Whovian-In-Training

Series-1-970x545Several years ago, I tried to watch Doctor Who when it was on Netflix. I got about halfway through season 1 before losing interest. Since then, I’ve perfected my binge-watching skills, and I’m giving it another try.

I know the origin of the show goes back to 1963, but it appears the “modern era” episodes begin with the 9th Doctor, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston, in 2005, so that’s where I’m starting. (Plus, that’s what’s available on Amazon Prime.)

I’m not going into this blind. I have plenty of friends who are Whovians, and you can’t be part of social media without being exposed to a lot of elements of Doctor Who. I know about Daleks and Timelords, I know what the Tardis is, and that the Doctor regenerates. I know he travels through time and space, though he does appear to have a fondness for modern-day London.

As I’m writing this, I’m up to Episode 8 in that first season. I like it. I want to love it. 1900b675760e6cc1b802e8e0cff96cd1_400x400Maybe that will come.

I wonder if it’s like Supernatural. I often try to talk skeptics into watching this, but always have to warn them it doesn’t have a really strong start. The first season and into season 2 is more of an “urban legend of the week” show than the deep, complex world it becomes, with rich lore and wonderfully developed characters and complicated relationships.

My plan is to watch at least two full seasons. By then, if I’m not hooked, I’ll know it’s not happening. On the face of it, this show should be perfect for me. I eschew “real world” dramas. I like anything paranormal, supernatural, urban fantasy, or sci-fi/fantasy in nature. I also love things that have a lot of quirky humor, and Doctor Who definitely has that. There is a wildly devoted fandom of Whovians, conventions, merchandise…so there has to be something amazing there, if I can discover it.

I know there are things awaiting me that I’ve heard discussed for years now. Weeping angels. Christmas specials. Each new incarnation of the Doctor, including the upcoming 13th incarnation, which for the first time is a woman.

Help me out. Are you a Whovian? Why or why not? If you are, when did you start watching, and what keeps you devoted to this long-running series? Who is your favorite Doctor?

I really hope this works and I enter the ranks of the Whovians. If it does, I have a good 10+ seasons to watch, and there’s little I enjoy more than a good TV-binge. Then I’ll get all the inside jokes and can look with pity upon the unfortunates who have not yet discovered the wonder of the Doctor.

Whovians seem to be a lot like Trekkies in their absolute devotion and encyclopedic knowledge of their beloved shows–but more eccentric and unconventional. Anyone who knows me can tell you this should be a perfect fit for me.

Let The Games (and Spoilers) Begin

It seems the 2018 Winter Olympics are now underway. How much time will you spend watching?

olympics

I used to be an enthusiastic Olympics-watcher. You’d think all the technology and TV networks would make it easier to watch the events, but I find it much harder.

When I was a kid in the 1970s, it was all pretty simple. The host network might air a few of the less-popular competitions in the afternoon or late at night, but if  you weren’t home during the day or willing to stay up until three a.m., you were shit out of luck because this was in the prehistoric, pre-VCR days.

All the most-anticipated events aired during prime time every evening, and the whole family watched together. This was also before the internet and social media, so you didn’t have to worry about avoiding spoilers. The evening news, if something earth-shattering had happened during the day, would always helpfully warn you to look away or turn down the volume before revealing any spoilery details. Time zones? Forget it. The Olympics happened from 7-11 p.m., regardless.

In the 1980s, when I was a young at-home mom, I watched a lot of Olympic coverage. Cable was by then a thing, and the host’s partner networks let me watch more than ever, and I sort of cared. I actually had a childhood friend, Amy Gamble, compete in the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul, and everyone made a point to follow the hometown girl. I also edited her book last year, and you should absolutely check it out! Bipolar Disorder, My Greatest Competitor: An Olympian’s Journey With Mental Illness is incredible.

Now, though, it’s almost like there are so many viewing options I can’t even start. No matter the time of day, there’s something being broadcast on the host network, or one of the other networks they own. News, events, recaps, specials, retrospectives…who has that kind of time?

It’s different than having a favorite sports team or race car driver. You follow them every season, year after year, and have a lot of emotional energy invested in their performance. The Olympics, however, are made up of 99% people I’ve never heard of, or athletes I literally haven’t given a single thought in the past four years. Other than national pride–which is getting harder and harder to manufacture these days–the emotional investment isn’t there.

I haven’t watched any of these sports since the previous Games. I only vaguely recall the rules or how they’re scored, other than they all seem to involve either “go fast,” “don’t fall down,” or some combination of the two. I don’t know if the guy from Transylbergerstan hates the other guy from Blombodia because he beat him out by one point or 0.00001 second in the last big ski thing.

Thanks to social media, there’s no way to avoid pesky spoilers unless you totally unplug and vigilantly monitor every flip of the channel (or simply watch nothing but Netflix) so you don’t accidentally give away the outcome of the event you planned to watch later. Which, for most of us, is not an option.

