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09/17/2018

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Sure, you can stop whenever you want. 8-)

One of the things that deters me from watching television series is the sheer length of them, or rather the ratio of length to anticipated reward. I think to myself, "In X hours I could watch the complete filmographies of Kubrick and Malick, or I could watch about half of [Show-I-Heard-About]." 99 times out of 100 I'm going to choose film over TV, even though I know TV has improved a lot, as you say (Netflix, etc). I think the only TV series I've ever watched in its entirety was "The Wire", and that wasn't wasted time.

I guess a similar argument could be made with books: "In X hours I could watch the complete filmographies of Bergman and Scorcese, or I could make a bit of a dent in this Dickens novel". Sometimes, maybe most of the time, the right choice is to read the Dickens.

But I'm curious: after watching all of these shows, do you feel that they were, by and large, time well spent? There is also the fact to consider that it's time spent with your wife, of course!

Oops. Looked like I used some punctuation that got interpreted as an html invisibility tag!

Well, not punctuation, exactly, but typographical marks.

I think I fixed it. Looks like it just throws away anything in angle brackets that isn't html.

Anyway--that's a good question, and one I've often asked myself. The brief answer is sometimes yes, sometimes no. I certainly wouldn't argue that the time couldn't be *better* spent. I guess I will confess, too--after reminding y'all that my wife and I are empty-nesters--that we do this while eating supper. So a good portion of it is not time I would have spent reading in any case.

I might add, too (he said somewhat defensively) that a big part of the reason we drifted into this was that these things are between 45 and 90 minutes long, never more. Whereas movies tend to run 2 hours or more. And on weekday nights especially we didn't want to spend that much time watching.

Are you watching the older Midsomers or the ones done since around 2011? I prefer the earlier ones, mostly because I liked that Barnaby character and actor more than the current one.

The sometimes yes, sometimes no answer is what an honest person says about films and books too, so fair enough.

I was looking the other day at the television series with the highest critical ratings of the past 15 or 20 years. Some of them were what you would expect -- The Sopranos, The Wire, Twin Peaks -- but some of them I'd not heard of -- a current one called Rectify (which someone mentioned here recently), a police procedural called Murder One, and The Larry Sanders Show!?! Well, I'm pretty ignorant. I wonder if those shows would be worth the time investment though. (Here is the list.)

I don't think I've seen more than about half a dozen of those (counting as one all occurrences of a given show on the list). Murder One and Larry Sanders are not among them. I've seen The Americans, all of it, and don't think it was all that good, although it had enough page-turner sort of quality to keep me (and spouse) watching. Or maybe I should say Paige-turner (ha ha ha, a joke for those who've seen it). You'd have to tie me to a chair to make me watch Handmaid's Tale. Watched a few episodes of Battlestar Galactica and didn't care much for it. Same for Sopranos and a few others. Haven't seen Fargo but a friend whose opinion I respect has recommended it.

Marianne, I think we started with the very first episode of Midsomer and have watched them in order. We're just now getting to that transition you're talking about. The other Barnaby appeared on the scene a few episodes ago and I can see I'm not going to like him as much.

Trivia: the guy who plays Jones, the current sergeant, is in Marcella as a totally different sort of character--middle-aged, sort of crude, not very honest, rich businessman.

I kept thinking they should give Stephens a bigger role, and they did increase it a bit, but I think they could have done more. Though maybe the actress was not altogether up to it.

Watched the series finale of Rectify on Sunday night. I think it stands out in that unlike many of these other high quality shows it's not a cop show or a thriller, but much more of a straight drama (although there is a "mystery" underlying the whole thing). Thus it's much more character-driven; as one TV critic wrote, it's the first TV series to bring an indie film approach to television. Which stands to reason, as its creator Ray McKinnon has a background in independent films.

If you're not aware, it's is about a man who spent 19 years on death row for killing his high school girlfriend. DNA evidence frees him, but many people in his small Southern hometown still believe he did it, including some in law enforcement. Thing is, Daniel, now 37, can't remember exactly what happened, traumatized as he was by the incident and by 19 years on death row.

Says one critic:

"For 30 episodes, this show examined despair without ever lapsing into nihilism. It acknowledged darkness and violence without ever being exploitative (many of its most powerful moments were acts of violence and coercion recalled through memory and monologue alone. That’s what great actors can do.)

What do you do with these feelings? How do you even name them, let along not be overtaken and crushed by them? That is what Daniel has grappled with during these four seasons, and his family has done their share of processing and grappling as well. A lesser show would have used bombast or broadness or velocity of some kind to convey the mind-bending challenges they’ve been through. A lesser show would have taken all the nuance and depth out of how hard it has been for them to negotiate this contradictory maze and come out with a shard of hope in their hearts."

Granted, this sort of thing is not for everyone. But if you like character-driven films (and first-rate acting) it's very much worth watching. I think it's the best straight drama series I've seen, and Aden Young's performance as Daniel is outstanding.

"a big part of the reason we drifted into this was that these things are between 45 and 90 minutes long, never more. Whereas movies tend to run 2 hours or more. And on weekday nights especially we didn't want to spend that much time watching."

Yeah, that's true for me too. Sometimes on weeknights I'm too tired to read for very long, but watching a 45 or 60 min. episode of a series works out just right.

From what I saw of Rectify (the whole first season iirc), I wouldn't argue with this praise of it in the abstract. But as I said when we discussed it before, I just didn't *like* it. I must say I'm tempted now to cheat and find a synopsis just so I can find out what actually happened. Assuming it doesn't end with that question still unanswered.

Yeah, "not liking it" is different than being put off by the despair/pain inherent in the story. The latter can be overcome by an appeal to the "redemptive" element.

What I meant earlier about the pain, what kept me from wanting to continue, was not that it was there, but that the situation seemed essentially static. I just looked at a list of episodes and I see that I actually watched through season 2, maybe a bit into 3. Things happened, of course, but it seemed like everybody, not just Daniel, was just sort of pinned to the wall in pain. Not knowing whether there would ever be any sort of resolution made it feel like I might be watching a shaggy dog story about misery.

I put The Bridge in my amazon cart but I havnt got to watching it uet

There's a new Barnaby? Yuck. They should have just made a new character. Frankly, I haven't been happy since Troy left.

AMDG

I hardly ever turn on the TV (which only shows Netflix, etc.) when Bill isn't home. I've just been reading when I'm not busy.

AMDG

"I haven't been happy since Troy left." Yeah, I feel somewhat that way. He was the best. But Jones is good.

Janet, it is a different character; he's a cousin of the old Barnaby, and has the same last name.

Janet, it is a different character; he's a cousin of the old Barnaby, and has the same last name.

"Not knowing whether there would ever be any sort of resolution made it feel like I might be watching a shaggy dog story about misery."

Understood. I had similar fears, but as things proceeded it seemed there were ever-increasing foreshadowings and hints, however slight, that such was not going to be the case. Basically, I began to trust McKinnon like I trusted Vince Gilligan with B.B.

I learned to trust Vince Gilligan to stick the knife in as suddenly and deeply as possible. :-/

Marianne, I misread Janet's comment. The cousin's name is also Barnaby, isn't it? That's what I was thinking with "new Barnaby."

"I learned to trust Vince Gilligan to stick the knife in as suddenly and deeply as possible."

True, but I was fairly confident he wouldn't "cheat" or be purposely nihilistic, for lack of a better word.

Right, I know you were talking about something different. I still haven't entirely recovered from a few of the shocks he administered in BB.

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