Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Lost Weekends, 21st century-style

Years ago, lost weekends were the result of respectable things such as drunken blackouts and drug-induced comas. Not so these days. No, these days our time suckers are far more insidious. This activity goes by many names: Toasting Buns in the DVD Oven, I Can't Say No To Discs, Netflix Made Me Do It and too many others to count. Personally, I like to call it Losing Precious Hours of My Young Life to Entire DVD Box Sets of TV Shows I Always Thought Were No Good But Am Now Suddenly Sucked Into Like a Hamster Into a Hoover.

For short.

I'm completely convinced that more American productivity is lost watching an entire TV series in one sitting than is lost to crack, ecstasy and meth combined. Mostly because you can't buy any of those things at Target, download them or have them delivered in a classy red envelope to your door. Yet.

The past month alone, I have watched the first four and a half seasons of "The Sopranos" and roughly 30-some episodes of "Weeds." (Kevin Nealon rules.) As a soul without premium cable, I never got to see "The Sopranos," the first time around. I missed out on the joy of this paean to eye-splitting New Jersey fashion and women with nails that could scare a grizzly. Plus, I was chronically pissed that it kept beating "The West Wing" year after year at the Emmys. But I finally checked it out and was a goner immediately. It was hilarious. It was dark and twisted and sick...and Tony Soprano was a fascinating middle-American train wreck, part Fred Flintstone, part Homer Simpson with a slight speech impediment. How great is that? I'll tell you. It was so great that Netflix's daily deliveries were not arriving fast enough and like any junkie, I started going to great lengths to get my fix. The disk for season 2 episode 10 didn't arrive in today's mail? That's okay. I don't mind driving the 17 miles to the nearest Blockbuster that has one on its shelf. I must have contributed a panda's worth of carbon into the atmosphere with all the driving I did, just so I could find out what Adriana was going to tell the Feds about Christopher's drug problem. Would Dr. Melfi take Tony back? Would the ducks ever return? Would Silvio finally realize that his clothes were cruel to the sighted community? I had to keep watching.

Except when I took a break to suck down three seasons of "Weeds"* in the span of seven days. Again, I never had the urge to see this show. Oddly enough, it was a "West Wing" thing again -- Mary Louise Parker aggravated me to no end as Amy on "WW." It was like dragging nails on a blackboard in slo-mo ever time she walked on screen. So when the husband asked me to try "Weeds," I was reluctant but within 20 minutes, I was a convert. And entire days went missing....

I'm convinced that all of our modern ills are caused by people like me, slacking off at their jobs, ordering pizzas and sitting on the couch to spend days watching disc after disc of TV shows. It's easy to exercise moderation when your stories, as my grandmother used to call them, only come on once a week -- or in the case of the Sci-Fi Channel, once a year. You have plenty of time to feed your children, walk the dog, pretend you have a life and aren't wondering where you can buy a Hurley action figure. But with box sets, it's all there right in front of you: the whole story, every cliffhanger answered, every mystery solved. How can you not bite into that digital apple of TV sin? It's unavoidable.

Soon, I'm guessing the Federal government will crack down on all this enjoyment, limiting us to two discs of "Lou Grant" per month or some such nonsense. And you know what that means.

I gotta watch faster. With enough Red Bull and judicious use of the fast-forward button, I'm pretty sure I can watch "Deadwood," "Rome," "Freaks and Geeks," "Supernatural" and "Saved by the Bell" all in one weekend, right? Like the little engine that could, I think I can. Oh yes, I think I can.

* The only bad thing about this show? It has the most horribly infectious, "can't ever shake it out of my brain" theme song ever written for television. If we ever want to get another South American dictator out of an embassy, let's just blast that thing at his door over and over and over again. Trust me, it'll work. "Little boxes, on a hillside..." Noooooo!!!

19 comments:

Nightfall said...

I had to call off work for almost a week to watch the first 2.5 seasons of Battlestar (I was a late convert and no one else in the house share my passion). It was great and terrible at the same time. When I ran out of discs, it felt like a friend had died...

We need a disease classification like Netflixia nervosa, or TV Binge-ous Series-ous.

Trey said...

You didn't like Amy? I'm dumbfounded. I adore Amy. What didn't you like?

Liz said...

Nightfall, I love "Netflixia nervosa." We need to get that one into the nation's vocabulary asap!

Trey, I should clarify and say that I liked Amy when she was in no way involved with Josh, like when she turned up in later seasons. But I couldn't stand their relationship -- the whole thing with her throwing his phone in the stew, gah, just bugged me. Maybe I was just too much of a Josh and Donna girl. Amy just never failed to rub me the wrong way.

Mary Louise Parker though is pretty damn awesome. Fried Green Tomatoes all the way!

helen said...

