Tuesday, October 29, 2013

ON--Then GONE. Weird TV!

 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 faves
are 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?  


  1. Around here “Castle” and “Bones” and “NCIS” top the like-to-watch list; I tape “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” when the videotape machine works. I seldom watch on the computer and we don’t do much of the streaming thing, so we pretty much tend to watch it when it’s on . . . .

    We are suckers for “Jeopardy!” and regularly watch “60 Minutes” and “Antiques Roadshow.” Like others have commented, I made it through “Falling Skies” for a while, but it just became too painful to watch. I like “Match Game,” too, but if I watch it, I watch the original with Gene Rayburn.

    Although we are not big on watching sports, we always watch figure skating, back on the airwaves now that the season is gearing up toward the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi. We’ll probably watch some of the Games; we’ll definitely be tuned in for the skating.

    I don’t understand remakes of previously successful shows. With the exception of “Hawaii Five-O,” it never seems to work so I’m not at all surprised to hear that “Ironside” [which I did not watch] has already been canceled . . . .

  2. I don't have premium cable (HBO, Showtime, Cinemax) so I miss anything first run there, but there's only so much time in the day anyway. In the mid-1990s, I gave up video games in favor of fiction reading with the ultimate goal of writing. Since then, I've been more discriminating about my TV-watching: Is the dialogue good? Where is the story going? Are the characters developing from episode to episode, season to season? Do I care enough to carve out the same time week to week?

    I still wish some shows like FIREFLY and THE DRESDEN FILES were given more time, but I also appreciate how some long-running shows have kept their characters developing with that time. THE BIG BANG THEORY and BONES come to mind as shows I've enjoyed throughout.

    Other shows, like NCIS, I feel, have fallen into repetition. I was invested in the characters up to a point, but no longer am. This usually happens when a series begins to reflect its own, fictional history--such as fictional terrorist attacks and aftermath--rather than keep pace with reality. I also tune out if I begin to see the characters become more important than the story. Obstacles are set up only to have the good guy (or bad guy) escape the full brunt due to some loophole or deus ex machina.

  3. We watch very little "live" tv. Husband is addicted to DIY and HGTV (but not that he translates that into getting actual work done to the house)and I like to watch Daily Show and Colbert. Like Rhys, I like Amazing Race and Project Runway. NCIS and Downton Abbey have gotten a tiny bit stale but I still like them and will probably watch DA in January.

    My fave new shoe - actually the only new show I've seen - is he Blacklist. James Spader is simply wonderful and the show is edge of your seat exciting. I've missed the last few episodes because of baseball but I'll catch up via some sort of technology. Am I the only person without a DVR?

    I have been following the development of the new Outlander series and I'm very excited about seeing that come to the screen next year.

  4. Thanks to fantasy baseball, I DVR most good crime shows all spring and summer, but am now back to regular programming. (The World Series is on but my fantasy league is over. Runner-up.) THE BRIDGE on FX has been a surprisingly good story IMO, but RAY DONOVAN has been the champ crime drama so far. Highly recommended just for his character. TRUE DETECTIVE with Harrelson and McConaughy coming in January looks interesting.

  5. When my cable company told me that I could no longer use my remote control and had to get a box, I stopped watching TV. I have NO skills for hooking things up, many of my friends who thought they knew what they were doing needed to wait at home for someone from cable to come out and set up the box for them, and I just balked at having to do all that.

    Since then, I've occasionally purchased DVDs of programs I liked before I turned off the TV, and I watch them on my computer. (Oh, and I'm not on line at home anymore because my original computer died and when I replaced it, I wasn't sure which company to go with. So I just use the computer for personal matters and DVDs. I get on line only with my Kindle, which obviously limits me at this time. Maybe for Christmas I'll give myself the gift of a home internet connection...)

