Saturday, December 22, 2007

Now What Do I Do?

Nobody ever said that today's media-sphere made life simple, did they? Because if they did, they were lying. I realize that my point is going to seem melodramatic once I explain it, but I'm willing to take that risk. You see, M. and I completed our viewing of the 3rd season of Lost today. We ordered it from Amazon a month ago and had it in our possession for less than two weeks. In that short time we've watched all 23 episodes. There were several days when I had intermittent thoughts about the show throughout the morning and afternoon, knowing full well that we'd make time for one or two episodes in the evening. Every single time that happened I found myself well satisfied. Lost is an excellent show, and I'm no more bored with its premise or execution than when we started Season One. Perhaps that's because we didn't have to delay our gratification to any great degree. Now circumstances are different.

The Fourth Season of Lost is due to begin its network (ABC) run on January 31, 2008. The die is cast, and now we have a decision to make. Will we wait until next Fall/Winter, when the DVD package comes out with this batch of episodes? Or will we find some way to see the show as it is released, week-by-week. In many areas ABC is a station that people can pick up via antennae. But for some reason we can't get it where we live. In order to watch it in the comfort of our own home, we'd have to sign up for a cable or satellite package. I haven't researched the options but I believe such a move would cost us between $50 and $100 per month. Can I justify this type of expenditure with a baby on his way? If so, do I really want to?

Years ago M. and I committed to the choice not to have cable television. M. was convinced that if we had access to a multitude of channels, she would waste a lot of time in front of the boob tube. I have no doubt that her instincts would be proven correct if we tested them. Despite the fact that we only receive two network stations and PBS, I often find her enraptured by the easy distraction of beamed images. It doesn't matter how bad a program is- she'll watch it anyway. When FOX was running the syndicated Simpsons and Seinfeld, it wasn't too difficult to justify getting plugged in. But then they replaced Simpsons with Two and a Half Men, and no human being could possibly explain their presence in a room tainted with that pap. So we're stuck with The Nightly Business Report.

Anyway, I will do whatever I can to resist giving in to the temptation to pay for substandard entertainment. I don't understand why 'they' don't simply let you pick-and-choose the channels you want. I know that the technology currently exists to allow expanded consumer choice. I'd be willing to pay a premium to avoid supporting a lot of the crap that the corporations try to force-feed a nation of "sheeple". I'll even pay by the minute if I have to. Give me IFC, Encore and (maybe) the History Channel, and I'll be perfectly satisfied. Or better yet... eliminate channels altogether and simply let us pick from the individual shows themselves. If I find myself with 300 options to choose from, I'll inevitably find myself wasting time surfing for something exceptional. Of course I'll rarely find it.

Yet if I don't give in to the arbitrary paradigm of 'programming', I'll have to wait until everybody else has seen the shows that I plan to purchase on DVD. I'll run the constant risk of some indiscreet yahoo ruining the mystery and anticipation with written or spoken spoilers. Even eavesdropping in a public place includes the danger that I might overhear what just happened to my favorite character. So what am I to do? I could isolate myself in my home and limit any unavoidable conversation to people with no interest in the type of entertainment that I enjoy. I can be forever vigilant, and ready to cover my ears at any hint of disclosure. Or I can try to find someone else who has a cable package, and is willing to let me come over every week to watch Lost. I'll have to sacrifice my Thursdays on the altar of J.J. Abrams and Brian Burk, and hope that nothing comes up in the life of whomever I'm relying on to provide the means to get my weekly fix. That'll be fun.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Save your money. I live several months a year without TV. NPR does it all. Being a kid before TV I know that it is possible to live without it. At home in Pittsburgh there are two distracting cable TVs within 40 ft of each other. The rates are going up and I dont think that CNN and AMC, which is all that I watch anyway, are worth it. I will come back when it is pick and choose. There really is nothing on.


12:44 AM  

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