For me, Netflix is like a little game. How many DVDs can I get in my queue and how fast can I get them back out by watching them.

It's extremely addicting!

Leslie said...

Heh, this is SO true! In our house, the DVD show obsessions were "Nip/Tuck" and "24." Plowed through all eleventy-hundred episodes to catch up for the current season(s).

Trey said...

re: Amy- I can see where that could bug you. To me (and I'm guessing, to Josh) it came off as confident and sexy.

Josh's relationships fascinate me. Amy and Donna are almost two different sides of the woman spectrum - Josh was always one step behind Amy, while Donna is right there behind Josh helping him out. I do worry, though, that he won't be as good for Donna as he could be. (yes, I worry about fictional characters who no longer have active stories.) :-)

Nightfall said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Nightfall said...

Here's a link to it so it's not clogging up your comments

Netflixia Nervosa: http://modernpostism.blogspot.com/2008/08/netflixia-nervosa.html

Adri said...

I just binged on the entire first two seasons of Doctor Who (Netflix 'watch now' for the first series, iTunes purchase for series 2) and have been forcing myself to take a break and wait for the dvds to arrive in the mail (postal system! so archaic!) for series 3.

Of course the first one arrives today, the day I got my Kindle, have been invited to a party, and to pub trivia.

AUGH

Liz said...

Trey, I worry about fictional characters all the time. :) I think by the end of the series, Donna was pretty much in the driver's seat with their relationship. She could've wiped the floor with him if she wanted too. Poor Josh, I don't think he would have stood much of a chance with either of them.

I loved Josh. He was so messed up.

I miss my imaginary friends. :)

Kristen said...

You should hav seen me with my marathon of BtVS, which only made me want to rewatch Angel. Sigh. I hate to say it, but it takes a lot out of you emotionally. 'specially Joss shows.

Trey said...

"I loved Josh. He was so messed up."

Oh, Amen to that.

I also adore Toby, but I do have the good sense to know that dating him would be bad for me. I have several Tobys as friends.

annie said...

I'm cringing at the idea of Josh/Donna, being one of "those" West Wing fans that abandoned the series after season 4, as I've mentioned here before. (This post feels especially relevant to me because I've been watching WW incessantly for the past week or so while healing from an infection that limited my ability to walk and move around)

I loved Amy in season 3, and MLP in season 1 of Weeds, but somewhere in the second season of watching episodes pirated on Chinese sites, Weeds lost my interest.

An affliction worse than Netflixia nervosa is the disease that makes the first season of most tv shows the best, with the large arc of season two being lackluster in comparison.

CaucusRace said...

Ahem, while Little Boxes is indeed infectious, it is not, in fact, "written for television." Google tells me that it was written in 1962 by someone named Malvina Reynolds - but until I heard it on Weeds I'd always assumed it was made up by my dad who would sing it as we drove through the outskirts of San Francisco. Just so's you know.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I hated Amy on WW. She was one of the (many) reasons I stopped watching the show. She was grating and smug and completely unlikeable, but I felt like Aaron Sorkin was just besotted with the character and was never going to write her out.

The odd thing is that I don't hate MLP as an actress--I saw her picking up an award for something, and was amazed at how charming she is IRL. If she turned up in something that looked interesting, I'd be more than happy to give her another chance.

LOL about Lost Weekends. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. To ramp up the crazy, try getting a multi-region DVD player. I recently invested in one so that I can see the UK TV series that never seem to make it onto Region 1 DVD. I'm currently working my way through the two seasons of "Life on Mars," with "Blackpool" and "Takin' Over the Aslyum" on my buy-it list.

Anonymous said...

Discovered Veronica Mars late and watched all three seasons in a row, just can't bring myself to watch the last episode (which I've read is downbeat). Not sure i can handle an eternal cliffhanger. There must be clinical term for such psychosis.

Jennifer said...

This is my worst addiction- I LOVE watching dull TV seasons on DVD. It is terrible, the dishes don't get done, the carpet doesn't get vacuumed. The cat is lucky she gets fed.

This summer I have devoured 2 seasons of Heroes, 3 1/2 seasons of Battlestar Gallactica, and the whole 3rd season of Weeds over 2 nights when the boyfriend was out of town. After the DNC I will be ready to sink my teeth into Mad Men Season 1, and I am flirting with the idea of starting Bones, I have only ever seen 2 episodes.

Glad I am not alone in my addicition! Uhrrah!

Jennifer said...

I said "dull" seasns, mean't full seasons. Don't want anyone under the impression that I find BSG dull!

And I agree with Kristen, after spending the screen going between full seasons of Buffy & Angel I was emotionally exhausted.

Miss Grace said...

I gotta admit the combo of Weeds and Arrested Development has really been sucking away all of my free time.