On A Binge

I don’t watch a lot of television, with the exception of sports — and even that viewing represents a small portion of time compared to a couple of decades ago. For instance, a normal Sunday during my 20s used to be spent watching football from the kickoff of the early game all the way through the end of the Sunday night matchup — unless bed beckoned as a result of such an exhausting day. Nowadays, I rarely see a single football game from start to finish. Sunday in the year 2017 means church, grocery shopping, laundry, touching base with family members, hanging out with the wife and kids … and not a heck of a lot of time in front of the tube.


Once upon a time, every Thursday night, I remember having homework wrapped up so I could watch the great NBC sitcom lineup. “The Cosby Show” was on 8, followed by “Family Ties” at 8:30, “Cheers” at 9 and “Night Court” at 9:30. Years later, “must-see-TV” on NBC every Thursday included “Friends” and “Seinfeld,” which I almost never missed. But now, I honestly can’t remember the last time I participated in what one might call “appointment television.” I suppose this does happen for an awards show or some other special presentation/event, but it’s not like I wait with baited breath every week for the new episode of “The Big Bang Theory,” even though that show’s often hilarious.


I am, however, occasionally known to take part in “binge watching,” which for the unaware is the practice of watching many episodes of a particular show (or multiple movies in a series) consecutively, or over a short period of time. A few years ago, curious about the hype and with the wife and kids out of town, I tried the TV comedy “Arrested Development,” and the bizarre Bluth brood took over my life almost instantaneously. Later, again after hearing about it seemingly everywhere, I tuned into my first episode of “Breaking Bad” (again, no one was at home at the time). It wasn’t long before many of my dreams had me taking part in drug deals gone horribly awry.


On Wednesday morning, I was flying back to Minnesota from a business trip to Atlanta, Ga., and was perusing the Sky TV (or whatever it’s called exactly) viewing options. I soon found a show I’d read about just a few days before — a comedy called “The Good Place.” The series sounded intriguing enough, so I put in earbuds and fired up the first episode.


Four episodes later, I was wishing the flight had more of the show available — although my co-workers were probably glad they no longer had to hear me laugh out loud seemingly out of nowhere. Later on Wednesday night, ny wife was subject to that phenomenon, as I caught some more of the show on the Direct TV app I downloaded.


Here’s a basic synopsis: The main character, Eleanor, finds out at the very beginning of the series that she has died. Michael, an angel of sorts played by the great Ted Danson (in a role that couldn’t be more different from his Sam Malone days on “Cheers”), tells Eleanor that she’s in “the good place,” which is far better than “the bad place” alternative. Problem is, Eleanor quite obviously is not even remotely worthy of being in the good place. She and the “soulmate” she has been given — a college professor of ethics when alive — begin working together to get her to become a better person while interacting with several other fellow “neighborhood” residents, including a wealthy philanthropist and a Buddhist monk, not to mention Michael’s “assistant” Janet, a programmed guide. It’s definitely an offbeat show, and I could go on for a long while about it, but let me just say simply that I give it an enthusiastic thumbs-up.


If you’re the kind of person who binge-watches, you just may want to clear your schedule.