BY ‘SEGUN ODEJIMI
For much of last week, I spent my awake hours stuck in front of a television set tuned almost perpetually to Africa Magic. It was then that it really hit me.
Nigerian TV needs a revival. Of all the television drama/comedy series that I watched during that time – with the exception of Hush – there isn’t any that I will run a traffic red light for. Nil.
But there are numerous shows on Africa Magic every evening. The Johnsons, Casino, Hustle, This Thing Called Marriage and many more eat up the Nigerian TV space. But the hurtful truth is that they all are far from great.
And in today’s visual world, only the great or very good catches the attention.
There are millions of visual content flying everywhere, on TV, on mobile and on the web. Many are now monthly Netflix subscribers. There is numerous content on Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, trust me, nobody will bust a gut trying to catch up with any of the above shows. At least, not people like me.
Even Seun Ajayi‘s brilliance and acting hustle could not save a sluggish Hustle. It was supposed to be hilarious. It was supposed to be a game-changer. So far, from the episodes I have seen, it is close to neither. The scenes drag on and on, doing their best to send the viewer to bed while the comedy, as with many Nigerian comedy series and movies nowadays, seem forced. It’s only shining light, Ajayi fights a lost battle to give the audience something to look forward to.
He should be careful, though, Seun Ajayi. Nigerian directors are specialists in stocking an actor. After his brilliant performance in Mildred Okwo‘s Suru L’ere where he played a suffer head hustler, Hustle is his next big thing. Very similar characters. In Hustle, he is that suffer head who has just come to Lagos to seek greener pastures. After this, Ajayi should take a plunge in different waters.
Casino is arguably the poorest series on Nigerian TV right now. The painful part is that from a look at the show, you can tell that a lot of money was expended in what you see. Yet it still manages to set the bar so low, other series will struggle to get under. Almost all aspects of its production is way below average. The production design, the lighting, the story, as well as a large chunk of the acting are stuff of kids – with due respect to kids.
Maybe the creators of those shows think we are still in 1995 when people didn’t have much of a choice apart from sitting in front in their TVs. This is 2016 and the availability of well-made content often throws the audience into fits of confusion. With all the options available, I doubt people will put going home to subject themselves to half-hours of Hustle, Casino, and their likes high on their lists.
When was the last time we created a memorable character on Nigerian TV? That says a lot.