How TV Box-Sets Have Changed My Life

The development of technology has changed much about how we live our lives. Sometimes these are the big, useful changes like the use of computers in our working days, other changes are smaller and less enjoyable – the self-service checkout at the supermarket (it’s a bag in the bagging area – not an unexpected item). I know this makes me sound really old, but my life has changed immeasurably in the past couple of decades. When I was 10 for example, we always watched television programmes when they were on television. We might occasionally record something but generally if a programme was on at 9 o’clock on a Monday night you watched it at 9 o’clock on a Monday night. If there were cliff-hangers at the end of an episode it was too bad – you had to wait until the following week to find out what happened, and once a programme was finished that was it, you never saw it again.

Times have, most definitely, changed. Now I hardly ever watch a programme when it is shown. It gets recorded on the Virgin box and seen at a time that suits. I zap through the adverts quickly – a blessed relief during something like Downton Abbey which was utterly blighted by ads – and if it’s a particularly challenging show I can rewind and rewatch an important moment to make sure that I haven’t missed a crucial detail.

For all that though, the arrival of Virgin, Sky+ and Freeview hasn’t brought about the biggest change in my viewing habits. The explosion of DVD box-sets of complete TV series has utterly changed my life (a bit of an exaggeration perhaps, but not much). Now I no longer worry about missing an episode or waiting impatiently for the next episode after a particularly tense cliff-hanger. Or wonder what I’m missing when everyone is talking about the must-see series that is capturing the zeitgeist. If there’s a programme I’m addicted to and want to see over and over again then I’ll buy it and watch it over and over again. I can’t begin to count how many times I watched the first couple of episodes of The West Wing’s second series.

I’m also quite likely to buy TV box-sets blind. I’ll read about a programme that looks good and instead of cursing the fact that I’ve missed it I’ll pick up the DVD, particularly if it’s come down in price and is roughly the same cost as a movie. I did that with How I Met Your Mother and have now watched it more often than several of the films that I own.

The fact that the quality of TV has improved immeasurably over the past few years also helps. 24, for example, is more action packed and exciting than many of the blockbusters we’ve endured over the past couple of summers. Friends will be remembered and laughed at long after most rom-coms have died a sad little death and I’ll choose the romance between Buffy and Angel over the Twilight saga any day of the week.

There’s lots of discussion about why cinema audiences are declining. Price, lack of a decent experience in a soulless multiplex and bad movies are surely all a factor. But lets not rule out the fact that it’s easier and just as much fun nowadays, if not more, to stay at home and watch a well-made, well-acted drama or comedy that lasts 10 times as long as the average film.

What do you think? Have you changed your TV viewing habits in the past few years? Have TV box-sets replaced the cinema in your affections? Let me know in the comments and come back later for my pick of the box-sets available.

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  1. Have you tried Veronica Mars? I think you’d like it.

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