I’ve noticed a change in my television viewing habits later, I think I’ve switched over to the “boxset” routine I keep reading about. I always maintained that I quite liked having to wait for the next episode rather than watching episodes back to back. Even when I had several episodes recorded, unless there was a particularly strong cliff hangover, I’d usually move on to an episode of something else in an attempt to catch up with the broadcast schedule. I also liked the variety and would find multiple episodes of the same programme a little tiresome.
I’m now finding that programmes are made and structured differently, despite being still so heavily rooted in the traditional broadcast model. It perhaps started with 24, telling one long story (although the likes of Murder One did this earlier) but split over episodes. In 24 the core of the story would usually move forward each hour but in the 30 minutes around the top of the hour and split into two episodes.
I don’t like it when episodes are stripped across multiple nights, mostly because it’s easier to completely miss something. When BBC2 showed The Wire every night I recorded and then found I had to watch multiple episodes to keep up. But with The Wire the story was strong enough that I nearly always wanted to watch the next episode.
Now because I’ve fallen so far behind the schedules I have multiple episodes all queued up to watch and I’ve found myself waiting until I have a chunk of time and watching several episodes. This long weekend I’ve watched all of Being Human, making progress through The Singing Detective and hope to catch up with White Heat. Perhaps with White Heat I’ll wait until the series has finished (this Thursday) and then watch it all (I have already seen the 1st episode). I also have Inside Men, One Night and Those Who Kill all saved to watch, another advantage is that after an initial burst of hype about Those Who Kill I didn’t read anything else so may not bother with that one.
It’s also great having so many TV series available on the likes of Netflix. I only used the free trial but flew through the first season of Always Sunny In Philadelphia and if I had the time I’d subscribe and watch the rest, not to mention the likes of My So Called Life.
I think it still depends on the show. I really enjoy The Good Wife but essentially each episode is the same and I don’t have any desire to watch them back to back. The overall arc of the latest season of Being Human kept me wanting more. With Homeland I’m watching each week and wanting more, if I had it all available I may watch it back to back but don’t want to wait. In fact waiting for a British series to fully broadcast makes much more sense than an American season, something else to factor in.
So how do you decide how to view something? Content, length, availability, how it fits in to your hectic schedule?