Monday, February 3, 2020

Do you Binge?

RHYS BOWEN: A couple of weeks ago we decided to watch the third season of The Crown. Actually we binge-watched it. Several episodes a night until I was falling asleep. In a way it was satisfying to see it one episode after another as one could follow the continuity of the story. But then I regretted it was over so quickly. I remember how much I enjoyed Downton Abbey when it first came out, waiting impatiently for the next Sunday night to find out what happened next and when Mary would finally get together with Matthew. And then the awful wait for another whole year and the next season of the story.
                Actually I loved the anticipation. It gave us something to talk about, to discuss with friends. Who would Mary pick? Did I think this suitor was a good choice? What would happen to Edith?  I’m not quite so invested in Queen Victoria as I know what happened to her in real life, but I’m still looking forward to the continuation of her story, unfolding week by week. (Anyone know when this might happen?)
                In England most series come out with a six week run, even the sit-coms, and then you have to wait until the next year to continue. This is annoying but…
                I love anticipation, don’t you? Do you remember counting off the days until your birthday or the end of school as a child? Even now I find myself saying “Three weeks until Christmas” or lying in bed planning our next vacation.
                So I’m interested to know what the rest of you think? Do you binge-watch? Binge-read? I get letters from fans who say “I’ve just discovered your series and I have read non-stop until I’m up to date.”  I suppose when you look at it, reading a series is just like one long extended novel so it might make sense to read it through without stopping. But as a reader I would love the tension of not knowing whether Georgie and Darcy would finally get together.
                So confession time: any binge-watchers/binge-readers out there?


HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN:  I am so used to binge-watching now that I’m baffled when I have to wait for the next episode. We completely binged The Crown, and  Unbelievable, and The Jury, and all kinds of other things that I forget. So we started watching The Outsider, and it’s fabulous, but--oh! I have to wait? So I can see both methods of watching--I do love to be able to see it all, but then, as you say,  it’s so over.


And psychologically? I am not so hot on anticipation, I have to say. Just show me. Just tell me. Just do it. Let’s just--go. But that’s me.


Binge reading? Huh. I’d think I’ve ever done that. I think it would be--diminishing returns.


LUCY BURDETTE: this is a great question Rhys! We are just home from a fabulous trip to Africa--all was great fun except for the actual getting there and getting home part. Luckily on the way home (one of the flights was 16 hours!), the airline offered Season 2 of BIG LITTLE LIES. I had already watched this and loved it so much that I was happy to watch again. I made it through all 7 episodes and this helped the time go by so well! I was finishing the denouement as our wheels touched down. (By the way, Reese Witherspoon is an absolute genius. How can one woman be such a brilliant actor and writer and incredible supporter of books, authors, and reading??)


Usually with TV shows though, we like to spread things out. And this is true for book series for me too. I’ve been slowly making my way through VERA by Ann Cleeves, and I should finish the last installment, THE MOTH CATCHER, by the time her newest book comes out next fall.


JENN McKINLAY: Binge reader/watcher here. I am a binger. When I find an author I enjoy, I double back and read everything they’ve written, especially if it’s a series. I like to do a complete immersion into the author’s world. I read the first five Harry Potter books (I came late to the party) in three weeks. Usually, I generally only read for pleasure at night, so it takes me a while to finish a big series. I am the same with TV. I will gobble up a show (curse you, Netflix, for looping one episode after another) until I run out and am left bereft. Shows that have hooked me in lately are Dead To Me (so good) and Fleabag (fabulous).
     Weirdly, I do love a cliff hanger and if a show or a book ends on a wicked twist and I have to wait, I am thrilled with the anticipation.


DEBORAH CROMBIE: I actually like a bit of both. It’s certainly nice to be able to stream a whole series, but when we were watching The Mandalorian, looking forward to Friday nights and a new episode was really fun.  Now we are doing that with the new Star Trek Picard (which I’m not sure I’m following at all…) When Rick and I are watching something together it’s usually just on weekends, so it can take us several weeks to get through a series. If it’s just me, however, I tend to get distracted. Too many choices!! I’m still trying to finish the third season of Broadchurch, and have watched Vera totally sporadically. (Lucy, did you know there is a new series out?)


