I don't watch television these days. Like a growing number of people, I download things that interest me from the Internet or watch streaming videos on a variety of sites. If Hulu was available in Canada, I'd subscribe to it. It's not. We haven't even switched over to digital signals yet. That won't happen until 2011. Meanwhile, I'm considering junking TV entirely and saving the $100+ the cable company charges me.
I prefer downloading for a few reasons. In the first place, there are no commercials. In the second plac,e downloading makes me much more selective. In the third place it's much cheaper. In the fourth place, I detest cable companies more than I detest Bernie Madoff. Both of them are rapacious baby-eating capitalists, but it's hard to hate Bernie these days now that he's safely inside.
(Incidentally, after reading Steve Fishman's piece "Bernie Madoff, Free At Last' in the New York Magazine, I think Madoff's life in prison would make a great reality show, but still, I wouldn't watch it... See what you think)
Honestly, unless you're sick in bed there's just no reason to watch TV any more. All the movies are old. All the news is online. Most sports are online too. TV programming has become fundamentally uninteresting. TV is a little like tuning to easy-listening radio while driving the car. There's always a sense that there's a better way to spend your time.
Am I alone in this?
I admire Leno's cleverness, O'Brien's whackiness and Letterman's overall intelligence. But I never watch them OR Jimmy Fallon. (I don't even watch Charlie Rose much these days unless there's a crisis, in which case he's sure to have the chairman of BP or Stanley McChrystal explaining the latest blunder that shook the world). Truthfully, the only shows that fired me up in recent decades were Rome, The Sopranos and Entourage, all on HBO.
I know that high definition and larger screens are supposed to make my TV experience more real, more exciting, more fun (besides selling a lot more new TVs, of course). But they just don't.
So these days, I watch most things on my computer monitor. I suspect more and more people are doing the same thing, since everything clever these days is available on YouTube or on Torrent sites. I have sons who keep me apprised of new and cool stuff via the Internet. When I hear the oldest boy guffawing upstairs in his bedroom, I go up the stairs and sit watching with him from the corner of his bed.
It was Corey who made me watch Entourage. At first, I thought it was just a male clone of Sex In The City, an excuse for young men to look at lovely shapes like that of Carla Gugino (and fair enough).
But then I came to know and like a few of the characters: Ari Gold (Jeremy Piven) the reluctant mega-mouth mensch; his wife (Perrey Reeves) an intelligent, uncharacteristic beauty who's strong and smart enough to steer her willful husband; Lloyd (Rex Lee) the kind, but frequently indignant gay secretary; and Johnny Drama Chase (Kevin Dillon) a man whose thespian vanity is really a wounded need for an unfulfilled affirmation that lack of self-knowledge ever prevents him from ever achieving.
Was there ever a TV character like this?
Drama is a bit like the donkey that permanently pursues a carrot that dangles on a stick in front of his nose. BUT you identify with this donkey. He is the stupid platoon-brother who would give you his last smoke and then die for you. Life would be poorer without him. He's the Barney Rubble of the new century, a stew of bluster and consideration. His clever backstory involves stardom and success in an old-school TV show decades ago, but now he's past his prime and this trajectory achieves poignancy in contrast to the film career of his younger brother Vince, (Adrien Grenier), a character who is pretty and nice and so has a much less interesting trajectory than that of Johnny Drama.
Well, there have many good moments in the previous 6 seasons of Entourage, but like the members of Spanky and our Gang, the boys have all grown up now and gone their separate ways, so the challenge for the writers now is how to make the whole thing hang together for another season. There are a few ways to do this of course. They must face a collective enemy. They must overcome a collective tragedy. They must dare to achieve a single big score.
Good luck to them. In a few weeks time, if they don't pull it together, I'm going to stop watching the show. I like the old seasons so much I don't want to spend the time downloading the advancement of the Entourage franchise (unless of course they bring back Carla Gugino).
Oh yeah, the movie is coming out soon. There'll be T-shirts.