Question of the week: do you like to binge?

Yes, ‘Question of the week’ is back… on a Thursday. Odd, hey? Well, in case you haven’t noticed, I am odd, so that would explain it.

To be fair, I did say I was going to discuss this on Monday. I just forgot, that’s all.

One of the current challenges of keeping up with all the latest TV is the arrival of binge watching. Obviously, back in the day, no one could binge watch. TV was transmitted and you waited for the repeats before you could watch a programme again. If you were lucky, there were repeats, anyway, but you weren’t always that lucky.

Then video recorders came out and you could record entire series off the TV if you wanted. If you could work out how to program the video. And remembered to set it to record two minutes before an episode started in case it began early or your clock was wrong. And remembered to add 20 minutes afterwards in case the sport overran and your programme started late.

Then TV companies started to release all the episodes of a TV series on video once they’d been broadcast. The boxset had been born.

Then videos became DVDs. Then iTunes releases.

And then TV itself went on the Internet and suddenly you didn’t have to wait for a weekly broadcast slot – the TV could be released whenever the ‘broadcaster’ wanted to, to your set-top box, your computer, your phone or your watch. Broadcasters started putting pilot episodes of TV shows on the Internet before transmission, hoping to drum up interest for the broadcast. Sometimes they’d put the pilot episode on TV and release the rest on the Internet immediately afterwards. Sometimes they’d put the whole show on the Internet in one go, too, hoping word would spread and attract actual viewers, particularly if they’re a small broadcaster.

And then the likes of Netflix came along who only worked on the Internet and decided they were going to release TV shows whenever they wanted and entire seasons at a time, because people would watch the whole show in one go over a weekend.

Now, Netflix is pretty sure it’s onto something, although occasionally, particularly outside the US, it goes with a weekly release. And it’s model that others are emulating, too. Amazon Prime does the same and now Crackle’s joined in, too.

Which is all well and good. Some people like to binge. And my first question to you is: do you? Do you prefer to have all the episodes in one go so you can watch at your own pace, or do you prefer the discipline of watching a TV series episode by episode, week by week?

But in the past month, we’ve had at a bare minimum – this isn’t an exhaustive list – the release of entire seasons of Master of None and Jessica Jones on Netflix; The Man In the High Castle, Flesh and Bone, Transparent and Mozart In the Jungle on Amazon Prime; South of Hell on WE tv; and The Art of More on Crackle. 

Which is a lot. Now there’s probably a few people with the time to watch all of those and, of course, there aren’t that many people who are going to want to watch all of those shows – I can’t imagine many of the people watching alternative reality period sci-fi Nazi drama The Man in the High Castle are alternating it with seedy ballet dancing drama Flesh and Bone.

All the same, here’s my second question to you: are there now too many new shows to binge watch? Are you finding it hard keeping up? Would even prefer it if there were fewer new shows?

As always, leave your answers below or on your own blog with a link

  • benjitek

    My preference is not to have a story limited to me with 1 episode per week chunks, I'd rather watch as much of it as I want when I want, with no mandatory waiting period between episodes. With all the streaming services available, that's a choice often enough to make the times when it isn't fairly insignificant. Not caring whether the media requires reading subtitles makes the choices pretty much limitless.

  • tassiekev .

    I'm a binger (?). My first binging (?) experience was around 35 years ago with Alec Guiness in Tinker…. My (now ex-) wife was at night school learning how to turn high-quality produce into a chalky, salt tasting substance and I was left looking after our 4 daughters. There were many interruptions but I was lucky enough to be able to afford a VHS recorder and used it to record the series. Fortunately for me, I was self-employed and able to watch when it suited – usually after the the billy-lids were in bed. Being self-employed meant working long hours and recording TV shows to watch later became a way of life which has stayed with me into old age.

    I much prefer to have a complete series to hand, now I have all the time I need to watch TV, I can binge watch if I want – Narcos was the last one I really enjoyed, High Castle was reasonably good, Flesh & Blood of no interest. I can't get into Badlands at all but I'm looking forward to Ripper Street, Sherlock & Luther among others.