Series books I do binge read, and I think that is one of the biggest treats of reading. But then you eventually get to the end and have to wait for a new book to come out!


JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Can I, like Debs, say both? The girls and I watched the entire run of The Mandalorian in one loooong evening, and I don’t think I could have survived seeing what happened next if I had to wait for a week. On the other hand, I love the painfully delicious sensation of waiting for the next book in a beloved series to come out, and like Jenn, I LOVE cliffhangers (this will not be a surprise to anyone who reads my own novels.)


Because we have a history of buying CD collections of or streaming older TV shows, I’ve noticed that the structure and pacing of the stories seem to have changed to fit the binging era. If I watch all however-many episodes of Russian Doll in one night, it doesn’t feel as if the story has been rushed. But, as an example, when I shared my beloved Babylon 5 with the kids, seeing one episode after another made it feel like all the events and character changes were on fast forward. I think B5 is a good example because it was the first TV show that I know of to have a genuinely novelistic approach to a season - unlike everything that came before, which was pretty much strictly episodic. But it was written for viewers who would have a week between chapters, as it were, and so the actual time passing helped fix the time unfolding in the show. We had to go back to watching it with a few days between episodes to make it feel right.

RHYS: So who out there likes to binge? Who likes the anticipation of waiting and spreading the satisfaction?

44 comments:

  1. Generally, we don’t binge television shows [although I will admit to binge-watching “The Mandalorian”]; mostly we watch [and predict] and wait to see what comes next . . . .

    Occasionally, I binge-read but there’s something about that anticipation for what will happen in the next book that makes me want to have some space in between, to consider the possibilities . . . .

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  2. I'm not a big binge watcher. Or reader. I like to space things out. I find if I watch too much of something in a row, I start to get sick of it. And if I read too much of an author, I start to see their writing tricks. So I space things out. It helps that I don't have any streaming services, and TV networks still release stuff once a week.

    I can actually remember this when 24 was on the air. I'd have friends who would wait until the DVD set came out and would watch the season as quickly as possible. Then there was me, who would watch faithfully each week loving the anticipation after each week's cliffhanger. My friends would ask me how I could do that. My response was that more than two episodes in a row would leave me shaking from adrenaline. Now, most shows don't do that to me, but that show did. I couldn't imagine watching a season all at once.

    Of course, it depends on what you consider binge watching, I guess. I will watch a season of a TV show on DVD over a few weeks, one episode a night. I usually think of watching several episodes in a row when I think of binge watching something. So I'm probably borderline.

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  3. I do binge watch the shows that are offered on the different sites now, probably Netflix the most. But, it is spaced out, because I know when I start watching a show, I will want to watch all of the season, and too many nights staying up to do that have taught me a lesson. The last two I binge watched by myself on Netflix were Retribution, a Scottish murder mystery with a great cast, and The Forest, a French mystery about a missing girl and secrets going back many years. I thoroughly enjoyed both of those. My husband and I binged Lost in Space, the second season. We watched the first season last year and really liked it, and this season turned out great, too. I lean towards British shows, but I do watch others. I'm waiting for the next season of Ozark on Netflix. Oh, another British show is, of course, The Crown. I actually have pace myself on this one though. I'm halfway through the new season and will finish it up this week (probably will binge the remaining episodes). I love Agatha Raisin on Acorn, and February will bring some more of those, which I'm sure I'll binge watch. Julia, you mentioned Russian Doll, and I absolutely binge watched that, staying up very late to do so. I think one of the first shows I binge watched on Netflix was Stranger Things, as my daughter had talked about it, and when I started watching it, I had to keep on. So, while I'm delighted to be able to binge shows, there is a thrill in the anticipation of a weekly show, too. As you pointed out, Rhys, talking to friends about what would happen on a show like Downton Abbey was fun.

