Sunday, 20 November 2011

What's On Television?

I watch a lot of television. A Lot. More television than I actually have time for. My Sky+ box is almost full with programmes that I've yet to get round to watching. Recently I had to delete the entire second series of Treme from it, on the realisation that I simply didn't have the time to sit through the ten hours (without adverts) of post Katrina blues drama that had built up in my planner.

But I started wondering about it. With everything I watch - which shows do I actually care about?

I got an email from my friend Dexter earlier, that ended with the question "Have you seen Life's Too Short yet?" I had, and I proceeded to explain to Dexter that, though I have been a big fan of Gervais and Merchant in the past - and had been  looking forward to this programme for some time, I was ultimately disappointed by it. I found it thin, derivative and - aside from the scene with Liam Neeson - simply not very funny. But I ended my message by assuring him that I would still continue to watch the rest of the series in the hope that it would improve.

Does this seem like strange behaviour to you? After watching the first episode, and deciding I didn't like it, why would I continue to dedicate time to watching this programme? Maybe it will get better as it goes on, but there's an equal chance that it won't, so why not just cut my losses now and stop watching?

When I thought more about this, I thought about other programmes that I have continued to sit through, despite being fully aware of their lack of quality. With the exception of Treme, I can't think of another television show that I've completely given up on in the midst of a series (a fact made twice as sad when I reflect that Treme really is very good - I'll have to get the box set in the Summer). I remember when Lost was coming to an end, there were so many people who said "Oh I thought it got silly after the second season, so I stopped watching it then." I've never done this. Even programmes like Heroes, that were obviously getting worse as they progressed, I kept watching religiously right until the cancellation point in the hope that they would improve. I've loudly complained about the lack of quality in The Simpsons in the last few years, but I still watch all the new episodes when they're shown on TV.

Maybe television addiction is a real thing. Or maybe I just need to find other things to do. For whatever reason, it's a rare thing for me to say goodbye to a television show before it's come to an end, or been cancelled.

And when I think of this, I think of all the programmes I watch at the moment. If they were cancelled tomorrow, how many of them would I really be bothered about losing? Off the top of my head I can only think of a handful of programmes that I'd be genuinely upset if I knew there was never going to be another episode:

Frozen Planet (of which there's only about three or four more episodes anyway)
Mad Men (which hasn't been on since October 2010 and won't be back until an unspecified time next year).
Doctor Who
The Simpsons (though this is more because I want to see it continue is reign of longevity than because I enjoy the new episodes)

That's it.
There are other programmes I enjoy watching, but I'm not as bothered about them ending as I would be for those above, or as I was for Lost, Friends, Scrubs or Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.

It's sad really. All that time I've spent on these programmes. And really it's all been wasted. It's like going to your favourite restaurant - one that you've been to hundreds of times before - and realising that you don't really like the food there.

I know I should just stop. But I won't.

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