Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What Do I Do All Day? I Watch (mostly) Quality Television

102300_wb_0007b_0This is the first in a series of posts about how a disabled person like me passes the time at home, now that I no longer work.

Television is roundly criticized as a colossal waste of time. Granted, there’s a lot of crap on television that deserves to be ridiculed, but I’m here to tell you that there is a lot of quality television available as well. You just have to do some legwork (sample a lot of awful shows) to find the gems.

There are two basic categories of shows – network television and cable television. In general, the drama and comedy series on cable, such as those on HBO or Showtime, are superior to those on network television, such as ABC or Fox. But the seasons are relatively short for the cable shows. A typical run will be 12 consecutive, weekly shows, which are completed in three months. Most network shows spread 20 – 25 episodes out over approximately eight months.

Believe it or not (for those who know me, this is sarcasm), I keep a spreadsheet of the cable television shows I watch, how many seasons have been completed, and when or if the next season will begin. I don’t know why I make so many spreadsheets. You may as well ask me why I breathe so often.

Kim doesn’t care for television. She has only a few shows that she watches during the week, and I watch those with her. Other than that, I tend to record most of the programs that I’m interested in and watch them the next day while Kim is at work, rather than watching them live in the evening while ignoring Kim. Also, by viewing recorded shows I’m able to fast-forward through the commercials. This is particularly important during a political season, which seems to be most of the time these days.

Here is a list of the TV series that I watch on cable. I have rated each show on a scale of 1 to 10 for overall quality.

Miscellaneous Cable Shows
Here are some network shows, of the comedy and drama variety, which I watch. I’m going to rate them on a different scale than the cable shows, because it’s a little bit of an apples and oranges situation.
Here are some other shows that I watch from time to time:
th No apologies. This is what I watch, for better or worse. I don’t do cop or detective shows. They just don’t hold my interest. The only reality shows I watch are the occasional singing competitions. Notice that there are no History Channel or Discovery Channel, etc., shows in my list. Are there any that I should be watching?

I watch a lot more TV during the winter. In the summer, Kim is off for about eight weeks, and there are so many more options for passing the time in the real world. Even in the spring and fall when I can get outdoors by myself during the day, the television sits idle for long periods of time. But in the winter, if not for television I am certain that I would go stir crazy.

If television were my only answer to the question “What Do I Do All Day?”, then I would have a problem. But that’s far from reality, as you will see in my subsequent posts on this topic. To a certain extent TV educates me and makes me a more informed and well-rounded person. But primarily it just makes me happy, and isn’t that what entertainment is for. 

I look forward to your comments about specific shows, and about television watching in general.

Here are my other posts in this series:

2. I Digitize and Archive Family Photos and Videos
3. I Read Books
4. I Attend Courses at Top Universities (sort of)
5. I Nap
6. I Blog
7. I Read Other People's Blogs


  1. I'm a huge fan of Two Broke Girls on CBS. I feel like its the funniest show out there right now.

    And PS, I've now tried to comment 6 times and cannot get the flippin code. I'm not a robot! I swear!

  2. Heidi,

    I'm sorry you have so much trouble typing in the security codes when you try to comment. I don't know why they have to make them so difficult. You know there's a little button that you can push to keep trying codes until you see one that you like, right?

  3. Given our partial overlap on liked shows I will suggest NOVA on PBS. It's on at odd intervals but they're currently airing new episodes.

    Since you didn't mention any shows in this category I don't know if it's for you. Last week they did an episode on drones that I found very interesting. I kept thinking about how autonomous aircraft like the mini helicopters they showed could be used in the home to help the disabled.

    The topics are almost randomly diverse.

  4. Are you able to read? I'd go completely bonkers watching TV all the time.

  5. Heidi,

    My daughter is a big fan of two broke girls. I've watched a few episodes, and I can see its appeal, but, among other things, why don't they just get rid of that obnoxious Polish woman character?


    Thanks for the recommendation. I will check that series out. By the way, I am also fascinated by drones (not the kind that the military flies over Afghanistan). I think you are right. There are definitely implications for disabled people in the long term.


    I definitely read a lot, using my computer, my iPad mini, and even my phone. I do lots of different things throughout the day, and I'll be describing some of them in upcoming posts.

