I don’t watch television. In fact, I cut the cable cord years ago. Of course PBS doesn’t count, because “Sherlock” and “Downton Abbey” are cultural enrichment,and I need to polish my accent for when I go abroad. And I only watched “The Sopranos” in binge mode on DVD long after each season ended. That was more Proustian, recalling my childhood in an Italian neighborhood, where my brother and I were welcome to spend hours reading comic books in the local bookie joint, Gurpy’s Stationary. In retrospect, I suppose we were serving a a “beard” when police raids were imminent. In any case, we were never swept up in one.
But my intellectual snobbery is increasingly being tested as more and more engaging and intriguing shows are available off the tube. We resisted “Breaking Bad” for years, despite our daughter Yael’s fervent pitch, “It’s about a chemistry professor with cancer who starts to cook meth to provide for his family. You’d really relate, Abba.” Abba (Phil) didn’t think so, but finally we agreed to watch the first episode dating from four years back on streaming video from Amazon, a bargain at only a few dollars. From minute one of episode one, we were mesmerized. A disheveled man standing in the road in his tightie whities waving a gun, as sirens are heard in the background-then cut to three weeks earlier to show how he got there? Hooked! We watched four episodes that night, staying up till two in the morning, an hour I have not seen in years. And the next night, and the next, the marathon continued. Each episode left us with a cliffhanger, and the end of each series left us dangling from a helicopter by a frayed rope. It took a few weeks, but we finally caught up, and have now been waiting months for the final season.
The hype for its debut on Sunday night was huge, and apparently the audience was double that of a year ago, almost six million watchers. We were not among them. We don’t have cable. Ah, but Monday night Amazon was streaming it for one dollar and eighty seven cents. After months of waiting, what’s an extra day? All of the final eight episodes will cost less than a night out at the local movie theater, without the deafening sound system, half hour of ads, running commentary and flashing cell phones. And it is superb drama.
So what changed? Moi? Actually, I don’t think so. It is the quality of the offerings that is different. I even read an article last week comparing Walter White (that chemist) to Macbeth, and making a pretty good case of it.
So “House of Cards” and “Orange is the New Black” and “The Killing” are waiting, and I am back in the world of “Madmen”-I had those lamps and glasses in the sixties! There are a variety of ways to watch, free and otherwise. PBS releases its shows the day after airing, free for a few weeks. HBO requires a cable subscription for subsequent viewing. Since I am the Amazon Queen and subscribe to Prime, many films and shows are free there, others pretty cheap. And I have finally bowed and am taking my free month, then paying around eight dollars a month for Netflix for all we can gorge on.
As for Tony, I think he was shot dead. That is why the scene cut to black. I can share a minute by minute scholarly analysis with you if you like…