    Anyway...one of my sisters invites me over periodically for a weekend of binge-watching. We began that after she "discovered" Buffy the Vampire Slayer - we both LOVE it, and we've continued with other series. She owns some on DVD and we watch some via Netflix. We've watched a few British TV programs that way, and right now we're hooked on Dr Who.(I can't get enough of it!)

    The most recent programs I've purchased on DVD are Downton Abbey (not sure I'll buy another season, though, for reasons Rhys mentioned) and Call the Midwife.

  6. I forgot to mention Acorn TV and Netflix. We watch them every day. We're finishing up a Midsomer-Murder-a-day. The Fall is great. Acorn has a Joanna Lumley documentary on Greece running now that's wonderful. She also did one on the Nile which I loved. Patsy goes traveling.

    The Australian series "Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries" is really good.

  7. Joan, I'll be watching the figure skating, too! I'm sad Johnny Weir won't be competing, but fascinated that he'll be going to Sochi as a TV commentator.

  8. We watch very little "real time" TV. It is just so much more convenient to TiVo the show and watch when we have a moment.

    Giving the amount of reading I do, and the amount of reading I SHOULD do (both of which are higher than average I'm sure), I should be watching less TV, but alas, I get addicted.

    I find that I love the British shows because of the shorter seasons. I really think they excel at showing character growth over time (in less time).

    Like Marianne, I am anxiously awaiting the Outlander series, but fear that there is no way the show can ever live up to the books. But since Game of Thrones has successfully done what I thought impossible, I am going to hope for the best in this case a well.

    I would also love to see a few shows that haven't made it to the states yet. Louise Penny's Still Life and Ann Cleeves' Shetland.

  9. Used to love sitcoms, but they seem to be targeted at younger folks, except for Hot in Cleveland. Betty White and talented women "of a certain age" poke fun at pretty much everything with IMHO very satisfying results.

  10. Laughing here when I read Marianne's "typo" - "My fave new shoe..." Shades of Ed Sullivan.

    We were so happy that the World Series was on regular (not special expensive cable channel). Fortunately we do not get the sports cable channels that show regular games or my husband would be hogging the TV every night and I wouldn't get to watch my MASH reruns.

  11. I know, Joan, Jeopardy is irresistible! I guess that's why its lasted so long--

    Gerald, what's The Big Bang Theory? Everyone seems to love it--and it seems to have a very high "hip" factor. i I've never seen it!

    Blacklist, too--sounds great. I am SO behind! Which is why the timesharing thing is so valuable. I know i can just start watching whenever I want.i

  12. Okay, and I will admit it, since it's just us. I have never seen one episode of Buffy. SHould I start now?

  13. Hank,

    THE BIG BANG THEORY is a sitcom on CBS Thursdays at 8. It's about a waitress/actress (Kaley Cuoco of 8 SIMPLE RULES... and CHARMED) who moves in across the hall from two CalTech physicists (Johnny Galecki of ROSEANNE and Jim Parsons). At first, the show focused on Cuoco's and Galecki's characters striking up a friendship that broadened both their worlds. Now in its seventh season, almost all the characters have been fleshed out and developed relationships, the cast expanding to include BLOSSOM's Mayim Bialik as girlfriend to Parsons' character.

    It probably appealed more to male viewers early on, but the addition of two female regulars balanced things nicely.

  14. Gerald, that is brilliant. Thank you! So "Big Bang" I take it, is a clever double entendre... :-)

    ANd seven seasons--wow.

  15. Right now, we are watching the Red Sox, and pretty much only the Red Sox. It is an obsession. Can't jinx it by predicting the outcome of the Series, but we are certainly happy today that our team is leading 3 games to 2.

    When we return to regular programming, the channel is generally on PBS (especially the news programs) except on Wednesday night when Modern Family is (still) such a hoot.

    Like you, Lucy, we adored Friday Night Lights. Have not made Nashville a habit, though very much like Connie Britton. In general though, the tube is not on a lot at our house after baseball season. Evenings are my writing time, and it is a slippery slope to allow myself "just one show."

