The Dim-Post

April 14, 2011

And another thing

Filed under: media,tv — danylmc @ 7:16 am

I was so into my tedious anecdote in the previous post that I forgot to endorse Breaking Bad as lowish culture. I’m not sure if it’s screened in New Zealand – most US based TV critics named it as the best show of 2010, so I guess TVNZ are avoiding it like the plague. The basic plot is that a chemistry teacher working at a high school in New Mexico finds out he has lung cancer so he becomes a methamphetamine cook to provide for his family after he’s gone, and hilarity ensues. Great stuff – but hey, don’t take my word for it – just ask Phil Collins.

The Onion AV Club has rolling in-depth reviews of the show that I read after watching each episode – apparently this is standard for TV critics writing about popular shows now, and a huge driver of web traffic to entertainment sites. Seems the job(?) of being a TV critic has changed from recommending shows to analysing them post-screening.

Which made me think about TVNZ and their recent Tivo debacle, and the way I watch TV now which is that someone recommends a show to me and I borrow it or buy it or rent it on DVD and Maggie and I watch one episode an evening. I don’t want to watch an episode a week, even if I can automatically record it and live-rewind it etc. I don’t think we’re that unique -I suspect the availability of entire seasons on DVD  has changed viewing habits for a lot of consumers – but so far as I know there’s no consumer technology available that lets you do that – ie pick a show from a vast library and download/stream it at will, or at least, none that lets you do this legally and pay a fee.

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33 Comments »

  1. Breaking Bad was on old C4. Awesome show, never got to see it because it was up against New Zealands next top model/chef/gardener/overweight persons/other banal shit that the significant other enjoys for her down time.

    I have to confess that I don’t watch much TV, it really is crap. Even the doco’s on free TV have gone all reality with a hand held camera, all drama with the host and bugger all information. I tend to sit there and use the Ipad, do the dishes with music on and go to bed around 9.30pm and read for a while.

    Comment by andy (the other one) — April 14, 2011 @ 7:46 am

  2. Just finished season 3 on DVD, and yes it is a great show. Like Andy, didn’t get to watch it on C4, but in any case greatly prefer the DVD version – watching an episode a night without ads beats free-to-air hands down.

    Comment by Psycho Milt — April 14, 2011 @ 7:55 am

  3. I find this strategy great but it had it’s downsides. It can be quite difficult to watch one episode a night – it’s tempting to watch three or four. :-) With 22 episode seasons it can put your life pretty much on hold for a week or two!

    Comment by David — April 14, 2011 @ 8:37 am

  4. “I don’t want to watch an episode a week, even if I can automatically record it and live-rewind it etc. I don’t think we’re that unique -I suspect the availability of entire seasons on DVD has changed viewing habits for a lot of consumers – but so far as I know there’s no consumer technology available that lets you do that – ie pick a show from a vast library and download/stream it at will, or at least, none that lets you do this legally and pay a fee.”

    Commonplace in America now with Apple TV, Hulu, Amazon and Netflix all offering some version of this. But there would have to be decent broadband in New Zealand for this to work. Wait a decade and maybe Steven Joyce’s magic plan will have fixed things.

    Comment by Exiled Antipodean — April 14, 2011 @ 8:38 am

  5. I don’t want to watch an episode a week, even if I can automatically record it and live-rewind it etc.

    Yeah. I think I’m weird about this. I own a lot of TV on DVD, but I’m okay with an episode a week. I’m the only person I know who watched The Wire during it’s first run on TV2, week-by-week.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 14, 2011 @ 8:49 am

  6. “I suspect the availability of entire seasons on DVD has changed viewing habits for a lot of consumers”

    Yes. We watched the entire Wire this way, one episode a night, and it was great. Let’s not forget that watching the box these days is an excruciating experience with endless banal ads and promotion of “what’s next” taking up what seems to be at least as much time as the show itself. Does ANYONE actually still put up with that crap?

    Comment by Neil — April 14, 2011 @ 8:52 am

  7. The only time I ever saw The Wire on TV was when I was rushed to hospital in the middle of the night and, lying on my back on a stretcher in a waiting room, I found myself looking up at a TV with the sound off showing Bunk and McNulty drinking in a bar.

    Comment by danylmc — April 14, 2011 @ 8:55 am

  8. “I’m the only person I know who watched The Wire during it’s first run on TV2, week-by-week.”

    I suspect you could take the “I know” out of that sentence without altering its truth status …

    Comment by Andrew Geddis — April 14, 2011 @ 9:01 am

  9. I’m the only person I know who watched The Wire during it’s first run on TV2, week-by-week.

    i salute you, sir, for your perseverance and patience in following The Wire on free-to-air tv. i used to try with a VCR and tv listings but even those were not enough.

