Of course once everything started to be streamed and put on DVD, people began to binge-watch television series, but it wasn’t how those episodic episodes were designed. You were supposed to be subscribing to HBO, and spending every Sunday with the Sopranos, and then once they went on hiatus, waiting patiently (or impatiently) for the next season to start.
These days many folks don’t bother with the premium channels and simply rent entire seasons on DVD a year or so later. Some shows like those on AMC are available for instant download the day after they are shown, and almost everything can be found illegally somewhere on the Internet – not that I’m advocating that.
I somehow didn’t get around to watching Breaking Bad for years, but began a Netflix-binge that brought me up to date in three lost days. Lost was a series I’d watched on and off for a season or two. Then I heard it had gotten better. Time travel was involved. The whole thing was up on Hulu, and I was off. I watched four seasons of Dexter over a weekend once. It’s nothing to be proud of. It is no more boast-worthy than a weekend of compulsive masturbation or cookie-eating.
Netflix has upped the ante by releasing all 13 episodes of the first season of House of Cards at once. It’s an all you can watch buffet. I just spent the last two days watching the totality, which comes out to probably just under eleven hours that no doubt could have been better spent.
It certainly wasn’t the worst thing to watch. I’m now curious about the British series on which it was based – which is also available on Netflix. But it wasn’t riveting either. The pace seemed somehow “British” a lot of talking, less on the action. Still it’s not the worst accompaniment to online mahjong or scrabble.
Kevin Spacey’s portrayal of Francis Underwood is undermined by the device of having his character often speak directly to the audience, revealing his true intentions. We should have been able to work out for ourselves when he is lying. Like the old joke about lawyers, it would be whenever his lips his are moving.