Confessions of a download backslider

20:44, Nov 11 2012

Well, my New Year's resolution to give up downloading for the year - which I wrote about in January - has failed miserably. And like a converted vegetarian who backslides with a five-course meal of steak, bacon, roast lamb, chicken tenders and pork chops, I've been feasting at the table of the internet: it started with the latest seasons of Breaking Bad and Louie, and spread to the latest season of Fringe, new episodes of Parks & Recreation, the never-to-be-aired-on-One third season of Justified (I had to: Season 4 starts in January) and episodes of new season shows Arrow and Last Resort.

It's high-time I loosened my belt. Y'know, metaphorically speaking.

I've even gone beyond downloading shows, mainlining the latest episodes of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report since the start of the US election (Democalypse 2012, what a hoot!) and snacking on clips from Jimmy Kimmel Live via YouTube. Then there's the Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome pilot-turned-web-series, which started on Machinima's YouTube channel over the weekend (the first two parts are here and here). Dessert to die for.

I'm sure my internet usage has gone up two sizes.

Back in January, I wrote that the act of downloading is the act of an impatient person:

Toward the end of 2011, I downloaded new episodes of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, even though I know for a fact that it will be airing on TV3 this year. I was impatient. I wanted the show immediately. But why do I want to watch CSI immediately? Is my life somehow better for having seen it a few months earlier? Is there some enjoyment to be had by watching it in November rather than in March? The answer is surely no.


It's easy to give up downloading when none of your favourite shows are on the air. It was easy to give up downloading in January. Nothing is on in January. But in July, when arguably your two favourite shows are back with brand new episodes (Louie and Breaking Bad), it's a much tougher order.

As a commenter pointed out at the time, there is a kind of fandom that accompanies your favourite shows: you want to follow the cast and crew on Twitter and "like" the fan pages on Facebook, you want to read news stories and reviews about new episodes, you want to partake in the little world surrounding that show. It's even tougher as a TV writer - spoilers come with the territory because they pop up in seemingly unrelated news stories and opinion columns*.

And it isn't the case that I've gone back on what I wrote earlier, that I now feel my life is better for having seen these shows earlier than I otherwise would have. My life isn't better. In fact, I would say I still agree with the sentiment that, aside from the fandom aspect, there is no advantage to seeing a show in November instead of March. That said, I do question whether timeliness, or seeing a show now versus later, is even a consideration. I might have been overthinking things.

But it's not just the continual threat of spoilers, or a desire to follow the show through social media and online, or the notion that somehow seeing shows now is better than seeing them later. I have no real excuse: I just want to watch my favourite shows now, and I have the ability to do so. So I do.**

Anyway, that's me - a quick confession of a downloading backslider. Please don't think less of me.

How do you feel about downloading now? Has your opinion changed in light of recent developments in Kiwi television, like fast-tracking shows or the law? And remember: no posting spoilers about the shows you've already seen.

(*) On the subject of spoilers: as a TV fan, the only way to avoid spoilers is to download, I'm convinced of this now. I can't tell you how many shows have been spoilt for me - but for the most part, I don't mind too much, and I don't find it affects my enjoyment of a show. I knew Deb would walk in on Dexter weeks before I saw it. Same for the death of Jimmy Darmody on Boardwalk Empire earlier this year. Those are two of my favourite shows on the air right now, but they aren't two of my favourite shows. The spoilers don't bother me. But find out that Gus Fring gets his face half-blown up at the end of Breaking Bad S4 before the season has even started here in New Zealand? That, my friends, is a spoiler I cannot abide.

(**) This is why I frequently applaud TV3, Four and SoHo for introducing their campaigns to fast-track a number of shows, with TV2 quickly following suit in recent weeks ... even if they're all only forced into it due to the increased simplicity of technology and viewer impatience.

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