    No, I don't think there are too many shows – choice is good as long as the quality is there. My standards aren't that high – I just want to be entertained without thinking too much. There is plenty of rubbish to be seen, but that's also subjective as I know people who like things I wouldn't dream of watching and vice versa.
    I think you should have a competition to come up with a suitable name for someone who binge watches!!

  • Mark Carroll

    I do have a bit of a waiting list at the moment. I hope that the rate of good shows coming out slows down again. I suppose it will.

    If I had more of a leisurely life I'd probably binge-watch. As it is, I haven't even finished the first season of Jessica Jones or even started Master of None, and that's even with pushing things like season three of The Bridge off to the new year. It's only tonight that we managed to finish the first season of The Man in the High Castle. Though, this is trying to fit television in among dinner and other family stuff in between work and sleep. I fried some duck eggs tonight, they were nice.

    Given the opportunity, I'll binge-watch if the end of an episode really makes me want to watch the next. Early Dexter had me do that. More recently, Game of Thrones, until I'd caught up with broadcast. What I do hate though is a season finale cliffhanger, I'll be lucky to even remember what's going on several months later.

    Lately, nightly is working well for me. We haven't been watching more than two episodes of, say, The Man in the High Castle, or Jessica Jones, in any one evening. I suppose with Terminator: TSCC sometimes too, maybe a House, that's already plenty of hours. There have been good shows but none of the current ones in my schedule make me really want to watch the next right away.

    I haven't generally known what night things were on for many years, even with live television I'm happy to let TiVo or whatever pick them up, and then at some point I notice they've appeared. Off-hand right now I can say only that Doctor Who's on Saturdays.

    There's not too much good new television if I can postpone some of it, which I generally can. I do like when I can get subtitling too, though, which at least services like Netflix offer. We're thinking of giving up Hulu Plus, though, so we clearly now have adequately much available.

  • Andy Butcher

    I'm definitely partial to a good binge, but I find that not all shows are well-suited to it. There are some that I love on a weekly basis, but find it hard to watch more than two or three in a row. Similarly, there are some shows that work great for binging, but aren't nearly so enjoyable as weeklies.

  • JustStark

    Depends on the programme. If it's something I am really looking forward to and interested in, and is of high quality, like The Americans, then I much prefer it to come out once per week as it means I get to anticipate the next instalment rather than just having my desire immediately gratified.

    On the other hand, if it's not so good, or I don't care as much, then having it all available means I can burn through it at a higher rate, and a duff episode isn't as bothering as I can just watch another one.

    This ties into the fact that if I am interested in a programme I will watch it as it's broadcast, whereas if I'm not that interested I will record it and only get around to watching it six months, or a year, or more after broadcast; for instance, at the moment I am recording The Last Kingdom and Fargo, without watching them, and I still have The Game, No Offence and at least one other sitting waiting to be watched when I get around to it.

  • Mark Carroll

    Communal: yes, I liked Babylon 5 from that point of view. There's social media chatter each week about Game of Thrones (is Jon Snow coming back?), The Walking Dead (did Glenn survive?), etc., but, not only do we have PVRs, but also that we have so many more “channels” these days, seems to reduce the likelihood that random people around the proverbial watercooler were also watching what we were last night. I was happy enough to find a fellow Archer watcher but then he moved to Vienna, lucky him.

  • 'Water Cooler' TV as it's known is all but gone. There was that spate BBC One had a few years of trying to bring it back by scheduling everything to run on consecutive days, forcing everyone to watch it live. But they've stopped doing that, probably because everyone couldn't keep up – who has the time to stay in every night of the week and watch TV at the same time each day any more?

  • JustStark

    'Water Cooler' TV as it's known is all but gone

    Yes, that's what I dislike. there was something excellent about everyone in the country waiting for the same thing at the same time; brought to mind those stories about people tossing copies of the latest chapters of a Dickens novel onto ships so people could find out what happened to Little Nell.

    There was that spate BBC One had a few years of trying to bring it back
    by scheduling everything to run on consecutive days, forcing everyone to
    watch it live

    A sterling effort, but rather missing the point, which is that everyone is waiting for the next episode. Stripping it over a week gets you the communal watching but, not the communal waiting.