Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Marathon Effect

Have you noticed that for the last four or five years, basic cable channels have been showing huge three- or four-hour blocks of shows? Well, obviously you've noticed; but it's a fairly big change from what you could have expected even ten years ago.

Partly it's a response to shows on demand - Netflix, DVR, streaming video, etc. But what that tells me is that we have an innate desire to just Hoover up the shows we like in giant globs, as opposed to taking them in petite sips once a week. Netflix et al made doing that really easy, so the Cable channels finally figured out that it was popular and are now trying to give us what we want; to suit their schedules to our newly-empowered viewing habits.

One of the results, I think, is a new lease on life, new viewers, for shows that would otherwise have completely faded from consciousness. Take The Big Bang Theory, for instance. When it was on once a week on...what? CBS? NBC? Fox? I forget...I never watched it. It didn't strike me (and still doesn't) as a wildly funny show (unlike, say, 30 Rock).

But now that TBBT is one practically every basic channel, five nights a week, three hours at a pop, it behooves me as a viewer to acquire a taste for it in the absence of fare that appeals more directly to me. And I have acquired that taste. I know all the episodes. I even have favorite moments (Sheldon in a French maid's outfit; anything with Leslie Winkle). It's grown on me like athlete's foot.

(ETA: Of course, there are some shows that shrink on you instead. How I Met Your Mother, I'm looking at you.)

The down side is that I'm less likely to take a chance on something new. And there are some really fun new comedies, with rhythms that are totally different from Chuck Lorre's Hollywood Hammer style. Happy Endings. Raising Hope. Community. And on...

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