Is Instant Streaming the Evolution to Movies?

Having spent the weekend finishing Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events and Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency, I came across the realization that it’s been a while since I sat down and watched a film.  It seems that every time I log into Netflix or Amazon Prime TV, there’s a need to finish whatever series I’ve been watching before moving on and watching something else.

But then the other night – when I wanted to watch something quick and short – I realized that these 45 minute episodes were no longer the quick hit they used to be.  As the whole series is available, once I get going the need to watch at least a couple of episodes each time overcomes the sensibility of watching one episode per sitting.  So I decided to watch a movie instead.

Since when was a 120 minute movie considered the short option?

It’s about this point when it dawned on me that, I just don’t like the way in which streaming services release their in-house programmes all at once.  Whilst it’s nice to be able to know what happens after that cliffhanger or how an upcoming event plays out, I miss the anticipation of having to wait for it.  Obviously regular television still exists so I can get this fix from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. or whatever I’m watching at the time but their production values – when compared to a Netflix show – don’t seem to hold up.

Some of them really are like watching an eight hour movie: they can take their time developing the characters; the special effects and general design aren’t lacking in the same way they used to be; and because they’re released all at once, they can flow between episodes naturally.  Whereas in comparison, a two hour movie has to do all this in about a quarter of the time.

There are of course exceptions, filler episodes that don’t progress anything or move the plot along (i.e. the last two series of The Walking Dead) but these new shows are far better made.  Knowing that they’ve got a bigger budget, more time is spent on them to make sure that they’re appealing all the way through.  Especially when it’s not something you’re guaranteed to come back to every Sunday evening but instead has to draw you back right then and there.

The other issue is the social aspects of it.  When the new series of Stranger Things comes out, it’s hard to discuss with your group of friends as you each have to work out what episode you’re each on every time, rather than knowing that you’re all going to be (roughly) at the same point.  So you have to wait till you’re all finished before you can start speculating on the next episode or season – the latter being the more likely at this point.

The same can be said about a movie.  It comes out at the cinema, you see it, you can talk about it in a yes or no fashion, rather than “Oh, I’m only on episode three, where are you?”

But despite all this, there’s a reason why I watch these series; it’s good quality entertainment.  I just wish there was an option to hide the next episode until the following week so I’ve got something to look forward to instead of burning myself out on a binge one evening then having nothing to do the rest of the week.  Of course, I could just learn to have some basic self-control…

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