What I’m Watching This Fall 2016

After a one year absence I’ll once again post the TV shows I’ll be watching as the new fall season starts. This list is really just the stuff that’s scheduled to be DVR’d in our front room. Trish and I have other shows we DVR in the back room, but those have either not started yet are on a rotating schedule with other stuff.

The times I mention are Eastern time, so if you don’t live in the Boston/New York time zone you’ll need to check your listings for starting times in your area. With that said…

On Monday’s it’s just Scorpion at 10pm on CBS. I have tabbed this show “What else can go wrong?” as the entire run of episodes follows the same exact formula of bigger hurdles following smaller hurdles until one of the characters, usually Walter O’Brien (played by Elyes Gabel), comes up with an implausible solution that always saves the day. Trish and I watch it for the pure silliness of it.

Tuesday is the only program I try to watch as it airs, NCIS. Been watching it since it spun off from JAG and it’s easily my favorite show. Its 8pm start begins three hours of CBS programming we watch. At 9pm is the new show Bull, staring NCIS alum Michael Weatherly. We saw the premier episode last week and the first half wasn’t really that good, but the second half looks like it might be a tone setter for the series.

At 10pm it’s Trish’s favorite show, NCIS: New Orleans. We were surprised to see Zoe McLellan was not returning to the series, but that doesn’t seem to have done much to hurt the story line so far. They’re using the standard “antagonist joins the cast and will eventually join the team” plot, but it does fit the current story like and they probably didn’t have much choice. Also at 10PM it’s Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. Trish and I used to “binge watch” these, but with so many friends talking about episodes after they air we’re going to try to watch them soon after they’re on.

Wednesday it’s Blindspot at 8pn on NBC. It wasn’t what we expected to see when we started watching last fall, but it’s a very well written show and we’re both hooked. We’ve usually liked the shows Marianne Jean-Baptiste (who plays Bethany Mayfair) was on and were surprised at her character arc. Trying to avoid spoilers here, so I’ll just say we’ll keep watching. At 10pm on ABC is new show Designated Survivor staring Kiefer Sutherland as the “designated survivor”, who assumes the presidency after an attack kills the entire line of succession in front of him.

Thursday is just The Blacklist at 10pm on NBC. James Spader is incredible in this series, and while the plot is a bit over the top it is truly “edge of your seat” TV. It’s one of the best shows on TV now, and has a spin off coming called The Blacklist: Redemption. That will be an instant addition to the DVR list.

We originally didn’t have anything on the DVR for Friday, but at the last minute I added MacGyver. No idea if we’ll actually watch it or not.

There’s nothing on Saturday we’re DVR’ing, and on Sunday we’ve got two post-NFL shows on CBS schedule to record. NCIS: Los Angeles moves from Monday nights to Sunday with a scheduled 8pm start, which is usually the kiss of death for a TV show. The series started as a top-10 show on Tuesdays, then in season six moved it to Mondays, and now in season eight it’s Sunday. Next stop is cancelation, which is too bad because it’s a very good show.

Also on Sunday is one of the best written shows on TV, Elementary. It’s another show that looks like it’s not going to survive on Sunday as the ratings plummeted when it was moved there from Thursdays mid-season last year. Jonny Lee Miller (Holmes) and Lucy Liu (Watson) are great in their roles and truly believable in the modern setting for Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s character Sherlock Holmes. The show might actually be too smart for network TV.

Spoiler Alert: Some People Never Learn

A couple of years ago I blogged about spoilers, and while it was specifically about a TV show it really is about anything in this digital age. And now with the Olympics winding down the issue of “spoilers” has once again rearing its ugly head. I simply don’t understand how people can’t figure out this one easy rule to follow:

If you don’t want to know about an event (TV, sports, book, whatever) don’t go to websites where that event will likely be discussed.

It truly is that easy. You don’t want to know the results of a sporting event that was streamed live but will be shown on TV later, don’t visit ESPN, Yahoo, Facebook, Twitter, or any of those types of places because the information as to who won will likely be found there. You don’t want to know about a movie, going to websites that review and talk about movies seems like a place you should avoid.

I don’t get the arrogance of people who get angry when they go on social media or forums and find out things they didn’t want to know about. How about you show some willpower and don’t go to those sites. It’s different if you stumble into that information in a place where it probably shouldn’t have been, like someone you follow on Twitter that never talks about sports suddenly starts tweeting results. But to actively go to sites that talk about the very thing you’re trying to avoid is stupidity to the Nth degree.

You have a responsibility to avoid information that will spoil the enjoyment of watching an event, movie, or TV show. People don’t have any responsibility to avoid discussing those things, especially in places where discussions of those topics is what usually takes place. It’s one of the reasons I don’t follow on Twitter or “like” on Facebook many TV shows; they talk about those shows seconds after the episodes air. I tend to DVR stuff, so I need to avoid the places that talk about those shows until I get around to watching them.

Spoiler Alert: It’s so easy to do I never have an issue.

Apparently I’m a “binge-watcher”

I was having a discussion the other day about my TV viewing habits, and it seems that the cool kids are calling how I do it “binge-watching”. It must be a thing because it has its own Wikipedia page. According to Wiki binge-watching is defined by most as “watching between 2-6 episodes of the same TV show in one sitting”. I’ve been doing this for years, so I find it funny that it’s supposed to be some sort of new thing because of “on demand” streaming services.