    Binge reading is something I rarely get to do these days, but I have had some great binge reading times. The best was the year I attended my first Bouchercon, 2013, and I binge read Debs' and Julia's and Lucy's (Haley Snow) series before the event. At that time I also got a good start on Rhys' Molly Murphy (and after that Bouchercon finished that series up and binge read Lady Georgie books). I also binge read Elly Griffiths then. And, I got started on Hank and Hallie, whom I've caught up with, too. My next binge read for the Reds, which I'm desperately trying to find time for, is Jenn's books. Oh, I binge read Philip Pullman's Sally Lockhart mysteries back in 2011 or 2012, and that was another favorite binge read. I have to admit that reading the Harry Potter books with my son starting when he was in elementary school and anticipating the next book was one of my all-time best reading experiences. Talking over the books and even rereading them sometimes before the next one gave us a special bond. He was away one summer during high school when the new one came out, and I had it delivered the day it was released so we could both start reading it at the same time. So, again while I love to binge read a series, there are some great pleasures in having to wait, too.

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    1. Ozark! It seems we've been waiting for that forever now.

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    2. Kathy, I don't think I've known anyone else who has read--and loved--the Sally Lockhart books! Those stay on my "keeper" shelf. Did you see the TV adaptation, with Billie Piper as Sally and Matt Smith as Jim? Also, JJ Feild as Fred Garland. Wonderful!

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  4. Complete binger, both shows and books. I binge The Crown at every release, I just finished a Longmire binge - late to that party - and I binged Downtown Abbey. The movie has not made it to my area, I am dying of anticipation for it to come to a streaming service. Still, can anyone old enough forget the anticipation of discovering who shot JR?

    If I read a book I like and the author has a backlist, I double back and start at 1. If the books are a series, it's a great way to catch up with the characters and watch the series develop with them. If the books are standalone, I love watching the writer's development. That said, I'm easily distracted by something shiny so there is variety in my reading, even if I'm mid-binge!

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    1. Much to my surprise, Downton Abbey, the movie, was really good. And the first maybe ten minutes was a deft recap of the TV series, so by the time the movie really started, I was up to date. Don't miss it!

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    2. I thought it was enjoyable. Ann, but rather light on plot

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  5. I loved it the first time I heard someone use the term "binge-watching," because until then I'd only labeled my own similar behavior as "lazy." A whole afternoon spent in front of the TV? I can't imagine what my *mother* would say. (Well, actually, I *can* imagine, and it isn't pretty!)

    It's a skillful team—writer, director, actors—that keeps viewers thinking, "Just one more episode" over and over again. And streaming services make it so easy to do! I recently binged Unbelievable and felt that way when I finally looked at the clock—spending that amount of time watching did strike me as a little unbelievable. It's an echo of that "just one more chapter" that I struggle with when reading an excellent book.

    All right, so I don't struggle. I give in, every time. I guess that answers your question!

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  6. Julia, we are watching B5 for the nth time, a couple episodes a night. The Hubby seems incapable of watching a single TV episode in one sitting. I'm okay with 2-3 in a row, but then I must take a break.

    But I don't tend to binge-read as often. Mostly I think it's because I rarely like to read one type of book for weeks on end, so I mix it up. The except is the Harry Potter series. I can read that one book 1 through book 7 without an interruption. I do it every summer.

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  7. I'm a both, also. Every year I can't wait for Call the Midwife to come on, and eagerly await the next Sunday's viewing. But we binge watch, too - how we saw Broadchurch and Shetland - but usually only two or three episodes in an evening.

    Before I had back surgery almost ten years ago, I'd read one or two of Debs' books and a smattering of Louise Penny's. What a treat it was to fill in the ones I'd missed and read straight through to the current book (at the time) in both series. I read a book a day for over a month as I recuperated. Bliss! But it takes having major surgery to sit me still long enough to binge read.

