How Things Have Changed

So, for the longest time I refused to watch half-hour TV shows when they didn’t allow me to play the entire disk non-stop, and then stopped watching an anime since it only did “Play All”. Now, however, the flexibility of half-hour shows has become more important, and so I’ve found myself taking on half-hour shows where I can select the episodes one-by-one, like Yu-gi-oh, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, and most recently Transformers, and watching them almost exclusively while not watching any of my hour-long shows. And, in fact, I’m having a hard time finding a way to actually watch those series ever again.

The reason that half-hour shows are currently so dominant is that the time I have to just watch TV has greatly shrunk. Generally, I expect to get around 1.5 hours to watch in the evening a day (right before I go to sleep, so generally in my cool down time). But that time varies. I might wrap everything up for the day 2 hours before I want to go to sleep, or 1 hour. As noted in the previous article, hour long shows aren’t very flexible when it comes to time. An hour long show runs about 45 minutes on DVD, which means that if I have an hour left in the day I could watch one episode and then have to stop early. With half-hour shows, I could watch three and only run a little over, which works out reasonably well (my bedtime isn’t that set it stone). And if I wanted to stay up a little later, I could watch another episode without adding 45 minutes on, which is a bit long most of the time. And if I ever wanted to stay up that extra 45 minutes for some reason, I can just watch two more episodes. This also works if I start earlier, because all I need to do is add episodes 20 minutes at a time until I hit time to shut down for the day. If an hour long episode would fit, I can put two half-hour episodes there, and if an hour long episode wouldn’t fit, then I can add an extra half-hour episode and generally fill that gap. So the flexibility is really in demand for me right now.

The other reason, though, is the total number of hours that each series has. I can, in general, watch a disk roughly every two days. For an hour long show, that’s 2 episodes a night, while for a half-hour show that’s 4 episodes a night. If I’m watching an American/Canadian series, you’re generally getting into about 20 episodes a season, and the number of episodes is about the same for hour long and half-hour shows. Thus, I finish half-hour series about twice as fast as hourly ones. So I can finish a season of an hourly series in roughly two weeks (11 – 12 days), while for a half-hour series I can finish a season in roughly a week. So if I wanted to watch a 5 season hour long series, it would take me about 60 days or 2 months, while I can finish a half-hour series in about a month. This means that the turnover rate is faster, which keeps me from getting bored with it, lets me feel like I’m making progress, and avoids my feeling like I’m watching it more to finish it and less to actually watch it. Add in that most of my favourite hour long series are more like 7 – 10 seasons instead of 5 and this becomes even more important.

So, half-hour series are more flexible and spread out over my relatively short TV watching time better. Since I don’t have any other time to just watch TV, when can I watch those hour long series that I love so much again? When can I watch Babylon 5, TNG, DS9, Buffy, Angel and Smallville? They are too long to binge on while on vacation or slide into times when I’m, say, working or wanting something to watch while I’m eating and baseball isn’t on, but don’t fit into the flexible schedule at all. But I’m definitely going to want to watch them again.

I’ve moved from wondering when I can watch half-hour shows, and not really watching them to wondering when I can watch hour long shows and not really watching them. That’s … different.

(As an aside, I calculated how long it would take me to watch all of the Dark Shadows soap opera again with my current time allocated for watching TV. It took me about four months the first time, and this time it would take me … about 11 months, or almost a year. Yeah …)

3 Responses to “How Things Have Changed”

  1. natewinchester Says:

    It’s something Rob Long has talked about before as a hard limit that movie & tv makers are running up against: there’s only so many hours in a day.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      And they aren’t general purpose hours either, which is the problem I’m hitting right now: I can’t just decide to watch those things while I’m compiling or when I have a half an hour to spare. To make any progress, it has to be relatively regular, and I need a decent block of time as well. That makes it hard to fit into a schedule and hard to do while I’m doing other things.

  2. Outta Touch, Outta Time … | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] as I’ve touched on, I’ve been pretty busy lately. And, of course, I’ve been pretty busy before. But this […]

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