  16. Do you watch shows when they'r ON? Or do you watch when YOU want?

  17. Hank - you must make time to catch The Big Bang Theory.

  18. Hank, by all means watch Buffy. Some of the most clever writing ever to appear on television.

    Some of the seasons are better than others, but as a whole, it is completely satisfying.

  19. Hank, I watched the first episodes of Buffy recently (streaming from Netflix) and I think they've held up well. As good writing does.. And such a great cast!

    Gerald, I loved The Dresden Files, too. I saw the TV series first, then got totally hooked on the books. But I can't imagine that television would ever have had the budget to do the later books...

  20. I am so aching to sign on for the premium channels so I can watch HOMELAND. I've only had the premiums on special, and my special ran out. What an awesome binge-watching experience that was!

    Joss Whedon -- love everything he does. Off topic but anyone seen his MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING? Not my favorite Shakespeare play, but, man, was it good.

    I'm liking THE BLACKLIST -- James Spader! I had such a crush on him in his pretty days -- now he's so -- I'm not sure, slimy and ugly-sexy at the same time? Fun to watch anyhow.

    Anyone seen DRACULA with Jonathan Rhys Meyers? Not sure about it except that I'll watch for Meyers. He's yummy.

    What about ORPHAN BLACK (BBC America) -- excellent. Can't wait for that to restart.

  21. Oh, I like Big Bang Theory, too! (Although I used to date a guy who was Ph.D. in astrophysics at Caltech at one time in life... whole other story.)

    Does anyone else watch The Golden Girls? I find if I'm tired and just need a good dose of cheer, that's what I go to. The women's chemistry and comic timing can't be beat.

  22. "Womens' chemistry," it should be. Bad Susan. No cookies. Can we edit these comments?

  23. Hallie, was the "two British police detectives" program "Scott and Bailey"? My PBS station is still showing episodes of the British version late on Sunday night.

    Marianne, where can one find Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries? I've read all but one or two of the Phryne Fisher books so I'd like to see how they translate to a television series.

    I generally like costume dramas - these days many of the ones I watch are British shows that PBS airs here. I've enjoyed the Elizabeth Gaskell adaptations as well as the various versions Jane Austen and other more familiar authors' works.

    A&E used to show some great mini series, too, but these days they mostly air reality shows you couldn't pay me to watch.

    Like many here my favorites over the years have been mysteries/police shows. Homocide:Life on the Street was a particular favorite and one where at the end of each season it would be up for cancellation. I loved that show with its amazing ensemble cast and had a big crush on the character Frank Pembleton. The subway episode featuring Vincent D'Onofrio was one of the best I've ever seen on a network TV show though not easy to watch.

    I also liked Third Watch a lot. In hindsight it seems to have been much better that the current batch of shows with a similar construct. The sound tracks were great, too. Which leads to ...

    The other sort of show I'm drawn to is live music, especially the ones where I may come across artists I'm not familiar with. PBS is a source for a number of these, too - the old standby Austin City Limits a well as The Artist's Den and various specials. Also enjoyed Live from Abbey Road and Elvis Costello's Spectacle while they lasted. (I watched the Lou Reed episode of that one again the other day.)

    These days I'm watching Blacklist, too. James Spader is great in this.


  24. My sister and I compare notes on American Horror Story: coven, and Walking Dead. I've been enjoying Sleepy Hollow, or maybe just the actor who plays Ichabod. Not saying. Marianne, my husband and I love Midsomer Murders! We buy the DVDs and watch them along with the Columbo DVDs he got for Xmas. I want to vacation in Midsomer County. Because there is no regular season anymore I have a heck of a time remembering when shows are on I like. Watched Copper on BBCA, now hear it's been cancelled. Ripper Street, Doctor Who, Masterpiece Theater and Mystery, Bones, Haven. I seem to lean towards mysteries, Brits, and sci fi.

