We don't watch the boob tube much. No cable and the digital TV's reception in the few TV's I've seen without cable always sucks. The picture always pixellates or digitizes or whatever you call it at the most unfortunate moments--times where the show is about to do the Big Reveal or the climax or whatever and it is super super annoying. So aside from America's Got Talent and The Sing Off, I pretty much steer clear of watching TV as the show is happening.
I try to be very selective in what I watch. In my own experience in watching TV in the past (and I'm supremely hard to please
when it comes to television), I am not usually amused by half hour
sit-coms. I just can't get into them much. Most of them just aren't
that funny to me. I never got Seinfeld. I thought the show was
stupid. And the characters in a lot of sit-coms are all such horrible
stereotypes--the hen-pecked husband, bratty kids, shrew wife,
overbearing mother-in-law, etc.--that watching them becomes like forcing
myself to drink ipecac. They make me want to vomit. I have much better things to do with my time.
Instead, what I do is listen to what other people say about their favorite shows, and particularly people who I respect as writers. For example, my television writing instructor would tell us about this or that show and whether it had good writing. He made a point that the level of writing between cable shows and regular network (ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, etc.) is usually very different. The network TV shows have to stick to a basic format and have regular interruptions for commercials. TV shows on cable networks like Showtime and HBO get to write longer episodes and don't need to make those same breaks. In addition, the cable networks can allow much grittier content--more nudity, violence, bad language, etc. I can't count how many times I heard him go on and on and on about the TV show Dexter.
I finally got around to renting the first disc of season one of Dexter from Blockbuster. Oh, yeah. I should tell you that is how I watch television. *Warning-rest of this paragraph will sound like a commercial for Blockbuster, but alas, I am not being paid to shill for them. Which is too bad. Cuz I could use the money.* I get discs sent to me in the mail from Blockbuster. I get an unlimited number of discs sent to me in the mail, and I get to trade them in at the physical store for more when I'm done with them, which is cool. It's the main reason I haven't switched to Netflix. That, and I don't do streaming. And waiting for DVD's to come in the mail would irritate me. I like to turn them in and get more right away.
Where was I? Oh, yeah. Dexter. So I watched that first show with my husband. After the very first episode, we just looked at each other, smiled really really big smiles and I think I even may have giggled like a schoolgirl. That show is fucking awesome. We were hooked with the pilot.
We are now Dexter-holics. We went through all of season one within a couple of days. Then we rented season two and then three. Season four we watched several months ago and then discovered there weren't any more out on DVD. Oh agony while we waited and waited and waited for season five to come out.
Last night, we just watched the last few episodes of season five. And now we have to wait a whole year for the next season to come out? Oh, noooooo! Say it isn't so! I have to say that Dexter is my favorite show EVER. It has the best writing of any TV show I have ever seen. It continually offers thrills, suspense; the tension just builds and builds. Ohmigod I wanna be hooked up to the brains of the writers of that show, and use some device from Fringe to steal their creativity and fire for myself.
Aside from Dexter, I have several other TV shows that I've been slowly working my way through in my Blockbuster queu. The X-Files (never got to see the last few seasons, so I thought it would be fun to go back and watch them all in order), NCIS (Mark Harmon is hot hot hot and I LOVE Abby), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Fringe, The Sopranos, and I just started Deadwood and Heroes.
I remember when I first heard about The Sopranos, I had absolutely no desire to see it at all. What could possibly be redeeming about a show about a bunch of mobsters? But then I watched the pilot in my gangsters and musicals film class. When I saw it, a brilliant light bulb went off it my head and I understood. The writing in that show is fucking awesome, too. I like how gritty and real it is. I like Dexter as a show better, but in terms of real, The Sopranos is better. My one quibble with Dexter is that I think he should be fired from his job as often as he takes off from work. That just doesn't feel real to me. Oh, and that for some reason Miami seems to be a haven for serial killers, as often as he comes across them. Go figure. But the acting in both shows is sooo good!
Just started in with Deadwood and Heroes. Deadwood started off really slow, and I've only seen the first two episodes, but I'm starting to get into it a little. I'm going to rent another disc and if I like it, I'll keep watching. Heroes, though, I'm diggin', even though I've only seen two episodes of it, too. It's a lot of fun so far. So I'll keep watching.
I've been watching Big Love and The L Word. Big Love is starting to get too ridiculous for me, so I've sort of dropped it. And I just don't like Bill Paxton's character very much. He just gets worse and worse for me. The L Word is a lesbian soap opera and I detest soap operas, but for some reason I seem addicted to this one. It's my guilty pleasure. Although I confess it is kinda weird to have my eighteen year old son come on out and watch the show with me. I think he likes the show now, too. Must be the steamy lesbian sex scenes.
I keep hearing about people's favorites, and different people say "Oh, you should watch ___" (fill in the blank), but really, I want to finish up the series of the ones I'm working on currently before I bring in some new show to watch. It takes me a while to get through them sometimes, especially the big successful network shows like X-Files and Buffy, where there were a billion episodes made. I started X-Files first, and that was about three years ago and I'm still trying to get through them all. I guess it takes me so long to get through it all because I also rent films, too.
If I had to say whether I think regular network television programming is better or cable television programming, I would say that it is hard to choose. The shows I'm watching right now have fantastic writers, and the shows just seem to be consistently good, whether they are cable or regular television. With the exception, perhaps, of Buffy--there's been some episodes that weren't so great--but I watch it anyway because I like her feminist message and it's always fun to see vampires, ghouls, and demons get their butts kicked in comedic ways. It's kind of schlocky sometimes, and sometimes schlocky is just what the doctor ordered. My two favorite shows (Dexter and Sopranos) right now are
cable network TV shows, but I still really enjoy what "regular" TV has to offer.
I especially enjoy renting them, too--no commercial interruptions!
What TV shows do YOU like to watch? What are your guilty pleasures?