Tuesday, April 17, 2007

5000 hours of television I don’t regret watching

Not counting the occasional movie, I spend about one hour a day watching television, usually choosing one program on “live” TV or on a DVD. Assuming that average has held over my entire lifetime (I know I watched more than that as a kid, but I also watched less when I was a young adult, excluding the time spent in bars with TVs on), that’s about 15,000 hours of television from the time I had enough of a vocabulary to understand I Love Lucy. I’ll guess that a third of that time was spent on news programs, talk shows, and awards shows and other specials, though that share has dwindled down to almost nothing. Getting any kind of information from television is horribly inefficient compared with the Internet, newspapers, books, and even radio. And since I spend most of my working day reading, researching, and talking about current events (and much of my nights and weekends reading nonfiction), I have no appetite for CNN or the History Channel. My guess is another third of my TV-watching time has been devoted to entertainment programs that don’t really satisfy. Some are series that I’ll sample once, or even a dozen times, before concluding they’re not worth following. Others are shows that are past their peak but I’ve gotten in the habit of watching. And there are times when I’ll watch something out of politeness to people I’m spending time with, especially since I’ve undoubtedly inflicted my TV preferences on many people over the years. What’s left is listed here, in more or less chronological order of original airdates: 5,000 hours, including commercials, of fictional television that I don’t consider a waste of time. I’m going to offer reasons for each of the series on the list, but I’ll take expressions of disbelief over the choices at any time.

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