GeekPlanetOnline’s resident telly addict, Gillian Coyle, likes to write about the box almost as much as she likes to watch it. From soap operas to space operas, if you need some thoughts on a television show she’s your woman…
I upped sticks three months ago and moved in with my rather lovely boyfriend. Despite all the wonderful things I've gained, there are some things I miss dreadfully. The most significant are my much-loved northern friends and city life (O Leeds, how I miss thee!), but after that, I'm ashamed to say, is Sky TV.
I know. It's pathetic isn't it? The thing is, I love telly. L-O-V-E love it. You might have guessed that from the fact that I'm writing a TV column here at GeekPlanet. But you might not realise the extent of that love.
My parents were very strict about the programmes my siblings and I were allowed to watch. We weren't allowed to watch Eastenders, because one time Angie called Den a bad word. My brother and I were only allowed to watch Neighbours and Home and Away in our parents' room, because they weren't suitable for our younger sister. In the early nineties, the two of us huddled around a black and white television he had secreted in a cupboard in his room, avidly watching The Mary Whitehouse Experience; we quietly laughed into pillows with the volume barely audible, ears pricked for the approach of one or other of the parental units. A couple of years later I (successfully) argued that I should be allowed to watch Beavis and Butthead because it was a smart satire on the media and social mores. Then my dad watched an episode. It was banned. I had that coming: I was totally pushing my luck.
In truth, I should thank them. Not only because they clearly cared about us and our developing minds, but also because they turned me into the geek I am: most sci-fi and fantasy shows were on the approved list.
As soon as I left home, I got Sky. Sky has travelled with me from home to home, across the country. Ours was a deep and abiding love. It would not be an exaggeration to say that I could find something to watch at any hour of the day. I love dramas, sitcoms, stand up, talk shows, panel shows, reality TV, quiz shows, made-for-TV movies, makeover shows, documentaries, current affairs, even the occasional shopping channel. I won't watch any old shit, but a lot of what I do like, a lot of people would consider shit. Insomnia meant I often had a comprehensive knowledge of what was good to watch at four am. Sky was a companion through long periods of depression. At times when I could only rarely leave the house, Sky was my window on the world.
And now I've given it up.
We do have Freeview, but it's not the same. It's not even close. I knew the Sky menu options and remote control commands by heart. It's taking me ages to get used to the Playstation remote. I miss only needing one remote to control everything. I miss the blue favourites button. I miss the Sky Planner. I miss setting reminders and series linking them, knowing I'll never miss any of my favourite shows.
I miss the channels. Losing Dexter, True Blood, Lost, 24 and Supernatural? Heartbreaking. At least that softened the blow of losing most of the +1 channels: I don't need to worry about the order in which I'm going to watch all the best shows, which are always on at nine or 10 pm, because I can't watch them full stop. Losing Comedy Central? Aargh! After sci-fi, the sitcom is without doubt my favourite genre. Not just the great ones, like Taxi, Seinfeld and Frasier, but the slightly shameful ones like Everybody Loves Raymond, King of Queens and Less than Perfect. All three of them are actually ace, by the way.
I miss the glorious afternoon runs of sci-fi and fantasy series. The joy of pottering about doing stuff while watching an episode of Buffy, then one of Star Trek, then one of Babylon 5, with the feast nicely rounded off with DS9. Now, I do have all of those shows, with the exception of DS9, on DVD. When I bewailed missing my daily dose of Buffy, my beloved pointed at my boxset, utterly bemused.
But here's the thing: I am never, ever going to sit and put on one episode of Buffy, then one of Star Trek, then one of Babylon 5, then one of... I don't know... Farscape or Firefly. It's far more likely that I, or anyone, will sit and watch a disc or two of one series. That's great, don't get me wrong, I love having a box set binge. But I also love sampling a little of everything from the buffet. I miss having the choice.
So what's a recovering Sky addict to do?
Well, be thankful for small mercies, I guess. I can still watch Neighbours, Friends and Doctor Who. Lost and 24 are finished. I do have my very favourite geeky shows on DVD. For the new shows on channels I no longer have, the interwebs are a marvellous place. I do love that I can now watch iPlayer on the TV. I'm actually a very lucky girl. My television consumption has been drastically reduced in quantity, but overall, what I'm watching is of a far higher quality.
I'll get over Sky. There are more important things in life than telly. Just don't tell anyone I said so.