I am BARRY HESS > Blog

Lost in Episodic Entertainment

Biggest mistake of the weekend? Beginning to watch “Lost.” The Wife and I watched the first three episodes Saturday and Sunday. We’re hooked. I’m not sure how people can watch this with week-long breaks in between episodes. Perhaps the U S and A’s relaxed torture laws help make this possible. (I know, that was in poor taste.)

This gets me to something else I’ve been thinking about. We got rid of traditional bazillion-channel cable TV this summer. We live in a reception black hole so we still have the lower-25 analog cable. I’ve liked it so far - especially the dollars saved every month.

We still want to watch the occasional TV show in the evenings. We began by watching “News Radio” - a show I somehow completely missed. Well, I know why I missed it. I missed all the shows that became popular during my late high school and college years. “Seinfeld,” “Friends,” “News Radio,” etc. I’ve since caught up on my “Seinfeld,” and The Wife loves “Friends” so I know that one inside and out. Back to “News Radio.” It’s excellent. Highly recommended from our spot in the middle of season three.

My point: I think I might start letting the marketplace filter out my episodic TV watching for me. With growth of DVD, and more importantly Netflix, why am I watching TV shows once per week like a sucker? Why would I want to test out the latest cop or hospital drama, likely wasting my precious time? I can think of about five shows that I’ve never seen before that are supposed to be pretty good. Why not just go rent an almost sure thing?

You might say that some hidden gems will get missed because the “market” doesn’t like them. I’d argue that the market (meaning consumers, reviewers, forum-posters, award bodies, etc) will still make me well aware of the “Arrested Development”s of the world. At least my friends will let me know, right?

Yeah, my lack of attention at the time of broadcast may contribute to shows like “Arrested Development” dying too young. That blow is softened by the recent impact DVD sales have had on dead shows like “Family Guy” and “Futurama.” The reality is that long-gone live action shows are probably not going to return to the airwaves due to DVD sales. Yet I’m not overly concerned about this because it isn’t really my responsibility to figure out how to monetize consumers’ desires to see quality entertainment.