There was an interesting back and forth between Barry and Kirk on an old post. I had forgotten about the DVD-watching contingent of BSG and didn’t put up the appropriate spoilers, thinking that it was safe since months had passed since the airing of the actual episode and since the new season was about to begin. Barry takes the position that an hour or two after the episode has aired, it’s all fair game. Kirk, on the other hand, wishes that I would refrain from ruining BSG for him before he can watch it on DVD.

I am slightly more sympathetic to Kirk’s point of view on the issue, my own goof-up notwithstanding, but Kirk says something that I find worthy of note:

And honestly, why pay over $60 a month for an entire cable package, when I can get the basic channels (plus TBS and History) for less than $20/month? Other than BSG, and perhaps South Park, I never watched anything on those extra channels.

Finances aside, shows are often more enjoyable when watched in bulk. From a pure entertainment standpoint, I preferred watching serial action and drama shows in one large sitting rather than spreading it out week to week. Not only did I not have to wait in suspense (I can be impatient), but I also picked up on more things. Week in and week out I forget details. Sometimes they’re seemingly unimportant at the time, though sometimes even more important things.

On the other hand, there are some practical considerations, spoilers being one of them. As time progresses, your chances of discovering what happens on a show go up as more people figure that everyone else interested already knows. When it’s a blog it’s easy enough to put it behind a spoiler warning, but sometimes you just simply overhear things. It’s unavoidable. Back before IMDB started heavily tracking individual episodes of programs, they used to put the years an actor was on a show in parenthesis if the character left for one reason or another. It was really annoying because I’d try to look up an actor on the episode that I’m watching and then inadvertently discover that a character has died or otherwise left the show. It happened with Boone on Lost and Stringer Bell on The Wire. Fortunately, their new way of doing things doesn’t give quite as much away.

But that’s only part of it and that’s not really the reason that I’ve shifted from watching shows in bulk to trying to catch them week in and week out. The bigger reason is that the best shows create communities. I started watching Battlestar Galactica because my friend had hosted weekly watching parties last season and I couldn’t participate because I wasn’t caught up. I would probably have seen it all eventually, but being able to watch it with friends and discuss it with them was what tipped the scales.

My turning point actually involved Barry. His blog showed a still-frame the death of David Palmer from 24 when I hadn’t started watching that season yet. From that point forward I started reading Barry’s blog a little bit less so that nothing else would be spoiled for me and skimming over anything related to 24. The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that I didn’t want to avoid discussion of my favorite TV shows, I wanted to participate in them. I came to enjoy the TV show Lost after initially not caring for it very much, but my enjoyment of the show has doubled since I started talking to coworkers about it. I’ve enjoyed reading and trading ideas with Abel and Barry and others almost as much as I’ve enjoyed watching the show itself. You can’t do that when you’re waiting for the DVD.

When you’re ready to talk about it, everyone else has forgotten a lot of the details and has mentally moved on. The DVD is released just before the next season begins, so within a month or two you’re already behind all over again. You can’t go to the websites dedicated the show, you can’t read posts about it, and on and on.

Since getting married to a woman that viewed television and movies as inherently inferior to reading in just about every respect, one of the points that I have tried to hammer home is that television is (or can be) a group activity in a way that reading can’t (or at least for reading circles and whatnot it’s a lot harder to make it so). I could go on and on about this and might in a separate post, but our time together has somewhat opened Clancy to my point-of-view on the matter.

It’s unfortunate that a lot of my hobbies are inherently isolating. I tend to write on my own. I have a lot of great readers and commenters on my blog, but this site is not something that I can tell people in real life because of a lot of what I write. I’m somewhat interested in sports, but it’s not my thing. This all has the effect of making me out-of-step with people in realtime. I often don’t have a lot to talk to people about. When I was having to steer clear of conversations about television, that only added to the problem. Being able to talk about the latest episode of this or that has helped.

Category: Theater

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3 Responses to Serial and Bulk Viewing

  1. Barry says:

    I’m sorry I spoiled you on Palmer’s death 🙁 It was just so, for that show, so profound and sudden – and happening in the teaser of the first episode – I couldn’t not talk about it 😉

    I hope you read my blog now more than you used to, though…

  2. Abel says:

    I’m all for bulk viewing!

  3. trumwill says:

    Barry, I woulda skipped over that post except that you had a picture that told the tale. No biggie, though, as it mostly just pushed me to do what I should have done anyway.

    Abel, do you find yourself having to tune out of conversations at work and soforth? It’s good that you have your wife to watch BSG with. I might be more able to hold back if it were something I would watch with Clancy, though if The Wire and The Shield are any indication, maybe not.

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