What can you do when your favorite TV shows disappear?
Nothing, unless you own a television studio.
The rest of us have to live with the reality that characters we loved spending time with are no more.
Obviously this bothers me a lot because I write about it every so often when it bubbles up and I miss a particular character or a story.
The other day, indexing the journal which contained the page spread posted above, I thought again about the end of “Into the Badlands.” No more episodes coming, and a sort of ambiguous ending that we can interpret, well ambiguously. We can be grateful for that.
Sometimes there are campaigns to revive or continue a show on Netflix—this happened to “Longmire,” which was a favorite show of mine. I’m grateful to Netflix for that.
But sometimes shows like “Square Pegs,” “Pushing Daisies,” and “Life,” which fall victim to the vicissitudes of writers strikes and poor network scheduling simply end, or rush to a constricted end. (“Life” had a constricted ending, but at least it was a thrilling ending, providing one of the best few seconds of television ever in the climax scene.)
With services like Netflix, BritBox, Amazon Prime, and Hulu (and more services coming) we can, if we can budget for it, rewatch our favorite shows in a nostalgic binge landscape. (Slipperly slope.) At least we can still watch…
…But sometimes that isn’t a good thing. We find that shows we once thought special belong to the time and space personally we once occupied. They seem alien to us when we return.
Can anyone really re-watch any episodes of “Lost?” (I admit to not being a fan at the time.)
Other shows like “Terriers” and “Justified” are carried along by the nuanced performances of the actors on the show.
And sometimes there are shows you can watch over and over because they are like popcorn—familiar, tasty, and temporarily able to distract us from what we really want.
I admit that I can watch endless hours of “Monk” for that reason.
Can I rewatch over and over episodes of “The Office” for the same reason?
I don’t think it’s the same reason—every time I watch an episode of “The Office” it’s like the very first time. There’s no sense that “it’s 10 past the hour and now such and such will happen,” or “here comes the reversal,” or “here we’re going to loop back.”
The actors in “The Office” simply struck me as a group; I can’t look away.
(I’m writing about the US version of “The Office.” The British version is wonderful and I saw it first, but I think Ricky Gervais is just too good in it and I find myself gritting my teeth hard the whole time. I much prefer to watch him as Tony in “After Life.”)
Sometimes we can rewatch a show over and over because there is something wonderful in a relationship as well as in the ensemble cast. “The Detectorists” is such a show. The relationship between Andy and Lance is so wonderfully close and real, while at the same time leaving openings for real sadness and joy, that it was worth a three-year subscription to Acorn, even if I watched nothing else. (But of course I did.)
I’d be the first to admit that sometimes I watch a show because there’s an actor on it I want to sketch. I’ve made many sketches and paintings of Mackenzie Crook’s face.
And I cannot count the number of times that I have sketched Raymond Burr as Perry Mason.
So there really isn’t anything we can do when a favorite TV show runs its course. And I find that I’m glad that through my journals I have kept a record of the shows I have watched.
During a discussion with others a friend once tried to apologize for me for my TV viewing: “Well Roz gets so much other stuff done when she watches TV…”
Yeah, maybe that’s true. I tend to get a lot of stuff done in general.
But I have never felt that my TV viewing needed to be apologized for. It would be like apologizing for cycling every day, or to apologize for drawing strangers in public places.
It’s just something I love to do. And my journals record my time and tastes.
I do feel a little sad for young audiences today now that shows are untethered and seasons can be binged in entirety immediately. There is a wonderful episode of “Portlandia” where a couple (played of course by Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen) binge watch DVDs of “Battlestar Galactica). They don’t go to work, they stay up around the clock. Fun for us ensues.
When I grew up you watched a show and if you missed parts of it you had a chance, maybe, in the summer to catch a rerun. VCRs were still a long way out.
But the next day you talked about what you saw with friends. You chewed on it like a dog worries a bone. You discovered new insights into your friends based on their reaction to a character or a scene.
The whole nation isn’t waiting for a new episode of anything. It’s as if we are on solo missions in fictive worlds.
I’m still not apologizing.
I do notice and record.
I hope your mission is going well.
(Use the blog’s search engine or category list to search for “television” to see what some of my other favorite shows are.)