Thursday, July 4, 2013

Magic Thursday: Watching TV or Research by another Name


So you are told that TV is an 'idiot box' and that you are wasting your time by watching?

Not so I say. I believe it is research by another name.

First let me admit that I'm a TV addict. As far as I can remember I have watched TV and I mean watched and gotten into shows. I remember the adventures of Buck Rogers, Wonder Woman and the Charlie's Angels girls.

I wanted to know what happened to my favourite characters week after week.

I still do.

The one thing that has changed is that I can record shows and see them when I like. Sometimes I like to get two or three episodes and what these in a row. I also borrow series from the library - oh, my library system, gets a rave from me.

But I also think that TV is research. It helps you see story telling in another medium. Everything is shown to right there on big or small screens. You pick up on story structure, dialogue, themes, atmosphere, storyline arcs. While it's not conveyed in the same way in writing, it does help sharpen the skills because you can compare and contrast. Oh, dear, that sounds like a high school English exam question, doesn't it?

What do I watch? Basically what don't I?


At the moment, I'm watching Game of Thrones, Medium, Defiance, Warehouse 13, and just started watching Under the Dome (okay only second episode in - I have to remember this is NOT the book and things have been changed).  But I also just finished a stint of Boardwalk Empire and watch Sons of Anarchy and Elementary. Different shows. Different characters. Different beats. And I love it.

Defiance (source: SF)
Oh and documentaries and documentary series are always running in our house. I love Time Team.  Lately I've been laughing at the antics of Duck Commander / Duck Dynasty. I love Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall and his River Cottage series. Nigella Lawson, Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsey also make an appearance. I may not watch these constantly, but I do enjoy watching them too. I watched a couple of Medieval episodes presented by author Ken Follett - one on Women in the Medieval Period and the other on the Black Death (e.g. the plague). Again, it can go on and on.

Hugh Fearnley-Wittingstall (source: River Cottage.Net)

The TV is on when I iron or when I get into my painting or drawing homework. Usually on shows I don't have to concentrate on. It's been great revisiting SG-1.

I'm allowing myself the time get away from my own stories. My writing has been lax lately because I have been so busy with other commitments. But I always feel like part of me is taking notes when I'm watching TV.

I also think that sometimes we outgrow or get enough from one show and we can let that show fade into the distance. I watched Lost and after a couple of years or so, I noticed that I'd missed a few episodes and let it fade. I'd catch an episode here or there but it didn't spark my interest in the same way any more. I still enjoyed watching it, but somehow my lessons had been learned from that show. And it was okay to let go.

How about you? Do you see TV as research? Or do you see it as a waste of time?

 ~Eleni~



9 comments:

  1. I totally agree Eleni! I also watch Ancient Aliens quite a bit and (I think) that it inspires some great writing ideas for further research.

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    1. Thanks, Peter. I've heard of Ancient Aliens and it sounds intriguing so I'll keep an eye out for it. I think documentaries especially can give you a lead into a subject area.

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  2. Wonderful, Eleni. I never realized until I read your post that I do use TV for research!

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    1. Ah, another TV researcher! I sometimes have to tell myself off when I'm watching TV not to have the 'editor' on. But on the whole I can be absorbed in it. Thanks for popping in.

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  3. Definitely agree with you, Eleni. While on retreat earlier this year I was afforded the opportunity to watch the first season of Spartacus. Such a fantastic show with its mixture of drama, action and intrigue. Although it was sometimes distracting when the two authors (who shall remain anonymous) who had seen it before kept yelling "PLOT POINT" at the TV.

    In addition to the many fabulous shows you listed above, I also watch some Japanese anime. The plots to these shows can be very intricate and often involve underlying romances.

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    1. Hi Jennie! I still haven't caught those first few episodes of Spartacus. But I agree it was very well done. LOL at yelling at the TV.

      I have watched only a couple of anime programs and did enjoy them. I'm afraid of delving too deeply as I just don't have the time to watch more ATM. :)

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  4. I find when I watch TV I have a sort of running commentary going through my head such as trite plot, know what's going to happen here, excellent twist (why hasn't someone done that B4?), deep characterisation, interesting anti-hero and all sorts of stuff. Something to do with being a writer I guess.

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    1. Yes, I have to tell my editor side off - the writer side can go with the flow. But yes, I too also look at plot and think -huh? or wow, didn't see that coming! I really do like it when I get surprised.

      Thanks Vonnie!

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  5. Of course its research! at least thats what I tell myself constantly. I love sci fi series and murder mystery series. My box set of The Universe (in blue ray) came two weeks ago and I'm working my way thru it together with the latest Series 15 of Midsomer Murder. Will look out for the Ancient Aliens, that sounds interesting. I cant wait to watch Defiance. Love The Walking Dead series and also Sparticus. I need more hours.

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