When Slow TV is Too Slow: Reinflytting minutt for minutt

Curator's Note

In 2009, Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) aired a new type of show, proposed by Rune Moklebust and Thomas Hellum: a live train journey from Oslo to Bergen that lasted seven hours. Norwegians watched, mesmerized as the train passed through tunnels, villages, and varying landscapes. Known as Bergensbanen – minutt for minutt, the show was wildly successful, “watched by more than half the Norwegian population” (Plunkett, 2015), and sparked a new genre of television known as slow TV. As opposed to regular programming, which is often fast-paced and arguably features the exciting, thrilling, and spectacular, the appeal of slow TV is that it offers viewers a novel kind of entertainment, which centers around the mundane and quotidian over the span of several hours. It is the random and unexpected occurrences of the everyday, however, that makes slow TV exciting in its own right. In 2011, NRK aired Hurtigruten minute by minute, a 134 hour broadcast of a ship’s cruise from the Bergen to Kirkenes. This time, the audience participated, showing up to make themselves seen by simply waving or performing—even performing the quotidian themselves: three marriage proposals took place on separate occasions during the broadcast.

NRK’s Reinflytting minutt for minutt (2017), was a live broadcast of the migration of a herd of reindeer from Šuoššjávri to the island Kvaløya, which was to end with a spectacular finale of hundreds of reindeer swimming from the coast to the island. Unlike a ship or a train, which follow a predetermined schedule barring technical mishaps and weather, the behavior of reindeer is unpredictable. Despite meticulous planning in cooperation with indigenous Sámi herders, the live stream faced several problems. First, the reindeer began their migration later and took a different and longer route than predicted. Second, toward the end of the journey, the herd simply stopped moving. This resulted in the suspension of the show’s long-anticipated finale, which promised to air at a later date. Not only did the interruption violate the continuity characteristic of the genre, but Reinflytting reveals what is perhaps the most vital component of a slow TV broadcast—movement. Without it, slow TV becomes too slow. 

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