like inconsistency and linguistic buffets.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx1wOOjwQqs[/youtube]

Nothing is better than the original, but you can’t see it

“Ugly Betty” is an award-winning show in America originally from Colombia, but in Greece they had “Maria H Askima” for your viewing (dis)pleasure. There’s also a badly filmed, cheap knock-off of CSI complete with plastic guns and ridiculous fight scenes.

When STAR played the commercial (above) for a new spy/assassin series called “Mr. and Mrs. Kourkoulis,” I thought it was a joke. Nope, unfortunately, it was real. They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but maybe it’s just unoriginal laziness.

If you can’t afford a taverna, one will be provided for you at no cost

There is a plethora of programs where you can see other people having faux fun at a fake taverna, with red-and-white checked tablecloths on the same rickety tables and chairs, good/skilou singers, trays of flowers, plate-breaking, dancing, posturing and corny banter. Στην υγεια σας, Κοιτα τι εγινε and Το παρτυ της ζωης σου are sometimes on at the same time, which means you can taverna-hop, just like in real life but without face control and the expense. But it also means you’re missing out on smoke inhalation, table dancing, overpriced whiskey, temporary deafness and bad service. 😉

You can experience déjà vu every few months

Channels play the same movies or series on a three-month rotation, as if an infinite number of movies and TV shows didn’t exist. That’s great news if you like Steven Seagal from his lean to sumo years, Sylvester Stallone from mumbly to audible, Roger Moore as 007, Batman and Robin, Jean-Claude Van Damme from brawny to baldy, Wesley Snipes (not Arsenio Hall) and any movie that has a reference to Greece.

If Greek media are on strike, it gets worse with Airplane, Police Academy and Naked Gun playing in succession.

Shamefully, I once watched “Revenge of the Giant Squid” because the movie rental store was closed, and it was the only thing I hadn’t already seen.

Commercial breaks are spontaneous and lengthy

Instead of breaking programs and movies where the director or producer has provided an intentional pause, scenes are unnaturally broken while an actor is midway through his lines or during a key fight scene. And when the program returns — sometimes after an hour of news and you no longer care about how it ends — it won’t be backtracked to the beginning of the scene or the actor’s line.

Many stations run commercials for up to 10 minutes, so mute it and don’t feel bad about walking away to boil some pasta and vegetables. You have plenty of time.

Many good shows are on after midnight

Law and Order, CSI, Nip/Tuck and other shows I tolerate aren’t usually on until midnight or later. Hello, I have a job. I think it’s a bit sad to take a nap in the middle of the day just to stay up late and watch TV.

Don’t watch SKAI if spiders & snakes creep you out

Kudos to SKAI for having Eco News and shows from Animal Planet, but please give the slimy, venomous and scaly things a rest. Nearly every time I happen by, there’s a close-up of something being killed, cocooned or swallowed whole. Bleck!

More windows on Greek news than in your house

Although 7 of 10 viewers polled said they are unhappy with the quality of TV and Greek news in particular, nothing has dampened the trend of παράθυρα (windows) in which people/politicians are placed in 5, 6 or 9 slots to debate a subject but instead shout over each other without taking a breath or letting anyone finish a sentence. It’s like a dysfunctional Hollywood Squares without the prizes.

For the first seven years I lived in Greece, I didn’t own a TV. A few people had tried giving me TVs when they moved away, but I’d end up donating them to others. Between work, learning Greek, clubbing and dealing with bureaucracy, there wasn’t time and I wasn’t home. I also suspected there was nothing to watch.

I finally broke down and bought a TV on the day of the Athens 2004 Opening Ceremonies, during which I cried more than my Greek friends. I cried again during the Closing Ceremonies but in OAKA amongst thousands from the Greek diaspora.

Now, unless I’m watching BBC, CNN, “Apodexeis” with Nikos Evangelatos, “Fakeloi” or a DVD, it pretty much sits in the corner and collects dust, though I also blast the TV volume to drown out the incessant whining and screaming of children of all ages.

And for the record, I have only two actual windows in the house; the rest are doors with windows.

In the News

Poisonous Trash on Greek TV
Scraping the bottom of Greek TV’s barrel
Greek media sinks to new low: Playboy weather girl becomes TV reporter

Related posts

Greek media, now with less racism
Give me a break!

The Author

Kat is a well-traveled American journalist and author. To learn more, see “About Me.”

  • Livingingreece.gr was created in 2007 to present meticulously researched original articles that fill a gap left by traditional media, government portals and commercial websites/forums run by people without credentials.
  • @LivinginGreece is a Twitter feed curated from recognized Greek and international news agencies to provide breaking news about Greece, plus real-time updates and insider tips mined from 15 years experience.

Please note my copyright policy and be aware that violations will be pursued.

54 Comments

  Mayra wrote @ July 31st, 2007 at 21:05

This is hilarious. I would LOVE to watch Greek TV; it seems endlessly amusing. Although I guess it would get old after a while…

Kat Reply:

Mayra – Greek TV is amusing to the point you laugh when you really want to cry.

