Darkly Dreaming
by Annette McCleave on October 20th, 2009

I’m a DVD-aholic. My life just doesn’t allow me to faithfully watch a TV show once per week at a certain hour. Ok, maybe one (Defying Gravity). But more than that? Nope. As a result, I was very late to the Buffy party. So late in fact that the show had been canceled before I saw my first episode—I picked up the Season 1 DVDs in a bargain bin at a local electronics store.

My daughter and I glommed the first season in a couple of days, and promptly ran out and bought Seasons 2 & 3. There’s nothing like watching back to back episodes in order, on your own sofa, with lots of popcorn. As went Buffy, so went Angel—we watched ‘em all in rapid fashion. Because I was late adopting Buffy, it’s hard for me to know whether TV influenced the popularity of vampire novels, or whether the emergence of vamp books inspired Joss Whedon. (Though, my bet would be on the former).

Other shows I’ve DVD’d: LOST…I got bored after Season 3. Grey’s Anatomy…I’m falling behind, so I’d say my interest is dwindling. Battlestar Galactica (the re-imagined series)…I loved it, but didn’t enjoy the ending.


My current faves are Dexter and True Blood. Because I don’t get the cable package that includes HBO and Showtime, I have no choice but to impatiently await the DVD releases. But I’m loving both right now. Is my addiction influenced by the knowledge that both are based on popular book series? Not really; I’ve never read either series. But it does make me more interested in reading the books—because I’m one of those people who believes the book is almost always better than the ‘movie’. Judging by the current reign on Sookie books on the bestseller lists, I’d venture a guess that I’m not the only one who feels that way.

I think TV has influenced popular fiction—and vice versa—but not always in terms of storyline. Even before the internet, TV began to increase our need for gripping conflict and quick resolution. Some TV shows are only half and hour, and others, while technically an hour long, are chewed up by twenty minutes of commercials. We’ve grown accustomed to having conflict thrown at us from the opening line, reversals and reveals coming fast and furious, and endings delivered with drama and satisfaction—all in the space of an hour. Genre fiction, in order to compete, has had to do the same. Readers no longer have the patience to wait for the story to gently roll out.

It’s too simple to blame TV completely for this trend, but I think it had a profound influence. What do you think?

3 comments to “Darkly Dreaming”

  1. 1

    Annette, I agree that TV is very much to blame for the patience factor in how people want their entertainment delivered. But then so does the American lifestyle. People are always on the go, always working. Leisure time is becoming a thing of the past, just like story development. We need to slow down and start enjoying the scenery again!

  2. 2

    I remember getting Season 1 of 24 on DVD because another writer had suggested it for the pacing and tension. Oh wow. Yeah. I had to fast forward through parts because the tension was too high and I was so exhausted by the pacing I couldn’t imagine getting Season 2.

    Probably it wouldn’t have been so overwhelming in TV-time with commercial interruptions. But it made me realize that “good pacing” doesn’t always mean “breakneck.”

  3. 3

    Allison, I agree that we need to slow down and savor things. So much just whizzes by!

    Jessa, you’re not the first person who has said that about 24. Another lady told me she stopped watching the show in Season 1 because it was so unrelentingly intense. I don’t have the 24 DVDs, so I can’t comment. :-)

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