  25. Yes, Hank, you MUST watch Buffy! And remember it's NOT abut the vampires. And it's from Joss Whedon! If he wrote out his family's grocery list and filmed an actor reading it I would watch it! (I own the Firefly DVDs, by the way. Someday I hope to own all the Buffy DVDs.)

    I time my gym visits with The Big Bang Theory so I can watch while I'm on the treadmill and the bike. Last week I noticed on Tuesday that TBS has one episode after another! No need to wait until their usual night to watch. That's another program on my DVD wish list.

  26. ABOUT ...not "abut". Sheesh! I blame my arthritic fingers!

  27. I have (literally) hundreds of unwatched VCR tapes-- it is as though once I had them on tape, I was excused from watching them. Chicago Hope, ER, others I don't remember. And I taped (though I watched most in real time) all the X files, and Buffy and Angel series.

    I got into Star Trek late (we've been over that), and came to Castle late as well. Love ST:TOS and liked Voyager and even got into (sort of) the later episodes of Enterprise.

    I am having a love/hate relationship with The Good Wife because I love Julianna Margulies (my mom's maiden name was a variation on her last name, and I used to look somewhat like her, about 50 years ago, so there's a kind of identification there). I think Peter/Chris Noth is sexy, and makes an interesting use of power, but I can't stand Will Gardner. And as a lawyer, I think they are all playing fast and loose with the rules of practice (there ARE rules).

    And as a science fiction writer (and nerd), I recognize ALL of the guys in The Big Bang Theory and think it is the funniest show on TV. The second funniest is Two Broke Girls (can they say what they keep saying on TV? Wow!)

    But now that I can watch almost anything on HULU or on the network websites, I try to watch in real time and never record anything. I catch reruns of The Paradise on PBS late at night later in the week.

    And I'm holding onto ONE VCR taper from 1983. CBS replayed the Sunday morning funeral procession of JFK (the day Oswald was shot) in real time on the 20th anniversary of the assassination. (I'd been standing on the Capitol lawn, my narrow high heels sinking into the mud, watching them carry the coffin up the stairs, so I hadn't seen the Sunday part of the funeral at the time).

    After I taped it, I couldn't bear to watch it. I think I still can't. But I like having it, in case I want to watch it-- like those hundreds of other tapes. I may throw most of them out. I'll keep that one.

  28. I resisted getting DVR for a while, even though my sister-in-law assured me that it would be a life altering experience. When I finally got it and realized it was quite easy to operate, I knew that she spoke the truth. (Hehehe) It's almost as good as a Xanax to reduce stress. (Again, hehehe). I now can DVR any show and not worry about missing a beat. Of course, On Demand is helpful there, too.

    The shows that I have been fairly addicted to for a while include the following: Castle, as who doesn't adore Nathan Fillion; The Walking Dead, passed this one along to my husband and daughter; Grey's Anatomy, just an old familiar friend; Doc Martin, completely besotted with the Doc; Inspector Lewis, usually love British mystery/detective shows; Modern Family, always good for belly laughs; True Blood, just a vamp fan I guess; Rizzoli and Isles, departure from Gerritsen's books but works; and Dancing with the Stars, admitting that I not only watch but am very much in like with this show.

    Newer shows that have got me all a gaga are Sleepy Hollow, watched marathon on Saturday last to catch up, and Dracula, only just started and with Jonathan Rhys Meyers doing a stunningly great job as Dracula. Both of these shows have done a spectacular job of creating ambience/atmosphere. I feel rather guilty admitting that I like the new show, Betrayal. I guess all the marital cheating makes me feel that way, but I am enjoying the actors who are in it.

    Some older favorites that are no longer on were House, Nurse Jackie (or will it be back?), The Big C, and many PBS mystery or otherwise shows. Bletchly Circle was a favorite, and I love anything Agatha Christie.

    There are other shows I enjoy, such as The Middle and Nashville, but often DVR those in favor of reading.

  29. Does anyone remember the Sam Elliott/Cybill Shepherd show, "Yellow Rose"? It lasted one season and they canceled it, but it was like Dallas only with Sam Elliott. In other words, awesome.

