I don’t watch telly any more. I’m not saying this to try and claim some sort of puritanical one-upmanship or intellectual kudos. And I am not a member of the White Dot Society, worthy though I find their cause. I don’t watch telly any more because there is no need. There is no need to suffer ad breaks. There is no need to be told when you can watch something and when you can’t. There is no need to be limited to the number of episodes of a programme you can watch. Television is dead. Long live the DVD.
Like other habits - alcohol, cocaine, football violence – the DVD bug snuck up on me, made me feel really good, and now has me in its grasp. Unlike alcohol, cocaine or football violence, there are no negative side effects. Unless wearing people out with skits about The Wire or Entourage or Breaking Bad is negative. And the pros are endless.
I dislike all advertising. I understand why it is there, and I understand that a lot of stuff I love wouldn’t get made if advertising didn’t exist, but I still hate it. I hate the way it creeps over everything good and makes it feel shit. I hate the way advertising people see the world. I hate funny advertising and I hate cool advertising. Most of all I dislike the way adverts break up a good story, how they interrupt your thoughts and force their jingles and images into your mind. And with DVDs I never have to watch another pretentious Guinness advert again in my life. That thought alone replicates the high I used to get sneaking into the home end at away matches.
Like any addiction, I want more and more DVDs. My first taste of a multi-episode crack-binge (outside movie DVDs) was The Wire. I’d seen some episodes on traditional TV but kept missing bits, so decided to hold out and gorge. And hold out I did until the whole thing was out in box set. Then my wife and I worked our way through all five series in two weeks. It was great: narrative greed satisfied. It was around this time I also felt that ordinary TV was making me depressed just by switching on the set. So I turned it off and started buying DVD. Big time.
"Like other habits - alcohol, cocaine, football violence – the DVD bug snuck up on me, made me feel really good. Unlike alcohol, cocaine or football violence, there are no negative side effects."
The Wire was followed by The Shield: very good if slightly daft by Series Five. Then we jumped into Curb Your Enthusiasm. This was all good. We started looking into shows we had missed and quickly built up a list of 50 series we could work our way through. And while we were watching Entourage or Dexter or The World at War or Mad Men other great shows would be getting made to replace our stash: Boardwalk Empire was filming as we enjoyed classic 1970s British gangster drama Out! A never-ending stream of good shit, waiting to be shipped to us in little boxes.
Now we greedily watch whatever we want when we want as quickly as we want and as many times as we want. Family Guy led to Six Feet Under, which made us give Californication a whirl. A stack of box sets sits on a shelf, waiting: Larry Sanders, Little Rascals, John from Cincinnati. We’ve pigged out on second helpings of The Day Today, The IT Crowd and The League of Gentlemen. We’ve seen things we missed first time round in Our Friends in The North and Seinfeld and Peep Show. We’ve cried for a second time when Bobby died in NYPD Blue. And we haven’t even started on classic documentaries series. There is no time for reality TV or soap operas and never will be ever again.
So I won’t go back to telly. I love telly for making the shows I will eventually watch as and when I want to watch them. But I love DVD for turning great television shows into movie-length slices of pure, uninterrupted satisfaction and stopping me from weekly watching another series of Big Brother or The Apprentice.
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