It’s like a dream-come-true. For $7.99 per month I can catch up on the 47 TV series I’ve missed and “not-ready-for-HBO” movies–the films that didn’t make a ton of money but they’re what I might have seen at the theater at a matinee or if someone else offered to pay.
I was a typical Netflix customer when it arrived on the scene. I was too lazy to get in the car to drive to Blockbuster so I’d order a DVD, wait three days for it to arrive and then promptly set the little white sleeve on my TV for two or three weeks, hoping to get around to it. When Netflix introduced streaming-video to my computer I avoided it since the last thing I wanted to look at for recreation was the same computer screen that stared at me at work all day.
Then the magic day arrived a few years ago, with my children’s Wii, when I bumped into Netflix in the Wii Store and suddenly my sedentary self was given the perfect gift. I wouldn’t have to wait for the DVDs in the mail. I could start and pause a movie–and it would remember where I left off months later. And I didn’t even have to get into family debates about whose shows were clogging up the DVR. We even dropped digital cable, realizing that we could soldier on with merely 90+ stations as long as we had our streaming video.
We added two Roku devices in the household, which allowed the other TVs to also stream Netflix. We added Hulu Plus and were able to watch most network television shows the very next day with [insert cheesy announcer guy] “limited commercial interruption.” Even those breaks were only 30 seconds long, compared to the usual 2-3 minutes we needed to endure the night before if we watched it “live.”
Perhaps the absence of commercials may be the greatest gift of all. I still have the 6 VHS tapes of Twilight Zone episodes I recorded off Channel 50’s evening broadcasts in 1983. I was diligent during that entire summer’s broadcasts to have my hand on the remote (connected to our VCR by a handy 20 foot cord) that allowed me to pause just before the commercials for Control Data Institute and Armor Guard began.
Now, we binge-watch. Patrice and I have covered eight seasons of Rescue Me in three months. We’re finishing up Friday Night Lights after two separate people on New Year’s Eve told us we had to watch it. Like sitting bedside with a terminal patient, we sadly watch helplessly as we finish episode #70, knowing there are only six remaining stories in the lives of Eric and Tami Taylor. That leaves only 45 more TV series I need to cover.
But the best side-effect to my energy-crisis may be streaming video’s new partnership with a dusty elliptical machine in our basement. While great at holding hangars at laundry time, it hadn’t lived up to the dream I had at the garage sale when I got it for such a great deal of $75. Like dieting or doing anything that falls under the Life Cereal category of “It’s Good for You” I’d carefully avoided eye-contact with large gray obstacle each time I’d needed to head downstairs for a random tool.
I’d worked out the perfect solution to get me back on the machine. I just needed to hit pause during a very good part of the series or movie–then get off the machine. It takes great self-discipline, but if I can avoid completing the viewing on the other TVs in the house along with my smart-phone and force myself to only watch the rest of the car-chase/mystery development/awkward romantic discovery when I’m on the machine I might actually make it two days in a row.
We’ll see. I’ve got one day done so far…