Monday, June 1, 2009

We Call It Progress ...

A number of my favourite shows have reached the end of their current (and in a couple of cases final) series in the past week or so - 24, Bones, Prison Break and ER come readily to mind.

My DVR is currently jammed with the final few episodes of each of these series (and more) and I'll get around to watching them all over the coming weeks and months. I'm told Fringe is a good watch but I've so far not seen any episodes although - thanks to the 'series link' feature on my Sky+ - I have the entire series stored and ready to watch.

Thanks to innovations like Sky+ I've been able to keep up with these long-running TV series safe in the knowledge that I don't have to commit to being sat in front of the television at a certain time and on a particular day. I can set the 'series link' option and watch them when it suits me.

And yet, despite this convenience and flexibility part of me misses how things were 'back in the day'.

When I think back to when the first series of the X-Files was broadcast I remember the excitement I felt during the day (a Tuesday if I remember correctly), looking forward to getting home and watching the show that evening. We'd spend the day at work speculating as to what might happen in that nights episode, how the story would develop. By the same token I remember that Wednesday night was 'Star Trek: Next Generation' night and I knew I needed to be out of work by 5.30pm at the latest to be home for the start of the programme.

The whole evening would revolve around the programme - in the case of X-Files I'd need to make sure that I'd eaten, got any chores out of the way, unplugged the phone and was sat down for 9pm, BBC2.

The next day at work all the talk was of the previous evenings show: it wasn't so much 'did you see?' - it was assumed that you had - but 'what did you think of it?'. Storylines would be discussed and dissected, we'd speculate as to what would happen in the next episode (remember, this was back in the day when very few of us had internet access so there was little chance for spoilers) and talk at length about our favourite characters. Now when I'm asked 'did you see Prison Break last night?' I have to jump in and say 'don't tell me! I've recorded it'. End of conversation.

Television drama back then was a shared event - a bit like sport is today: 'what about the game last night?', 'I thought it should have been a penalty', 'they're in trouble now after that defeat' - and I kind of miss those days.

Would I still be able to follow my favourite programmes without a DVR? Yes I would, it would just take a bit more organising and a huge supply of video tapes. But I'd manage it.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have 20 episodes of Fringe to watch.