I don't watch much television, except for the news, which I have on as kind of a background noise when I clean the living room.
But actual made-for-tv shows, I rarely take the time to watch. I'm not some sort of culture snob; believe me, I read plenty of trash literature. I just don't like to plan my life around a particular television program. The last show I watched regularly was West Wing, when I lived in the US. At least I watched it until I started working in politics myself, and then I discovered the real thing was much more adrenaline-rushing than watching Toby and Josh duke it out with their arch enemies on a tiny screen.
And our screen is tiny, by modern standards: It's an old fashioned 19-inch. It has color, and is hooked up to Sky satellite, but that's about as far as it goes. No HDTV, no flat screen, nothing overly stimulating.
So the other night I happened to be in the living room while my husband flipped the channels, and on BBC4 a promo for The #1 Ladies' Detective Agency came on. Having read the series of books by Alexander McCall Smith, I was intrigued. Since the show, the first in the series, was about to start, I sat down and watched.
I was enthralled. I laughed, and yes, cried, and sat on the edge of my seat the whole time, which seemed like one hour but was actually two. I loved the show, but I suspect my reaction was a bit overboard. I've had this feeling before, back in the nineties when I didn't watch television for a long spell. Then one night I watched a TV movie, a Wise Guy reunion show, and was completely blown away. I couldn't stop thinking about it. I was overstimulated by the action, the noise, the scenery.
This must be how a time traveller would feel, if they suddenly were plopped down in the twentieth century from a world where cathode ray tubes didn't exist. It's how I feel every time I watch a movie at the cinema, which is only a few times a year.
Maybe I would be desensitized if I watched TV more often, but I really can't bring myself to adhere to the schedule imposed by BBC or Sky. (I was informed that something called Tivo exists, but I have no idea how that would work. I suspect I'd never record anything, just as I never used my VCR.) In fact, despite enjoying the first episode of #1 Ladies very much, I could hardly bring myself to watch the second episode the next night. I did, though, and liked it very much.
Maybe it's this particular series, which is well-written and charming, just like the books. I've tried to watch television dramas before, and have such an urge to rewrite them that I eventually turn them off, disgusted by the cheesy dialogue and contrived plots.
My lack of television fluency is affecting my social life. I was at a party recently, and realized that without knowing what was going on in Lost, I was lost, unable to decipher the conversation going on around me. But that doesn't make me want to watch it.
One show is enough for me, at least until I learn how to use my Sky remote.