Never Dreamed You'd Leave in Summer
I wasn't sure what to think while reading this article in the NYT this Sunday about people's relationships with television shows. Although saying that I couldn't even imagine this kind of commitment to a television show could (and possibly should) carry an air of superiority, I genuinely didn't feel superior at the thought. I can't help wondering how nice it would be to have something in your life that you got excited about.
Today, with the season finale of American Idol safely behind us, I feel a little more satisfied that I'm not a dedicated follower of TV shows. I'm sure the American Idol phenomenon is relatively harmless, but it sure doesn't feel that way. I wonder if suicides and other, less dramatic indicators of major depression tend to hit a local peak in early summer when viewers have to say goodbye temporarily or permanently to new episodes of beloved shows.
I'm a bit surprised that the television networks are still structured around a Fall-to-late-Spring rollout schedule. Way back in the early 90s when Fox (I think) started experimenting with introducing new shows or broadcasting new episodes of shows in summer, I was pretty sure that it was only a matter of time before the fat Fall issue of TV Guide with all the new network shows was a thing of the past. It might be anyway, since I understand TV Guide isn't even a tv guide anymore, but I really don't know. I find it strange that television production still follows a model that was initially developed to coincide with the production schedule of automobiles.
A bunch of shows are ending this season, it seems, although I guess that's true every season. I'm often tempted to watch the last episode of shows, even the ones I didn't watch, just to see how they end. Since the art of the television show is so wrapped up with trying to create the illusion of perpetual motion without abandoning the things that viewers like about the show in the first place, bringing the vehicle to a halt offers an opportunity for something unusual to happen. Closing episodes often defy the general rules of television physics. I really liked the last episode of Seinfeld, for instance, despite never liking the show (this is apparently a common dichotomy; you can either like the show or the finale, but not both). I watched a few minutes of the Alias finale, but it looked like the show was closing on a note just as superficially busy and ridiculous as it had always been. In some cases, like the West Wing and Will and Grace, I suspect that the last episodes would merely amplify the things I hated about them in the first place. I considered watching the finale of Charmed just to make sure it really ended since I genuinely fear that Fall will come around and we'll all discover that, just as James Bond always manages to escape from whatever diabolic death trap his enemies cast him in, the Charmed Ones were somehow renewed for a Dick Wolf-ishly scary number of seasons.
One way in which Tivo has changed my life is that it has made me realize how little I care about most of what's on television. We've set it up so that it will record "Tivo suggestions" if there's nothing else on and if there's space, and we haven't yet filled the thing up, so every day I turn the thing on to see what it recorded for me. I end up deleting pretty much all of it. I think I've only actually watched one or two things Tivo has independently recorded on my behalf. What's more, I look at the list of things I actually asked it to record for me and often feel like they're just not worth watching. Maybe I would have watched whatever it was if it had been on when I set it to record, but now I don't feel like it anymore. I kind of expected this. I tend to see television as a serendipitous alternative to DVDs, but now that it's just a bunch of recordings that I didn't choose to buy, I don't know that I want it.
Since I haven't watched any of the major shows this season, I suppose I could just rent them and watch them all in a row now, if I wanted to. What network was it that used to have a slogan that a rerun isn't a rerun if it's "new to you"? I can't remember, but I guess it's all new to me now.