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    1. Oh Edith, we must have been binging on Crombie and Penny at the same time! I had a joint infection, had to have my bionic knee removed and an antibiotic spacer put in, took six months before that issue got dealt with.

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    2. Call the Midwife is one of my favorite series as is your own series Edith.

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    3. I have to watch Call The Midwife in my bedroom as John gets so upset with the birth scenes, Edith

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    4. Thank you, Danielle! And funny, Rhys. They get pretty realistic!

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    5. My husband leaves the room then, too, Rhys!

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  8. I do binge read. If I find a book mid-series (say Dreaming of the Bones) and love it, I immediately have to find all the previous ones and buy the next one as soon as it comes out.

    I don't binge watch. I don't have Netflix. I get the DVD from the library. But you only get five days, That is not enough time. And you can't renew because someone else is waiting for it. I can watch about three hours before I stop paying attention, so I usually end skipping some episodes in the middle.


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    1. DREAMING OF THE BONES is one of my all time favorite books, have read it three times now!

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    2. Dreaming of the Bones on my all time favorite list too!

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    3. Thanks, Ann and Rhys and Maureen!

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  9. I haven't binge-read in a while, not since I was off my feet for a summer. Then I binged on Debs, Louise Penny, and Ann Cleeves, amongst others. I also remember reading the first Henning Mankell and going straight out and buying all he had in print. That was before Kindle, way before.

    We do binge TV shows although I don't believe we've ever done a whole series in one day. We've seen all those that you mention except Babylon 5 and The Mandelorian. Looks as if there's some catching up to be done.

    There are also some network shows we never miss, like 911 and New Amsterdam. Those we have to wait a week in between, but I don't mind.

    Cliffhangers are fun except when they are the last show of the season. That I purely hate. But I suppose it's a hook to get me to watch the next season.

    With books, I very often have more than one going, so binge watching doesn't ever happen any more. Presently I'm reading Joe Ide's latest in his IQ series, HIGH FIVE. It's a humdinger

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  10. Definitely a binge-reader here, when I discover a new author that I can't put down--then back to the the front pages/computer to find everything I've missed. Then the agonizing wait for the latest book to come out (Reds, I'm looking at you here--except for Jenn--I can't keep up with her output!). TV shows, not so much. I can watch 2-3 episodes, then there's just too much other stuff I'd rather be doing (like reading!).

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  11. I’m actually binge reading or re- reading Donna Leon right now as she takes me back to Venice so well as I’m writing about it

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  12. Like others, I’m both. For TV, I tend to just go along with the format in which it is available. If all the episodes are out, I’ll watch as fast as I can, time permitting. But I also like the anticipation of waiting for the next episode if they are coming once a week. There’s nothing like the delicious agony of realizing I just watched part one of a two part show and now I have to wait a week to learn what happens after the cliffhanger.

    For books, I definitely binge read, especially when I discover a series. I’m compelled to start at the beginning and catch up as fast as I can. Then the looooong wait until the next one. Luckily there are always other books and series!

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  13. I don't actually binge read any more but if I find a new author I tend to try to read all of their previous books, but not one after another. I have to read something else in between. I did binge watch Downton Abby when it was over and I had the complete set so watched one episode a night. There was so much i had forgotten in the first few years. As for the movie I really wish I had seen it in the theater instead of on the small screen.
    One thing you authors with cliff-hangers should take into account - as I get older I remember less so by the time the next book comes out I will probably have to reread the previous one. Oh, wait, is that the plan?

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  14. Both here, too. Binge reading started with the Jean Auel books, which I'd reread when the new one came out, then on to Outlander, then the Harry Potter series--all densely plotted and written books that needed to be revisited in order to refresh my memory of what went before. Now there are so many books I want to read I rarely binge-read.

    Binge-watching, though, began when I was beached in a recliner for two weeks with three broken ribs. I found Mad Men on Netflix, and watched all the seasons, back to back to back. Then found Kingdom (great series with Stephen Fry as a country lawyer), and binged that, as well.

