Back in 2007 I had several months of free time, and I decided to watch some of the unwatched DVDs that collected in our cabinet, courtesy of Amazon. I’ve watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, all 7 seasons of it, and the first season of Babylon 5. For those of you wondering, I watched 4-8 episodes a day, so it didn’t take that long.
So what I want to talk about here is “weight”, the weight of the shows. Now, what sort of weight is this? It’s a subjective feel that you have after the show ends. I am not sure if I can grasp what exactly I mean in a short amount of words, so I will make several passes around the concept, and hope that after that, you will know what I am speaking of, even if a definite definition will elude us.
So, some books, some movies, they are “meaty”. After you watch them, you sit there and keep thinking about it, you go and talk to your friends about it, you go online and post lengthy posts about it (;)). The point is, the media item in question has a lot going for it, and you can keep talking and thinking about it for quite some time.
This is sometimes not an attribute of the item in question, but rather how it touches upon something in you, the reader. Good media often touches on enough topics and in such a way that most people will have something to address in such a way.
Another is how you feel after watching, which is what actually lead to the idea for this post, which is purely subjective, and this is how heavy you feel after watching an episode (or four…). After watching a disc of Buffy, I’d feel heavy, I’d feel tired. But I think it was the tiredness of having watched something not only meaty, but packed. There were many things, numerous layers to think of, both on the single episode level and on how it dealt with the season’s ongoing plot, there were social subtleties to the relations between the characters to be unpacked, and the visuals of the show were, well, pretty dark (and the quality of photography was the usual modern sharp high).
Contrast with Babylon 5, where I’d watch 4 episodes, and not only would I feel refreshed, I’d feel as if I didn’t just sit down for nearly three hours. Now, you could think of it as an upside of the series, that it didn’t “sap my strength”, but rather, it’s more like it was a waste of time. I sat down, I got up, and nothing was added to my life, and aside from the time I did not even feel pass, my life had not been changed in any way by watching this series.
I also didn’t really like Babylon 5. The main actor, Michael O’Hare, who portrayed Commander Jeffrey Sinclair was more wooden than my door. The acting was on the whole, not very deep and convincing, and the photography quality was the usual 80s-90s grainy. Well, the acting is what did me in (the photography though may have helped keep it lighter?). I was told that the series became better after the first season, but after I couldn’t even finish the first season (for a series I own the DVDs for!), I couldn’t justify getting another season… I wonder how much of the series’ upgrade could be attributed to the removal of Sinclair from having a major role in the series? Heh.
The weight of the series in the end is how it sits with you, do you feel like you gained anything by watching it? Do you feel that even if you did not gain anything, that energy had been taken from you as you watched the series (think of Grave of the Fireflies, see post). Either can be negative or positive, and some of it may also come as a result of aesthetics; such as a series that occurs all in the night, where the characters speak more slowly and with more emephasis seems more likely to take more out of you. I wonder if this is a way in which really good aesthetics can make you think a series is good even when it’s not really, and if it makes you think it’s good, perhaps that is the meter for good series?
Also, this just made me think, I watched Buffy on the projector downstairs and Babylon 5 on the TV upstairs. Buffy was watched in darkness, Babylon 5 in the light. Sitting under light keeps one more awake. I also lay down while watching Buffy and sitting upright for Babylon 5.
That’s another thing to consider, sometimes your surroundings and the emotional state you come in are what will make you react in a certain way, but the media item is what you’ll attribute it to. Another point regarding favourites.