TV on DVD

Posted: May 15, 2006 in Television

I haven't watched TV in about five years. That includes everything on TV: shows, ads, news, everything. Because it's so ubiquitous, I have actually seen bits and pieces of a few things. And I purposely tuned into the pilot of Commander in Chief because I wanted to see how the writers got a woman into office. But I've never seen a single episode of The Sopranos, Sex in the City, House, American Idol, or any of the various shows discussed around the water cooler. The amount of wasted time I recovered has pretty impressive, which filled up with other things pretty quickly.

From time to time, folks discover that I don't watch TV. It's usually in the context of "did you see this commercial" or "can you believe what happened on such-and-such show?" I usually respond that I don't watch TV and the next question is "at all?" I say "yes" and the jaws drop. It's as though I just said I don't breathe anymore. The idea of not going home and giving over several hours of veg time is frankly beyond some people's comprehension. Parents with children regard the TV as a lifesaver at the same time they acknowledge it's probably unwise to park kids there for extended periods of time (but still do it).

So a friend of mine recently forced on me loaned me a copy of the first season of Lost on DVD. I've tried to be open-minded but can't escape the sense that I'm still watching TV. The eight-minute segmentation to accommodate commercials is grating even without the commercials (but thank goodness for no commercials), and the 45-minute story arcs are a formal frame that really confines sensible story-telling. The way each episode plays like a parable or morality tale is also shockingly facile. I knew all this before I stopped watching TV, but it is especially glaring to me now. The other monstrously irritating thing about this particular show is the endless parade of dramatic pauses and knowing looks in response to simple questions any normal person would answer unhesitatingly.

Q: "Do you have matches?"
A: pause — look — "Why do you want to know?"

ANSWER THE STUPID QUESTION!!

Watching is mostly a take-it-or-leave-it proposition for me at this point. Of seven DVDs, I watched four. I'll have a nagging sense of incompletion if I don't finish, I suspect, the same as with books. The fact that I'll never see season two or three doesn't bother me a bit.

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