Truly we are living in a Golden Age of television. Hundreds of shows that can easily be considered “must-see” television are brutally vying for our attention across dozens of outlets.
Having grown up in the UK, most of my youth was centred around British TV which, when compared to our American brethren, are vastly smaller in scale.
Brit TV tends to run anywhere from 4-8 episode per season (The one exception being the mighty Doctor Who); and generally tends to be writer-driven. By this I mean that once the writer(s) that created the show decides to leave, the show is more or less over. This is why massively popular shows like The Office, Life on Mars, Fawlty Towers and Spaced all only ran for two seasons.
Since there are so few episodes per season, it’s also fairly normal for an entire season to be prerecorded before broadcast. In turn this makes cancelling a show a pretty rare occurrence.
By 2008, I had watched several American TV shows such as Star Trek, Friends and The West Wing. But they had all finished their runs and tied up all their dangling plot threads. As a consequence, the concept of a “cancelled” show was pretty alien to me.
That is until I saw Pushing Daisies. I remember ITV advertising it pretty heavily and I fell in love with it after watching the brilliant pilot.
But alas, as history tells us, true love was not meant to be and the show was cancelled in 2009. Devastated does not come close to describing how I felt.
But the tears would not stop coming as, for the next two years, show after show would be cut down in their prime: Flashforward, V, Caprica, Dollhouse, Reaper, Persons Unknown, Human Target, Stargate Universe and what feels like many many more.
The breaking point was the NBC show Awake, staring Jason Issacs. I know I’ve been joking so far, but I really did shed one or two tears.
After wallowing in self misery for a few days, a realisation hit me.
Why should I keep doing this to myself? There is so much great TV from years past, so why do I keep sitting in front of the TV every year just to be disappointed?
And so it was born! My new TV watching rule…
I cannot watch any TV show until it has finished its entire run.
And so for the past four years that’s exactly what I’ve done. There are, however, two exceptions:
- I can still continue to watch shows that I started before 2012 (Doctor Who, Game of Thrones)
- I can still watch shows that I know will finish by the end of the season (So basically just The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story)
All my friends and colleagues think I’m batshit crazy and maybe I am. Sure, it can get annoying sometimes. I would give (almost!) anything to start watching The Americans, Westworld, Legends of Tomorrow or Fargo. But I know that, with a little bit of patience, the rewards can be astronomical.
It’s not all that bad though because, now that I am forced to watch older shows, I have discovered some amazing pieces of television that have long since finished such as Taxi (1978-1983), The Odd Couple (1970-1975), and Cheers (1982-1993). It’s hard to believe that I managed to watch 11 seasons of Frasier without realising it had such a deep connection to Cheers!
On the drama side the most recent one I’ve finished is The Shield (2002-2008); and it is honestly one of the most amazingly TV shows I’ve ever seen!
I’m about to start watching a new show. It’s quite a small one called “The Wire.” Anyone heard of it? :p
Do you have any strange rules for watching TV? Or am I the weirdest person you’ve ever heard of? Let me know in the comments!