It’s worrying that I’ve turned into the sort of old person I took the piss out of when I was a kid. I am of the time that discovered video games through the likes of the Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum (Speccy rules!), who was amazed when my dad bought our first video recorder, and who remembers the first day that Britain went from three TV channels to four.
I’m used to waiting a week to see the next episode of whatever I’m into, and have always been happy to have it that way. This isn’t always the case, like when I only discovered ‘Breaking Bad’ some years after everyone else. I binge watched the hell out of it, catching up with the rest of the human race half way through the final series, at which point I joined them in waiting for each episode to arrive. Even though I’d watched the rest at a faster pace, the sudden slow down didn’t worry me – I actually enjoyed the suspense of the wait.
Similarly, I have been on tenterhooks during each of the three seasons of the excellent ‘Banshee’, through the entirety of ‘Spartacus’ and am ready once more for the next season of ‘Game Of Thrones’. The thing is, the first four episodes of GOT have been leaked online, and the temptation to watch is horrible. Last year I caved when several episodes of the new season of ‘Doctor Who’ were leaked, and I eagerly devoured the black and white pre production episodes, loving the fact that in black and white it seemed like I was watching in the sixties. It didn’t spoil my enjoyment when I rewatched them on broadcast night in colour, so why am I debating the merits of Netflix releasing all thirteen episodes of their new ‘Daredevil’ series in one infodump?
At this point, I’ve watched three of those episodes, and am enjoying the series immensely. If I watch a couple a day for five more days I’ll have finished the entire series in one week instead of the usual thirteen, and that’s not accounting for U.S TVs silly breaks in transmission. Part of me likes the fact that I can choose my own pace, but a bigger part is annoyed that I will never have the discipline to watch one episode a week, as has already been demonstrated.
It’s like Halloween sweets, where sensible parents will take the haul and allow the kids certain amounts at a time, thereby making the treats last and avoiding puking children. There’s a reason they call it ‘binge watching’ you know. We are slowly turning into gluttons who want everything NOW, and will sulk if we don’t get it. If Netflix had rationed out the series one week at a time I would not enjoy it any less, and I genuinely think the wait would make me appreciate the previous episodes more, having had more time to digest whatever had happened in them. Now, though, I can (should I want) stay up all night and watch the lot, feeling sick instead of satisfied, feeling more ‘oh, is that it’ than ‘that was brilliant, can’t wait for the next series’.
Some feel this is a sign of the future, but I have to disagree, and not because I am a grumpy old fart who thinks Channel 4 was going a bit too far. I like the fact that comics come out at intervals, rather than just dumping the story on you in one go, and I love the fact that TV does the same. It encourages kids (and adults) to appreciate a routine, to appreciate that waiting for something can help you get more out of it. Whatever your own view, please savour any anticipation you currently get from anything at all, because in the future it might not exist.