mindless consumption: TV

In the past several months I've been watching some TV shows to see if my problem with the medium is general or just due to things like advertisements and TV schedules. Since I don't have a TV and am obviously a law-abiding individual, this probably involves DVDs somehow. What I've found out is that a) I actually do enjoy some TV shows, b) I do better if I can watch an entire series or at least a whole season at a time, which lets me really get into it, and be done with it (or spend some time thinking over it and savoring it) nearly as fast as if I were reading a book, and c) I don't see any reason to own a TV still.

I started out by watching the first 3 seasons of the original Star Trek over about 2 weeks. This was by turns painful and amusing. It was great when I got into the couple of classic episodes that I remembered seeing before. I lost interest by the third season though. It's weird to be able to watch the Trekkies movie and understand almost all the references. What I actually most enjoyed most was letting the individual plots roll off me and watching the other things, from the sets and FX to the characters to the trekkieness of it all, develop over time. Which set the stage nicely for the next bit of TV I gorged on.

Though I actually owned a TV when Babylon 5 was on the air, I only saw a few episodes and found it impossible to get into, so I watched some Deep Space 9 instead back then. This time I watched b5 it all the way through, all 5 seasons. That was fun, I really enjoyed being able to appeciate the much vaunted b5 story arcs without having to wait weeks in between each show and forget things.

I switched over to anime for a while and watched Cowboy Bebop and a couple other less memorable shows.

Then I may have watched some TV show that is only now begining to air in the US, though this seems hard for a law abiding person to do without a time machine or an airline ticket. Anyway, if I did, I found it to be a cut above any SF I'd seen on TV before, and was even willing to wait a few weeks for some episodes to come out. (Like the next one, which I want to see, already!)

I took a detour from SF again to revisit Scrapheap Challenge (aka Junkyard Wars), which is the only show I missed when I got rid of my TV. I was not suprised, but was still disappointed to verify that it was all downhill after the first few excellent years of the show.

Finally, spurred on by interesting stuff on the dpkg changelog, I watched Firefly, which I'd heard of before vagely and had seemed too silly a concept to work. To my suprise, it did, and I really enjoyed its brief run (including, rarely for me, the comedy and even accents) and have to consider myself a fan of this show even if I'm not (quite) one of any of the other stuff mentioned above. But I'm possibly the only fan who doesn't mind that it got canceled in the middle, because based on that short run I'm prefectly comfortable imagining how everything turned out. Having a few more years of it made would have been nice, but it would have just been icing. I'm happy to have the cake.

One other interesting thing I've found out is that I have a really strong memory for TV shows I have seen. Just like the way I can revisit a place I've been years ago and know just where everyting is, I picked right out the two episodes of b5 that I'd seen sometime before. And once I've seen a TV show once, I can almost never stand to see it again. Why I'm like this when I'll happily reread favotire books many times and sometimes accidentally reread non-favorites a couple of times, I'm not sure.

At this point I think I'm pretty much over gorging on TV. I might have missed a few worthwhile shows from the past 5 or so years, but I'm getting pretty tired of wading through the formualic bits (opening sequence, credits, plot) to get to the interesting bits (character development, storylines, show development, exposition). So it's back to books for me for a while.