Column: Binge watching - from 1970s sitcoms to Squid Game

I’m getting old, so the concept of binge watching still feels slightly weird. I still struggle to remember to pause live sports coverage to go and make a cuppa...

By Allan Crow
Thursday, 28th October 2021, 11:30 am

I grew up with three telly channels, and the closest anyone ever got to watching multiple episodes of a television programme in rapid succession was catching Crossroads every tea-time from Monday to Friday.

Back then even Corrie was on just once a week, Eastenders hadn’t poured its nightly 30-minutes of misery over our heads, and Emmerdale was concerned with mundane farming matters rather than an unconvincing serial killer.

I’d love to see today’s generation - with the attention span of a tweet - cope with our childhood telly where channels shut down in the afternoons, the morning schedules were taken up with desperately dull Open University lectures, and the national anthem signalled time for bed before midnight.

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Squid Game

Maybe we should confiscate their Netflix and Amazon Prime, disconnect TikTok, mute Youtube, and force feed them that 1970s diet of beige broadcasting for a month. Imagine the bewildered looks if they switched on and were confronted with the test card!

One of the joys of having 400 channels these days is that you occasionally stumble upon a ghost from the past.

The last few weekends have thrown up On The Buses, Man About The House, Tales Of The Unexpected, and George And Mildred to name but four. It’s safe to say they haven’t all aged well.

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Orange Is The New Black

It feels like a quantum leap from 1970s sitcoms to Squid Game on Netflix, but the multitude of channels we now take for granted means we approach our viewing the way bairns used to tackle the Pick & Mix counter at Woolies.

We gorge on the ones we like, and immediately discard those which don’t impress - television programmes are as disposable as those shiny sweetie wrappers.

I have several series on Netflix and Amazon Prime paused mid-series, simply because of the need for some variety mid binge.

I suspect my other half and I may never return to finish You or This Is Us as we stumble across something brighter, sharper, wittier and more captivating.

Fife Flyers Hockey Show, organised with the Fife Free Press - on stage, Allan Crow (Pic: Derek Young)

The Good Place chimed superbly, while Sex Education was brilliantly acted and written.

Snowpiercer, The Umbrella Factory, Lupin, Glitch and Glow also all hit the mark in a way that Ozark just didn’t.

At its best, Netflix produces, or hosts, some astonishing programmes - The Queen’s Gambit was a one series show which left you wanting to see more.

Squid Game may well be one of the channel’s biggest hits, but I do wonder if it really has a second series in it - or if it even needs one.

The South Korean survival drama was pretty bleak - it made Lord Of The Flies look like a chirpy sitcom - but it also became Netflix’ biggest hit to date, which probably explains the ending which, for me, was perhaps its weakest part.

And for all it horrified and captivated in equal measure, it still didn’t match the binge-ability of Orange Is The New Black.

Sometimes, less isn’t always more.

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Fife Free Press.