Delayed gratification…. of the viewing kind

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?

24 thoughts on “Delayed gratification…. of the viewing kind

Add yours

  1. I never binge watch any TV show. I can’t stand all the intensity of a series dumped on me at once. I like to take my time, muse over what happened, then return to the series to watch one more episode. I’ve never thought of it as delayed gratification, though. I think of it as remaining sane.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We haven’t gotten Derry Girl’s last season yet–glad to hear it is worthy. Spouse will be thrilled to hear there are more Slow Horses. (I’m not a huge thriller fan.)

    As for bingeing, it depends on the show. It has to be so good you can’t wait (Ted Lasso!) or there’s an ongoing mystery/ question you want answered. Or two with chemistry and obstacles doing the slow burn romance. Sometimes a show is well-crafted enough that a single episode is perfectly self-contained, with the jeopardy/ action storyline resolved by character growth/ enlightenment in the B storyline. A few of the Star Trek series have excelled at meshing the A/ B storylines. For those, I don’t mind waiting and then pondering the social issues explored.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Definitely a binger, if bingeing means watching an episode or 2 every night until you’ve watched the entire season (or series). Glad to hear there is a new season of Derry Girls – not available on any of my streaming platforms as yet. I should give Peaky Blinders another shot – I watched one episode a while back now but never continued with it.

    Deb

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I don’t watch TV on a regular basis so most of what I do is binging. If I’m going to sit down to watch, I’ll do three or four episodes at once.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I can straddle both sides…sometimes I binge, sometimes I take it one day at a time…but I like surprise. I don’t want spoilers

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The change in our viewing habits is partly due to the pandemic but mostly because of the proliferation of streaming services. I’m enjoying watching one episode each evening. We still have a form of delayed gratification, but now it’sin waiting for the next season to be released. Tonight I finished Bosch: Legacy. It ended with a cliffhanger. I expect I’ll have to wait until 2023 to see what happened to his daughter.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I switch back and forth. Honestly, it depends on how stressed I am. If I’m super stressed out, binge watching a good series helps me calm down. If I feel like life is more under control, I prefer to just watch one episode at a time and space things out a bit.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I did nearly go crazy the first time I binged watched something – it was West Wing and we watched so many episodes on the bounce that we became quite feral due to lack of sleep, so I think you’re right about the sanity 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  9. True, when it’s just joy, joy & more joy – then binge away I say. It’s stuff where you need to think and try to get into the mind of the writer and try to second-guess the plot where I think any form of delay is advisable. Delighted to hear about Andy’s enjoyment of Slow Horses. Himself just told me that they’d just confirmed there’ll be a season 3 & 4 also – I may be jumping up & down with excitement! 😉 I know – sad huh? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Peaky Blinders was good early on, but they dragged it out for too long. That was the final season which we found disappointing. But the early stuff – absolutely great. Derry Girls got it right – the closing episode especially. Fingers crossed you get hold of it soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Janet, before Himself moved in with me, I was the same. And I never knew what anyone was talking about (TV-wise). I still only knows bits, as we’re always on catch up mode here.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Oh yes, no spoilers. That’s probably why I’m a nightmare to watch TV with. I’ve had to learn to keep my thoughts to myself about where the plot will go as I’m right more often than not. The joys of being a writer eh?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh yes, waiting for the next series – that always feel interminable 😉 I don’t know Bosch – I shall add it to the light immediately for checking out.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Good call James, I also have certain things which I watch episode after episode on a continual loop – my comfort viewing if you like. But I do like thrillers and mysteries and drama to have some time in between so I can chew things over.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I’ve taken to noting in books exactly when I figured something out, because my friends will inevitably ask how I knew something

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m both. The first show I ever binged was “Lost,” just to get caught up to the current season. Same with “Breaking Bad.” Binging has allowed Tara and I to watch a bunch of acclaimed series we’d missed initially: “Deadwood,” “The Wire,” “Mad Men,” “The Sopranos,” and now “West Wing.”

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Oh, this is a timely topic in our home. I like the delayed gratification for sure because I like to look forward to many evenings of a show I’ve started to really enjoy. My wife, however, wants to watch ALL the shows as quickly as possible because she JUST CAN’T GET ENOUGH of them! We have arguments regularly about this, as we did this past week about “The Responder” (BBC but viewed here on BritBox). I won, and we watched all the episodes each evening. But I was also in the dog house for a time because of that. 😉 – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Yup Mark, I do think there’s space for both, but I am concerned that the delayed gratification of watching weekly (or even daily) is getting lost what with the prevalence of box sets being released on streaming platforms. So easy to get caught up in wanting to watch as many as you can cram in to the time in hand.

    Like

  19. Oooooh I don’t know “The Responder” – I shall investigate.

    Ha ha! It’s a tricky one when getting your own way can put you in the dog house. If you’re like me, you just power on through 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  20. We do a little of both–binge watch some series that have aired completely and watch some others week-by-week. I don’t mind the week-long anticipation, but I really hate when shows go months (sometimes years) in between seasons. I lose interest and forget some of the side stories during the break.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Couldn’t agree more Christie, an overly long break will break the connection.

    Like

  22. I rarely watch more than an episode or two at a time. I have binge watched in the past but it gets overwhelming. And by the way, most of my favorite series should have ended a couple seasons ago. I dropped several this year because they have moved to the utterly ridiculous. I like a good story, I like good characters, I get tired of stupidity quickly.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. “I get tired of stupidity quickly” – this exactly Zazzy! I’ve binged watched but, with hindsight, I suspect I reached overload and stopped seeing the finer detail. I know when I first watched The West Wing, there was so much I missed by binging and which I only picked up on the second watch.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

A WordPress.com Website.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: