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.
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!!!