Wednesday, February 23, 2011


I think that by now it is a well established fact that I watch far too much television. Go ahead, take a moment to collect yourself, I know you're shocked (insert sarcasm mark here).

Part of the reason for this, I think, is that I truly enjoy stories, and television is a vast resource of stories. Sometimes you have to work pretty hard to find any tales that are actually good, but there are times when you just want a story on in the background to engage part of your mind while the rest of it is focused on something else. Very few of the shows I watch drag me in enough to really, truly, actively engage with them. For the most part when I do want that level of engagement, I will pick up a book (or dive into a strongly story-based video game).

If I am being honest, and generous, most of what I watch could clearly be categorized as pulp. That doesn't make my enjoyment of it any less, certainly. But lately I have been trying to weigh that against whether or not the show is worth my time any more. For now, at least.

As my daughter gets older and more interactive, the actual number of hours I spend with my television a day are shrinking. Part of this is due to the need to share the television, certainly. I by no means subscribe to the belief that the television is a suitable babysitter, but it can be a valuable distraction occasionally, and at best a tool for creating shared experiences between parent and child. There are a few shows that my daughter watches each day (Super Why and Sesame Street, mostly) while I get my own ducks in a row. It gives us each our own time when we are both awake, so she knows it is okay to spend time playing and exploring on her own, while I can get things done and also be close enough to keep an eye on her. But beyond sharing the television (and far more important) is just spending quality time with my kid as she grows and learns and develops new skills. Well, that and making sure that my budding gymnast doesn't decide to do a belly flop through the sliding glass door.

So, with less time to actually watch television, I have started trying to reduce the actual number of shows I watch. I'm using a two-pronged approach to reach this goal. The first is to be more selective about what new shows I watch. I have a long track record of jumping on board a new show just because one or more actor I like is in it. While this has led me to discover some real gems I will admit, it also has led to me watching some truly dreadful television. So, I am trying to only add a new show if it looks like it is something I will actually enjoy for its own merits. This is why, despite my love of Summer Glau, I opted not to watch The Cape when it premiered mid-season. The released plot details just weren't doing anything for me, and none of the trailers I saw leading up to the show's first episode changed that impression.

The second prong is to start weeding out the shows that I currently watch and really could live without. I have finally found a use for the networks' screwed up scheduling schemes! Moving a show around to different nights or long hiatuses in between parts of a season, or even just the summer break, are giving me a chance to gain perspective on whether or not I am really engaged enough to keep watching a show or if I am just watching it out of habit. Case in point, when the current season started, I decided not to continue watching V, because while I enjoyed the first season more or less, and love many people in the cast, I just wasn't even remotely excited about the new season. If I couldn't be bothered to be interested in the coming episodes, I really didn't need to be watching them.

Sure, maybe I am missing out on some really good television these days, but I am willing to chance it. That's why nerds invented DVDs (and, subsequently, YouTube, Netflix, and Hulu). After all, I still haven't seen any of Lost, and my world has continued to move forward.

All of this is to lead up to the fact that yesterday I realized that The Event is about to resume from its mid-season hiatus soon...and I really just don't care. So I went ahead and deleted it from my list of series for the DVR to record. Bye bye Jason Ritter and crazy alien conspiracy theories! Sorry, you just didn't do anything I really hadn't seen before.

Now I have a whole extra hour in the week coming to me and I'll admit, I am pretty darn exited about that!

1 comment:

  1. I have been doing the same thing with my television watching. I too watch a lot of television and just like you I now have to share the tv with Brayden.
    I have been very selective with the new shows that are coming out. I used to pick shows that I thought could be interesting or had people in it I liked. I really cant do that now. I usually give a show 3 episodes. If I cannot get fully invested, I stop watching. This year I only added a few shows. Blue Bloods, Off the Map, Mad Love and Chicago Code. I tried The Cape but it did not pass my 3 episode test.
    I have also been weeding out the shows I had been watching. My biggest elimination was American Idol. That gives me an additional 3 hours a week.