I shouldn’t even be thinking about keeping up with TV. I have writer friends who’ve sworn off the Box completely, and I’m sure they get a lot more writing done than I do. I have other friends who insist that they are studying story structure and characterization when they watch. Both approaches are valid, I’m sure.
I tend to be a loyal viewer myself. If the promos and trailers for a new show interest me enough, I’ll watch the pilot, and if I like that, the show will probably keep me. Not always. I realized last year that I had more episodes of Smash on my DVR than I had actually watched, and I didn’t care about losing them when the DVR died. I abandoned The Mentalist when I got really, really, REALLY tired of both Red John and Patrick Jane’s behavior. There have been others. But usually, once I start watching, I’ll stay around. Heck, I’m still watching Glee, if only for the music.
I would tell you that I don’t care for violent shows, but I’m a history geek, big fan of Hell on Wheels, and I haven’t missed an episode of the History Channel’s Vikings, an even more violent series, but beautifully filmed and full of interesting characters (especially Lagertha, the kick-butt Shield Maiden wife of the protagonist).
I’m cautious about what I do start watching. There are any number of light mystery shows on the air (or on the cable) that I have avoided simply because I don’t want to tie up yet another weekly hour. (I do watch Bones, Castle, White Collar and Rizzoli & Isles.). The same goes for many of the series on SyFy, although I’ve been a science fiction fan forever, loved all the Star Trek and Stargate series (well, some more than others, but still . . .). I watch Grimm and Once Upon a Time, both of them more fantasy than science fiction, but very entertaining.
Somehow the promos for the new SyFy series Defiance stayed under my radar until a couple of weeks before its premiere, when I noticed an ad on line. The show promised several elements I enjoy, but I wasn’t sure. I still feel a bit burned over Terra Nova (time travel! dinosaurs! Jason O’Meara!)–I hate falling for a show that doesn’t make it to a second season. And I missed the initial showing of the Defiance premiere. Couldn’t record it because I still haven’t gotten around to replacing my failed DVR. Missed a convenient showing in favor of a really lovely dinner, and found myself tackling the two hour show at midnight on Friday. Well, I figured, if this could keep me awake until 2 AM, it was worth a commitment.
Defiance is worth it and then some. It is, truth be told, in large part a repositioned Western, set thirty years or so in the future of an Earth changed forever by the arrival of no less than seven alien races and their out-of-control “terraforming” (inaccurate use of the term, but we’ll overlook that for the moment). The protagonist is the loner (although he’s accompanied by his adopted alien teen-age daughter) who wanders into the frontierish town of Defiance (formerly St. Louis, see the Arch over there?) just in time to see the old sheriff die in action. Yep, pardner, Nolan is drafted/trapped into becoming the new “Lawkeeper.”
The show is full of Western and SF tropes, CGI effects, more or less humanoid aliens, gritty and sometimes spectacular scenery. There’s the inexperienced (female) mayor, her sister the brothel owner, the patriarch of the mining family (played by Graham Greene, long a favorite of mine), the alien mob boss and his wife (played by Jaime Murray, formerly H. G. Wells on Warehouse 13), who spend an inordinate amount of time in their hot tub, a Romeo and Juliet sub-plot, an acerbic and funny alien female doctor, and lots of disintegrating ships tumbling out of orbit and causing ever weirder changes.
I love it, and the second episode was just as good. Oh, dear, another commitment.
What shows keep you watching, even when you should be doing something else?