Sunday, August 7, 2016

Wait, What am I Watching?

The last regular network show that I was keeping up with, "Person of Interest," has ended. Also, "Preacher" recently wrapped up its first season, leaving me without anything serialized to follow at the moment. And it occurs to me that there' not much television that I'm actually watching anymore. To get a better picture, I went and took stock of every television series that I'm still committed to following for at least another season. Leaving out the Netflix shows to simplify this, I ended up with the following list:

"The Daily Show," "Game of Thrones," "Orphan Black," "The Leftovers," "The Venture Brothers," "Preacher," "Fargo," "Rick and Morty," "Doctor Who," "Review," "Humans," "The Expanse," "Top of the Lake," "Steven Universe," and "Sherlock." Not sure about "Mr. Robot" at the moment. I suppose we can also add "Twin Peaks" at Showtime, "Westworld" at HBO and "American Gods" at Starz, which I've been anticipating for a while. At most three of those series will be premiering new episodes before 2017, which means I've got an awful lot of room on the schedule at the moments.

It's a good time to try out some new series, but I've almost completely stopped following the development of upcoming shows. I went back and looked at all the coverage of the upfronts and the new fall shows, and there's not a single thing that I'm looking forward to. Instead, I'm just marveling at the repetitiveness and the dullness of the new programming. Kevin James is getting a new sitcom? "24" is back? And "Prison Break" too? I don't know how you turn "The Exorcist" or "Frequency" into series, but I don't trust the networks to do it right. And of course they're rebooting "Macgyver" and turning "Taken" and "Lethal Weapon" into cop shows. Of course. There are only two sitcoms that Iook vaguely promising based on the talent involved: "The Great Indoors" with Stephen Fry and Joel McHale, and "The Good Place" with Kristen Bell. I have no problem writing everything else off sight unseen.

I should note that cable premieres are relatively sparse during this time of year. Aside from a few miniseries, the biggest new title is probably the "Van Helsing" series on Syfy. I'm not interested, as I haven't seen the movie and have no desire to. However, Syfy produced a good number of series over the last year that have been promising - "12 Monkeys," "The Magicians," and the "Childhood's End" miniseries. I'm still onboard for "The Expanse" after the first season. As you can probably tell from the list above, nearly all the television I'm still watching consists of niche genre shows and a couple of prestige projects. And the shows only come from a handful of sources: Comedy Central, FX, AMC, BBC America, Syfy, Netflix, or the Cartoon Network. I feels strange, because I can still clearly remember a time when premium cable shows were completely inaccessible to me, and now HBO Go and season passes are a thing.

I think my tastes have just fundamentally changed over the last few years as I've changed the way I watch television. Over the past few months I've started a few network shows like "Lucifer' and "Last Man on Earth" that I liked, but not enough to sit through weeks of formulaic filler. If I hadn't already read the series and had a good idea of where the creators were going, I'd have probably dropped "Preacher" after four episodes too. I know bingeing is in, but I rarely have the time to watch more than two or three episodes of something at once. So the bar is much higher and I've gotten much pickier.

But that said, I still enjoy watching great television, and we're living in an undisputed Golden Age of it. So what am I going to watch? Well, I heard that the O.J. Simpson documentary was pretty good. And "Penny Dreadful" ended at three seasons, with twenty-seven episodes, which makes it look much less daunting. "The Night Manager" and "War & Peace" only have six. I guess there's still time to catch up on "Daredevil," "the Affair," or "Broadchurch" if I'm feeling ambitious, or "The Americans" if I'm feeling really ambitious. Or I could pick up a show I quit like "House of Cards" or "Louie."

What am I watching? Whatever I want, but on my own terms.

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