Intentional television

Family watching television, c. 1958
Family watching television, c. 1958 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have some friends who disdain television, who believe that there is nothing on worth watching. I have some friends who are addicts, who fall asleep in their chairs, who channel surf to find anything worth their eyeballs. I have never been in either of those camps, although did give up television for a while when my children were younger and we were all spending too much time in front of it. For the past decade, I’ve been an intentional viewer, recording programming that I am interested in seeing, watching pretty much only that, and then flipping the box off, or leaving the room for the comforts of a book (or, lets be honest, a few minutes on some iPad games.) This system works for me, as I can organize my life as I wish, and slip in some TV viewing when I’m at loose ends, ironing, wanting to cuddle with someone close to me, or at the end of the day before sleep overtakes.

This system, if you will, is due to a revolution in broadcasting, or maybe a series of little revolutions. I think it started with the VCR, which in its own clumsy way allowed us to time shift our viewing. With DVRs and VOD technologies, the restrictive cord of the clock has been severed and we are free to watch what we want, when we want, without fumbling with tapes, remembering to set up the VCR each week, and all that. I no longer have to spend a second thinking whether I’d rather go out for an evening or stay home to watch something. (Yes, I did that. Years ago. Anyone remember Survivor viewing parties in the early days?) Plus, I can skip through the ads.

If you forget to set up your DVR, read a review or hear of a program from a friend, you can probably find it on-demand either through your cable package or online. There is really no reason you need to be in front of your TV at the moment a broadcast starts, unless you’re live-tweeting it or something.

It’s easy to criticize our baser viewing habits as mindless/mind-numbing/drivel, or whatever. But to each his own. Lots of the conversations I have on a daily basis are just that. I consume things that could be considered nutrition-free from time to time, and that’s okay. I read two papers every day, and certainly not all of that is high literature (not to mention the occasional beach read.) We bitch and moan about the cost of cable, but if you were to cost it out on a price per hour viewed basis, it’s probably a pretty reasonable.

So lets live and let live. I’ve learned that we each have our own vices and that regardless of how much I’d like to change someone else’s habits, I’d be better off putting away the rest of the bag of Twizzlers and going for a walk.

A pack of Twizzlers
A pack of Twizzlers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So what’s worth watching this summer? A few of my faves (with new eps airing this month):

  • Orange is the New Black from Netflix (on demand)
    …because it’s well-written and Netflix is getting a great rep (think, House of Cards) (New Yorker review)
  • Endeavour (new season) (on Masterpiece Mystery, PBS)
    …because it’s all about Insp. Morse’s past
  • Amazing Race Canada (CTV)
    …because it’s the Amazing Race set in Canada (’nuff said)
  • Newsroom (new season) (HBO Canada)
    …because the characters all have twitter accounts
  • Switched at Birth (ABC Spark)
    …because despite the sappy storyline, the depiction of deaf teens and deaf culture rings true (to me)
  • The Big Decision (CBC)
    …because I love to see Jim and Arlene help small businesses
  • The Listener (CTV)
    …because it has a cute psychic ambulance driver and his cute Turkish friend and is set in Toronto

Happy summer viewing!

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