Tracy and I borrowed the first season of the NBC show Heroes on DVD from a friend last week. Now we're totally hooked. We'll start the evening planning to watch just one episode, but at the end of each one, we look at each other--"How about another?"
This is really my preferred way to watch television--on DVD, at my leisure, rather than on the network's schedule (and I love having no commercials). An hour-long drama fits much better into our fairly short evenings, better than a movie (though that's all psychological, because if we watch two or three episodes...) (We don't have cable, so it's nice to watch a show that doesn't involve fiddling with the antenna.)
At the moment, I'm enjoying the show too much to step back and be objective about how good it really is or isn't. I just know that I'm interested in the characters and totally hooked by the story. We take a certain delight in trying to predict what's going to happen in each episode and who's going to get killed. I like the feeling of being so engrossed by this massive tale. (I could be getting work done on some these nights, at least in theory, but that's just not going to happen until we finish the first season.)
I had lunch on Friday with my good friend Dan, and for a while we talked about television, and he postulated that at the moment, some of the best dramatic writing anywhere is happening on television, rather than film or theatre. I think he's right. The one-hour drama format has turned into the venue for our modern epic storytelling. The writers are able to develop characters over stories that stretch over 22 hours, but they are only able to do it if they're able to completely rivet the attention of their audiences. Is it great poetry? Not always. But it is memorable and has a cultural resonance that might make it live a lot longer than we expect.
Anyway, I've got to run. Tracy's just fired up the DVD. Time for another episode. (or two) (or three).