    My daughter lived with another Citadel grad for awhile before then, a woman with a penchant for techie gadgets. Her TV was enormous, 100" projected onto a blank wall, and she had every cable show and feature available. Laurel traveled a lot, but when she was home she binged on cake-baking shows and NCIS, and that was my first experience with binge-watching. Until then I had no idea the cable channels had episodes running constantly--what a cheap way to do programming!

    I do like anticipation, but not always. Sometimes I crave the escape of being pulled into someone else's world for awhile, especially lately.

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  15. Rhys, I love to binge read/watch AND I love anticipation (well, except for when there are no Doctor Who episodes for a year). I love the anticipation of counting the days to Christmas, or until the book release of a favorite author.

    I'm also hooked on The Crown and Victoria. According to PBS the series is on hiatus and no release date has been announced for the 4th season. Damn it. https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/masterpiece/specialfeatures/victoria-frequently-asked-questions/

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  16. Best British crime series (other than Vera and Shetland), Line of Duty. Watching series 4 before the just-released series 5. Great writing, acting, character and plot arcs (for each series and the whole series). DVD's from the library.

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  17. Yes, why is Ozark taking so long to come back?
    Really admire how that show developed and changed, absolutely riveting.
    Kathy — Retribution and the Forest? Those are new to me—thank you. Look for The Jury , too, it’s amazing.
    And I agree, it is so diabolical that they just pop up the next episode… It’s so easy just to sit there. I can never do one thing at a time, so I am always working on administrative stuff when I am watching TV, so it doesn’t seem so completely—indulgent! -)

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  18. I love, love, love Grace and Frankie on Netflix. I didn't really start it until there were several seasons in the can, and I gave in because both my hair stylist and my daughter-in-law were urging me to do so. The 6th season recently dropped, but I am trying to space it out so I don't run out of episodes too quickly (there are 13 this season). They just started taping the last season, season 7, which will have 16 episodes!

    I also try to space out The Great British Baking Show and Queer Eye, among others. However, I did pretty much binge Unbelievable and The Politician. My latest binge was last week, when I watched all 6 episodes of the Netflix docuseries, Cheer. I just had to know whether the Navarro (TX) College cheerleading team won the nationals for the 14th time, whether they would be able to compete with so many injuries, how things turned out for my favorites, Jerry and Morgan, and whether Lexi would end up in jail again. If you haven't seen this one, give it a try.

    As for reading, I do look for other books from an author whose book I have loved (of course), but I don't read those books one after the other. I try to vary the genre from book to book as I read, to fit my mood.

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    1. I binge watched Grace and Frankie season six this past weekend!

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  19. Wonderful post! I am more of a binge reader than binge viewer. I binge read Lady Georgie before the new book comes out. It helps me wait for the new book. I binge watched the Crown. A bit disappointed with the casting because I think they should have picked a Deaf actress to play the mother of Prince Philip. In the first two seasons of the Crown, they did pick a Deaf actress to play the mother of Prince Philip. I also binge watched Frankie and Grace - hilarious!

    Like Jenn, I came late to the party. I remember reading the first three books of Harry Potter.

    Happy Monday!

    Diana

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  20. I don't binge TV but I do binge read sometimes. The Kindle makes bingeing far too easy; finish one book and immediately download the next one. It plays right into my impatient and somewhat-addictive personality.

    Karen, nice to see another fan of Kingdom.

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    1. It certainly makes it too easy to buy with one click, doesn't it?

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  21. Shalom Reds and Fans. I am a would-be binger. I don't own a working TV. I remember when I was in grade school. Using my parents’ bedroom radio and then my own, I discovered Top 40 radio. I loved listening for hours and the fact that the songs were replayed over and over again throughout the day fascinated me. I love music to this day and if I’m not listening to a podcast or some other talk audio, I will always have music on in the background.

    Otherwise, I do not have the attention span to binge either watching or reading. If I can pause an episode once or twice to hit the head, or freshen my coffee or just to stretch my legs, I am good for perhaps an hour and a half. After that, I usually get distracted by something urging me to move my gaze somewhere else.

