For most of my life I’ve claimed I’m not someone who gets bored. I have too many interests to ever be bored in the usual sense, and there is always new territory to explore. I love trying new restaurants, new authors, and new TV shows.
The Yin to that Yang are the beloved favorites I visit again and again. There are eateries I frequent and authors I re-read. In part because there are menus to explore (and which change) and words and ideas that take repetition to fully understand and appreciate.
But I tend not to re-watch TV shows except in some special cases.
I bought a lot of DVDs during the DVD era before streaming took over. I had a large library, much of which I’ve since donated to the local library. I’d re-watch a purchase to make sure the DVDs were okay, but in most cases I never watched them again.
Looking back, it seems a waste, although even then I saw it as paying to see old favorites one more time (and more times for free if ever desired). Also, I do suffer the collector bug, plus I wanted certain things (such as Star Trek) on-tap for reference.
(Sitting around chatting over beers with friends, we’d reminisce, and it was handy to toss on a DVD and see whatever point had come up in the conversation.)
Generally though, two, maybe three, times through a show is plenty for me.
(Those who know me might wonder about the original Star Trek, the even better Star Trek: The Next Generation, and — if they knew me very well — M*A*SH. (See: Hawkeye & Margaret) These are indeed beloved shows, but I only watched the DVDs once to check their quality; I’d already seen the episodes so many times that I knew them by heart.)
All of which is just a meandering introduction to a TV Tuesday post about a bunch of shows that I have re-watched. (Or plan to.)
Before I get into that I have to mention that The Simpsons is way past its freshness date and starting to stink. I can’t believe how old, worn out, and not funny it is anymore. Last night I watched the 700th episode which, for some inexplicable reason, was a Christmas episode.
Like most of the episodes I’ve seen in this 35th season, it was boring, random, and dissonant. I can’t understand why the show is still on; it kinda sucks. Badly.
I imagine I’ll keep watching just so when it ends I can say I’ve seen them all. I still have the DVDs I bought — seasons 1–17 plus 20 (when they went widescreen) as well as the movie. I’m thinking they might be worth something on eBay since they aren’t widely available via streaming.
Or not. Complete series that are available on streaming are going for prices way below their purchase price. I do have some collections that aren’t so available, The Man from UNCLE and Perry Mason, for instance, and those might have some value.
I’ve written before about my arc as a fan, how it went full circle. I’ve moved beyond Star Trek (50 years was enough), and I’d rather talk to him about horses and Boston Legal, where he played the delightful Denny Crane.
That show is one of the ones where I watched the DVDs more than once. Now it’s in my Hulu My Stuff list as an occasional treat; I watch an episode or two every few weeks or so. The cast is wonderful, Shatner, James Spader, Candice Bergen, René Auberjonois, Christian Clemenson, and more. Great guest stars, too.
I love the little fourth wall breaks and Star Trek references. In the episode I watched last night, Spader joins Shatner on the balcony for their end-show cigar and drink, and says, “I haven’t seen much of you this episode.” They even worked in a really funny Klingon reference once.
It is a most delightful show. Not a bad courtroom drama series, either.
Speaking of great shows, I watched The Good Place for (I believe) the fourth time and thoroughly enjoyed it. The show still gets an unqualified strong Wow! rating in my book. It’s available on Netflix.
If you’ve never seen the show, you’ve missed something extraordinary. It’s a comedy about heaven, hell, and moral philosophy. At its core, it revolves around the works of T.M. “Tim” Scanlon, in particular his book, What We Owe to Each Other, and the notion of contractualism. (In one of the last episodes Scanlon appears as himself!)
You wouldn’t think that could be the basis for one of the best TV shows I’ve ever seen, but it is. It’s funny, very engaging, creative and fresh, touching and deep, and very well done. Everyone in the cast steals the show.
[See: The Good Place of Oz for how the show resembles The Wizard of Oz.]
Also on Netflix:
It’s worth re-watching because there is a lot to pick up on once you know the plot. It’s extremely smart, engaging, and darkly hysterical.
