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Hurry up and watch Slow TV before it leaves Netflix

On Aug. 5, Netflix’s collection of Slow TV shows will leave the streaming service. So it’s time to hurry up and watch all of these lethargic, quiet unscripted series.

By my count, there are 50 hours and 41 minutes of Norwegian slow TV shows that are currently on Netflix, which said today that the collection would go away in early August.

Slow TV—for those who like their television fast and furious and may not be aware—consists of hours and hours of things happening very slowly: six hours of a fireplace burning; 134 hours of a cruise ship, uh, cruising along the coast; or a non-stop knitting marathon.

The breakthrough was a 2009 broadcast of a train ride from Bergern to Oslo, which was broadcast by NRK, the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation.

That was watched by “20 per cent of Norway’s population,” The Independent reported, while two years later, in 2011, half of people in Norway tuned in at some point to a cruise ship’s voyage, which lasted 134 hours.

NRK produced this introduction to the phenomenon:

In 2013, a US production company acquired the rights to the format, and I suggested seven possible slow TV shows.

None of those ever made it to air, alas, nor did the format, as far as I know.

However, in 2015, Destination America aired the five-hour Railroad Alaska: Real Time Train Ride. At the time, the network used humor to explain it to American viewers:

“Is the yule log too exciting for you? When turkey isn’t enough to put you to sleep on Thanksgiving, Destination America has the snoozefest you need. Over the course of five loooong hours, Destination America will air a first: the real-time journey of a train traversing Alaska’s critical 500-mile long railroad. You will see nothing – or, almost nothing other than what the cameras themselves see attached to the train. Simply park your caboose on the couch and settle into a mesmerizingly monotonous holiday edition of Destination America’s hit series Railroad Alaska.” 

But beyond that, I don’t know of any original U.S. slow TV, other than several entire seasons of The Bachelor.

In 2016, Netflix brought some of the Norwegian broadcasts to its streaming service, each labeled as “Slow TV.” (The original series has the subtitle “Minutt for Minutt,” which translates to “minute by minute,” preceded by the name of vessel whose voyage was being filmed. So the first was Bergensbanen: Minutt for Minutt.)

There were 11 shows; eight are still on Netflix now.

Here are the Netflix broadcasts that will disappear Aug. 5:

  1. Train Ride Bergen to Oslo (7 hours, 14 minutes)
  2. The Telemark Canal (11 hours, 30 minutes)
  3. Salmon Fishing (7 hours, 23 minutes)
  4. National Knitting Evening (3 hours, 55 minutes)
  5. National Knitting Night (8 hours, 39 minutes)
  6. National Firewood Morning (2 hours, 5 minutes)
  7. National Firewood Night (6 hours, 1 minute)
  8. National Firewood Evening (3 hours, 54 minutes)

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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