    Comment by dfmamea — April 14, 2011 @ 9:22 am

  10. I’m the only person I know who watched The Wire during it’s first run on TV2, week-by-week.

    You don’t know me, but I also watched The Wire during its first run on TV2.

    Comment by Orlando Figes' ghost-writer — April 14, 2011 @ 9:36 am

  11. Also, they have shown the first two seasons of Breaking Bad on TV here — I thought it was on Prime but if andy says it was C4 then I guess it was C4. I don’t think they’ve gotten around to showing the third season yet, despite it airing in the States some time ago.

    Comment by Orlando Figes' ghost-writer — April 14, 2011 @ 9:40 am

  12. It probably goes without saying but reviews like the linked one are chock full of spoilers for anyone who hasn’t seen the series. And so long as we’re reviewing review sites, “What’s Alan Watching” is excellent, especially for Wire fans.

    Comment by Dave — April 14, 2011 @ 10:03 am

  13. Iwould go the same for Entourage, very funny programme left in the graveyard slot on TV2. Thank god for dvd

    Comment by max — April 14, 2011 @ 10:09 am

  14. With you on Breaking Bad. Some brilliant writing, and some brilliant performances from most if not all of the cast.

    Comment by Progger — April 14, 2011 @ 11:07 am

  15. One other thing about Breaking Bad.

    2010 Emmy Award – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Bryan Cranston
    2010 Emmy Award – Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series – Aaron Paul
    2009 Emmy Award – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Bryan Cranston
    2008 Emmy Award – Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series – Bryan Cranston

    Pretty sure it was Prime. They even had a few billboards up.

    Comment by Graeme — April 14, 2011 @ 11:25 am

  16. The episode Fly in S3 of Breaking Bad is probably my favourite bottle episode of any show ever. Breaking Bad does suspense and tension like few other shows have, and Bryan Cranston’s performance is without peer.

    My favourite thing about the show is that it’s still improving – season 1 is very good, season 2 is extremely good and season 3 is remarkable. Also the slight change in tone away from dark comedy and towards suspense-filled drama over the 3 seasons is done impressively.

    Comment by Asher — April 14, 2011 @ 11:47 am

  17. Seasons 1 and 2 of Breaking Bad were shown on C4. Top show and Bryan Cranston is superb as is the rather whiny sidekick Jesse who speaks fondly of New Zealand:

    “New Zealand, that’s where they made Lord of the Rings. I say we just move there, yo, and, I mean, you can do your art. Right? Like, you can paint the local castles and s***, and I can be a bush pilot.”

    Comment by TerryB — April 14, 2011 @ 11:50 am

  18. Whoever writes Jesse’s dialog is a genius. That bush pilot thing is a great example: somethings that comes completely out of nowhere, but makes total sense for his character.

    Comment by danylmc — April 14, 2011 @ 11:57 am

  19. My wife and I have also been getting into watching seasons of old TV shows one episode a night. I wonder if this is a viable option for commercial TV. We get the truely horrific reruns of Friends or Malcolm in the Middle played every weeknight, but would it be an option for them to grab an old weekly series and run it back to back? There are heaps of old shows that must be (I imagine) cheaper to get the rights to now. It’d mean you could get through a whole (American) season in under three months. This makes it possible to get through the full run of some of these old shows that were 5+ seasons, or it would mean that if a particular show wasn’t super-popular, at least it would be over and done with relatively quickly.

    What I’ve come to realise is that I still watch a lot of TV shows – I just don’t watch them through broadcast television.

    Comment by Adge — April 14, 2011 @ 12:05 pm

  20. Around Christmas the cable connecting our two flat screen TVs to the TV aerial came off the roof. We have yet to rectify this, because the idea that watching a particular TV show requires us to sit down at a particular time not of our choosing and have it interupted by ads every seven minutes just seems ludicrous.

    We are currently watching Boardwalk Empire, and Castle, amongst other things.

    Comment by helenalex — April 14, 2011 @ 12:32 pm

  21. 1. Friends is 17 years old. Malcolm in the Middle is 11 years old. They kinda are old weekly series.
    2. Home Improvement is currently being repeated on Prime. It’s 20 years old.
    3. When I was in school, there were repeats of: Get Smart, Hogan’s Heroes, The Addams Family, The Beverly Hillbillies, Gilligan’s Island, The Brady Bunch, M*A*S*H* etc. Some of these have been quite recently re-repeated. I’m sure they will be again, and I suspect you can get at least some of these on Sky…

    p.s. and both Friends and Malcolm in the Middle are great shows.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 14, 2011 @ 12:34 pm

  22. Graeme Edgeler said “I’m the only person I know who watched The Wire during it’s first run on TV2, week-by-week.”

    I don’t know how you did that with out going out of your mind with anticipation.

