Sunday, 14 October 2012

A TV test plan

Recently, I've become interested in trying out some TV shows that folks seem to talk about a lot, even if (especially if!) they wouldn't be the sort of thing I would usually be drawn to myself. (My list of things to sample is here)

The problem is: how to sample a new show? And if it's not the kind of thing you usually watch, how many hours and dollars do you invest to find out if you like it or not?
  • Plan one: read some "top ten" lists on line to find out the episodes that fans of the series regard most highly. Choose one at (semi) random and watch. This was my initial plan, but so many series these days rely on season-long and series-long arcs to propel them, that jumping into the middle of things might not be a good test. OK then, how about:
  • Plan two: watch the pilot episode (or first epsode, at any rate). Presumably, this is what sold the show to the studio and network, so the appeal should be evident, right? However, introductory episodes contain a lot of expository material and might not be really representative of the series as a whole. So...
  • Plan three: watch the pilot episode and a highly acclaimed episode from later in the series. However, when this plan still left me feeling that two very highly regarded shows have nothing at all in them that appeals to me (Breaking Bad and The Wire, FWIW) a friend suggested that these series rely so much on their buildup of characters and plot that they can only be appreciated by watching them in order from the start. In the case of The Wire, he suggested that it might take around eight ten hours for the appeal to become apparent. That seems like a big investment to me, but...
  • Plan four: out of curiosity, I'm giving it a go, and will watch one episode a week for the next six eight weeks (I watched episode 2 today).
(Movies are easier. If, an hour in, I'm asking myself "why am I still watching this?" I just turn it off.)

So my question: how do you assess a show that someone recommends to you? And how much of it do you watch before you give up?

1 comment:

  1. I watched three-quarters of the first season of Lost before deciding that the main characters were, like Zahn's Thrawn, characters written by relatively-dumb people who thought the characters were super-smart.

    I gave Battlestar Galactica an entire season, and it didn't grab me, but I expect to press on one day, because I hear from enough quarters that it really delivers once all the pieces are developed.