When Your Favorite Shows Disappear…

October 25, 2019
Brush pen and ink wash sketch in a Hahnemühle Travel book (drawing paper). Thought it appropriate to round out the week with this sketch since I’ve been writing about using wet media on non-wet-media paper all week.)

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?

Brush pen sketch in hardbound journal with Nideggen paper of Divian Ladwa who plays Hugh from “The Detectorists.”

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.”)

Brush pen sketch in hardbound journal with Nideggen paper of Mackenzie Crook,  who plays Andy in “The Detectorists.”

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.)

    • Elizabeth A. Trembley
    • October 25, 2019

    I love this entire post more than I can say. Here’s to unapologetic television watching. And practicing drawing.

    I have found that while watching certain TV shows, I will occasionally see a shot composition or camera angle that would work perfectly in the graphic novel I am working on. I freeze the show, get my sketchbook, make a sketch, then go on watching. Then I can use the sketch in my other work later.

    Thanks for the recommendations for shows, too. I love Perry Mason (and Ironsides too). Have you drawn Peter Falk as Columbo? I’m thinking he would make a great study, with the face and the coat…

    Thanks for your blog.

    1. Reply

      Thanks so much, I’ms so glad you enjoyed this post. I have drawn Peter Falk and he is a lot of fun because of the HAIR!!!!!!! I rarely get past that.

      It’s interesting, seeing composition in the TV, because they give lots of thought to it. If you like it for this reason you have to watch “Into the Badlands.” It’s a bit violent but every (EVERY) frame is like a still from a graphic novel. I simply couldn’t look away. Now we’re doing a close up, and establish shot, a middle distance view, detail, on and on and on deliciously.

    • Jen
    • October 27, 2019

    Roz, so much of this rang true. I love drawing from the TV, and I refuse to feel guilty about it!

    If you can find it and don’t mind the subtitles I heartily recommend “I know who you are”. Not only is it a fantastic thriller set in envy-enducing surroundings but I spent the whole series either drawing the main protagonists or wanting to.

    1. Reply

      Thanks for writing Jen. I will check for “I Know Who You Are.” Right now I can’t watch subtitled pieces because of my eyes, but we continue to work towards correctable sight so I believe I will have correctible sight at some point. I hope so, there are some other shows with subtitles I want to want the next season of!!!!

      Keep me posted on any shows with 18th Century costumes, you know I love WIGS!

      Happy sketching.

    • Rachel Kopel
    • October 27, 2019

    I know this is off topic, but you have given me so many art ideas and techniques that maybe you can help. How do you have time to watch television? I can certainly tell, as you said, that you *get a lot done.* Whether while watching TV or not. It is clear from your references that your eyes are on the screen, so it is not just stories in the background. And it is not just *fluff.* You are paying attention to character, plots, as well as camera and staging techniques.
    I do not have a TV. I rarely leave the house. I barely make a dent in reading. And mostly only manage one sketch a day. Do you have a secret door that leads to a place with more hours?

    1. Reply

      Rachel, I don’t have a secret door, but I do have a path to a place with more hours. It’s the timesheet. I’ve kept one since I was a child. I know how long things take me (which is useful when bidding for jobs) but more important I know WHERE my time goes.

      If you think that you don’t have enough time to get the reading done (what you mention in your note) and only manage a sketch a day think about what you want. Do you want to read more and draw more? If so, discover how you are using your time. Get a sheet of paper and jot down every 15 minute increment of time that you spend for the next two weeks. It’s not a burden. You can come in from the garden (if you’re a gardener) and look at the clock and since it’s 3 and you went out after lunch you can guestimate 15 minutes or so and write down 2 hours 45 minues. Then do the next thing knowing you started at 3 p.m. and jot down when you finish. In this way you’ll discover how long it takes you to clean the house, make the meals, as well as all the other things you do.

      Everything goes down on the sheet, including any time spent talking on the phone, social media time, errand time. (Jot down what the errands are.)

      In this way you’ll see where all your time is going. I’ve never had a student who did this who didn’t come up with a bunch of frittered hours. And I had one student come to me beaming saying I realized that I’m spending all my time doing things I love way more than drawing and realize I’d rather garden. YIPPPEEEEEE! That’s insight to make your life happier.

      And if you know that you spend X amount of time doing such and such an errand and the next day you go to almost the same spot for a different errand you’ll begin, over time to plan errands in a more time efficient fashion.

      Pro: You discover more time to do the things you want.
      Pro: You discover the things you really want to do, what to spend more time on.
      Pro: Your thoughts about how you spend your time come into alignment with what you’re actually spending time on.

      Cons: I don’t really see any.

      I don’t know your personal situation or life, health, etc., but the other thing that can happen is that you realize that a lot of hours are spent taking care of health issues, e.g., Physical Therapy, nausea after medication, naps because of medication, or whatever. And by jotting down the time you spent on PT etc. you will actually get a full picture of your current life and what is possible and the positive to that is that you will see where and if you can push yourself to get a little more time, but MOST IMPORTANT have a reality based idea of what is required to keep you going and you’ll let go of notions that really aren’t possible and start to fill in with things that you can do in the time available.

      I’ve had a big jumble in my life because of the cataract surgeries not having a good outcome. Previous to that I would have said simply that I do everything fast. I sketch fast, etc. Everything. I have everything scheduled, do it, and move on. I don’t procrastinate. I don’t talk myself out of doing things that are on the schedule as I know how important for instance my PT and cycling is in the morning. It’s easier to go and do it than talk to myself about not doing it. And then when it’s done I have the boost all that PT and exercise gives me.

      Post eye surgery I’m not sketching so fast. Or as much. So there is a lot that has to settle out. But I do make a point to sketch everyday because it’s on the schedule. Some days I haven’t been able to sketch because the vision is too bad, or I had to use what I’m calling my “eye” time for other tasks which were more important to finish (business related things like answering my students’ binding questions; or personal things like spending time with people).

      I find that a time sheet allows me to be the most productive me I can be. And it helps me deal with reality. I recommend it.

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