I’ve never written about TV. Maybe it's time. My family was one of the first in our neck of the Arkansas woods to get color TV. We watched it a couple of hours each night. In those days, parents decided on the channel, though we only had three to choose from. We watched the news, which I didn’t get at that age, and Lawrence Welk, which I hated, and Grand Old Opry, which I didn’t like, and sometimes the Porter Wagner show, which I hated. A little later Hee Haw came out, and that I liked. It had pretty girls and I was beginning to notice girls. And sometimes we’d watch Bonanza or Gunsmoke, both of which I liked a lot. I remember when Star Trek came out. In the first season it was on at 7:00 and some serious begging earned me the chance to watch it. The next year it was on at 9:00 and that was past my bedtime. No more Trek for me, and I didn’t see the 2nd and 3rd seasons until years later in reruns. I never watched The Twilight Zone or The Outer Limits because those were deemed too scary for me.
By college, I had pretty much lost interest in TV. I’d watch Star Trek, and for a while got semi-hooked on Buck Rodgers. The only other shows I watched occasionally were the westerns, Big Valley and High Chaparral, and sometimes the detective series Mannix. I would catch episodes of things like Hart to Hart but didn’t watch them regularly. Unlike most of my friends, I never watched MASH, or WKRP in Cincinnati (although later I caught episodes of each in syndication.) I watched episodes here and there of some SF shows I really liked, such as The Invaders and Land of the Giants.
When Star Trek: The Next Generation came out, I made it a habit to watch it each week. That lasted most of a season. I just found it impossible to schedule time to devote to a weekly TV show. Plus, I often simply forgot a show was going to be on. Time and again I started watching a series and failed three to four episodes in. It happened with Space Above and Beyond, with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek Voyager, Star Trek Enterprise, Stargate SG1, and, more recently, the new Battlestar Galactica. Just this last month I decided I was going to watch Fringe. I managed two episodes and got bored.
The only TV shows I’ve seen every episode of are the original Star Trek, Star Trek: TNG, Frazier, and Nip/Tuck. In all cases I saw far more episodes during syndication (or rebroadcast) than when it first aired.
I guess, in part, I just don’t get what is so interesting about TV. I can read for hours, write for hours, play a video game for hours. But ten or fifteen minutes into most TV shows and I’m clicking channels. And this has gotten much worse as TV shows have introduced ambitious multi-year arcs. I don’t even try to watch shows like Lost, for example, because I know I’m never going to keep up.
Do I have a point? Not really. I like the characters on some shows and there are often interesting story lines and special effects. But most of the time they seem like more trouble than they're worth, or they interfere with a dozen other things I’d rather do. So what is it about particular TV shows that hooks you as a viewer? I’d like to know.