    I watch Castle, when I remember to turn on Dancing with the Stars, because it comes on afterwards. But mostly TV bores me. We have never had cable, so I never got addicted to a lot of shows that get talked about, although I kept up with Mad Men for years, via Tom&Lorenzo (previously Project Rungay).

    When I had the riding accident in May of last year the broken ribs had me glued to a recliner for a couple weeks. So I took advantage of the time and binge-watched every season of Mad Men that Netflix had. What a great show. This past week I was recovering from side effects from antimalarials (we just got back from a trip to northern Tanzania), so I watched all seven episodes of the amazing Top of the Lake, starring Elizabeth Moss. She is mesmerizing in this series, so if you get a chance I highly recommend this one.

  30. Maybe I should clarify. I taped the JFK funeral procession (20 years after) WITHOUT watching it at the time. And still have never watched it. I was glued to the TV for the actual funeral back in 1963, but we went to stand in the line and go through the rotunda that Sunday.

    I had an internship in the Senate in 1965. I'm used to the rotunda being sort of dim. That Sunday, it was lit up with TV lighting, and I've never seen a black so black as the velvet of that bier, nor the colors of the flag so vivid. And then we walked into some outer room, and there was the overwhelming smell of flowers from wreaths that filled the place. And I was so cried out that the scent hit me really hard, and I had to step onto a balcony and breathe in the cold air for a few minutes, before we went back to the car and drove back to New York.

    We had all our family movies transferred to VCR a dozen or so years ago. I will keep that one and the one of the JFK procession to the Capitol. All the rest can be duplicated on DVD or perhaps are better not watched for fear of disappointment.

  31. Can't believe I left out Downton Abbey, one of the shows I love best. Probably its absence on TV right now accounts for my error. I will no doubt think of something else I omitted. Used to watch Weeds on HBO, too.

    Also, I wanted to welcome the new Red, Susan Elia MacNeal. Looking forward to reading your books and your posts here on this blog.

  32. Someone above mentioned Third Watch. I liked that a lot at the time, and was sad when it was cancelled. I liked Upstairs, Downstairs, so I didn't get into Downton Abbey right away, especially with the Titanic connection in the beginning (I still think of Daisy as Ruby).

    I got into the ORIGINAL Hawaii Five O in late-night reruns while I was writing my science fiction novels on a deadline and practicing law full time. Late at night, there was lantern-jawed Jack Lord, and I knew the world was safe. I needed that so I could sleep at night.

  33. Oh, yes--Downton Abbey, Doc Martin, and I used to really love watching Grey's Anatomy, but haven't in awhile. Is it worth going back to?

    I've watched three or four episodes of Call the Midwife, and two or three of Bletchley Circle. It's so hard to know which episode is airing of how many; we get something like seven PBS channels on our rabbit ears digital TV, and I can never tell if I've seen the one that's airing already.

    Hank, I have also never seen Buffy. Or Firefly, although I've heard rave reviews of it since Nathan Fillion has been on Castle.

  34. Lisa, Much Ado About Nothing! I must see it!!!

    And Jon Rhys Meyers is playing Dracula in a series???? How did I miss that? Will see if I can catch up.

    And as for Buffy, no, it's not about vampires. There is an episode--no spoilers for those who haven't seen the series, but those who have will know which one I mean--that is one of the most moving things I've ever seen. But the show is also funny, snarky, and very clever.

  35. Susan--all typos are hereby forgiven. The only way to edit is to delete your comment and start over, and I'm much too lazy to do that:-)

    And I only see my mistakes after I hit Publish....

  36. Rhys, don't give up on Downton Abbey just because two actors quit and the show killed them off. We *cough* Michelle Dockery, Dame Maggie Smith, and the rest of the great cast are still alive and kicking, though in mourning. ^^

    @L_MarysEyebrows (Twitter)

  37. OH, yes, typos are part of the deal. I'm queen of typos.

    And well, THE WIRE, best EVER.

