Friday, July 24, 2015

Binge-Watching: A Marathon of Stories We Love

Above: Four of my favorite on-demand shows 

I’ve never followed more than one or two television series at a time. Years ago, I tuned in weekly to “The Simpsons,” “The X-Files,” “Ally McBeal” (something I could watch with my wife), “Star Trek Voyager,” and Gilmore Girls. (Yes, I watched “Gilmore Girls.” I admit it. I developed a crush on Lauren Graham in the process. But hey, it was a good show).

Today, with the seamless integration of on-demand viewing services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and others, it’s become tempting to binge-watch any show at anytime.
The restless Rick Grimes as played by Andrew Lincoln
Binge watching has come in handy for me. “Battlestar Galactica,” “Family Guy,” “Daredevil,” “Devious Maids,” “Vikings,” and oldies like Columbo have fit the bill at one time or another.  While my current roster of weekly broadcast shows include “The Walking Dead” and not much else, I take advantage of the many options where I can watch other shows at my own pace.

Walter White  and company
I recently finished the entire 5 seasons of “Breaking Bad” on Netflix. There have been many accolades of this AMC original series, all deservedly so. I wasn’t as tuned-in as everyone else was to “Breaking Bad” when it was first broadcast on AMC.  I heard amazing things about it, not just from friends and associates, but from news shows like NPR’s Fresh air. When I was shopping around a TV pilot a few years ago, industry professionals were saying the best writing was being done in television.  It’s easy to agree with them.
Marvel's "Daredevil," a Netflix original series, renewed for a second season
What makes viewers carve time out of their busy schedules to watch show after show in one sitting? What ‘triggers’ lead to watching the latest original series on Netflix or Amazon? Holidays, bad weather, days off from work, romantic time together, break-ups and surfing the web all may be contributors. The bottom line is that at some point we all want to be entertained, and we all want to experience the plethora of emotions that accompany storytelling.

New Yorker’s have come a long way since WHT, (Wometco Home Theater) and hot cable boxes.  Before the rise of cable service we had 7 channels to choose from. After school, the 4:30 movie was a bonus for highly edited versions of “Planet of the Apes,” “Godzilla,” or “The Great Escape.”  Most Mets and Yankees baseball games were televised, easy to find, and a staple for summer nights. If you weren’t lucky enough to catch the “Six Million Dollar Man” or “Emergency” in its original broadcast time slot, you had to wait a few months and search TV guide for a rerun.
Katheryn Winnick as Lagertha: Don't mess with the dress!
Today, click, scroll, select, sample, nestle in, watch and off you go. There is no limit to what viewers watch, or how much. Like a book too good to put down, we want to keep turning the page to see what happens next in our chosen series.  With smart TV’s in our living rooms, mobile apps in our pocket and laptops in our offices, binge watching is a few clicks away (get a good Internet service).

"House of Cards?” Tom Cruise marathon? “Modern Marvels,” “National Geographic,” Disney Animation, or “The Office?” All are here, for your downfall or delight

I still haven’t been compelled to watch Lost, Mad Men or Orange is the New Black. Give it time. With today’s multiple viewing options, anything is possible.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Good blog Mr. Santo! I've had very little time to watch TV since my baby was born. I rely on binge options to catch up on what I've missed. Oh and stay away from Lauren Graham -- she's mine! (don't tell my wife I said that)