  6. Wow! That's a lot. We have several overlaps, but my husband does enjoy police/crime shows. Did the next season of The Newsroom start yet?

  7. Hiya Mitch!

    As a sign of the times perhaps we watch virtually no "television". We only have basic cable. We do watch television shows, though, just on the Internet.

    So Daily Show is a must watch. It's interesting to get the Stewart version of the news after reading the main stream media version through Routers or New York Times.

    We have purchased series passes on iTunes to Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey. Good stuff!

    We do have a Netflix subscription - both disc and streaming. For some time I was a bad boy and got sucked into marathons of shows without spending much time to grow other areas of my life. And to its not escapist credit Netflix does have a fine collection of documentaries including NOVA shows.

    At one point I realized, that for me, too much escapism (watching TV, playing games, social media) leads to stagnation and leaves little time for thought. I intentionally limit my exposure to be more involved in other tasks. Now this is not to say that I don't spend time escaping - just that I guard my time better than I used to.

    Lastly, thanks for putting these posts out there. Our predilection for tracking things in Excel or whatnot is a strong one. Engineers! What a crazy lot!

  8. Hi Mitch,
    I enjoy The Daily Show, Doc Martin,Waking the Dead and Frontline on PBS. I also read a lot, do crossword puzzles on my PC. I`m a political junkie and am quite into what is happening in the US and Canada. I am a dual citizen, have been living in Canada for the past 15 years. I married a Canuck!

    Thank you so much for your posts!

  9. Well one thing I gotta say is that you had me looking up the season opener dates for SMASH and MADMEN, though I'm not deserting DOWNTON ABBEY for MADMEN if it's still running in April.

    I just finished reading "Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey" on my kindle and btw, it was pretty darned fascinating. King Tut involvement and all.

    The other thing is that, despite the three above, you and I do not watch the same stuff at all. AT ALL. But...I'm considering checking out a few of your favorites despite the fact that you make lists and charts just like my husband does and though it is an endearing trait at times, at other times I would like to ram them down his throat. I could say more here about just what he is charting but I have to think about that first.

    Anyway, your further posts are eagerly awaited!

  10. Muffie,

    My spreadsheet says that the next season of The Newsroom will start in June of this year.


    You have great discipline with your time management. I admire that.


    Thanks for commenting. So, the politics of a single country aren't enough to keep you busy? You are a political junkie!


    You shouldn't have to decide between Downton Abby and Mad Men. Don't you have a DVR? By the way, your husband sounds like an intelligent, fascinating, and probably even handsome man!

  11. Try chopped on food network. Good show. I only started big bang when it came on tbs- great show! Jen

  12. Oh he is, he is, (the husband comment,) and in regard to the DVR: I can reset a travel clock whose instructions have been lost, I can find software fixes for glitchy computers; I can even write a few lines of code, but my ability to program a DVR is gone completely! Easier to find the missed program online somewhere and watch on my computer. I don't know how I got to be such a wimp but there you are.

  13. Jen,

    Nope. No cooking shows for me!


    That is horrible! Have you thought about asking a small child to help you with the DVR ;-)

  14. i have told my wife not to get me an xbox, because i would do nothing else all day. the same, for me, goes for tv. i could easily watch all, or most, of the day. i don't have as many faves as you do - breaking bad is really good (i'm working hard to catch up to the current season). also just started watching "legit," featuring a quad (tho the actor is able-bodied), "the following," and a few others. i would recommend renting dvds of "the wire," and "treme," produced by the same people, and some of the best programming ever on tv. in any event. for me it's a slippery slope.

  15. Thank you for your blog. I have been having progressive neurological symptoms since June of 2012, and am about to be evaluated for a wheelchair. I have yet to receive a diagnosis, but we have ruled out pretty much everything but MS. Because it has been progressive with no relapses, I fear it may be PPMS. I have already burned through a bunch of shows, and am always looking for more good ones, especially that I can watch on my Roku. I love the suggestions, and would be interested in sharing experiences through email. I hope this message finds you well.

  16. Kim,

    MS is such a difficult diagnosis to arrive at sometimes, isn't it? It can come down to eliminating everything else first. Yes, feel free to email me at