Norway's Migrating Reindeer Are Too Slow for Slow TV - Atlas Obscura
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Norway’s Migrating Reindeer Are Too Slow for Slow TV

Reality television stars can be so fickle.

Reindeer Migration: Minute by Minute was supposed to be the hit of the Norwegian slow-TV season—and for a while, everything was going great. Videographers schlepped cameras out into the wilderness, affixing one to a reindeer’s head. The Sami people, who own the herds, got ready for their close-ups. And millions of Norwegians settled down in front of their television sets to watch hundreds of ungulates make their majestic way across the country.

But there’s one problem—the stars have stopped cooperating. As The Local reports, the reindeer are now going so slowly that production has been brought to a temporary halt.

“Slow TV,” or sakte-tv in Norwegian, is a different kind of reality television, one that eschews fast cuts and manufactured drama in favor of close, detailed looks at mundane occurrences.

Although Norway did not invent the trend, over the past decade, public broadcaster NPK has taken the genre to new heights, thrilling audiences with “minute by minute” dispatches from train journeys and salmon runs. In 2013, they broadcast a live fireplace for eight hours, and 20 percent of the country tuned in.

This year, they decided to film something slightly more exciting—the springtime reindeer migration, during which the Sami people herd hundreds of the animals from Šuoššjávri, in Northeast Norway, to their summer pastures on the island of Kvaløya. “The aim of the project is to make a completely unknown part of Norwegian daily life known to the rest of the Norwegians,” editor Ole Rune Hætta told the Guardian.

Reindeer swim to Kvaløya in 2011, providing a sneak peek of this year's finale.
Reindeer swim to Kvaløya in 2011, providing a sneak peek of this year’s finale. Redningsselskapet/CC BY-SA 2.0

The plan was to keep cameras on the herds 24/7, and the finale was scheduled for this past Friday, when producers estimated the reindeer would hit the coast and make the dramatic swim to the island.

But reality TV stars can be fickle, and the reindeer have been taking their time. Yesterday, the herds stopped moving altogether, and the decision was made to give the crews—who have been out in the wilderness for weeks now—a break.

According to the livestream’s website, broadcasting will resume tomorrow at 10 a.m. local time. The final crossing “might happen on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday,” a producer said. In the meantime, you can watch the old hits online—or, you know, go outside.

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