Home > Uncategorized > Choices, Choices: Filling My Own TV Viewing Schedule

Choices, Choices: Filling My Own TV Viewing Schedule

September 16th, 2007 | Derek Johnson

Over the past week, Jonathan has offered a great overview of all the new programs being offered by the broadcast networks. But for me, their appeal on their own isn’t as important as whether I have room for them amidst the shows I’m still watching from last season. So I thought I’d offer a complement to Jonathan’s review of the new network menu by sharing the selections I’ll personally be making. I’d encourage you to post your own here too.

To begin, there are a couple things I should explain about my television watching habits.


First and foremost, I’m a committed viewer. To a fault. Once I start watching a show regularly, it’s very rare that I give it up–not matter how bad it gets. Sometimes, I’ll decide to keep recording shows and never watch them because I’m really not that interested (Jericho, Heroes). But there’s very few occasions where I’ve actually watched the pilot, come back for the second episode, and then given it up (Star Trek: Enterprise being a major exception so painful that I had to walk away). The only explanation I can offer is that I fear the show will improve once I leave. So I’m committed. Or should be.

Second, my “choices” may come off as a little too “either/or” in a world of TiVo, DVD, and iTunes. Yes, I do know that there is the technology to watch one show and record another to watch later–I even have some of it in my house! But my view is that I watch so much TV that I actually like sticking to the network schedule; once I start falling behind, I never catch up. That, and my current lack of HD-recording capacity locks me into what may seem a quaint reliance on television when the networks schedule it if I want to view in HD. It’s this lack of a singular viewing time that also makes me a terrible cable series viewer–I know that the cable networks will rerun their stuff later in the week, so I often miss it because I don’t have a specific appointment.

So with all that in mind, you can still call me old fashioned, but my schedule might make more sense.

Monday

7 PM (CST, of course. Those of you on the coasts can do the math, for once): Gotta stay with Prison Break here. And this isn’t just out of obligation as a viewer from day one–I’m actually looking forward to this show’s second reinvention starting tomorrow. If you want a shark jumped, this series will definitely do it, but with style. If you watch for tight plotting, you’re going to be sorely disappointed, but if you watch it for individual lines of dialogue, I think this show fares much better. Just about every line that comes out of T-Bag’s mouth is gold as far as I’m concerned.

8 PM: This is a tough one. I usually like to give every Fox show I can a try, and I’m genuinely interested in K-Ville, but I’ve got a dilemma yet to sort out. I couldn’t get through the Heroes pilot last year, and every bit I’ve seen since then has rubbed me the wrong way (especially Mohinder’s voiceovers). However, with the coming addition of Kristen Bell to the Heroes cast, I may just be able to convince myself that Heroes wasn’t so intolerable after all. But it’s made ever more complicated by the fact that I’ll have to bail on either for 24‘s return in January. This fundamentally contradicts my desire for commitment!

9PM: Nothing for me last year, nothing for me this year either. Sounds like time for Homicide on DVD.

Tuesday

7PM: Pretty slim pickings here too. I’ve always been theoretically interested in Bones, but it’s always conflicted with something else I watch, and the episodes I recorded just sat on the hard drive. I suppose I may jump on now, but I don’t like being behind, so I might just get some work done for a change.

8PM: Who’s going to get the coveted spot in my heart schedule that once belonged to Kristen Bell? I like the episodes of House I’ve caught on cable, but I’d rather pick a new show than try to play catch up. Right now I’m leaning towards Reaper over Chuck. I usually like the Devil more than I like network executives’ ideas of geeky 20-somethings.

9PM: Returning to ABC once again for another season of Boston Legal. I’m a little concerned about the typical David E. Kelley decision to replace the entire supporting cast (especially the underused Rene Auberjonois, who at least sometimes provided a narrative obstacle for the amuck Spader and Shatner). Christian Clemenson promotion to series regular as Jerry “Hands” Espensen almost makes it worth it.

Wednesday

7PM: My desire to see something that actually looks potentially promising makes Pushing Daisies the obvious choice, but I predict that I won’t make it through the pilot. The controversy over Kid Nation does have its appeal, but I know I won’t get the Lord of the Flies series I really want. Maybe I should sit this spot out, especially given the very busy hour to follow:

8PM: This is the biggest conflict for me all week. My schedule is wide open, with no series from last year getting in the way, but the clear choice continues to elude me. While I have little love for Grey’s Anatomy, the spin-off status of Private Practice gives me academic interest in it, but the bad buzz surrounding the show doesn’t help me to take any personal pleasure in that. I’m most interested in Bionic Woman given it’s pedigree as a product of Battlestar Galactica producer David Eick, but without partner Ronald D. Moore, I’m skeptical that I’ll enjoy Bionic‘s reimagining in the same way. Then there’s Gossip Girl, with narration by Kristen Bell. I could listen to her read stereo instructions–and that might be enough for me to pass on Practice and Bionic.

9PM: Must keep this spot open for Lost. For two seasons now, Lost has been the prime example of a show that I didn’t really care for anymore but continued to watch out of commitment. Following last season’s truly excellent finale, it’s now the prime example of why I never give up once I start watching.

Thursday

Here’s the big exception to my stick-to-the-network-schedule mindset. Drinks with friends trumps HD. So The Office must be recorded, though I’ll probably add 30 Rock this year after I stumbled across a scene in which Tina Fey threatens “I’ll cut you open like a Taun-taun.” More like that, please

Friday-Saturday

There’s network TV on Friday? Seriously? Saturday too?

