These days, lots of folks enjoy binge-watching their favorite television shows. However, if you’re in your “seasoned” years and haven’t binge-watched anything yet, you’re certainly not alone. A 2016 study by the research and auditing firm Deloitte found that just a little over one-third of adults in their late 60s or older have binge-watched TV shows.
So what is “binge watching” anyway? It’s watching one television show episode after episode in rather quick succession. The pastime wasn’t possible in the days when we had to wait a week to find out what would happen next in our favorite shows. Today though, we have access to whole seasons... and multiple seasons... of television shows - thanks to boxed DVD sets (available for loan at most public libraries) and Internet/computer streaming services (like Netflix and Hulu). That makes binge-watching easy, appealing, and convenient.
In the extreme, binge-watching might involve watching lots of episodes of a show in one sitting. But the pastime doesn’t have to be quite so dramatic or all-consuming. Binge-watching could simply mean watching a couple episodes on Friday night… maybe another episode on Saturday night… perhaps one or two more on Sunday afternoon… and so on. Or it might mean watching one episode every night for as long as it takes to finish the seasons available to you.
Some research suggests there are downsides to intense or extreme binge-watching. A 2013 study by the firm Marketcast found binge-watching to be an anti-social activity, because most people prefer to binge watch alone. A 2017 study by researchers from the University of Michigan linked binge watching to insomnia, poor sleep quality, and fatigue. The study was done on young adults, but concluded that most age groups would probably experience similar issues..
You don’t have to let these negative findings stop you from enjoying a favorite show in a somewhat binge-like manner. As with everything else in life, moderation matters. Watching multiple episodes of an old TV favorite in a row can be very entertaining. It can bring back some cherished memories too. It also can give you something to talk about with family and friends who are fans of the same show.
Binge-watching gives you a chance to watch popular old shows from the past that you may have missed when they first aired. In addition, it makes it possible to quickly catch up on newer shows you may have discovered after they have already been on for a few seasons.
Here are a few shows from the past you may want to consider binge-watching. Some you may not have thought of in years or even decades.
"The Rockford Files"
In “The Rockford Files,” James Garner plays an ex-con turned smalltime private detective named Jim Rockford who lives in a trailer in Malibu. Rockford isn’t a roaring success in his chosen career, but he gets by and usually solves the cases he tackles. Of course, it seems he only gets cases no other detective will touch with a ten-foot pole. Rockford tends to be pretty cynical and pessimistic about most things, but there's a wit about his sarcastic nature that's charming and even endearing at times. His wisecracks are both funny and quite relatable. And the jams he gets himself in and out of are usually amusing as well. Unlike a lot of TV detectives, Rockford often ends up on the losing end of physical brawls and financial disputes. His relationship with his father Rocky is one of the most entertaining aspects of the show. Rocky, a truck driver, is semi-retired and so is around a lot. He sometimes gets involved in Rockford’s business in ways he shouldn’t, which causes tension and laughs. The opening segment of the show always begins with an intriguing and usually humorous message on Rockford’s telephone.
If you enjoyed “The Rifleman” back when it aired or in reruns, you’ll still enjoy it now. The show is probably one of the best unsung westerns ever on television. Not only does it have the justice seeking aspects of a typical TV western, it also focuses on the bonds of family, specifically that of father and son. Chuck Connors plays Lucas McCain, a Civil War veteran, rancher, and widowed father to his son Mark. Lucas also happens to own a Winchester rifle he has modified to fire rapidly so it seems like a weapon ahead of its time. In the show's opening segment, viewers watch McCain walk down the center of town while rapid-firing his Winchester. McCain takes protecting his town, its citizens, and especially his son very seriously and won’t let anyone get in his way. Yet, he has a strong moral compass that makes him weigh everything he does so he can remain a good role model for Mark. The show introduces viewers to other interesting recurring characters as well. If you haven’t seen “The Rifleman” but enjoyed shows like “Father Knows Best” and “The Virginian,” you will probably enjoy the show because it blends the best of both.
Moonlighting was a huge hit in the 1980s. It paired Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis as private detectives, and the show made Bruce Willis a bona fide star. The premise of the show is that Cybill’s character Maddie Hayes is a former model who is left bankrupt when her accountant takes off with all of her money. Desperate for an income, Maddie’s only option is to work at the Blue Moon Detective Agency. The agency is a former investment she owned only as a tax write-off. She is forced to partner with a fast-talking, charismatic detective named David Addison, played by Willis. The two clash from the start but there's also an undeniable romantic chemistry between the two. Together, the crack challenging cases while constantly throwing verbal barbs at each other. Bruce is spot-on as he dishes out the “bad boy” charm and sarcastic one-liners. Actress Allyce Beasley is also great as Agnes DiPesto, the agency's quirky receptionist who answers every phone call with a rhyme. Moonlighting is entertaining and funny, with plenty of mystery and a touch of romance and sexual tension that always keep you guessing.
"Homicide: Life On The Street"
Although underappreciated when it was on, “Homicide: Life On The Street” has a large fan base today. And the series deserves some attention. It's a great police drama and has some humorous moments too. The show's about a homicide squad played by an ensemble cast of terrific actors. At the top of the list has to be Andre Braugher along with Melissa Leo.
Andre plays Detective Frank Pembleton who is sort of the central figure in the group. A fan favorite, Pembleton is somewhat stiff and arrogant and doesn’t often bother with niceties, even with his fellow detectives. But boy-oh-boy is he a great interrogator. He almost always gets criminals to crack and spill their secrets. Andre won a much deserved Emmy for his indepth portrayal of such a complex character.
Melissa Leo plays Detective Kay Howard. As one of few female detectives on the force, Kay is dedicated to doing her job well and putting away as many “bad guys” as possible. She is intensely private about her personal life, which piques the interest of the rest of the squad. Melissa also plays Kay’s sister who is her opposite in just about every way. Many viewers did not even realize the character was played by Melissa. That’s how believable she was.
There are other tremendous actors who portray multilayered characters on the show, including Richard Belzer who plays Detective John Munch. The character of Detective Munch has appeared on many different shows and various networks, becoming a regular on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” If you like a good police show with real character development, don’t miss “Homicide: Life On The Street.”
The show centers on a circle of female and male friends all in their 30s, some married and some single. It focuses on a time of life that is momentous for most people… those years when we come to realize we have become adults. With the thirties, comes the realization that it is time to get on with our lives in a responsible way that cements our future and holds true to the hopes and dreams of youth. The show appeals to a demographic beyond just thirtysomethings. Folks older than the characters on the show like it because they have “been there done that” and can personally buy into what is going on. At the same time, the show also attracts younger viewers who see their thirties looming ahead of them. The show’s appeal is based largely on the fact that it reflects real life in a real way. It is about real people leading real, relatable lives. Unfortunately, the show is lacking in diversity. The core characters are all white and they are all pretty comfortable financially. Still, most viewers can find plenty they can relate to somewhere in the show and its characters. We see married and single people dealing with the typical grind of daily life as they make their way through their 30s the best way they can. "Thirtysomething" is about friendship. It is about family. It is about questioning, disappointment, and acceptance. It is about aging and maturing. It is about life.