Well, I really need to. The alternate title to this is “Why Don’t I Even Like TV Anymore?”
By all indications, we are living in a new Golden Age of Television. This is not measured by the yardstick of “Big Bang Theory” or “Two and a Half Men” – I have had no truck with sitcoms since Barney Miller went off the air. Certainly not Reality TV, which is an abomination before God. No, I’m talking about episodic drama. Which I’m also not watching.
I’m not watching it – perhaps – because it’s waiting for me for a hard drive. If not in my home office, in the cloud somewhere. I’ve tried, dammit. Even acclaimed dramas with limited run times. I just can’t get excited about them.
My limit seems to be five episodes, if that. I am currently one episode into The Wire and Game of Thrones. This qualifies me for Blasphemer status in some circles. The members of the five episode club are Penny Dreadful, True Detective and the first season of Hannibal.
The first cry against me is going to involve Penny Dreadful and True Detective only lasting eight episodes each, which is a typical evening’s fare for the average Netflix binge watcher. It’s probably obvious that I don’t binge watch, either. That would certainly solve a lot of problems, if I did.
Penny Dreadful nearly didn’t make it past the first episode for me. There was something about the last line of that episode – “My name is Victor Frankenstein,” that really turned me off. Do I need another fan fiction version of genre icons thrown together? There was enough that was intriguing to eventually bring me back to see if I was right about a couple of plot points – I was – and Timothy Dalton and Eva Green were fantastic. I appreciate this version of Frankenstein’s monster, which was written by somebody who actually for God’s sake read the book. Still. It is going to take an act of will for me to go back for those final three hours.
I understand Universal is trying to do a Marvel-type shared universe thing for its 30s horror properties. Has anybody mentioned to them it’s already been done? (I know we’ve already tried to point them toward House of Frankenstein and House of Dracula…)
The act of will is going to be even greater for True Detective. Much as I liked McConaughey and Harrelson, the soap opera elements seemed like mere filler, and the only thing that kept me coming back were the Robert W. Chambers references, wondering where they were going. Then we found out our heroes hadn’t really caught the serial killer, and I thought, Oh, yeah, it was that guy in the scene that was noticeably truncated. I have not yet been seduced back to find out if I was right, or what even was the event that finally broke up our dynamic duo. It was probably something soap opera related.
The problem with Hannibal is that it got picked up for a second season. Which resides on my hard drive. I’m mainly stunned it airs on a major broadcast network. Then again, I remember all the hand wringing over gore in the cinema back in the 80s and I wonder if any of those folks swallowed their tongues the first time they saw an episode of CSI in prime time.
Thus the blank look whenever anybody asks me if I’ve seen Breaking Bad. My list of sins of omission against popular entertainment is vast, and that is one of them.
I am made of time only in the metaphorical sense.
Since my life seems to be composed of ongoing multiple deadlines, it is unlikely this state of affairs will change anytime soon, or ever. I have a hell of a lot of movies to watch, and they generally weigh in at about two hours, and then that’s it. Done. Finito. I can deal with that. I can schedule time for that. I can schedule brain time for that. This stuff is srs biznss for me; I can’t have something playing in the background and then say I’ve watched it. Because I haven’t. I engage. This is my side of the storytelling bargain – I agreed to be told the story, and that involves paying attention while it’s being told.
I admit that last thing may have become something of a lost art.
Anyway. I’ve met the first major deadline of this week, and by way of celebration (and clearing the mental boards for the next deadline) I’m here muttering into the ether. There’s no easy solution for any of this; I’ve just been meaning to vent about it for a while. Now, before I settle down to writing, I think I’ll watch last night’s episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., because it just ain’t the Internet without a hint of hypocrisy.