How We Watch TV
From Graeme McMillan at Spinoff:
And then there are the shows that I accidentally skip out of synch with and all of a sudden, there’s a terrifying backlog of: Seven episodes of Mad Men? I love that show more than I should, but there’s something so daunting about that I find myself continually putting off tackling the backlog. One day, I swear. And hopefully, not a day too far away; I just need to magically find a day with seven hours of free time to fully enjoy the idea of a marathon viewing.
I’m curious: Do you make efforts to keep up with your DVR lists, or just the opposite and wait until seasons are done to watch them in multiple-episode sittings?
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how the DVR has completely changed the way we view TV and McMillan has also been tackling the same subject at his site. The concept of ‘marathon viewing’ is not new but it’s definitely become more commonplace with the latest television-related technology.
I watch television in three ways. The first is ‘live’ viewing. Only a few shows make that list. I am ALWAYS in front of the television at 9pm EST when The Walking Dead airs. I also usually catch Big Bang Theory live and my wife and I still like Grey’s Anatomy (despite the fact that it is a mild form of mental torture every week). The second way I watch television is ‘delayed weekly viewing’. These are the shows that I don’t watch when they air live but I almost always watch them sometime in the next week, at the time of my choosing. This list is fairly long because I am a TV junkie and I have teenagers so that means much more free time than when they were younger. Delayed weekly viewing is what the DVR (and the VCR before it) was designed for. It means we are no longer a slave to television schedules and I think most Americans value that kind of freedom.
The third way I watch television is marathon viewing. This is something that I never anticipated before we got the DVR. It sort of happened organically. It started when I let six episodes of Castle stack up one autumn because I was busy and, since that show is not heavy on multi-episode plot, I figured letting them sit wouldn’t hurt. But then I watched them over the holidays, three per night for two nights, and I LOVED the experience. It was like a movie in some ways and it allowed me to really immerse myself in that world for a brief time. I enjoyed the experience so much that I deliberately allowed them to stack up again during the spring and when the summer started I had nearly a dozen episodes waiting for me which I watched over the course of a long weekend when my wife was out-of-town. Now this has become my prefered method for watching not just Castle but a couple of other shows. I currently have over twenty episodes of Star Wars: The Clone Wars that I am going to start knocking out this weekend and I can’t wait.
I like stacking up shows not just because it gives me the marathon option but also as a practical matter because there isn’t much to watch during the summer. Cable television has gotten a little better in that regard and I’ve found a few gems like Suits and Falling Skies but it’s still mostly a time of reruns. I keep myself from going crazy by watching my stockpile a few episodes at a time and this usually gets me through the summer.
So the question I will ask Leaguers is similar to the Spinoff questions. How has the DVR changed the way you watch television? Do you find yourself recording more television because the DVR makes it So-Darn-Easy or do you filter for only the best quality shows?
I will admit I am certainly less discerning since the DVR appeared in our house. I don’t know if that is a bad thing, although I probably have more shows now that I am embarrassed to admit that I watch.