Almost without realising, we’ve become used to viewing by binge. Himself & I came late to lots of popular series and so got to download the lot, before binging our way through them. But some of those have become programmes which we now watch on a weekly basis – in the old fashioned way you might say.
2022 brought with it the final series of two such programmes – Peaky Blinders and Killing Eve – both of which we’d binged early on, then got into the habit of watching weekly. Both shows aired in the UK in the same prime time slot, but we watched both of them later in the week, as that prime time slot was past our bedtime. We didn’t do so with the hope of eeking out past favourites, even though it’s often the case that when you’ve loved programmes, it’s hard for them to end well. We weren’t happy with either ending, if I’m honest. In truth, the entirety of one series was a huge disappointment, while it was just the closing episode which lacked for the other (I’ll leave you to guess which way round if you’ve a mind to). But I’ll admit that we’re tough acts to please 🙂 It’s clear to me that producers are frequently tempted to push popular series way beyond their best by date. I acknowledge that it must be a difficult call to make – especially when audience figures are remain high. Getting out while you’re still on top is tricky, although Derry Girls recently managed to get it absolutely spot on.
But to return to the title subject of bingeing versus delayed gratification, something I’ve noticed recently is that by bingeing, you can also become a tad blasé – you miss the heightened anticipation of the wait for the next episode and you don’t get to enjoy the pondering over what might come next. As a writer, I enjoy seeing how the story is crafted in terms of structure and pacing, mixing it up so I don’t always guess what’s going to happen – before it does (because I’m a devil for that). I love sitting down to watch something I’ve looked forward to, only to check the clock with disbelief when the episode ends. For me, it’s the only sign of truly great television that the time simply races past each and every episode.
A new series we’ve been hugely taken with is Slow Horses from Apple TV. Based upon the books of Mick Herron, it’s the gritty and grimy tale of the lower echelons of MI5, who’ve been banished to a backwater, because they’ve pissed off someone senior. Their London is more bin-laden back alleys and all night cafes in the seedier parts of town, than the grand Thameside building of James Bond. Some of them are rejects for obvious reasons, but not all are. They’re led by Jackson Lamb – a veteran of Cold War Berlin – played with utter relish by Gary Oldman, who’s both odious and magnificently irreverent at turns. The first series has ended and we’re delighted that season 2 is in the pipeline. Mick Herron wrote six books in the series (with a further one due to release this year), so we should be assured of quality for a few seasons yet. I do hope they maintain their determination to release it weekly – at least in the first instance, so those of us who enjoy the delayed gratification of weekly viewing aren’t tempted otherwise.
Of course, now all episodes have passed their initial release date, I imagine the full series is available for download. If you can, do watch it, but I also highly recommend the delayed gratification viewing experience. It’s truly compelling television, and the anticipation adds much to the viewing experience.
Are you a binger or a delayed gratification viewer of TV series? Do you prefer to be surprised, or to know what’s likely to come next?