Sometime in early September, as the networks ramped up their endless promotions of the new TV season, I found myself experiencing a new sensation regarding TV — the feeling of dread. I wasn't dreading the new shows per se, and I looked forward to the return of old favorites, but when, oh God, when am I supposed to watch them all?
Lately my television viewing has been transformed by any number of factors: the ease with which my DVR records entire seasons of TV at the push of a button; the advent of interesting TV series on cable stations; the knowledge that no matter what I'm watching, I'm likely missing whatever will be the topic of water cooler discussion tomorrow at work; the new Lost/24/Desperate Housewives-inspired trend of serialized cliffhanger shows; the fact that I can go away for a week and return to find my DVR stacked with 80 hours of TV which now, suddenly, rather than being fun entertainment, is more shit I need to catch up on or be lost for the rest of the season. It's all a bit overwhelming, actually.
This feeling was only intensified when I received new TV season themed issue of Entertainment Weekly which kindly included a handy calendar grid showing a person exactly what to watch and what to record to watch later. I watch a lot of TV. I really do. But I don't know that I have four hours a night to devote to never missing anything. There are dishes to be washed and yoga classes to take. I'd like to think that television complements my life, rather than supplants it. I know, crazy talk. What am I becoming? One of those "my TV only gets PBS" wackos?
(Didn't watch Ken Burns' The War, by the way. Miss South Carolina told me how it ends, with the US, Japan, and Germany kicking commie Russian and Chinese a**, and Ronald Reagan tearing down the Berlin Wall with his bare hands after George Bush drove tanks through Tiananmen Square.)
So it was with trepidation that I approached the new offerings. My new viewing rota had to include room for my old favorites — namely, How I Met Your Mother and Ugly Betty, with occasional visits to NCIS, CSI:NY and Chris Noth episodes of L&O:CI. Although I'm not against serial dramas on principle, I was wary to include anything in the lineup that would crash my house of cards if I missed a single episode. I continue my general ban on reality television that doesn't star Tim Gunn, or prime time game shows. (Yes, I am smarter than a fifth grader. No, I don't wish to dance with any former cast members of Saved By The Bell.) For a show to be added to my permanent roster, it must have decent entertainment value, which can be determined by a simple formula: