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VOL. 35 | NO. 32 | Friday, August 12, 2011




Caution: Netflix is highly addictive

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Regarding the recent piece on Friday Night Lights, David from Chattanooga writes, “Good column. I’ve not seen the show, but your piece made me want to watch it. And I have Netflix, too!”

Thanks for the note, David. For $20, give or take, I’ve now ordered Season 5 of FNL, which should arrive any day now. Thanks also for the perfect segue to discuss Netflix.

Our adult children gave us a year’s subscription to Netflix last Christmas, plus the hardware to plug it into our TV.

Prior to late-December 2010, excluding sports programming on weekends, I spent an average of half an hour a day in front of the TV. Since we got into Netflix, though, it’s nothing for Susan and me to sit there for four hours at a time. Watching the same show, without commercials!

I assume that you know the details of Netflix streaming. The customer has access, via pressing buttons, to hundreds of TV shows and movies. And when I say TV shows, I mean past seasons of current shows and all seasons of shows no longer airing.

Thus it was that we watched the first eight seasons of MI-5, a BBC spy show that aired in its home country under the title Spooks in a period of three months. This show is currently airing in the United States via PBS (but only one episode at a time and that at weekly intervals!).

A Touch of Frost is a detective series, produced by Britain’s Independent Television Authority, starring David Jason in the lead role. We watched all 18 years of this show in four months – with no commercials and with the ability to pause the shows at any time for any reason.

We watched Intelligence, a Vancouver, Canada-based TV crime drama, produced by the CBC. This cutting-edge show, which we really enjoyed, ran for only two 13-episode seasons. Each hour-long episode took us only 45 minutes to watch, because there were what? Say it with me: No commercials!

I had never watched 30 Rock or Parks and Recreation. I’ve now watched all episodes of each prior to the current season. And have moved on to Sports Night, which ran for two seasons more than 10 years ago. It’s fabulous!

And the above 30-minute shows take only 22 minutes to watch!

We watched The Kennedys, a miniseries originally produced last year for the History Channel, which it then declined to air. So, maybe it’s not totally history. But it is nominated for an Emmy.

We watched Jack and Bobby, a clever series that aired for one season on the WB in 2004-05. It was about two brothers, one of whom will become president in 2041. We see them during their teen-age years being raised by a single, college-prof mom, played brilliantly by Christine Lahti. This show bowed out way too early!

And then there were shows we sampled for 10 to 15 minutes’ worth – or maybe even three episodes – only then to declare, “Nope! Not that one.” And then move on.

Netflix! What’ll they come up with next?

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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