I’m not someone who’s glued to their TV. Except for 30 years of afternoon Cubs games, I’ve not watched daytime TV since some racy soaps during the 70’s. I’m particular about the shows I watch and tend to be very loyal to the series which I’ve become attached. There’s a period of mourning when something I’ve invested time in gets cancelled. Certain characters I’ve grown fond of and not ready to have them jerked from my life without prior knowledge or consent. It would be infinitely better for the networks to call me before chopping one of my favorites.
Most of the time I’d rather be reading or writing than watching TV. Still Hubs and I can usually be found after supper, hunkered down in our comfortable Lazy Boy recliners, (don’t even think about sitting in my chair-we’re not savages) doling out oral arguments on why one program is more worthy of our time than another at that given moment. We record everything so we can zip through the commercials (there are a few commercials I recall seeing through the fast forward blur for months and wondering what they were actually hawking) Sometimes Hubs asks which program I want to watch, other nights he just pushes play on one of his preferences.
There’s about 40 shows on our priority recording list, which are broadcast during different times/seasons throughout the year (not at all like when I was a kid. You missed your favorite program any week on one of the three (yes 3) networks, you were out of luck unless you caught the reruns during the summer. Who had time for TV when the weather was perfect? Then again most network shows ran from September to May, with breaks for Christmas specials, so maybe 25 or more episodes a year. None of this 8-15 shows a season, which is why you grew to love the characters so much. They were a bigger part of our lives.
Of these 40 I’m partial to a dozen. I refuse to give one minute of my valuable time (hahaha) to several on our recording list. Anything involving Oak Island, gold under the Great Lakes, digging for gold in Alaska, Australia or the Bering Sea, fishing for tuna, king crab or minnows, any talent show, Alaskan pioneers or people from the backwoods/swamp shooting gators. I have zero interest and will not be coerced. I have standards. Not all that high, but still.
There’s something comforting about watching a favorite series from year to year. You dread/anticipate the season ending cliffhanger because one of the show’s regulars may not make it. A couple of times losing one of the stars has been a dealbreaker for me and I stopped watching-cold turkey. No regrets. The one that pops in my head right now is Glenn from The Walking Dead. When Neagan smashed him to smithereens using Lucille, I said, “I’m done,” and walked out of the room. Haven’t watched a minute of the series since and I’m still ok with that decision.
Those season finales linger for months and keep me wondering how it’s going to turn out when the new season returns. Almost every regular cast member’s life was hanging in the balance on the last episode of Yellowstone when it aired a couple months ago, which has me worried about the longevity of my viewing pleasure should one or two of my favorites bite the dust. My saving grace has been that Rip appeared unharmed, which awarded me some sense of peace this fall, while impatiently waiting for next summer.
Just read in my new TV guide (yeah, it’s still a thing) one of my favorite shows in their rookie season has been cancelled after they renewed it in May. Butthead network. It was called Stumptown and I loved every character. So was Bluff City Law, dang. And my favorite doc, Neil Melendez on The Good Doctor, (Sorry Shaun) croaked in the last few minutes. What about Max Goodwin and Helen Sharpe? Will they ever get together on New Amsterdam?
Things other folks do throughout the year seem to hold very little appeal for us. One is watching old series like Gunsmoke, Golden Girls, Hill Street Blues. Once in a while Hubs will try one like The Lone Ranger, which I find hysterical. Their clothes are immaculate after riding for hours and rolling around in the dirt. Nary a scratch/bruise on their clean faces after a fistfight. I just can’t. Hubs recently added The Honeymooners to our watch list. I couldn’t finish one episode. Jackie Gleason was mean and a bully, at least in the beginning. After belittling Alice for every conceivable thing under the sun for 10 minutes, he says, “I didn’t mean it, I’m sorry.” That’s it. No, you’re an abusive asshole. Again, I just can’t.
The other thing is binge watching. The closest we’ve ever come are a couple series on Amazon like Jack Ryan which I think was offered all at once. You could watch/binge as fast or slow as you wanted. All these new series like Hanna, Bosch, Goliath, For all Mankind, Ted Lasso, The Widow, The Boys, The Morning Show are limited and have only about 8-10 episodes per season, which appeal to bigger stars because they’re not in a long, time consuming commitment. I think we watched all 8 measly episodes of Jack Ryan within a couple weeks for the first 2 seasons. But I do better with the standard weekly premise. Stretch it out.
Until the pandemic roared into our lives.
Like the rest of the country, early this spring, Hollywood shut down (now if they would just shut up). Some series didn’t have a season finale, they just sort of stopped. And the series which normally carried us through like Suits, The Mayans, Queen of the South, (I’m dying here-has my favorite dude James been resurrected to protect/love Teresa Mendoza after being AWOL last season? Definitely saw his handsome mug during the season finale for 2 seconds) but the summer fillers haven’t returned to the lineup either.
So I get these regular emails from Amazon Prime and Apple TV, letting me know what’s on that might pique my interest in returning hits or new series, plus movies galore, some free, some pricey. I noticed one that did pique, mostly because 5 seasons were included in Prime. We were hooked after the first episode. It’s called Chicago PD and premiered in early 2015 for 15 weeks. An ensemble cast in the intelligence unit who take on special cases in that crime ridden city. Led by Sargent Hank Voight, part criminal/part softie/full of empathy.
We watched 2 or 3 episodes a night for about 6 weeks, and didn’t want season 5 to come to a close. I guess as far as the real definition of bingeing, it wasn’t like we watched an entire season a night, but by our standards this was a very different way for us to watch TV. We’d look at our watch list or what we’d recorded, then just mosey over to Chicago PD, night after night.
Spoiler alert! Watching 5 seasons in 6 days or 6 weeks does not have the same affect on viewers (at least this one) as watching this series from January, 2015 to present. I’m just not as invested in the characters like I would be over the course of 5 years as opposed to 5 weeks. When Erin Lindsey left at the end of season 4, I shed no tears. (Probably my fault but her voice drove me bonkers. Big hearing loss here). No matter how far I turned up the volume on my cordless headphones, I always missed some of her dialogue because of her annoying, whispery voice.
However when Al (Elias Koteas) got shanked at the end of season 5, I felt really bad because he was such a neat character (plus Hank’s best friend/partner in crime with just as much empathy and very appealing). But had I watched detective Alvin Olinsky over the course of 5 long seasons with months in between the start of the next one, I would have been shattered for days about his death, not minutes. Dude I only knew and loved you for a couple weeks. Apologies.
Now we’re in a pickle because season 8 of Chicago PD is about to start, but I want to see seasons 6 & 7 first, yet not pay for every episode or stream it on my dinky iPad. What to do, what to do? Well I used some of my newly honed detective skills acquired during this binge fest to discover USA network plays Chicago PD continuously a couple days a week. I jotted down season 6 and 7 episode titles and have found at least half of them are on this week. They’re not all in the right order and include commercials but we will be caught up before much longer.
As far as binge watching goes, we just might be too old to adjust to this new fangled format. Too set in our ways and unwilling to change. However, the pandemic did get us to semi-binge and we found a new favorite show in the process. There’s that…