Thinking on the discs

I’ve reached the end of my Netflix queue.

"Big friggin’ deal. Who cares?"

The reason why I care, and why I’m inspired to blog about it, is that at one point I had almost 200 DVDs in my rental queue. I’ve been a member of Netflix for over a decade, and this is first time that there’s nothing for Netflix to send me.

I checked my records on the site. If you subscribe to Netflix, and you want to do this too, go to your queue page, click on "Show all DVD activity", then scroll to the bottom of the page and click on "See Complete History".

With a little fiddling, I found how how many DVDs or Blu-Rays I’ve rented from Netflix: 1310.

Let’s do a little math.

I figure I spend an average of three hours with each disk; most movies are shorter, but I watched a lot of TV series on disks and usually skim the extras. 3 hours * 1310 disks = 3930 hours. That’s 164 full days of watching television.

According to Netflix, I rented my first DVD from them on Sep 13, 2000; it was "Stuart Little". That’s about 124 months ago. So every month I spent an average of about 32 hours of watching DVDs, or about an hour a day.

When I started writing this essay, I thought it would turn out to be a lot more. Only an hour a day of television? That doesn’t sound too bad! When I was a kid, this was the "recommended" limit of television for children to watch; "An hour of TV a day is plenty!"

Of course, that doesn’t include time watching network or cable TV. My network and cable TV watching dropped dramatically once I got my first DVD player, and now is negligible. It also doesn’t include the hours I’ve spent World of Warcraft, which I count as time "sitting before a screen"; a quick check shows me I’ve played about 1700 hours of WoW, about half of the time I spent watching DVDs.

You can relax; the math is over.

Now comes the question: What did I watch on all those DVDs?

I saw many gems that I otherwise would not have seen:
   Before Sunrise
   The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp
   Gods and Monsters
   Lars and the Real Girl
   Reefer Madness: The Musical
   the films of Harold Lloyd
   the John Adams mini-series

I wasted some of those hours with pretty poor excuses for cinema:
    Two Days in Paris
    Dungeons & Dragons (the first one; the straight-to-DVD sequel is actually pretty decent)
    Starship Troopers 2
    The Truth About Charlie

A good chunk of those discs were old TV series from my youth. I wallowed in nostalgia with
    Lost In Space
    Get Smart
    The Addams Family
    The Avengers
    The Prisoner
    Land of the Lost
    the 80’s revival of "The Twilight Zone"
    Alien Nation
    Red Dwarf
    Kolchak: The Night Stalker

I caught up with popular modern TV series:
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Hmm, all Joss Whedon shows. I plan to do the same with "Dollhouse".

I indulged myself with the joys of children’s animation meant for adults:
    Pinky and the Brain
    Justice League
    The Tick

You can relax again; the lists are over.

I lied a little at the top of this post. Netflix has nothing to send me now, but next week they’re going to send me "Cold Souls" and "Amelia" when they’re released. There are 35 more I’ve saved, waiting for when they’re finally (re-)released.

Was it all a waste of time? When I planned this essay, before I did the math, I planned to engage in some self-flagellation. But at only an hour a day, I must have been doing something else with my life and time over the past decade in addition to watching TV.

So I’ll say that, for the most part, I spent that hour a day enjoying myself.

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