HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I remember how TV used to be. A show was on, say, Ed Sullivan at 8 on Sunday, or LA LAW on--when was it? Whatever. It was on when it was on, and if you missed it, tough.
Then came video tape, and if you could figure out your machine, you could TAPE a show and watch it whenever you liked! It was amazing. When it worked.
Then came On Demand, and Tivo, all brilliant and all fabulous, but it has so changed television so now no one knows when anything is on--and I wonder if that's why TV shows come and go so quickly.
Did you see they just canceled the new Ironsides? I think it was on *once.* Once! I mean--I MIGHT have watched it, if I'd had any idea when it was on, who knows. But, it was on. and then--gone. Because no one watched it--canceled. Blam. Scary. Just--on, then gone.
Used to be , a show was on for a season, and might accumulate buzz and viewers and then managed to succeed. Word of mouth traveled more slowly, I guess, right? And that could save a show. Now word of mouth is instant, and that means a show's survival is on the chopping block the first moment it hits the air. Scary.
Are you watching anything new these days? (Could you BELIEVE what happened on Homeland?) (How great is GAME OF
THRONES?) (And we binge-watched--new word!--HOUSE OF CARDS!) We like Hostages, and um...hmm. I'm not sure there's anything else new on our TV agenda. How about you? And did you get caught in any "on then gones"?
LUCY BURDETTE: I don't watch a whole lot of TV, but once in a while I get hooked. And then I'm DEVASTATED when the show is over. (Funnily enough, series books in publishing are in much the same dilemma, she said sadly.) I adored FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS. And now I'm totally gaga over
NASHVILLE. Luckily, we figured out how to use our DVR and so can catch up if we miss something...if we're at home. I have a sister-in-law who loves the show too, but did not realize the season had started. (What? I had it on my calendar all summer!) So now she's missed the first 3 episodes. And they have no DVR and she wouldn't begin to know how to use it...
"You can watch it online, on the network website. But you can't fast forward through the commercials," John tells her.
"Huh?" she says.
Anyway, I'm going to pick up Homeland again and give it another try. The tension just got too much for me and I had to back off.
RHYS BOWEN: I also watch very little TV. I was hooked on Downton Abbey until they started killing off all my favorite characters. Now I'm not sure whether I'll watch next season or not. I am a big PBS fan and annoyed that so many English programs are min-series and don't go on and on. I adored Silk but it was only three episodes. I haven't been hooked on any US drama for a long while. So much negativity and violence. Where are the Waltons when you need them? Only The Amazing Race and Project Runway keep drawing me back.
ROSEMARY HARRIS: I LOVE TV. TV shows are a little like sports teams. They give you something to have in common with people. I just don't love too many shows. Does that make sense?
I know what you're saying about what they used to call time-shifting. There used to be an almost community feel when on Friday morning you'd go into the office and everyone would be talking abut LA Law (or 30Something, Hill Street Blues.) Or Monday mornings after the hot PBS show. I never Tivo'd or taped and I guess that was the beginning of - you're on your own, watch when you want. It must be driving the ratings and advertising people crazy.
I was made for binge-watching. Didn't watch Breaking Bad for 5 years until it was ALL OVER - and then I watched it all in one month. Awesome. I'm already watching Downton Abbey thanks to Tunnelbear and looking forward to House of Cards and Orange. I still want Tony Soprano to be alive and I think Nancy Botwin should go back into the weed business.
HALLIE EPHRON: Yes, shows get killed very fast these days. I think it's something like 6 get shot, and then if it's well received they make more. And if ratings are good enough, they order a second season. Most shows don't even make it out of the starting gate.
I almost never watch a new TV show. I might notice when it goes into reruns if it's been a well received. We have a smart TV critic in the Boston Globe (Matthew Gilbert) and if he really likes something I might give it a try. But that shows you how out of date I am: I read the newspaper.
I do love THE GOOD WIFE - but I watch it on my computer. And lots of stuff on PBS -- Antiques Roadshow, most of the PBS crime
shows (love George Gently and Silk (will there be more?) and the one about the two British police detectives whose names I can never remember. I remember when American PBS tried to make their own mysteries and they were dreadful dreadful dreadful. The BBC really has the knack.