The story seems so complete to me that giving it a second season is hard to fathom, and hopefully it won’t do a Westworld. The first season of that show was incredible, but season two was vastly inferior and I didn’t bother with season three (nothing I heard about it then or since makes me interested).
Speaking of dark comedy, I also recently watched Happy! for the second time and loved it all over again. It’s two seasons of weird goodness and one of the stranger, more twisted, superhero stories ever.
I give it a Wow! rating although it’s definitely not for everyone. (See LOL: Happy! and Archer)
By the way, Archer is another show I’ve also found well worth watching more than once. It easily keeps its Wow! rating — every season is a delight. It’s among my favorites.
A show I enjoyed very much the first time and plan to get around to watching again fairly soon is Dark Matter. It’s space opera along the general lines of Firefly and The Expanse, and now that I’ve seen (and very much enjoyed) season five of the latter it’ll fill the void until season six.
(Speaking of the former, I have zero interest in any reboot that comes along. Why people can’t recognize that some works of art stand alone and shouldn’t be rebooted mystifies me. More is not always better.)
In the post I said, depending on how it follows its first season, it might rate a Wow! rating. Upon a second viewing of the first season, I can only give it a strong Ah! rating. I was too aware of flaws, convenient plot points, and errant world-building this time through.
For instance, the “data torrent” — a massive data stream that destroys anyone who walks into it. Why is it even there? We never see it again after it serves its plot point.
Or the Luddite attack, which isn’t grounded in anything, is hard to explain, isn’t followed up on, and which only seems to exist for the “LEGO people” gag.
But it’s still a fun show, charming and engaging, with some nice twists and fresh ideas. I am looking forward to season two, which should be out fairly soon.
Also on Amazon Prime:
I was going to write about The Tick and Good Omens, which I very much enjoyed the second time around. As it turns out, I already did that last November (in the same post no less). See: Channel Surfing.
Here I’ll just reiterate that Good Omens is a delight in every regard and easily maintains its strong Wow! rating (although one is better served reading the book first).
The Tick is good silly fun (I’d give it an Ah! rating). It’s another goof-ball take on superheroes, and I think it’s a huge pity it didn’t get more seasons.
I plan to binge watch it one of these days fairly soon. I watched the first season again not long ago and enjoyed it as much as the first time. I hope the second season is just as good.
I’ve been a big fan of Rick and Morty since it began, but the waiting between seasons of that show is excruciating. (I’m waiting for season five to finally air. I’ve watched the first four seasons three times.)
Also on Hulu, I just added, but haven’t started watching, People of Earth to my list. It’s a cute comedy about alien invasion that I enjoyed when it first aired on TBS.
Unfortunately it only got two seasons, so it was never able to wrap up the story and viewers were left hanging. Wyatt Cenac was really good in it; perfectly cast for the role.
Ah, well, so it goes. The good often die young.
As a final TV note, it’s a bit depressing how, after cutting the cable to reduce cost, subscribing to the ever-growing list of streaming platforms has me spending nearly as much. I could easily spend more by joining others (HBO Max, Disney+, Apple TV, Peacock, Paramount+,…).
On the other hand, YouTube TV has been a big disappointment on multiple levels (and awfully pricey). Now that they no longer carry Fox Sports North and I can’t watch Twins baseball, I plan to dump them.
With the return of rational politics, I don’t watch CNN or MSNBC anymore, and as far as live TV I’m down to Bull (which I dislike the more I watch; it’s a terrible courtroom drama), NCIS (which has gotten old and often lame), and The Blacklist (which, OMG, I wish would hurry up and end already).
I’ve come to see Google (other than their search platform) as increasingly evil and inept to boot, so to the extent I need live TV I need to look elsewhere. There are certainly other options.
Even YouTube itself, the only other Google product I like, has become so ad-bloated that it’s almost unwatchable. (Today I deleted the Google News app and subscribed to Apple News. No more damned ads in my news feed, hooray!)
Stay televised, my friends! Go forth and spread beauty and light.