In days of yore when VCRs were the in thing I often recorded shows and then watched them in groups of two or three as my schedule allowed. In most cases you could only get six hour long shows on a tape so being careful that I didn’t miss anything I’d make sure I watched them after the fifth one. Most of those shows I recorded were on opposite of another show I was watching so it was easy to have only one program for each tape. So that, apparently, was the beginning of my binge-watching.

To me binge-watching should be way more than just watching a couple of episodes at a time. You get into the four or five neighborhood in one sitting and that’s really binge-watching. It looks like the cool kids set the bar low so they could be part of the group. After all, who wants to be on the outside looking in on something so trendy?

The first time I remember watching more than that four or five episodes at a time was years ago while The West Wing was on the air. I had missed the first few seasons and was catching reruns on Bravo. The problem was they weren’t showing them in order so I was missing a lot of stuff continuity-wise. After watching what was the first couple of episodes of season two (only I didn’t know at the time where they fit into the continuity) I was very confused because they using flashbacks and I had no idea if that was new material they were showing looking back or inserting old footage to remind viewers of what came before.

I mentioned this at work and long time friend Peter–who also worked with my father for years at Thom McAn–said he had the first season on DVD and would lend it to me. He brought it in on a Friday and I took it home to watch when I got the chance. An early morning thunderstorm woke me up on Saturday and when I couldn’t fall back to sleep I went out to the living room to watch a couple of episodes. I was so hooked I watched 12 that first day, stopping only because my wife and I had dinner plans that evening. On Sunday were the last 10 of the first season. The look on Peter’s face when I brought the DVD back and started talking about the episodes was incredible. I wish I’d taken a picture.

I eventually went out and bought all the season, and every other summer still watch them all. The 154 episodes in a handful of days is the absolute definition of binge-watching.

My wife and now regularly watch TV shows on our DVRs like this. There are a couple shows I watch as they air but for the most part I DVR everything (mostly so I can zap the commercials) and we watch them in groups of two or three. The last show I truly binge-watched was the first season of House of Cards, watching all 13 episodes over a two day period. I haven’t watched season two yet because my wife never saw season one and I think she’d like it. We’ll fix that soon.

Looking at it in a broader perspective watching TV shows in batches is also how I like to read books. When I start an older series I usually run through them non-stop until I hit the latest released book. I just seem to get more out of them doing it that way. I’ll bet good money I’m not the only one doing it that way.

Can “binge-reading” be far behind?

Some random book thoughts for September 2014

Just like my August posting I still have no idea what I’m going to cover in my “random book thoughts”. So we will once again just start typing and see what we come up with.

I bought a handful of books in August with Support and Defend, a Tom Clancy novel by Mark Greaney leading the list. I’ve already finished the book and will have a review up shortly. The others I grabbed were Blood Song by Anthony Ryan, Heirs of the Demon King: Uprising by Sarah Cawkwell, 12.21 by Dustin Thomason, and Mage’s Blood by David Hair. What’s funny about Mage’s Blood is even after noticing the $9.99 price tag I still grabbed it with little thought and yet I still hesitate to buy $8.99 mass market paperbacks. A switch in my buying habits? I guess we’ll see soon.

For the first time in a long while I’m reading books at a pace that’s faster than I’m buying them, even adding that I’m (generally) reviewing each book individually instead of using these “random thoughts” posts. With hockey season about to start I suspect my pace will start to slow, but I do have some books I anticipate as being great reads near the top of my “to read” pile so even with the available time to read being less I should still be ahead of my buying pace. I have managed to clear off one shelf of what was originally my “overflow” bookcase. The original plan was to use that bookcase for other things but my paperbacks took it over. Despite clearing a shelf off I suspect it will begin to fill up again before too long. It always does…

A look at September’s upcoming science fiction/fantasy books shows many interesting hardcovers coming out but not a lot of paperbacks I’m looking for. So the hardcovers head to the “waiting for paperback” list (I don’t really have one, it’s more a mental thing) and it could be another month of looking at some older stuff I didn’t notice the first time around. I still don’t have a good source of upcoming thrillers and mysteries so I catch them as I see them on the rack.

My wife is looking for a couple of books that are trade paperback only, so an Amazon order is likely in the works. When that happens I too have a few trades I’m wanting, so it will a good sized order. It’s funny, back before we bought our house we lived in a neighborhood where I was hesitant to have stuff shipped to our apartment but now that we live in suburbia I figured we’d have tons of stuff ordered online and shipped here. So far, the pace is about the same. Go figure. Old habits are hard to break.

At some point soon we’ll also be heading to a local used book store. My wife wants to reread a couple things she read years ago and paying full price for a book she’s already bought, read, and donated to charity seems like a waste. I usually refrain from buying stuff from second hand shops because the author doesn’t get paid for that sale. Seeing as we already bought it once and my wife continues to buy new stuff from the author I guess it’s OK under those circumstances.

For those wondering my “to read” shelf, and it’s really several book cases, is at 205 books. And that’s down from over 230 at one point earlier this year. Yes, I’m addicted to books.

September also means the new TV season starts, and that too will cut into my reading time. I just yesterday finally watched the remaining programs on my living room DVR, so except for a couple of one-shot things I recorded that’s all set for the fall TV season. My bedroom DVR is full of summer programming that my wife and I will slowly get to over the next few months as time allows. As I usually do, I’ll have a blog post up soon about the shows I’ll be DVRing over the winter.

So once again with no planning I’ve come up with a decent “random thoughts” posting. We’ll find out next month if I can make it three in a row. Until next time…