TV Should Be a la Carte


I don’t have cable TV.

I have lived most of my adult life without watching cable or network TV, by choice. I’ve found that there are a few shows worth watching, but only a few, and that TV often serves as a sucking vortex of my free time. I’d rather read a book or go for a walk. I’m not self-righteous about my choices; please take these comments at face value. I would rather remove TV from my life altogether, so that I am likelier to take a walk or read a book than to watch three hours of Angel reruns in the middle of the afternoon. I am weak like everyone, so I choose to remove the temptation. I don’t have cable TV.

But after nearly a decade of TV-free life, I got cable when I bought this house. I was feeling flush. I wanted to watch The Sopranos and all the new and exiciting cable programming that hit the airwaves during these golden years of cable TV programming — Deadwood, Carnivale, Six Feet Under. I got the biggest package my local cable company had.

Three years later I canceled it. I’d had enough. Between the sad evening I spent watching Wife Swap and hating every moment of it and the new glut of torture-porn movies being advertised on TV as if death and torture were no big deal anymore, I decided to remove TV from my life again. I kept my television but canceled the cable. My TV became a big box to watch movies on.

I never missed it. Well, I missed BBC America and Battlestar Galactica, but not the device’s power to tease hours of my day, of my life, into nothingness. Goodbye Sunday afternoon! You were just a chunk of my life…

I got a subscription to Netflix, a DVD subscription service (renting movies through the mail) and so started spending my time in front of the tube very consciously, watching only videos that I had hand-selected and made time for.

But the truth of the matter? I adore television.

I VASTLY prefer it to the Hollywood movie-making machine. I’d call it my favorite entertainment medium by far, far more even than books. I just have major problems with the way that TV comes into my home, and all the crappy extras I have to deal with the get just one good show like Doctor Who. I don’t want a massive bursting pipeline of a hundred programs a day, multiple channels that I don’t want but have to pay a ridiculous fee for just to get the few shows I like. And I don’t just want American programming. I want my BBC.

My Doctor Who obsession fandom has lead me at last to watching TV shows online, on my PC. I don’t care to watch things on the PC, really. I am a comfort queen, and I like my tea and my sliced apple and cheese and my comfy couch and, especially, my knitting. Hard to knit at a desk. Not the same. I like to watch TV in my living room, with my cats and my crushed velvet throw. But hell, I’ll go through a lot to watch Doctor Who. Crushed velvet blankies aren’t everything. I started watching the shows online.And it ocurred to me that that was what I wanted. Not to watch TV shows on my home PC, but to watch my shows when I want them. On demand. As they are broadcast. Even though I do not live in the U.K., I really like BBC programming. The Black Adder, Monty Python, the orginal Doctor Who, BBC minis like the recent and wonderful Bleak House. I want to watch new shows as they come out, not after they are processed by multiple industries and sent to me months later as DVDs. I want ALL my TV fresh and hot! I want TV from every nation! I want it when I want it!

TV should be a la carte. It seems to be going that way due to semilegal activities on sites like YouTube and The fact that it is semilegal is ridiculous, for I and others WOULD PAY for the shows we want. But with only a few exceptions that we may or may not even have the technology to enjoy, we have no service to pay for.

Here’s an example. I would like to watch the new American sci-fi TV program, Heroes. However, I do not want a cable TV subscription with all the stupid extras I mentioned above. I just want Heroes, nothing more. But I can’t get “just” Heroes. It’s a cable package full of glop and dreck as well as Heroes, or nothing.

Dammit, I should be able to get with my cable provider, or SOME provider, and order up Heroes with my debit card the way you would a pay-per-view movie. And watch it not on my PC, but on my TV, in my living room, with my cats and my tea and my velvet blankie.

But I can’t. It’s a new show, so I can’t yet get it on DVD. I can watch it hosted illegally on YouTube or elsewhere, or wait a year until it comes out on DVD. I’ve got money, I want to buy a product and a service, and I can’t. TV needs to change.

Meanwhile,, the future of television, ROCKS. Check this OUT, y’all, and THANK YOU ERIK. You can watch some fabulous, all-time-great TV online here, including:

both the new and classic Doctor Who

Battlestar Galactica (!)

The Black Adder

BTW seasons 2 and 3 of The Black Adder are absolutely and utterly classic comedy television.


– The Crushed Velvet Blankie Monster

4 responses to “TV Should Be a la Carte

  1. I cried watching the end!!!! Very haunting…..her telling the death of Rose.
    Now you’ll have to come over and watch the Christmas Day Special!
    I am off to bed.
    Nighty Night

  2. I already watched the Christmas Day special on YouTube, so I am totally coming over when the new series starts!


  3. It was a so-so episode.
    It was nice seeing the Doctor miss Rose.
    Silly story though–I had hoped for better.
    I am sure I will not like the new companion–shrug–ehhh??
    Well, 2 hour school delay. Must leave in a few to take kids to school.
    Hope you have a nice day.

  4. Yeah, it was a so-so episode. The Empress of Racnoss needed to back down, good lord. Overacting and overdirection!

    I will hate Martha Jones with you. Poor woman — stepping into Rose’s great big shoes.


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