    I bought season one on DVD one Friday, thinking I was going to spend the next couple of weeks watching it. It was finished by Sunday afternoon, with me racing down to JB hifi for the rest of the seasons, which were polished off in under three weeks.

    Slightly OT but this is as good a place for it as any: The Wire imagined as a Victorian novel
    http://hoodedutilitarian.com/2011/03/when-its-not-your-turn-the-quintessentially-victorian-vision-of-ogdens-the-wire/

    Comment by Exclamation Mark — April 14, 2011 @ 1:26 pm

  23. @Graeme Fair call – I guess I just meant a few different types of shows. I used to enjoy Friends, but it loses something on the fifth repeat (oh look – Ross and Rachael are together. Wait, look – they’ve broken up again).

    Are there really so few popular shows each generation that it is better to repeat Friends/Home Improvement every three years?

    Comment by Adge — April 14, 2011 @ 1:29 pm

  24. Are there really so few popular shows each generation that it is better to repeat Friends/Home Improvement every three years?

    Yes. I think so. The reason TV2 keeps repeating Friends and My Wife and Kids) is that they outrate everything else they’ve tried. The put Seinfeld in that slot, and other comedies they’ve got the rights to repeat (Frasier, at one point, I think). I think they’ve put first-run shows that they didn’t have a slot elsewhere on the schedule for. Friends does better. People complain to the TV guide about another repeat of Friends, but Friends still does better. Get people to stop watching it and they’ll replace it with something else.

    Comment by Graeme Edgeler — April 14, 2011 @ 1:41 pm

  25. Breaking Bad is a fantastic show. The quality of the writing separates it from much of the dross being made these days. I haven’t bothered with live TV for about five years. The tipping point was when I decided to stop watching TV news after realizing that it had become centred more around the presenters’ wardrobe and hairstyles than current events. Since then I’ve only watched stuff recommended to me by friends (with reliable tastes), tracking shows down on DVD etc. I consider myself fortunate to have discovered Breaking Bad. I’d highly reccomend that you check out the Breaking Bad Insider Podcast (on iTunes, or probably via AMC’s website). They produce one podcast per episode, and each one features the show’s creator Vince Gilligan and guests from the show’s cast and crew discussing plot, character, cinamatography etc. It’s one of the best podcasts I’ve listened to, and certainly more than just a marketing vehicle for the show; definately worth checking out!

    Comment by Daniel MT — April 14, 2011 @ 2:12 pm

  26. Thank you Mr Exclamation Mark, that was superb.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 14, 2011 @ 2:33 pm

  27. but so far as I know there’s no consumer technology available that lets you do that – ie pick a show from a vast library and download/stream it at will, or at least, none that lets you do this legally and pay a fee.

    Not in New Zealand, but the USA has Netflix Instant that lets you do exactly that (stream, not download).

    Comment by derp de derp — April 14, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  28. I gave up waiting for the space 1999 reruns so got it on dvd. I am the only person i know with a tivo.

    Comment by insider — April 14, 2011 @ 3:12 pm

  29. “I am the only person i know”

    Could be this thread’s “This is bad for Phil Goff”.

    Comment by TerryB — April 14, 2011 @ 3:30 pm

  30. Breaking Bad is *stunning*. The last two episodes of S3 are just jawdroppingly good.

    Apple TV with a US iTunes store account is the easiest way to watch TV shows in the manner you describe. Most common shows hit iTunes at the same time or within a few hours of the episode airing in the US.

    Example: http://i.imgur.com/P3bWl.jpg

    Comment by kris_b — April 14, 2011 @ 4:40 pm

  31. “I am the only person i know”

    I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.

    For a while, I was the only person I knew who liked Lost.

    Comment by Clunking Fist — April 14, 2011 @ 7:05 pm

  32. Does anyone else remember the anticipation of watching Twin Peaks episode-by-episode when it first came out?
    There was only one spoiler available, but it was a pretty big one.

    Comment by brunswick — April 15, 2011 @ 2:18 am

  33. So is there any word on when Season 3 of Breaking Bad might air on TV here in New Zealand? :)

    Comment by Lana — April 20, 2011 @ 9:30 am


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