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What TV SHOWS are you watching?
At the same time, I am re-reading Altered Carbon, the first book of Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs trilogy which was turned into a Netflix show. The contrast is interesting. Both detectives are operating in a major city in California, but in settings separated by a few centuries. And yet there are similarities that can be traced back to Raymond Chandler and his detective Philip Marlowe. For obvious reasons, Altered Carbon is more focused than an episodic tv show from the '70s. The shadows are darker and the stakes are higher, but there is still the cynical humor and focus on details. Takeshi and Jim both cope with shady clients and unfriendly cops, and they won't let either stop their quest for the truth.
The worst part about watching The Rockford Files, both now and when it originally aired, is the commercials. Madison Avenue wasn't as polished in the '70s, so those commercials were often annoying. But the Roku commercials are surprisingly lacking in variety. To make matters worse, the perplexing and ongoing fame of the Kardashian clan has led many modern women into unfortunate plastic surgery, especially the injection of lip fillers. So I am forced to watch the same Aldi and Buick Envision commercials multiple times per episode, and both ads feature women with the trout pout of lip fillers. In fact, the Buick ad has the same women showing up simultaneously in four different outfits, so it's overwhelming. The Aldi commercial is ironic to me, because it features both a pair of normal people and two other people who are suppose to be glamorous fantasy versions of them. But the normal woman actually looks nice compared to her glamorous counterpart with hideous lip fillers. Which might be clever, except that isn't the point of the commercial so it's just distracting and bad.
What we stumbled into was NCAA Women's Volleyball. My daughter played in club and high school. She loved the game but wasn't quite good enough to take it to the college level. My wife and I watched a lot of games when she played, and watching it on ESPN+ let us reminisce. ESPN+ broadcasts games from the smallest Division 1 schools. An example would be SIU Evansville vs. Belmont. Sometimes the video quality is good, sometimes it's straight from the Perseverance lander. Sometimes we're watching awesome play, and sometimes we're reminded of that 13U team that lost almost every match.
RobertB wrote: But you do get a lot of stuff, pretty much all of it being stuff I don't watch. As in, it's a damn shame I don't follow soccer, because I could watch every Bundesliga game. If you're a fan, I'd recommend it.
Yes. If you're a soccer/football fan, for $5/month, you not only get the Bundesliga, but also Serie A, the English Championship, and the English, German, and Italian cup games (League Cup and FA Cup, DFB-Pokal, and Coppa Italia, respectively.) It's easily the best streaming bargain out there, if you enjoy the sport. Plus, there's all the other stuff that RobertB mentions, including sports you never see on ESPN's regular outlets, as well as their documentaries (30 for 30, etc.) and other presentations that aren't live sports.
As for the appeal, I think it definitely improves with knowledge. A lot of Americans look at soccer in that vein: much running, little scoring. But there aren't many team sports where you can look at just a couple minutes of action and understand not only what both sides are trying to do, but how they're both trying to counter what the other is trying to do. It's quite strategic in that respect. It also has the highest variance (i.e. the ability for lesser teams to beat more talented/moneyed ones) of any major sport. Despite the top clubs usually remaining the top clubs in the big European leagues, the chance for a bottom-dweller to beat one of the top clubs on any given day is exponentially higher than in most major sports, which does provide some excitement, even if you're a fan of the team that's supposed to win.
And one side benefit is that the clock never stops. No "one hour of game time turns into three-and-a-half hours of actual time" because of game stoppages and commercials. Every match is two hours or less. For those of us who value our time and don't want to spend 2/3 of it watching ads or having to leave the room to avoid them or actually spending as much time on our phones to avoid them while ostensibly "watching the game", that's a godsend. I've been a Liverpool supporter since I was a kid, but I've watched enough soccer, in general, over the years to basically be alienated from most US live sports, simply because I can't stand sitting there wasting so much time and not actually watching my team play.
"Fun to attend" meant that every game I went to had at least one fight in the stands. I had a guy spill a beer down my back one time from the fallout from the fight behind me two rows up. The most memorable incident was an intermission stunt gone wrong. The "Domino's Pizza Guy!" would run around the rink and frisbee throw pizza boxes into the stands. The pizza boxes contained coupons for free Domino's Pizza (yeah, it's Domino's, it sucks, but it's free). So one time Dominos Pizza Guy comes out, and got about 10 feet before these guys in the front row surround him and start yanking pizza boxes out of his arms. DPG flings the pizza boxes he has left into the crowd all at once and runs for his life, like a little kid at the beach that got swarmed by seagulls. The next time, DPG had a security guard escort.
I will add that hockey is probably my favorite thing to watch live, even more than soccer. We have a local ECHL team that I don't get out to see much anymore (even pre-Covid), but there's a definite skill/fan/vibe difference with NHL games. There's a huge drop-off to watching on TV, such that I basically won't bother.
Similarly, I have no interest at all in baseball, but watching a game in a ballpark is a pretty good afternoon.
In the evening when we manage to sit down for an hour it depends on whose turn it is. Since there are no commercials we can normally get a 42 minute episode and a 22 minute episode of something. One boy likes to pick Dirty Jobs and America Fact or Fiction a show that goes over all those America stories and is giving them a good sense of cultural history. I've been known to decide it's time to brush my teeth during some segments of Dirty jobs. The other boy has been picking a Civil War series that focuses on specific individuals. My wife and I have been picking some of the survival stuff like Last Man Out where Ed Stafford does a race with another survival expert over 10 days through some tough terrain. We took one of the recommendations and are now doing Bushcraft Build-off which has two teams of three given a specific area and they have less than seven days to build a specific thing (shelter, boat, etc.). The host is great and really has a soft way of telling people where they messed up. For the half hour show I'll still pick Good Eats/Good Eats reloaded or a new one Outrageous Acts of Psychology where they are pranking people.
After the kids go to bed, when I can stay up I've run through the Amazon series Invincible. Only a few episodes so far, done by Kirkman of Walking Dead fame. It's got a Superman figure and his son whose powers just awakened. A little brutal at times. At the end of the first episode
One of my top five live sports experiences was a WHL match. I was working at an in-patient program for teenage addicts, and someone donated their box seat for a night out for the boys. Most of them were lower-class, city kids. I don't think any of them had seen a game or even knew what a puck was, but they warmed up pretty quick, around the third fight by the start of the second period. The goalies even dropped gloves with about three minutes left in the third. Good times.
RobertB wrote: What I've heard about hockey is that one live game and you'll be hooked. They must be talking about NHL hockey, because I've been to ECHL games, and am still addiction-free. The games were fun to attend, but didn't lead me to crave more hockey.