My Name Is Bob, And I Am An Addict

See you sometime next year.

Yeah, I'm checking out -- not because of the approaching holidays or accrued vacation days or seasonal affective disorder. No -- what it is, see, is the boxed set of "The Wire" lent to me this weekend by some dear friends/enablers. Somehow I've managed to avoid this moment for 11 years, but now I have all five seasons in one easy-to-grip package.

If you don't hear from me by January, kindly alert the police.

I will view the classic HBO series as God intended, without leafy greens or showering. My little girl has been duly warned: If you want Santa to visit next week, leave Daddy the hell alone. I just have to lay in the sourdough pretzels and a few cases of Diet Coke. Then, let the binging begin.

Which makes me as unusual as a chunk of quartz.

If The Wall Street Journal has it right, binge viewing has now been demonstrated to be the natural order of things, like osmosis and photosynthesis and pitchers forced to bat. The supporting data come courtesy of Netflix, which not only released the first season of "House of Cards" all at once, but distributes many other series in easy-to-stream seasonal bundles. They meter usage, so they know how the shows get consumed. From the Journal:

"Netflix only examined users who finished a season within the space of a month. For one serialized drama, 25% of the viewers finished the entire 13-episode season in two days, while it took 48% of them one week to do so. The pace was pretty much the same for a very different kind of show — a sitcom with a 22-episode season: 16% of viewers finished the season in the equivalent of a weekend, while 47% completed it within one week."

Twenty-two half-hours in a week, for the slowpokes. The real streamheads watched 11 per day.

Furthermore, the Netflix data suggest that bingers binge on one show forsaking all others. They are like junkies who don't bother to answer the phone or eat. They are helpless against, say, the second season of "The League." More. More. More. Ever see "Trainspotting?" It's like that, minus the rubber tubing.

I'm not just supposing here. This is more along the lines of a confessional. Despite years of nagging from my adult offspring, until last summer, I had never seen "Breaking Bad." Then, when my wife and youngest daughter left town for a week, I downloaded Season 1. By the time I left my sofa, 46 hours of episodes later, my eyes were spirals and a cloud of body smog hung over the family room.

I would have sold my virtue for one more episode, just one more, but the supply -- like Albuquerque without Heisenberg cooking -- had run dry. No regrets, though. None. This had been the greatest cultural experience of my life (which ain’t nothing, as I've experienced almost all of Shakespeare, Mozart, Tolstoy, Gershwin, Matisse, Stravinsky, Scorsese and "Arrested Development"). But more than that, it changed my relationship with the television. It was exactly as my eldest insisted: TV is now better than movies, because the serialized drama now can plumb depths and wander breadths of character and narrative no 100-minute film can approach. Films are novellas. Serialized TV offers the fully realized saga, worthy in fact of Tolstoy… or Dickens or Wagner.

Which is all by way of saying if you need me anytime soon, you're out of luck. The BluRay is fired up and I've got 60 hours of time to kill in Baltimore.

Tags: tv
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13 comments about "My Name Is Bob, And I Am An Addict".
  1. Katie Paine from Paine Publishing , December 16, 2013 at 7:39 a.m.
    I did the same thing with Scandal.. Put me about two weeks behind on Christmas. But isn't the really significant point that we are watching all that TV with no commercial interruptions?
  2. Jaffer Ali from PulseTV , December 16, 2013 at 9:38 a.m.
    I dare you to watch "My Mother The Car" in one sitting...
  3. Bobby Calise from Horizon Media, Inc. , December 16, 2013 at 10:21 a.m.
    I binged watched "Scandal" as Katie did and it was fantastic because of the nature of the show (i.e. plot twists and cliffhangers). However with a show like "The Wire," I'd advise you not to binge quote so heavily as part of what made it a great show is the many things it gives you to reflect on. Going into full-on "streamhead" mode doesn't really allow for that, and thus takes away from what made the show worth watching.
  4. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited , December 16, 2013 at 10:27 a.m.
    Orchid Black from BBC - only one season so far and easy to do.
  5. Bob Rose from Seiter & Miller , December 16, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
    More ways to avoid ads...the challenge deepens.
  6. Alex Goulder from Gaiam , December 16, 2013 at 11:22 a.m.
    I'm a little envious, Bob--I'll never again experience The Wire for the first time. At the same time, I wonder whether you'll be disappointed simply because of the expectations built up by the "best television ever" reputation. I mean it is the best show ever, but I didn't knw that till AFTER I watched it.
  7. Moses Caro from FollowMe , December 16, 2013 at 12:02 p.m.
    Just finished Jeff Einstein's Media Addict's Handbook...but put me down for a full run of Curb Your Enthusiasm anyway!
  8. Jaffer Ali from PulseTV , December 16, 2013 at 12:17 p.m.
    Moses, I also just read Jeff Einstein's Media Addict's Handbook. Should be required reading for the holidays: http://www.amazon.com/The-Media-Addicts-Handbook-Restoring/dp/0615888844/ref=sr_1_1_bnp_1_pap?ie=UTF8&qid=1382395777&sr=8-1&keywords=media+addict%27s+handbook
  9. Thomas Siebert from WOLFGANG SOLO: Strategic Communications & Benevolent Propaganda , December 16, 2013 at 12:43 p.m.
    I agree with Bobby from Horizon that "The Wire" is so good and so rich that you're better off digesting it in small snippets. The shows I've burned through -- "Top of the Lake," "House of Cards," "Game of Thrones," a few others, I usually watch one episode a day, occasionally two. I like the serial aspect, the thrill of a good cliffhanger, the anticipatory pleasure. But for "The Wire," it's almost essential, because every episode has so much in it and going for it.
  10. The digital Hobo from TheDigitalHobo.com , December 16, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
    I'm off from Dec 20th to Jan 6th. Can't wait to squeeze every cent out of my netflix free 30 day trial.
  11. David Murdico from Supercool Creative , December 16, 2013 at 12:59 p.m.
    Have fun Bob. I binged on The Tutors and now on Gold Rush Alaska. 2 very different kinds of shows. I'm diverse.
  12. Tom Messner from BONACCOLTA MESSNER , December 16, 2013 at 9:14 p.m.
    i did the same thing with both the wire and breaking bad....only difference with the latter was i caught up with the show with three to go...........it's like reading the unabridged version of les miserables while in jail..........might help to take a slight break between seasons of the wire....like a day.....especially tween seasons one and two.......odd thing about the power of the wire is that when i see the actors on other things i identify them by their wire names....d'angelo barksdale popped up in the walking dead and bunk is all over as well as omar................after you watch the wire....go back further and see Homicide, all its seasons.....you will feel like becoming an oriole fan or start reading mencken....
  13. Robert McEvily from MediaPost , December 17, 2013 at 12:53 p.m.
    Just binged on Search & Email Insider Summit vids - highly recommended!