    I do remember two Christmases, when I had satellite TV in three rooms of the house I was living in and one station had a marathon each year. The first year was the fights of Muhammed Ali together with a couple of documentaries about him. I started watching at 6 am and did not come up for air until 3 pm and Christmas dinner. The next year, the marathon was the films of Spike Lee. I watched them all. It’s funny how memory works, but I don’t know if I’ve seen more than one Spike Lee film since.

    Every now and then, I will find an author whom I can’t get enough of. Then I will read several or all of their books back to back. But it will still be on the order of a book every 14+ days or longer.

    I do sit at the computer for hours on end when I am at home. I do try to schedule stuff away from the house just to force me to get out and about most days.

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  22. A little of both, perhaps. As for tv, I just love it that Julia mentioned B-5, one of the best, best, best stories ever! We watched faithfully week after week. We were also very attached to Star Trek TNG, which we all watched together as a family. Devotees will understand when I tell you my husband and I still use this phrase, "Are you looking for Ja-ma-harone?"
    Binging books, yes. Harry Potter, I reread them all each summer before the next one came out. Same for Deb's books. (Love Gemma and Duncan!) Same with James R. Benn's Billy Boyle series. Reread that each summer now, too.
    But you know, I resolved to read Reds and that is what I am doing now. Julia, love your books, Clare just joined the guard; Roberta (Lucy) having a great time in Key West with Hayley who just met Nate at the dog park; and Rhys, OMG, Georgie just got back to England from Vlad's castle! It is such a pleasure to take these rides with your great characters! There are a few other series I'm reading at the same time, and waiting for the new books to drop in series I've caught up with. Then, I will begin Jenn's Hat Shop series, read a couple of Hank's new ones, because the Jane and Jake series is the only one of hers I've gotten to, then Hallie's books. I have much to read this year and much to look forward to.
    Does it count, Rhys? Can you binge on 4 series at once?

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  23. Four series at once makes you a super-binger, I think. I can only read one book at a time!

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    1. One book at a time, but all four series in order, interspersing them. Yesterday Georgie, today, Clare.

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  24. We have just started The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel and we are loving it! And now I'm adding more to the list; Kingdom, Retribution, and I can't believe I still haven't managed to watch Line of Duty! And I've never seen Babylon 5!

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  25. I do binge on books and TV, but not crazy-binge. I may sit through 2 or 3 shows in a row and then I need a break. The recent exception was the 3-part Dracula on Netflix. It had such interesting twists and characters in it but I could handle only one episode per day. When I read a new to me author and really like the book I'll binge the series. I'll read them all in order but I'll have other books interspersed. Right now I'm reading through Stephen Kelly and Ellery Adams, who each have 3 books out in a series. As for "normal" TV I used to be very patient from week to week watching episodes. But when my viewing schedule got jammed up on Sunday nights I started binging PBS in my free time. I watched Sanditon over a week's time instead of over several weeks. I did the same with the final season of Poldark. I have to say it is nice to be able to do that instead of jumping back and forth between channels trying to catch everything on the same night!

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  26. I don't binge read or watch since sometimes I get irritated with minor quirks or flaws if I get too much of one thing. Plus I just like variety. However, when I get a DVD from the library, I have to watch several episodes a day to get it returned on time. Same when I found a free Acorn viewing on Comcast and had to do a whole season of Good Karma Hospital. I only started Vera so maybe next free viewing period.

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  27. Guilty. Big time. I binge watch, read, and listen. Mostly while working around the house. Then I am sad I've run out of material. But the good thing is there are always new books being written, shows being filmed.

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  28. While I did binge on the latest series of The Crown, I found that I didn't enjoy it as much as pacing out week-by-week. Since we have the ability to record and re-watch, I like the idea of one episode a week that I might re-watch and catch many visual or language details (I put Endeavor in this category) that I didn't notice the first time. I guess that is why I still buy the DVDs even if I can stream.

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