There Really is a Method to My Madness

Long ago, my family accepted my Netflix addiction. They are used to walking through the living room and seeing me glued to my laptop, earbuds in place, engrossed in one show or another. That was within the acceptable behavior parameters. But, I’m fairly certain they decided I had a permanent ticket on the crazy train when they realized that I have different methods for rewatching shows. Yes, people, I said ‘methods’ – plural. Because, depending on the situation, I conduct rewatches in one of three ways. Let me explain.

First up is a complete series rewatch. This usually happens immediately after I binge watch a show for the first time. When I say binge watch, I’m serious. It’s not unusual for me to watch two, three or four episodes in one sitting. That’s the point where I force myself to walk away and do something horribly domestic with the promise of another episode upon completion. Yes, I’m forty-eight years old and I still respond to the reward system. Laughable, but if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right?

My most recent example of this is Veronica Mars. I spent a week watching all three seasons plus the movie. Immediately after watching the movie, I was back on Amazon watching the pilot again. I’m almost done with that rewatch – about halfway through season three, as of this morning.

Why do I do this? Easy. I’m a thinker, a plotter, an analyzer. I find that when I binge watch, I don’t do that. I don’t give myself time between episodes to ponder what has and what might happen. I find when I binge watch, I miss things. One of my favorite things about rewatching is catching the little things I missed the first time or the third time around.

My second rewatch plan is used when  I’m gearing up for the new season. I watch the first and last episode of each season. I like to seeing where a show started and how it has progressed to where it is now. I don’t do this for every show, just my favorites. Some networks, like ABC, have made this easier by getting the most recent season of some shows to Netflix early. Marvel’s Agents of Shield season two was added in June. And then some networks (boo to you, CW) wait until the new season has started before adding last season, making it impossible to get ahead before the new season starts.

In addition to rewatching Veronica Mars, I have been rewatching Heroes. Unfortunately, what started as a complete series rewatch is going to end up as a first and last rewatch. I’m still early in season two and just don’t have the time to watch through the end of season four before Heroes Reborn starts tomorrow night. I need to see how the series ended before the new one begins. Reborn has been near the top of my highly anticipated list since it was announced. The fact that Zachary Levi is part of the cast certainly doesn’t hurt.

My final method usually depends on my mood. For any of my favorite shows, I have a go to list of episodes. Whether I’m wanting to watch a favorite episode or one that matches my mood (happy, sad, or a desire to watch a certain show), I know just which episode to turn to. For example, if I’m in a mood to watch Angel, I’ll watch the Angelus episodes in season four. If I want to watch Star Trek: Enterprise, I’ll pick my favorite episodes from the Xindi arc in season three or the Vulcan arc in season four. When it comes to The Vampire Diaries, I’ll watch the pivotal episodes in Damon and Elena’s relationship, beginning with the second episode of the series.

You’ve heard about the exception that proves the rule, right? Here is the one that doesn’t fit into any of the above. This summer I watched/rewatched Prison Break. How can it be both a first time watch and a rewatch? Here’s how – I faithfully watched seasons one and two when they aired. Then, season three happened. I watched two or three episodes and then stopped. Seeing Michael Scofield trying to break out of another prison felt like a step backwards and I decided I was done. Fast forward to earlier this year when FOX announced a limited run Prison Break that will air in early 2016. I knew then that I’d have to go back and watch the rest of the series before then. I have to admit, about halfway through season three, I was hooked all over again and finishing the series wasn’t the chore I feared it might be. Now, I’m completely excited about the new series.

So, I’ve shared a little of my madness with you. Surely, I’m not the only person this, um, obsessed. If you have a method you use to watch or rewatch a series, please share! Who knows, I might incorporate it into my own.

Until next time…

All Things Must Come to an End

It might be a little extreme, but I think that a series finale can forever cement or forever taint how you feel about a show. At least that is what I thought before I began to prep this post. I fully intended to have examples of my most and least favorite series finales. I sat down with my laptop, earbuds and a list of finales to rewatch, ones that I loved along with ones that I hated. I opened Netflix, pulled up the first one on the list and settled in for a day of revisiting some of my favorite shows.

It was while I was watching one from my ‘hate’ list that I realized I didn’t hate it as much as I thought. The same thing happened a second time and then a third. My list of hated series finales was getting shorter with each one I watched. With only one finale left on my ‘hate’ list, I had to change the focus of this post.

With some time and distance, I was able to find something to appreciate in each of the finales I rewatched. Are there aspects of some of them that I still hate? Absolutely! I don’t think there is enough time or distance to change that, but at least now I can watch them without cringing or grinding my teeth.

So, here are the six finales I watched, in no particular order. The one left on the hate list? I didn’t watch it. Even after almost eighteen years, I just couldn’t make myself do it. If you’re curious about which finale I consider the worst of all time, I’ll reveal it at the end.

