Craig and I have been together a long time, nearly *mumbles* years. What keeps us together is love, respect, and perhaps most importantly, the fact that no one else would be up to the same place with all our TV shows.
Which seems a fitting and not at all spurious segue into a short meditation on the Art Of TV Watching.
Here are some things I’ve learned.
1. It’s Better To Binge
Some odd people watch TV in cute little parcels called ‘episodes’.
They watch one of these episodes and then stop, waiting a week or more for the next installment. These are the kind of people who eat one Tim Tam, or one slice of pizza – in other words, alien beings who probably kidnap individuals of dubious intelligence and go in for a lot of rectal probing.
For the rest of us, binge-watching – whereby a show is consumed in entire seasons or series over the course of days or weeks – is simply a superior watching protocol. It allow you to appreciate nuances in characterization and plot that are easy to miss if there’s too much time between viewings.
It also prevents you from losing track of who people are and what has been happening, which saves you having to ask your viewing partner, Who’s that guy? What was in the bag again? Oh my God was she the one at the start? (I told you the marriage-TV link wasn’t spurious.)
2. Spoilers Needn’t Spoil Your Fun
The downside of waiting for all the episodes to be available on iTunes or DVD is that you may encounter spoilers online.
Personally I don’t mind spoilers, as I seem to have developed a kind of plot-twist amnesia where, by the time I watch the relevant episode, I’ve completely forgotten who committed the murder or that there was a bloodbath at the event or that Bruce Willis was really a ghost.
Or, more adorably, I manage to ‘predict’ what will happen, feeling smug at my prescience while Craig rolls his eyes and reminds me I read about it months ago. He is pretty annoying to watch TV with.
3. You Must Manage Your Attentional Resources
In some shows there’s a great deal going on, and you can’t always focus on everything without spilling pizza cheese on yourself.
One example is Weeds, where this happens a lot.
Sometimes in shows like this you need to review scenes 6, 7, up to 14 times. Don’t beat yourself up. Um, you got a little sauce on your shirt there.
Another example is Justified, where I find myself constantly asking Craig what is happening in the episode.
Aren’t you watching, he asks irritably.
Of course I’m watching, that’s why I can’t follow the plot.
Because Timothy Olyphant.
4. You Develop A Sense For What Works
Because of my tireless devotion to TV watching, I’ve developed a sixth sense for which shows are likely to make it long-term, and which are utter, banal idiocy.
And by sixth sense I mean a completely bogus sense that does not in fact exist and has shown zero empirical validity despite repeated and thorough testing.
- I adored Firefly, cancelled after one season.
- I cannot understand why anyone would watch Keeping Up With The Kardassians, now up to season 207 or thereabouts.
I have also come up with ideas for what I think could be successful TV show concepts.
I will share with you one idea, but please keep it to yourself as I think I may be able to get Jerry Bruckheimer interested.
Here’s my pitch: CSI Audit.
In each nail-biting episode, our intrepid forensic accountants, Norbert and Sherman, chase down bad debts, delve into the deepest recesses of Excel, and pit their wits against disturbing balance sheet mysteries.
You would watch that, right?
5. Sometimes Your Illusions Get Shattered
Lately Craig and I have been watching a lot of European shows – Nordic Noir plus Danish and Swedish series.
In general, the homes are cluttered and untidy. There’s neither a BORGSJÖ bookcase nor MALM chest of drawers in sight. The decor is disturbingly devoid of any IKEA-style design.
Nor have I ever once heard anyone say: Birdie birdie chicken, bork bork bork! Even in kitchens. Even when there’s a chef who’s Swedish.
Which leaves me starting to think my entire childhood was a lie.