overthinking the idiot box

March 27, 2006

Letter from the editor
Doing My Homework

Here's a consequence of this brave new world of video-on-demand and digital video recorders: statements like "I'm behind on television" are not only possible, they're commonplace. Used to be that if you missed an episode of West Wing, you'd just rely on previously-ons to make sense of the narrative and hold out for reruns that summer, and sure, it's great to now be able to say what you want to watch when. But now, you have the ability to control and maximize your TV intake — which means that you're capable of consuming way too much.

That's a fancy opening paragraph for what is really just a rant about how I'm behind on television, something which happens to me a bit too frequently, these days. A new mini-season of TV starts approximately every three months, after all, so every three months I'm finding myself in the position of trying to choose between shows, trying to decide which to let go. Am I really enjoying the new season of 24 that much? Am I watching West Wing's last season just for nostalgia's sake? Is Big Love really interesting on more than a perverse level? And what about that March Madness infection going around?

And does any of this trump a full night's sleep, a long run, a good conversation, or a quiet hour with a book? That's where great television really meets its match: on the battlefield of your actual life. What will you let go, for that extra hour of entertainment? Will it be worth it?

Just some food for thought, as you enjoy the new episode of SMRT-TV, which covers the full spectrum of television pretty damn well. The good reality you're not watching. The good reality you are watching. Underdogs rising. Fine cable sci-fi. Obscure cable drama. What they did in the past. And what they can't do today.

It's all too much for one person. But SMRT-TV has never been about telling you what to watch. SMRT-TV just wants you to know what's out there. Make your own choices about what you're watching. It's your life, after all. Prime time is finite.

-Liz Shannon Miller

Return to Season 2, Episode 13.