Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Monday Musing: TV Schedules

On Friday morning, I found myself listening to something curious on one of the local radio stations. Seemed the DJ from one of the five or six stations housed in one building (and, as far as I can tell, these are the only two actual on-air personalities on any of these stations; I think they are totally automated otherwise) apparently popped in to chat with the other DJ. I don’t know if this is something they do every week, or if maybe a guest who was supposed to come in that hour to speak with each of them cancelled, or if they just bumped into each other in the hallway and said, “Why the hell not?”

They were talking about television. I missed most of the discussion, I think–since I don’t know how long they were talking, I can’t really say–but neither of them are big TV watchers at this point, at least, of commercial TV. They both admitted to binge watching: “We’ll sit down on the weekends and go through six episodes of House of Cards,” said one. A little later, one commented how they don’t know most shows on TV, but he could still remember the schedule of shows he used to watch as a kid. “I Love Lucy was on at nine on Monday, Burns and Allen, Thursday at eight.”

It got me thinking about television and how much things have changed, even over the last 15, 20 years. When I was a kid, even into my thirties, probably, television was largely something you watched on schedule. Sunday night, Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom followed by The Wonderful World of Disney. Friday night had The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family back to back (my poor parents). And then there were specials–anything by Jacques Cousteau would have the entire family lined up on the couch. Later, of course, there was “Must See TV” and the new Fox network’s Sunday Night shows (Bad Taste TV?).

Now, of course, schedule largely means nothing. It used to be you had one, maybe two chances to catch an episode of your favorite show, but if you were out on a particular Tuesday night at 8, you might have missed Fonzie jumping the shark on Happy Days, with no chance to see it until summer reruns. Now? No big deal. The latest episode of Big Bang Theory is probably available for free in half a dozen places (and maybe even legally!).

Is this good, or is this bad? On the one hand, clicking “Play Next Episode” is great if we just can’t wait to see Rick and the gang fight off the undead and the living, or to see how Fiona Gallagher is going to save the family this time. It definitely maintains an excitement level. But do we lose anything? I don’t know.

What about you? Do you watch TV according to their schedule, or yours? Do you watch TV at all?

Meanwhile, some music. Last Thursday was the 36th (!!!) anniversary of John Lennon’s death. I heard the lovely rendition of his semi-finished song, Real Love, performed by Regina Spektor. She’s got a marvelous voice, really interesting. Enjoy.

4 Responses

  1. I almost never watch TV shows, except for the news. I find serial TV irritating. I like that movies actually come to a conclusion. lol

    I did read something lately about people who stream on Netflix–that they tend to binge watch. Like wait for an entire season and then watch the whole thing in a few days.

    People are busy. They want to watch it according to their schedules and not someone else's. I'm glad.

  2. I watch TV according to my schedule. We record everything so we can zip through the commercials. Only thing we don't record is sports, but Hubby has been known to do that if he thinks he'll be coming home late to watch a game.

  3. Due to conflicting schedules in a house with other people, I think it's great to have options. Though I feel a lot of family and together time has been lost or too easy to set aside. I find great camaraderie posting on twitter with other viewers during the first airing of series and think that's what we used to have. So I guess whether or not we lost something depends on your priorities. My answer is a definite yes despite all the extra goodies we have now.

  4. -Donna–binge-watching is quite the thing, and sometimes, it's great, I admit. I will say, I think a lot of the original programming on venues like HBO or Netflix are probably far superior to most of the network stuff. There is some superior storytelling going on there.
    -Stacy–it's funny, I hate watching sports on tape, knowing it's already happened. Strange, isn't it?
    -Sheena-kay–on a certain level, it's kind of horrifying to look back and think of TV as family time, isn't it? But you're still together and you're still (presumably) interacting with one another, and it can provide a good entry for family or friends to talk about important things.

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