TV on DVD: Bad for you, Bad for television

[I’m using this fluff piece to get myself back in to blog-writing.  You are warned: this will stink.]

Much to my spouse’s chagrin, I have sworn off watching any new television series on DVD.  Having completed The Wire and suffered through the most recent season of Weeds (please, just make it end!), [hypothesis] I have decided that watching TV on DVD is bad for me and bad for the show.  Or at least that’s true for the way that I watch TV on DVD.  I seem to be unable to exercise any self-control; when a disc arrives, I usually watch every episode on the disc back-to-back on the same night.  This is both exhausting and an utter waste of time.  When I get to the end of a disc, I am tired from doing absolutely nothing.  And so I become frustrated at my laziness and my lack of self-control.  Naturally, I take this out on the television show, in which I find endless problems (see my previous rant on Weeds) and decide that I hate, but which I can’t stop watching.  So I trudge my way through as quickly as possible, missing exactly what makes good shows good: character development.  Mulder and Scully, the entire crew from Arrested Development–these characters evolved, and that’s what the made the shows great.  Some of that change and development is intended by the writers, the directors, and the actors, but I think some of it is imagined; viewers develop a pseudo-relationship with these characters, and imagine them to change over time as do real people.  But when you watch a show on DVD, the characters don’t get that kind of time and play-space in your brain.  All the evolution has to take place on the screen, right in front of you, and it’s usually incomplete or laughably radical.  I did this to The Wire.  My understanding is that people loved this show in large part due to the complexity and development of the characters.  And you get some of that when you watch it on DVD–but not all of it, I think.  By the end of the show, I found pretty much ever character on that show to be an unrealistically insufferable asshole–except for Amy Ryan’s character, who was only an occasional presence in the last two seasons, and so I was able to imagine the development of her character.  (note: Bunk and Omar were also good, so that complicates my theory).

Therefore, [thesis]: TV on DVD is bad for me because it wastes my time and irritates me, and it’s bad for the show because it doesn’t provide the time and space for character development.

And so, to Mad Men, Battlestar Gallatica, and all other shows that I “just have to watch,” I say: nein.  Ich habe die Nasen voll. But it’s not you, it’s me.

Ah, the modern condition.  It’s so stressful, I do believe I’ll faint!

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