    What's Firefly? Castle was on Firefly? I am SO baffled. :-)

    Ellen, your collection of tapes is fascinating..whoa. WHat a treasure. DO you still have a VCR to watch the? I have a lot of my old stores on tape, too..but I have no tape machine anymore.

  38. And Ellen, can we talk? I mean--WILL. What a creep! And it ruins the whole thing, because she would NEVER... well, grumble grumble.

  39. Deb Romano - The boxed set of the entire Buffy series is a great value and includes many extras of interest. Especially a long sitdown with the cast filmed at (maybe) the Paley Center in LA. Well worth the money.

    Speaking of money, I enjoyed the first episode of Dracula as well. I just fear that it won't get a big enough audience on Friday nights for what must be an outrageous budget. So lush!

    And I must agree with Susan, The Golden Girls are always entertaining, no matter how many times I see those episodes. You don't get chemistry like that every day.

  40. Hank,

    FIREFLY is a space/Western series created by Joss Whedon, set five hundred years in the future. The two most dominant cultures--analogs of Britain and China--have formed an Alliance and expanded into the Milky Way and other solar systems, Earth's resources having run dry.

    Unlike STAR TREK, though, not everyone happily agreed to join a benevolent federation. The dissenters formed a loose army of Independents and resisted the Alliance, but ultimately lost. Nathan Fillion plays former Independent soldier Malcolm Reynolds, who buys a small spaceship ("Firefly class") he christens Serenity and assembles a crew just looking to get by, steer clear of Alliance control.

    Reynolds was Fillion's first lead role, a complex character with light and very dark aspects that allowed him to show his acting chops. Other cast members include CHUCK's Adam Baldwin, SUITS' Gina Torres, and HOMELAND's Morena Baccarin.

    FIREFLY was a vision of the future where technology hadn't solved all of humanity's problems. It showed a mingling of cultures such that, for instance, the everyman was fluent in English and Mandarin.

    I would love to have seen more, but FIREFLY originally aired on FOX Friday nights at 8, already a dead spot on the schedule. From there, FOX seemed to mishandle the show in every possible way, including pulling the original pilot episode at the last minute, forcing Whedon and Tim Minear to write a second pilot over a weekend.

    On the bright side, the DVD release of FIREFLY's 15 episodes was popular enough to reunite the cast for the theatrical movie SERENITY. SERENITY was not successful enough to get a sequel, but a movie from such a short-lived series is itself an accomplishment.

  41. Oh, sounds great, Gerald! Thank you!

    I'm off to an event--(not TV!) Back soon...

    xoox Hank

  42. Hank, I'm with you on Will who (a) is unattractive, (b) is creepy, (c) is shallow, and (d) is unethical. He should NEVER have gotten his license back after covering his gambling debts with clients' money.

    Nathan Fillion was the Shatner of Firefly, and has gotten pudgier as Castle has gone along, just like Shatner. (He was traffic stopping gorgeous on Buffy, though EVIL). There have been homages to Firefly and Buffy on Castle; my favorite was when he told some Chinese workers (in Chinese) that his partner was crazy, so they should tell her what she wanted to know. Beckett asked, "Semester abroad?" and Castle said, "No, just a show I used to watch." Which was Firefly, where a lot of the folk spoke slangy Pinyin.

    I still have my first VCR with its WIRED remote, and I have my dad's old TV with a built-in VCR. I live with the detritus of several sequential lifestyles.

  43. I loved the show LIFE with Damien Lewis and it was cancelled after 2 seasons.

    I loved, loved, loved FIREFLY but didn't discover it until after it was cancelled (one season!)

    I watch far too much television … my favorites these days are JUSTIFIED, GRIMM, CASTLE, LONGMIRE, SHERLOCK, LUTHER and PERSON OF INTEREST. The Bridge had hope, but then fizzled for me. NCIS has been blah the last two seasons. BONES is better now than it was for awhile. Still watch SVU, but have it all recorded will probably binge. I'm behind on THE WALKING DEAD.