  Sydney wrote @ July 31st, 2007 at 23:37

Yah, after about 10 minutes!

Actually, I loved STAR on the weekends, as I’d never seen friends before – and they had House!

We always said the schedule was a ‘will not start before:’ Sometimes waited up to watch something at 1am which didn’t start until 4 – how can they always, always be behind? Where do they catch up? Where do they fall behind?

Gah!

Kat Reply:

Syd – STAR channel has some redeemable qualities if you haven’t seen some series — they tend to only be about two years behind the USA (which is considered good).

  PIC wrote @ August 1st, 2007 at 08:22

I’ve ascertained that the more important the issue in the news is, the more windows that open up. But, concurrent monologues were never my thing anyway.

Also, I’m not sure if you know but Ugly Betty actually originated in Columbia, so the American version is a knock-off as well. But, hell, at least we made it enjoyable. Our ugly Betty at least is a “real” homely person, and not some Beautiful Greek girl made to look ugly and goofy. Geez, look at those eyebrows on this Ugly Maria (Fake, fake, fake).

Kat Reply:

PIC – I do know that Ugly Betty is a copy, but at least it’s a good one with a real script and real actors.

  Vassili wrote @ August 1st, 2007 at 13:03

Excellent site… has to me my go to site for info!

PS. I am beginning to love the repeats as it comforts me on lonely nights. No matter when, i can turn on the Seagal station to watch Niko above the law again 🙂

Kat Reply:

Vassili – LOL!

  Παναγιώτης wrote @ August 1st, 2007 at 15:52

Haha! Kat, you are great! I am amazed on how much precisely you describe the greek TV! Keep on going…
XX
Panos

Kat Reply:

Ela Pano – Why thank you!!! 🙂

  chloe wrote @ August 1st, 2007 at 16:51

my absolute worst are the tv tavernas. i don’t understand what people are doing there, but above all, i don’t understand what viewers find in them. you are watching people having “fun” while you are in your living room, in the middle of the heatwave with a bag of crisps. Despair!

  melusina wrote @ August 1st, 2007 at 22:12

My husband is totally entranced by Bob Ross. I keep telling him “that is so 30 years ago” but he can’t help himself. Every time we walk past an art store that is running his painting video non-stop (nice use of electricity there) he has to stop. It is driving me crazy.

I hate, hate, HATE those taverna shows. I’ve bitched about them before. They really irritate me, and they shouldn’t, but I can’t help it.

I find the talking heads kind of amusing though, especially when one is an N.D. and another is PASOK. No one else gets a chance to say anything once PASOK starts talking.

Kat Reply:

Mel – Is he hypnotized by Bob’s soothing voice and positive affirmations? “There! Oh, isn’t that beautiful. Great job.” My fiance laughed when I read what you wrote about Thanos, getting our own visual of him standing helplessly addicted with stars in his eyes.

I also tell people it’s 30 years ago, I mean look at his hair! It’s no wonder people abroad think some Americans are still hippies.

  EllasDevil wrote @ August 2nd, 2007 at 12:29

The only show I used to record was Sto Para Pente on a Monday night as I was never home and you are correct, I’d set the timer to start 20 mins before the scheduled start time and to finish 1 hour after the finish time.

This means if the program starts early, I’ve got it. If the program starts late, I’ve got it. If they suddenly break into the show with ‘BREAKING NEWS’ (that is regular here too ) then I’ve got enough time left to record my program after 20 mins of news.

As for old American shows, I’m currently enjoying the re-runs of Married With Children on Makedonia TV! Vouli also did re-runs of Yes Minister (British show) recently which had me hooked so I’m not complaining.

Ugly Betty is also a knockoff – the original is Betty La Fea from Colombia! One of the channels here also shows ‘La Fea Mas Bella’ (the Mexican knock off… but this one is dubbed into Greek).

As for ‘Stin Ygeia Mas’, I don’t think it’s about being in the tavera. It’s about the live music and the fact they have some good singers on there.

As for good shows being on late at night, channels like Mega and ANT1 have for the past few years dedicated prime time slots to ‘home made’ programming meaning all the imported shows are shown at wierd times.

So… what you’re really saying is that imported shows which are popular in America should take preference over Greek shows. Greek channels should cater for foreign audiences before Greek? Mmmmm… I dunno whether I should be telling Eleftheros Typos about you!!

KAT WANTS GREEK SHOWS BANNED!
KAT WANTS GREEK SHOWS BANNED!

🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Kat Reply:

ED – You’re much more Greek TV savvy than I. Breaking news does happen a lot, and at the most in opportune times…and they just keep running the program, it’s not continued from where it was broken.

Right, I previously acknowledged Ugly Betty is also a copy, but at least it’s a good one.

Stin ugeia mas, yeah it’s still a taverna and some singers any way you look at it. Who wants to watch that? Wouldn’t people rather be there?