Here we go:

  • Chuck (episode – Chuck versus the Goodbye)

When I watched this episode live, I hated it. I was completely crushed that Sarah Walker had not regained her memories. She and Chuck Bartowski were supposed to be together for the long haul, in my opinion. How could that happen if she didn’t remember him?

Watching again this week, I was reminded of the things I love about this show. Chuck got to be an awkward nerd and as well as a spy. Sarah and Chuck, in their search for the bad guy, Quinn, were able to revisit scenes similar to some of their first cases. Morgan finally stood up to John Casey, proving that even he had grown up over the course of the show. Casey had to admit that he was better with his team, Chuck, Sarah and Morgan, than he was without it.

I’ve watched this finale several times, always disappointed, okay, angry, that we didn’t know if the kiss between Sarah and Chuck on the beach triggered her memories. Watching this week, I realized it didn’t matter. Sure, having her memories back would be the ultimate happy ending. Even without them, I think they found their way back together.

  • Star Trek: Enterprise (episode – These are the Voyages)

Often, when a show is not renewed, the powers that be try to pull together a finale that ties everything up in one neat little package. That is what happened in the case of Enterprise. While the three modern Star Trek series (The Next Generation, Deep Space 9 and Voyager) all enjoyed seven year runs, Enterprise was cut off at four. The finale that Brannon Braga crafted has always felt weak and rushed to me. Presenting it as if it were part of an episode of The Next Generation as an object lesson for Riker has been the driving force behind my hatred for this episode.

However, watching it again, when I looked past that aspect, I found several things I actually liked about it. The six year time jump allowed us to see the progression of the friendships of the crew, the first deep space explorers from Earth. It served to provide one last mission for the crew before the NX-01 Enterprise was decommissioned. Captain Jonathan Archer, one of my favorite Star Trek captains, was recognized for his contributions in the founding of the Federation.

  • How I Met Your Mother (episode – The Last Forever, pts 1 & 2)

When this aired, nearly a year ago, I was furious. We had spent nine seasons hearing the very long story of how Ted met the Mother. We watched him fall in and out of love with Robin. We became convinced that Robin and Barney belonged together. Then, this episode aired, took everything we thought we knew and flipped it upside down.

I really liked the time jumps, checking in with the gang as the years went by. All too soon though, we jumped three years and Barney and Robin were divorced. We had just spent an entire season that revolved around their wedding weekend, yet the marriage only last three years. Disappointing, but not hate worthy.

Rewatching it this week, I enjoyed the episode until I got to the point where the Mother, Tracy, is dying. Really? I watched for nine years and just as we are starting to see Ted and Tracy together, she dies. That was followed by Ted and Robin seemingly getting back together after we’ve been convinced that is not what they want. I might have enjoyed most of the episode while watching again, but the last seven minutes never should have happened.

  • Friends (episode – The Last One, pts 1 & 2)

This is one of my favorite series finales of all time. Everything ended just as I wanted it to. Monica and Chandler were moving to the suburbs with their twins. Phoebe actually found someone who could deal with her special kind of eccentricity in Mike and was smart enough to marry him. Joey was still Joey, and I love him for that. My favorite part of the episode? Rachel got off the plane. After ten years of on again, off again, Ross and Rachel found their way back together in a way that was perfectly them. I wouldn’t change a thing.

  • Angel (episode – Not Fade Away)

Poor Joss Whedon. He went to the network for an early renewal and got shot down. I imagine that he had to scramble for an ending to this great series. My only complaint about this finale is that the setup felt a little rushed to me. Other than that, I love it. On that final day, when Angel gave everyone time to spend however they wanted, it not only gave the characters closure. It gave us viewers closure, too. The ending was perfect, the story was complete. Whatever happened when they walked out of that alley was a new story.

  • LOST (episode – The End)

LOST is one of those series that people either really love or really hate. It’s polarizing. I don’t think that it’s possible for there to be middle ground where this show is concerned. I am a huge fan of both the series and the finale. I actually wish I had chosen this finale for this post. It has been a long time since I’ve watched the series and my memory of the events leading up to the finale was a little fuzzy. Because of that, I’m not really going to comment on the symbolism in the episode. I’ll save that for a later post. I do have two comments now on the finale. First, I loved that they all needed each other in order to be able to move on. Second, the mirrored scenes that opened and closed the series, focused on the opening and closing of Jack’s eye, were brilliant, in my opinion.

That’s it, just a quick look at the finales of some of my favorite TV shows. Trust me, if I did a post on all of my favorite series finales, we would be here for a very, very long time.

Oh yeah, the one finale that was still on my ‘hate’ list? That would be the Seinfeld finale. Admittedly, I was never a big fan of the show. I only watched because my husband did. There were episodes that I like, but the finale left a bad taste in my mouth about the series in general.