Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Too much Law, too much Order

Seldom do I agree with, let alone read, an article in USA Today, but here's one. In this 2/24/05 article, critic Robert Bianco laments the addition of a fourth show to NBC's Law & Order franchise, and the fact that that particular week the network aired a whopping 12 hours of various L&O programming. (And that didn't include God knows how much more L&O popped up on the various cable networks.) That's a lot of Law & Order, granted, but why would that bother me?

It bothers me because I just started watching the damned show, and I'm obsessively/compulsively trying to get caught up on what I've been missing for the past decade or so. You see, I don't watch much television. Regular television, anyway. Yeah, I thumb through the channels a lot, and have no problem stopping on an interesting documentary on one of the higher-numbered channels or a good movie on TCM, but I really didn't have any "destination" shows that I had to watch -- short of The Daily Show and South Park, that is.

But then, a little over a year ago, I watched an episode of The West Wing. It was a season five episode, which means it wasn't all that good compared to those in earlier seasons, but I didn't know that, and I got hooked. And, being hooked, I had to catch up on the whole thing. Fortunately, Bravo is now all-West Wing, all the time (when they're not showing gay guys playing celebrity poker, that is), so I was to able to get up to speed relatively quickly. (The DVD sets helped, too.) I was only four 22-episode seasons out of date, in that instance.

So now I had a destination show I had to watch. No big deal. One show a week (not counting that Comedy Central stuff), easy enough to schedule things around -- and I had the hard disk recorder as backup, just in case. I could live with that.

Unfortunately, you watch one show, you get sucked into more. The more was an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, you know, the one with the autistic/savantish lead detective guy. Kind of liked it. Decided to watch again the next week. Liked it even more. So now I had a second destination show -- and another one to get caught up on.

The easiest way to catch up on past seasons, of course, is via cable -- USA or TNT or whatever. And, thanks to my hard disk recorder, I just punch in the name, scroll through the available showtimes, and start recording. Except that when I punched in "Law & Order," I didn't just get L&O: CI. No, I also got L&O: SUV and the original L&O, and then last week there's this new one, L&O: Trial by Jury. A couple of hours worth every day, enough to fill up my hard disk in a little over a week. That's just too much Law & Order for my tastes. Plus, it gets confusing; the original L&O apparently changed casts every few seasons, and the cable networks don't seem to run the shows in any set order, so you never know who's going to be onscreen when you tune in. It's all a bit mouch, and a huge demand on my time.

So I think I may have to drop L&O from my recording schedule, or just try to catch the newest shows, as much as that runs against my obsessive/compulsive nature. Or maybe I should just concentrate on L&O: CI, or maybe L&O: SUV, or maybe add the new one, too, since there's no catching up to do, or maybe...

Well, you see my problem. Life was a lot easier when I didn't watch much TV.

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