Sunday

7PM: The Simpsons is another exception: a show I stopped watching midway. That happened long before my current viewing habits started to form, but I’m certainly not going to restart now. Despite not caring for film musicals, television musicals fascinate me, so I’ll probably try Viva Laughlin! I’ll be disappointed that it’s not Wolverine: The Musical, but since the show won’t last more than a handful of episodes anyways, I don’t think my commitment fetish will cost me much here.

8PM/9PM: A couple of years ago, my habit of watching 2-3 hours of Fox Sunday television gave way to none. The trend continues this year, and I’m left with another opening to self-program.

Now you know what I’ll be watching, so you can watch along with me or share your own plans. To me, this seems like a lot of network television (about 10 hrs a week), and this won’t be all I watch–I’ll still be watching my DVDs and any number of shows on cable inside and outside of primetime. But I think the big picture shows that even if I was interested in the new network shows (and clearly, there’s none I’m truly excited about), I’m stilling watching too much other TV to fit them in.

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  1. September 17th, 2007 at 17:45 | #1

    Derek, I like how one of the familiar refrains here is your need to get work done — certainly, this is often the extra text in the room for me (And why, for instance, I couldn’t justify watching Prison Break anymore), and the penny dropped for the first time when I realized the productive potential of living in Central time, since you could still eek out a little bit of time between 10 and midnight

    As for your other refrain, the love of Kristen Bell, I hate to tell you, but in Gossip Girl, if she just read stereo instructions, as you say, this would be much better than what they have her doing.

    That said, my own pics at this point in time, with things I’ll flip back and forth to/from in parentheses:
    Monday – 8pm Chuck (Aliens in America), 9pm Heroes (K-Ville), 10pm Journeyman, CSI:Miami, or zilch
    Tuesday – 8pm meh, 9pm Reaper (House), 10pm Boston Legal
    Wednesday – 8pm Pushing Daisies (Kid Nation), 9pm meh, 10pm South Park
    Thursday – 8pm My Name is Earl/30 Rock, 9pm Office/Scrubs, 10pm meh
    Friday – when the networks put both Jennifer Love Hewitt’s Ghost Whisperer AND Nashville on in the same evening, it’s time for a general boycott of the evening
    Sunday – 8pm Simpsons

    …and maybe I’ll fill in the rest with Iron Chef reruns.

  2. justtv.wordpress.com
    September 19th, 2007 at 00:12 | #2

    It’s really interesting to read this and realize how immersed I am in TiVo-hood. I rarely think about when a show is on, and often let eps backlog on my TiVo for weeks before binging (e.g. I just watched the pilot of Damages). The only things I watch live are sports & Daily Show/Colbert, and Lost is the only show I insist on watching on the night of debut. Just shows how many different ways there are to watch TV…

  3. September 19th, 2007 at 10:57 | #3

    Thanks for the overview, Derek. It’s interesting these days that are so many ways to watch (live TV, DVRed TV, iTunes, network websites, BitTorrent, etc.). That said, there are still only 24 hours in the day, and much too much to do otherwise to catch it all.

    I divide my viewing into “work” and “pleasure.” The former is my research obligations, which these days includes CSI and Doctor Who (and its spin-offs), as well as loads of stuff for class prep (crime TV shows old and new, examples of global TV, etc.). I also feel a bit obligated to sample most of the new fall shows, though unlike you, I generally don’t feel obligated to follow many of them!

    “Pleasure” viewing is a rarity in my life, alas. With two small kids, we can only do anything remotely “down time” after they go to bed (around 8 pm). I haven’t had a weekend day DVD marathon in years, and won’t for years to come (unless it’s Thomas, Caillou, or my son’s latest obsession, Super Why). When you add in everything else that we have to do in that time (straightening up the kitchen, prepping the next day’s lunches, feeding the cats, catching up the checkbook, etc.), there’s not a lot of time for TV, or anything else.

    Still, there are a few shows that we both watch. Our viewing is concentrated on Thursday through Sunday nights, as my wife works Monday and Wednesday nights. Everything is via DVR; we almost never watch live TV, and only occasionally watch something the night it aired.

    Sunday: Nada. Squat. I like to get some work done on Sunday night, actually.

    Monday: I’ll probably take in NBC’s new “must-geek TV” lineup in its entirety, at least for a couple of weeks. My wife’s tired of Heroes, and not interested in either of the other shows, so it’s just me, provided I have time.

    Tuesday: This is the first Gilmore-less fall of the 21st century, so this is going to be weird at first. We’ll most likely watch Boston Legal on this night, together, and might just start watching this House, M.D. we’ve heard so much about.

    Wednesday: This is going to start out crowded, then probably thin out. We’ll check out Kid Nation and Pushing Daisies (eventually shifting one of them to another viewing option, if we still watch them both), and Bionic Woman and Life, at least initially. I doubt that all of these will be must-see in our home by November, though.

    Thursday: Still a big TV night. I’ll start watching Ugly Betty with my wife, then jump back into CSI (catching a season first-run for the first time in four years), and then leaving her to take in ER (which I can’t do). Back in the day, they would have called this a “trifecta”: hitting each of the Big Three.

    Friday: Netflix. Or something backlogged on the DVR (Jekyll and Torchwood beckon at the moment.

    Saturday: Netflix, some college football, or nada.

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