And no, I’m not saying that imported shows should take precedence (although Greek, Spanish, French and Italian TV run 24/7 in some countries), I’m just saying a few before 1 a.m. wouldn’t hurt. And anyway, are you saying that Greeks don’t watch these lowly imported programs and wouldn’t appreciate a few sprinkled in primetime?

To be clear, I don’t want Greek TV banned, I just don’t watch it. 🙂

P.S. According to my site monitor, there are a lot of people watching me so telling on me would probably be redundant. 😉 Kisses!

  PIC wrote @ August 4th, 2007 at 00:38

Kat,

One point I’d like to make about the TV Tavernas is that there are many Greeks that cannot afford to eat out at nice Music Tavernas and maybe they can live vicariously through others in that TV Taverna.

Plus, some of those female singers/dancers have very well defined low centers of gravity for my viewing pleasure (LoL)

Kat Reply:

That’s why I say in the post, “If you cannot afford a taverna, one will provided for you at no cost.”

Still, it doesn’t need to be a TV program. In the USA, we all can’t afford to dine at a nice French restaurant every night, but it doesn’t mean we want to see a TV program simulating one. Maybe we just work a little harder or save our money a little better until we have enough to actually go.
That’s why I say in the post, “If you cannot afford a taverna, one will provided for you at no cost.” Still, it doesn’t need to be a TV program. In the USA, we all can’t afford to dine at a nice French restaurant every night, but it doesn’t mean we want to see a TV program simulating one. Maybe we just work a little harder or save our money a little better until we have enough to actually go.

  lenos wrote @ December 27th, 2007 at 15:49

You dont like greek tv and the only show that u are watching is apodixeis????? But of course, it makes sense.u are gathering more evidence about greek problems..Only a good phyciatrist can help this obsession…

Kat Reply:

Actually, we watch no TV since November. This post was written in July.

I previously watched that show once a month (even though I dislike Evangelatos) because I liked watching ministers squirm and get angry when presented with evidence to disprove their denials of any wrongdoing, not because I was gathering information. It was purely for entertainment purposes.

Btw, your name is ioannis. It’s the same IP address you were using to hassle and call me names on the environmental post. Just can’t stay away from me or this site, can you? Perhaps you should see someone about this obsession. Like I said before, takes one to know one.

  The Scorpion wrote @ December 27th, 2007 at 17:47

To Lenos or Ioannis: Greek TV is nothing more than glorified Soap Operas with better looking people.

Other than that, it lacks the true drama, mystery, tech effects, and decent plot lines that many American, Canadian, and British TV shows have.

Come on–Let’s get real. Who is going to compare the dream team of: LOST, 24, Prison Break, Boston Legal against any Greek show.

PLEASE–give me a break. Greeks should stick to Souvlaki and other tasty distractions but leave the serious business like TV to the pros.

  yiannos wrote @ December 28th, 2007 at 00:25

“To Lenos or Ioannis: Greek TV is nothing more than glorified Soap Operas with better looking people.”

More than that, it lacks the true drama, mystery, tech effects, and decent plot lines that many American, Canadian, and British TV shows have.

co-sign 100%. Greek t.v is absolute garbage.

  P wrote @ February 1st, 2008 at 01:08

I laughed about Greek television having more windows than your home, especially with the visual! Very funny! Definitely true for me.

  Natasha wrote @ February 3rd, 2008 at 13:49

I love watching tv when I’m in Greece. Who can resist Spongebob with strange voices in greek!?
and all the strange movies after midnight …
and BOB ROSS! I used to love watching him when I was little ( I was an odd child)

my cousins look at me weird when I get excited that Legends of the Hidden Temple is on
“Damn it Manos! I’ll go to the cafe with you after the blue barracudas make it through the obstacle course!”

only thing that really bothers me in the random breaks in movies late at night for the news…sometimes they’re so long I forget I was watching a movie and ask people why the hell we’re watching american tourists being asked what they think of the price of bottled water in Athens…

I’m sure I’d get very, very bored of Greek tv after a little while just as I’ve become bored of american tv..even with my 5 billion satellite channels…

  Pamela wrote @ February 10th, 2008 at 22:21

I roared with laughter at this, because Greek TV sounds so much like Spanish TV, especially the reruns of everything I (deliberately) missed when I was a kid, the good shows being on after midnight and the spontaneous, hour-long commercial breaks.

Though, I will say that I find the latter slightly less irritating than the British style of 2 or 3 ads every five minutes, where you constantly lose the plot, as it were.

In Spain everything is dubbed, but the worst is the similar growth in “discussion” (perhaps better described as “argument”) programs where people “shout without taking a breath instead of letting anyone finish a sentence.”

Likewise, I’ve spent much time where either I haven’t had a TV or it has only been used to screen tapes of something saner. 🙂

  spyros wrote @ February 11th, 2008 at 13:29

Bob Ross is the man!

Sorry, comments are closed at this time.