There is very little I watch on a TV set these days, which has me thinking the unthinkable: getting rid of cable or, in my case these days, the dish.
It’s a hard decision for a dedicated TVidiot like myself. Before recording options became available, it was not unknown for me to leave a party so I wouldn't have to miss an episode of whatever. I refuse to call them “my stories” because that might infer afternoon soaps. No, “my stories” included the likes of Dr. Who, Babylon 5, Masterpiece Mystery. You know. The good stuff.
And there was so much good stuff for awhile. A veritable golden age of TV, one might say. In fact, many did say. Even the TV critics couldn’t seem to believe their luck. I don’t know what started it off. My son says, The Sopranos. But he didn’t watch Deadwood like I did. There followed Battlestar Gallactica, The Americans, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Downton Abbey. The first seasons of both True Detective and Fargo promised more delights to come, but just couldn’t seem to follow through.
I lived in Seattle most of that time, but my son and I watched at least one of the shows currently running and would call each other once a week for a family review. Now we live in the same house, and at first there was at least Game of Thrones to bring us together once a week, but as time went on there were fewer and fewer shows we watched on TV. These days, we mostly stream. Separately. On our own private devices. Because there’s nothing, really nothing to put on.
I’ve tried. Lord knows, I’ve tried. Anything with a vaguely fantastic or otherworldly, alien or undead, dystopic or prehistoric premise was likely to find me tuning in to check it out. No dice. I should have known better for anything on the CW, but NBC? Seriously? “La Brea?” Talk about bitter disappointment. I watched for as long as I could hold onto the possibility of more sabre tooth tigers and the like, but no. A bunch of unlikeable characters speaking lines written by writers newly fired from soap opera writer’s rooms (or so I imagine), and not a mammoth in sight? I don’t think so.
But my streaming services are quite another thing.
Just last night, for instance, I spent three lovely hours streaming. First, the season finale of Invasion – Apple TV. I subscribed for Foundation, stayed with them for Invasion, and then discontinued Apple until they give me a good reason to return. Next, the first episode of the last season of The Expanse, – used to be on TV, now streaming on Prime. Lastly, an episode of The Wheel of Time, also on Prime, which, with any luck, will be more cogently written than the books. Prime also has a harrowing dystopian spy series centered on a girl named Hanna, which is worth the price of admission all by itself. And I haven’t even gotten to Netflix, which is a whole nother story, specifically one called Arcane. The Witcher returns on Friday.
It would, of course, be very easy for me to just cancel the dish altogether and stream away for the rest of my life, except for … MSNBC and PBS. I want them on my bedroom TV. But what do I have to sign up for in order to get them? Will the CW continue to haunt me with its enticing premises eternally blotted by wretched writing? Will the SyFy channel continue to disappoint in much the same way? Have the writers of The Americans, having written the perfect television series, buried themselves in the Hamptons knowing they could never top that one? They too saw what happened to Fargo and True Detective.
Most importantly, will I have to give up my proudly self-bestowed title of Dedicated TVidiot? Am I the last of a dying breed?