I have found that I have become a person who watches television shows after they’ve already ended. This was definitely the case with The West Wing and even Firefly. I voraciously watched all seven years of The West Wing in a month earlier this year which was many years after its last episode aired. In so doing I was able to watch it when I was really ready and when I could appreciate it more. That’s the great thing about services like Netflix, a television series is never really over. When the screen fades to black, it doesn’t mean that it’s truly over. It may signal the beginning for a new generation of fans.
There are so many shows that I didn’t get to watch first run that I’m now taking the time to watch. Thanks to the help of any number of online lists ranking the best shows, I can watch it at my leisure. I am, however, becoming a part of the new crop of marathon watchers. I stumble upon a show that I plan to watch and will lay in bed and watch them for hours on end. I remember how I was with Downton Abbey. I didn’t get on board until well after the first season. However, when I did, there was no turning back. I was up until the wee hours of the morning searching for the places I could watch the show online.
There are benefits to waiting to watch series when they’re finished. Besides watching them when you want, you also know that you don’t have to wait until next week or the next season to find out what happens after the cliff hanger. I’m certainly not advocating not watching any television series first run, what I am saying is that there are so many shows that, just because you don’t see them now, it doesn’t mean you never will. Take for example the HBO series, Dexter. My BFF was adamant that I would love it. I hemmed and hawed for some time before I decided to start watching. As is often the case I had to watch the backlog of seasons before I caught up. It’s one of the few series that I managed to catch up with while it was still on the air. With its conclusion this past Sunday I can honestly say that had I not had the chance to go back and view the episodes on my own time, I may not have ever watched it. I thought that it wasn’t going to be my cup of tea and was pleasantly surprised. That’s been the case with many of the shows that I have picked up.
The easy access to old episodes of shows have brought new life to series’ that may be long gone but most definitely are not forgotten. If it weren’t for my local public library’s collections of Star Trek Voyager and Deep Space 9, I couldn’t be labeled and embrace the Trekkie that I apparently now am. That’s also the case with House and a few other shows that were definitely worth me watching. Sure, they may just be entertainment. However, there is a value to such things. In the case of shows that are more true to life, it can often satiate one’s desire to learn more about a specific subject matter. I find that more often than not I tend to watch these shows and then use Wikipedia to find other things related to the show that are just as interesting. They can be other shows, books or even additional online sources that further explain the topic.
I love the feeling of stumbling upon a show that inspires you to simply learn more. Sure, I loved Jeff Daniels in Dumb and Dumber but who would’ve guessed that he would become an Emmy winner for his superb portrayal of anchorman Will McAvoy on HBO’s The Newsroom? Like Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert, watching a show that discusses the events of the day makes them feel even more compelling. I have to admit, it also allows me to be more selective on just how much “real news” I subject myself to watching, reading or listening to. Educational escapism.
And so as I say goodbye to Breaking Bad on Sunday I can’t help but to think about the many other groundbreaking and sometimes controversial shows that I may have missed that I can now watch whenever I want. In reruns you may find that your favorite television show is one that has been off the air for 20 years or one that you never saw first run. It’s like a good book, sometimes you’re in for more of a surprise than you’d ever imagined.
This article appeared on page 5A in the 9/25/13 issue of The Union-Recorder.