By Stephanie Prange | Posted: September 22, 2008
As various digital outlets such as iTunes tout watching an episode online to catch up on a TV series, I am finding that watching a TV show one episode at a time is most inefficient and annoying.
I am a power watcher, a TV DVD binger, if you will.
I will watch an entire season in a weekend, often viewing it over again with commentary.
I hate cliffhangers, and thus I watch series with ongoing plots, such as “Lost” and more recently “Mad Men,” in seasons, rather than by episode.
I don’t need to be up-to-date on the latest happenings in “Mad Men.” In fact it frustrates me to watch it in episode form at all. I’d rather wait until the season ends and watch it in one long session.
I have no idea what happened on the last season of “Lost.” I’m waiting for the TV DVD season set to catch up.
I know others like to record episodes on their DVRs, but for me that still doesn’t match the convenience of watching the entire season at once with commentary on TV DVD.
In fact — and this will no doubt irritate TV executives — if I catch a TV episode of a series I like on cable or broadcast TV, I’m apt to turn it off and wait for the TV DVD set. I see these ongoing plots as a very long feature, best watched in one, almost continuous, sitting.
While many have commented on the anywhere, anytime nature of short-video Internet viewing, I also must extol the virtues of full-season viewing, which often can’t be had on the Internet or DVR in as convenient a form as on DVD.
Episodic TV grew out of a need in the broadcast business to keep viewers over time and to sell advertising. It didn’t grow out of viewers’ entertainment consumption preferences. Some of our best novels first appeared in episodic form, but we don’t read them that way today.
While Web outlets such as iTunes may be breaking viewers’ slavery to the clock, they still offer shows in episodic snippets without commentary and other extras that allow a viewer to savor a series. TV DVD is the ideal medium for this purpose, and the most-definitive statement on a TV show. Who says everyone must watch a TV show in half-hour or hour increments? I don’t.