Monday, 30 September 2013

What I'm (Not) Watching, September 2013

Here's a twist to my should-be-annual TV review, because as the title implies, I'm not watching anything at the moment. It seems astonishing in some respects. I grew up in a house where watching TV, especially at night and over the weekends in the winter, was the main communal activity.

Right at this moment I'm in a TV vacuum. Mad Men, my favourite show, is on a break between the sixth and seventh seasons. The Apprentice is also between seasons, and due to my cancelling ESPN I don't have access to PTI, DLHQ, Around the Horn (all victims of the ESPN cull of ESPN America) or College Gameday. I made an effort to watch The Americans, until I found myself four episodes behind at the end of season one and wasn't really bothered about it (which I blame on the fact that the two strongest actors, Keri Russell and Noah Emmerich, are never on screen together).

Over the years my interest in reality shows has faded, so the recent run of regular and celebrity Big Brother didn't just leave me disinterested, but left me feeling significantly aggravated. Any form of dancing does the same, purely thanks to the catty judges, so that makes Strictly Come Dancing a no-go for me (even with noted celebrity Palace fan Susanna Reid on it). And X-Factor... X-Factor, ugh. How many ways can you say that you're fed up with all the dramatics, sob stories, last chances and every other overblown cliché they come up with? If it was purely a talent show I could live with it, but with everything else that is incorporated within the X-Factor package now makes that a no-go for me as well.

Breaking Bad? No, too violent, as I mentioned before, not my thing. Game of Thrones, the stuff of fantasy, not my thing either. Downton Abbey? Sorry, there's something about period pieces that I've never liked. Homeland was must see TV for me last year but the end of series 2 was so badly butchered that I'm not sure I can muster the enthusiasm for series 3.

So what do you do when you're effectively a television free-agent? You're free to become more selective, picking up an occasional documentary here and there (if I see an episode of Banged Up Abroad on National Geographic I'm probably taking at least a cursory glance), try an occasional new show here and there (and usually find they suck, yes Prisoner: Cell Block H remake, I'm talking about you) as well as re-runs of old sitcoms (Big Bang Theory on E4 is a repeat offender here) and quiz shows (yes, I finally succumbed to the addictive quality of Pointless).

Beyond just the TV is the freedom that you allow yourself. Thanks to Sky+ I rarely watch anything when it is shown anyway, but not having appointment TV frees you up from having any point where you really have to be in front of a TV. And that doesn't even cover the times that I'm actively looking to try and get away from a TV. The pity then is that life is busy enough that I can't make better use of the time, especially when that coincides with time that I need to be relatively quiet so I don't wake up my daughters when they're sleeping.

At this point I'm actually enjoying not having to actively work to keep up with a series. It may be a product of strange events and odd timing, but I'm actually quite enjoying this turn of events. When Mad Men ends after the split seventh series I'm not sure that I'll be picking anything up. Unless something exceptional comes along I think I can live without it.

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