I guess I can appreciate the edge-of-control thrill of luge, skeleton, downhill skiing, or bobsledding. Ice skating can be entertaining. Overall, though, I prefer the summer Olympics. Gymnastics has been a favorite event for me since Olga Korbut in 1972, though I wonder if I’ll feel the same for the 2020 Summer Olympics, or if knowing now what so many of those girls have gone through will taint the experience. Maybe it will make their strength and determination even more impressive.

soviet-gymnast-olga-korbut-in-action-on-the-uneven-bars-at-the-summer-olympics-1972

Every little girl wanted to fly like this. I used to spend hours performing “floor routines” in the front yard, and was even briefly on the Y gymnastics team…but I quit before the first competition because team sports are so not my thing.

I sincerely admire the monumental accomplishment each athlete achieved by becoming an Olympian. That’s a dream far beyond what most of us could ever imagine. I wish them all well, and for thrilling competitions, but the tension and conflict are a bit overwhelming for me.

You’ll find me here in my usual spot in the evenings, watching The Vampire Diaries on Netflix.

The Joys of Sofa-Slug Marathons

Prior to 2010, I didn’t watch a lot of television. But then I started working at home, and that Christmas our son and daughter-in-law gave us a Roku and subscription to Netflix, and I discovered what I’d been missing.

netflix

I’d always said I didn’t have the attention span to deal with hour-long programs, especially after a day at work dealing with Others, opting instead for a few favorite sitcoms. But it was becoming harder and harder to identify the “comedy” part in newer shows, and I was bored. There were so many shows others had been watching for years, and while I was late to the party, I now had the time and technology to catch up. And because I never do anything in moderation, I learned to binge-watch before binge-watching was even a thing.

I caught up on Grey’s Anatomy, Firefly, Buffy, Angel, House, Lost, Supernatural, Mad Men…all the things I’d avoided before.

For a long time, I tried to get Tom interested in what I was watching, but it eventually became clear we don’t like the same things. At all. Sure, there are a few series we watch together. We’ve watched things like The Blacklist, The Following, Revenge, Ozark, Animal Kingdom, The Last Ship, and the perennial favorite, The Big Bang Theory.

If you consider the shows I just mentioned, you’ll notice they have one thing in common. They’re all real-world scenarios, with nary a vampire, werewolf, or demon to be found.

What do I watch? I’d estimate 90% of my viewing choices involve something paranormal, supernatural, or fantasy-related. Supernatural, Buffy, The Vampire Diaries, The Originals, The Magicians, Travelers, Wynonna Earp, iZombie, The Walking Dead, Z Nation, Glitch, The Shannara Chronicles, The 100, Game of Thrones, Lost Girl, Bitten… See what I mean? One recent exception is Stranger Things, which I did get Tom to watch. Oh, also The Walking Dead, and I have no idea why this merits an exception in his mind, but he likes it enough that we went to Walker Stalker Con in Atlanta in 2016 and had a blast.

JDM cropped 2

So many popular shows depict war, gruesome crimes, corrupt politicians, terrorism, corporate greed, broken families, and other distressing things. Yeah, I get enough of that on the evening news.

But take these things and put them in an alternate reality, either in a future time, on another planet or dimension, or in a version of our world where skinwalkers, vampires, demons, or magic exist, and I can deal with it. My brain understands that this isn’t reality, and I can enjoy the chaos without the stress.

I’ve never watched any of those CSI or Law & Order shows. And I have a very firm “no reality TV, for any reason, ever, don’t even go there” policy. There’s enough conflict in real life, and I don’t need to add on idiots manufacturing drama for the sake of their fifteen minutes of fame to the mix.

As a result, Tom and I watch very little TV together. Plus, he’s a football fan, and that takes up most of his viewing time about eight months out of the year–or at least that’s how long I think football season is. Maybe it’s nine.

Unless it’s football, Tom is a terrible binge-watcher. I, however, could easily sweep the medals in the Binge-Watching Olympics. If there’s a marathon being broadcast, I’m in. With Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, I can (and do) make my own marathons. Once I hit my daily editing goal for work, I can get serious and break out the yarn and current binge-in-progress.

I wish my TiVo would try a little harder, though. It’s like it doesn’t know me at all. After a mere three or four hours, a window pops up and asks something ridiculous like, “Are you still there?” Same for Netflix, if I let it automatically run through several episodes of a series. “Are you still watching?”

flix

Look, if I wanted you to stop doing what you’re doing, I would’ve said so. If I want you to do something else, I’ll let you know. Stop asking. Stop judging! I realize I’ve watched eleven consecutive episodes of Buffy. That’s the whole reason you exist, streaming video, so stop trying to shame me into cleaning the kitchen. I know what you’re up to. Now, please get back to work. Spike is going to kiss Buffy, and time’s a-wastin’.

Also, we leave the television on for the dogs on the rare occasions I leave the house. If we’re out for an evening, TiVo times out after about four hours, leaving the Direwolves able to hear every sound in the neighborhood, increasing the chances of reactive bark-attacks and possible window damage.

Seriously, streaming video was made for someone like me with my obsessive tendencies and sincere desire not to go anywhere in search of entertainment. For someone who swore she didn’t have the patience to watch an hour-long program, I sure turned out to be very, very wrong.