DEBORAH CROMBIE: My husband won't watch anything in real time--he binge-watches when shows become available streaming. He's just caught up on Homeland but I haven't watched it. I do watch some "regular" TV, but I record shows on my DVR and if I watch on the night they air, I usually delay long enough so that I can fast forward through the commercials. But I'm still trying to catch up with shows from LAST season. Sigh. My DVR is 70% full. Then if the satellite box goes dead, you lose it all. That's happened before, and it was almost a relief.
As for new shows this season, I've watched one episode of Marvel's Agents of Shield (a bit silly, but fun) and one of The Blacklist, which I really liked. James Spader is, as always, amazing, the dialogue is good, and best of all, Parminder Nagra has a top role. (Anyone remember Neela Rasgotra from ER?)
Which makes me think... I kind of miss the days when our Sunday nights revolved around The X-Files, and MY Thursday nights around ER...
Best new series from the UK this year (which you can watch streaming from Netflix)? The Fall, starring Gillian Anderson and an Irish actor named Jamie Dornan, who's just been picked to play Christian Grey in Fifty Shades of Grey. (Not that I've read THAT!)
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Debs, you can admit your love for 50 Shades of Grey here. We won't judge.
I'm more like Hallie - I tend to wait until a show's been out for a season or two and then pick it up streaming. Not that I tend to marathon too much - though there was that time two summers ago when the Smithie and I sat down to watch the first WALKING DEAD episode at 9pm and didn't get up until 2am! Half the first season in one night. What I really like is the convenience of watching a show when I want to, especially since it always seems like the one show I'm interested in airs at 10:00pm.
Youngest, Ross and I are watching AGENTS OF SHIELD together and liking it very much. So far, it has a low ratio of dumb to good. I've become incredibly picky about the writing on a show, and if the dialog or plotting isn't up to par, I'll bail, even if the performances are great. One example: FALLING SKIES, which I was very excited about. I actually bought the first season when it came out on DVD on the strength of its reviews and was deeply disappointed to see one example after another of supposedly smart characters acting in a TSTL (too stupid to live) fashion just to ramp up the suspense. Which wasn't that ramped up because unlike WALKING DEAD, regular cast members never get killed. Terrific performances by Noah Wylie, Moon Bloodgood and Will Patton, though.
DEBS: Julia, I had the same experience with Falling Skies. LOVE Noah Wylie. Horrible writing. I think I made it through two episodes. As for Agents of Shield, maybe I'll manage a catch-up on that this week. Anything by Joss Whedon goes on my A-list. Don't even get me started on Firefly!!!!
SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I wasn't really interested in TV in my 20s. Mostly because I didn't have the money for a TV — and also because I just didn't think it was worth it.
The day I broke down and bought my own set was during the 1994 Winter Olympics. Everyone was talking about figure skaters Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding and I just had to watch them compete. I remember just going into Macy's, getting a really small set, and lugging it home on the subway. I was too broke for cable, so I put it by the window and wrapped tin foil on the antennas.
But even with a TV, I didn't watch that much. I remember doing grocery shopping on Thursdays, so-called "Must-See TV" night, because the stores would be empty and you could get everything done really fast. I did like the X-files though.
It was Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer that made me a TV addict. Tuesday nights , my boyfriend (and then husband) and I would sit down to watch at 8 and life would stop until it was over at 9. Ditto for Angel and Firefly.
We got into the DVR thing after we had a baby and our schedule was upside down. Hey, I could get up and nurse the baby at 2 a.m. AND still watch Grey's Anatomy! Now we're still pretty selective about shows and tend to DVR them. We used to be obsessed with Friday Night Lights. Current favesare Breaking Bad (what a finale!), Game of Thrones, Girls, Scandal, Orange is the New Black, Homeland and House of Cards. Oh, and also the Golden Girls. Always the Golden Girls.
Now that my mother-in-law's living with us, I tape some "old-school" shows and we all watch them together as a family. The current house fave is 70s era Match Game—you know, the one with the orange set and Richard Dawson. It's so nice to see celebrities who actually still look like real people. Makes you realize how plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures have really changed our idea of what's "normal."
HANK: So how about you, Reds? What are you watching? What do you miss? Any show you liked-- that disappeared? And do you time-shift?