The first 15 minutes of The Family (C4) were surely amongst the most boring introductions to a series ever shown. I wonder how many people switched off at the first commercial break.
This is supposed to be a 21st century version of Paul Watson's ground-breaking fly-on-the-wall documentary of the same name. But Paul Watson is a brilliant documentary maker - more specifically, a brilliant editor of documentaries and a documentary stands or falls by the editing.
Last night's episode had little narrative, plot or tension. It consisted almost entirely of tedious arguments between one of the teenage children and her parents.
There are some very odd elements in this documentary. The lush orchestral music that is used on some scenes is quite bizarrely inappropriate. And there's an occasional voice-over by one of the family.
At one point, the 14 year old boy told us his mother was depressed because she had reached the age of forty. But this wasn't to camera. It sounded as though he'd gone into the editing suite and read it from a script. It doesn't seem at all like an observational documentary and some of the scenes feel staged, regardless of whether they are or not. At times, it almost feels like a 'mock-doc' but without the laughs.
We're told this is a 'typical family'. What the hell is that?
The Guardian's Sam Wollaston says today that they are "quite posh". Don't know how he works that out. They're reasonably affluent but eating roast duck for dinner and sitting round a dining table doesn't make you posh. They're more like ersatz chavs with enough money to shop at Ikea rather than Argos. I don't mean that as an insult because I like chavs. Real, honest, proud-to-be-chavs, chavs, that is.
The main question this series prompts is Why?
For those who like a voyeuristic peep into other people's lives, there's Wife Swap. That's getting a bit tired now but at least it has a structure to it which provides entertaining conflict, forces you to take sides and sometimes changes people's attitudes for the better.
Both Wife Swap and The Family do have a value for the millions of us who live alone: they make us count our blessings.
You suddenly notice the total absence of conflict and shouting in your own home. I sometimes call myself a stupid prat when I've brewed the tea and forgotten to put teabags in the pot. But it's said affectionately and never provokes a bad-tempered response.
I never have to wait to use the bathroom, I'm never kept awake by someone's snoring, I can watch what TV programmes I like and I can eat what I like at a time of my own choosing. I forget what bliss it is until I watch films of families fighting like ferrets in a sack.
It's a miracle there aren't more cases of familicide.