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As some of you may know, I was ‘shamed’ into watching the first season of each of these TV shows by my wife, two daughters, and a son-in-law.

‘Shamed’ may not be the best word nor the most precise reason why I succumbed, but after being cut out of numerous conversations with the above mentioned family members, and with a bit of free time available, I decided to see what all the fuss was (about).

Know that I am not a TV watcher, except for an occasional baseball game (mostly I watch that exquisite form of entertainment and beauty in person or on my iPad), the presidential election results every four years, and the occasional glance at whatever the most recent news crisis.

In fact, I think Full House is the last TV series I watched regularly, tho I did see a few 90210 episodes, a couple of The West Wing ones , and have tried to keep up with Bill Moyers for years with his interviews.

First, I had to learn how to access the ‘On Demand’ feature of our TV/cable set up and also understand how to use Netflix.  Once I conquered those hurdles, I decided to start with Homeland, then go to Downton Abbey, and end with Mad Men. My theory was I would move from the least serious (most escapist) to the more serious and thoughtful shows.

And so my ‘popular culture’ education got underway about a ten days ago.


I loved it.

It takes off from the first episode and doesn’t let up. I’ve always enjoyed a bit of CIA intrigue, and this one didn’t disappoint.

In fact, contrary to my expectation, Homeland was not the weakest of the three shows at all. Despite it having no redeeming value other than being a good, escapist thriller, it’s terrific at what it is.

And I can’t wait to turn to the season 2.

Downton Abbey:

downton.8986Not only had my family talked about this one, but it seems as if everyone I know under the age of say 70 has been captured by this upstairs/downstairs soap opera.

I found I liked this one too.

It took me a bit longer to get hooked, but by half way through the first season, I began to understand the fascination. It is more than just entertainment as it both tells and teaches us about not only a particular lifestyle(s) but also about human nature, about families, about work, and about values.

Plus, I like some of the characters, which, for some reason, is important in what I see or read.

By the end of the ‘season’, I decided I’d probably watch a bit more.

Mad Men:

TV Mad MenThis one was the only disappointment (sorry Beth), but I might need to give it more time.

It seemed to take too long to get going. I found I didn’t like most of the characters, and I found myself annoyed at what they were doing with their lives.

I have been told Mad Men gets better in season two or three.  I can see how that is possible, as the stage has been set for something possibly of more value.  But I have already spent close to ten hours, and that seems too long for what I’ve gotten.

I’m not sure I want to devote that much time to what seems like a story that could be told in a good two-hour movie. Perhaps, some one (of you) can make a good case of why I should stick with it.

A few other observations:

I like being able to see a whole season of a show all at once, or at least over the period of a few days.  Not only can I choose my timing for watching, but also I don’t have to wonder from week to week what is going to happen. Tho I do wonder how differently I might experience the shows if I had to wait a week or more between episodes.

It’s also good to watch without commercials and to be able to pause or interrupt a show at will or as is necessary.

The ability to watch on TV, or more mobily (such a word?) on my iPad or iPad Mini, is terrific.

Devoting time to these series has seriously, completely interfered with my reading. I usually read about two books a week and haven’t even read the first chapter of one since I embarked on this ‘assignment’.  Also, I haven’t seen the grand kids much either.

But I’ve snuck in a few movies (see yesterday’s post, Four Small Films Not to Miss) between the three series. Something about movies I like better than TV.

Now, which do I see next – Homeland, Season 2 or Downton Abbey, Season 2?