by Barbara Early
This Christmas season brought lower prices on DVDs, in particular whole seasons (or complete series) of television shows. It’s now possible, with DVDs, DVRs, and streaming video, to gorge on a whole series of a television program you might have missed the first (or second or third) time around, without waiting for it to be cannibalized to make room for more commercials.
Someone coined a term for it: binge-watching. And it's fast becoming the "normal" way people watch television.
Now, I haven’t been able to stream Netflix like almost everyone else on the planet can (thanks to Hughesnet, which barely qualifies as having Internet), but I have been known to splurge on a DVD series or two.
There are some clear advantages to binge-watching: You know exactly how many episodes you’re going to get. I have a tendency to fall in love with one season wonders. And there’s nothing worse than getting emotionally attached to a show only to discover that you were one of only four people watching it and the show won’t be renewed. You also don’t have to wait for those nasty cliffhangers to be resolved. And then there’s that whole no-commercials thing.
On the flip side, you’re not able to participate in the Facebook, Twitter, or old-fashioned water-cooler talk about the developments on the latest episode. And you can’t really complain about spoilers—although I have seen people try.
So, what has caught my fancy of late?
Don’t ask me why, but Veronica Mars. I never watched the show when it was on television. But when someone who reviewed my novella compared it to the show, I decided I’d better catch an episode. It intrigued me. And when I found a deal to get the first season for around fifteen dollars I picked it up.
Veronica Mars is…a cross between Nancy Drew and a soap opera. She’s a high school student who works part time for her father, a local private investigator. That’s’ where the similarities to Nancy Drew end. Veronica has more adult problems. Her best friend was just murdered. Veronica was drugged and raped at a party. Her mother took off. And her father lost his job as sheriff in disgrace. And everybody at school now hates her. Yow!
But I also love the structure of the show: one over-arching mystery each season, and a smaller mystery in each episode. Veronica is smart, savvy, and good at recruiting a team to help her with the skills she lacks. OK, I’m hooked. I’ve finished the first season, and rumor has it, might be getting seasons two and three for my birthday. I can’t wait!
Doctor Who. I’ve posted about Doctor Who before, and from my posts some might conclude that I was a longtime fan. I wish I were. I now know what I’ve been missing all my life. The mad man in the blue box has whisked me away. And I couldn't be happier. I’ve seen all the episodes since Eccleston, had a big party to celebrate the 50th anniversary episode, and I’m still going back, bit by bit, to watch episodes of the original--or as they like to a call it “classic” Doctor Who.
Firefly. Still not all the way through this short series. It’s like space cowboys. I caught a few episodes during the middle of the night (during my download free time), but just picked up the DVD for Christmas. Watching with hubby. I expect to be just as outraged, as many of the fans were, that this series was canceled too soon. Although, since I love Nathan Fillion as Castle, I might not be signing any petitions to bring it back.
Inspector Lewis. British police procedural shot around Oxford. Fell in love with it streaming it on Amazon Prime while on vacation. Shoot me. I never was much of a PBS watcher, not since Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers. And now since I’m feuding with my local station (WNED-Buffalo) over their decision not to air Sherlock until a month after it has shown to the rest of the country, I’ll probably enjoy the BBC series they show as Masterpiece Mystery on DVD instead. See also Inspector Morse.
Rosemary and Thyme. I’d never heard of this British import when someone suggested the mystery series I’m currently writing sounded similar (It’s not.) But I enjoy this series of two older women designing, constructing, and rehabilitating gardens, mostly in Great Britain but also in other European countries. Not many cozies are made into TV shows. This qualifies.
Of course, while the term is new, I might be one of the pioneer binge watchers. Especially during the period of time when we didn’t have satellite or cable, I used to bring home sets to watch as my daughter was growing up. What fun to introduce her to all my favorite old shows! We watched Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew, The Muppet Show, I Spy, Mission Impossible, The Avengers, Remington Steele, and Scarecrow and Mrs. King and more.
And I can stop anytime I want.
Barbara Early grew up buried in the snowy suburbs of Buffalo, NY, where she developed a love for all things sedentary: reading, writing, classic movies, and Scrabble. She holds a degree in Electrical Engineering, but her penchant for the creative caused her to run away screaming from the pocket-protector set. Barbara cooks up cozy mysteries with a healthy dose of comedy and sometimes a splash of romance. Her holiday novella, Gold, Frankincense, and Murder was released in e-book and audio format from White Rose Publishing. Barbara also writes as Beverly Allen, and her debut cozy mystery novel, Bloom and Doom, is coming in April 2014 from Berkley. You can learn more about her writing at www.barbaraearly.com