Author of Time Rep and Note To Self

Choose your TV boxsets wisely

If there’s one thing that’s changed since the turn of the century, it’s the fact that there are so many more awesome television series out there. Sure, back in the eighties and nineties there were a few great shows (Twin Peaks, anyone?) but these days, there’s just so much more choice: Breaking Bad, The Wire, Sherlock, Game of Thrones – the list of quality television drama is endless. Well, maybe  not endless, but it’s certainly very long, like a list of everything that’s wrong with Michael Bay films.

So why has this happened? Why are we suddenly so spoilt for choice when it comes to great television? I think the advent of the DVD has a lot to do with it. Before DVDs, there was just no way you could go into a shop and buy seven seasons of a TV show (or ‘series’, as we like to refer to ‘seasons’ in the UK, particularly since most TV series don’t actually last 13 weeks, which I believe constitutes the length of a ‘season’ in the traditional sense of the word). And the reason you couldn’t buy seven series of a TV show before the DVD came along was because video tapes just took up so much space. And that wasn’t the only bad thing about them. Do you actually remember video tapes? Do you remember rewinding and fast-forwarding them? Do you remember a time before you could use a menu to skip to an episode? Do you remember when you could only fit three hours onto a huge plastic tape the size of a hardback book? Do you remember the screen flickering when you paused it? In a world where you now can fit every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation on half a shelf, it’s strange to think that twenty years ago, you wouldn’t have been able to fit the same number of episodes on the actual bridge of the Starship Enterprise. Watching a whole series of a TV show on video tapes was a right pain. But on DVD, it was suddenly easy.

And the easier it became for people to watch whole series of TV shows, the more they bought, and the more they bought, the more shows began to get made. In the early days you had 24. Lost. The West Wing. Prison Break. These shows had proper movie production values (remember the first episode of 24 when the plane exploded?), great storylines, and in some cases, they had proper movie stars in them. And Kiefer Sutherland. Audiences were blown away, and suddenly the entertainment landscape was changed. Within a few years, the number of great shows had multiplied exponentially, and today people are now quite happy to buy a whole TV series on DVD, watch every episode back to back over a weekend or two, and then buy the next series.

That’s the norm.

Then there’s the fact that it’s now easier than ever for you to watch your favourite TV show wherever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Oh no! Did you miss the latest episode of Breaking Bad? Well don’t worry, because you can watch it on catchup. Or download it to your phone. Or watch it on your computer. Or have it projected into your dreams. Okay, I made that last one up, but what I’m trying to say is that there are now more fantastic TV shows out there than ever before, and it’s also easier than ever to watch them wherever you are. Consume! Don’t miss out! Watch as many shows as you can in every free moment you have!

Or don’t.

Now, I’m not saying you shouldn’t watch TV. TV is fine. What I’m saying is that it’s impossible to watch every great show that’s out there without compromising something else in your life. So you have to make a choice. You have to choose your TV boxsets wisely. There are just too many great shows out there, and if you watched all of them, you would do nothing else with your time. Out of Breaking Bad, The Wire and Game of Thrones, I’ve only seen Game of Thrones. I know Breaking Bad is supposed to be amazing, and everyone screams at me about how The Wire is the most sublime piece of television ever made, but I’m never going to watch either of them. The reason for this is because I realise I have to choose how to divide up my time. Do I want to spend the amount of time required to watch all these great series, sitting in front of a television? Not really. I know I’m missing out on two fantastic shows, but then I’d be missing out on something else if I watched them too.

I’d miss doing something that doesn’t involve looking at a screen.

Then again, this blog post took longer to write than the average length of a TV episode, so who’s spending longer looking at a screen in the end really?

That would be me!

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