  44. NCIS, CASTLE, BONES, BIG BANG THEORY are my must sees. I liked the Lottery one...can't remember the name. It was gone in three or four. There are a lot of big hits that would be gone now. Like MASH. They gave them a whole season to find an audience. :)
    Pen M

  45. I don't watch TV, but my son will bring DVD sets and bug me to watch his new faves until I do and become a fan myself. (Joseph has awesome taste.)That's how he turned me on to Buffy--Hank, you must watch it because I think you'd love it, especially the musical episode--Dr. Who, Downton Abbey, Sherlock,and others. Game of Thrones I was already into from the books, as with Outlander. Like others, I'm worrying about whether it can possibly be as good as the books. I saw the trailer for Jonathon Rhys Bowen's Dracula and have wanted to see it ever since. I own a bunch of DVD sets of the AChristie Mystery programs and older TV series, mostly PBS.

    It sounds to me as if we're in a new Golden Age of television. But I don't know where I'd find time to watch any of it. I tend to binge-watch at the kid's insistence over holidays and then go back to work as usual the rest of the time.

  46. Buffy: the SILENT episode. Wow. The musical episode, double wow.

    Anyone remember Life Goes On, with Patti LuPone? Wonderful show.

    Gilmore Girls. Sisters. Hill Street Blues. THE WEST WING. And (my age is showing) I still have the hots for Hugh O'Brien as Wyatt Earp (and where is the hero nowadays who will make people hang up their guns or get out of Dodge?)

    And EVERY iteration of Superman: George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Dean Cain.

    And the original Mission Impossible, when they would peel off those masks. And LOST, which made my brain itch.

  47. I am such a TV dork, I was born in 1951 and we got our first TV in about 1953, hence I grew up with it. We watched every Western ever made as a family, which might be why I wanted to live in the West and moved to Montana a few years ago. My parents also loved Peyton Place, go figure.
    I seem to never record anymore, so I just try to watch when I can. I still watch Buffy (I love Spike), House, Friday Night Lights episodes if they show up on a cable station. Never miss Downton Abbey. Loved Broadchurch (BBCA) with David Tennant and hope there are more episodes with him in it. I do remember Life Goes On, but wouldn't have remembered the name of the show. Loved Party of Five, anyone remember it ? And cried when My So- Called Life ended so quickly. Go Claire Danes in Homeland !! I know I mention this show whenever anyone talks about TV, but Justified absolutely rocks.

  48. Allison! How could we forget SHERLOCK! (And when are you going to come guest blog??? Email me!) xo

    Vickie, I think there's no such thing as a TV dork. People often say to me--after they find out I work in TV--"Oh, I never watch TV."

    (I mean--what on earth is the GOAL of that remark?)

    I smile and then, always, eventually, they're telling me the ENTIRE plot of Dallas or something.

    And we'll have to do a whole Homeland blog when its all over, of course.

    ANd yes, we still have to announce th winner of SUsan's book! Susan, you pick via random choice--maybe have a muppet close his eyes and choose? And then let me know!

  49. Ok, I let the Kiddo pick the winner and he picked Deb (no last name) "because her purple sweater is pretty." So Deb, hearty congrats! How do we do the book-sending thing, Hank?

  50. Okay, Debs is demanding her book. I don't blame her. But Susan? Wake up the kiddo--okay, wait til tomorrow--and pick a second winner!

    ANd, thanks to you dear Reds, I want you to know I watched the Big Bang Theory when I got back from my event tonight. Um...I might have to watch another one..

  51. I like a lot of the shows mentioned here, but I must have missed it if someone said "Longmire". We've been watching it on DVD (no broadcast tv at our place like Deb Romano). We also sometimes watch 'Arrow'. and the hubs is watching "The Good Wife". I got a little tired of it. I can't wait to see Agents of SHIELD!