Boxsets have ruined the way I watch TV shows. I have a DVR (SKY+ if you’re interested) and when a new series of any show I find interesting starts, I record the whole series before I even begin watching the first episode. There is a couple of reasons for this; I hate waiting a week for the resolution to a cliffhanger, when I get into a show I like to binge through non-stop, obsessed with catching the rest of the season and finally, and probably most crucially of all, I don’t want to get invested in a show that will be cancelled after one season.
In my week-to-week viewing there are so many cases of shows I loved that got cancelled after I had invested good time and got myself involved in the characters and stories. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip is one such case, so is Journeyman and The Event. All three of these shows had their faults but in my opinion were solid series with a decent, continuing concept. I was then gutted when the show was cancelled and I realised I was getting no more of a series I loved.
Like a scorned lover, I decided never to get myself hurt like that again and now I make a point of leaving a series until it definitely has a second one. Second series means I get just enough to satisfy any interest. It also means I have missed out on shows that looked like they had great potential, including Forever, Constantine and Almost Human.
This is the issue I have though. These shows get cancelled because their ratings are so low but I refuse to watch a show if it only has one season. At times I feel like I’m contributing to the very issue that I am trying to avoid. I am well aware that my viewing habits will hardly change the fate of a TV show but at the same time, if there were many people with my mind-set, we may just be deciding a show’s fate before we have even given it a proper chance.
The more irritating aspect with this strategy is that I can’t do it for all shows but the ones I have to watch week-to-week are both the worst for cliffhangers and “must-watch” next episodes, like Game of Thrones, or are shows that are practically cancellation proof so don’t need my regular viewing but demand it because of spoilers (Doctor Who).
It also means that I’m really reluctant to watch shows I know I’m going to love. I couldn’t count the amount of people who have told me to watch Firefly but I see it listed on Netflix with only 14 episodes and I just don’t want to relive that frustration when I watch the episodes of a great series slowly dwindle away.
I’m not even sure where to go from here. I will eventually watch Firefly and complain pointlessly at it’s cancellation with everyone else. I doubt I’ll change my viewing habits either, particularly with the amount of shows I’m still desperate to catch-up on but I will always wonder, when I see a show that seemed to have a great concept get cancelled, whether if me giving it a chance could well have changed it’s fate.
Overall, I’m interested to see how others view this “problem.” Boxset viewing has become the norm but in doing that are we risking the cancellation of great shows? Should networks give shows more of a chance and allow people to catch-up and realise what a great product they have produced? Or maybe the reason TV is currently being viewed as going through a “Golden Age” is because only the strongest can actually survive.