By quite a distance, my favourite television program of the 1990s was Between The Lines. Neil Pearson, Tom Georgeson, Siobhan Redmond and especially Tony Doyle as Deakin, were simply sensational in the Beeb's internal affairs police thriller which ran here in 1994 (Season 1) and 1995 (Season 2).
There was a Season 3, but despite loving the show I never saw it, which brings me ever so artfully to my point: if you love good television programs, stop watching television.
Well, for a start, I'm not talking about schedule shifts, cuts, or advertisements; it's a given (mainly commercial) TV stations in Australia will butcher their product. No, what I'm talking about are three words that came to mind over the course of watching the DVDs of The Wire and Rome - expectation, situation and momentum.
(Not at Rome Season 2 yet, Wicky. Nor did Season 1 entirely deliver on its potential.)
When I first saw BTL Season 1 back in 1994 it grabbed me like only the great shows can. But Season 2, aired the next year, was nowhere near as good. Was it bad? No, I don't think so. S1 was simply much more enjoyable than S2.
Nor am I suggesting BTL had vaulted the toothy fish (carcharodon carcharias). That term's better applied to sit-coms that have tried in vain to wring any last vestige of amusement out of what may or, more pointedly, may not have once been a successful show. BTL S2 was nowhere near that bad. What I'm suggesting is that had S2 run hot on the heels of S1 then I would have continued to enjoy it to around the same degree as S1, without batting an eyelid, because I was in the same time, place, mindset and had the viewing momentum.
The long break between S1 and S2 allowed me time to overexcite that dreaded 'sense of anticipation'. Shows are never as good as you want them to be, they just are what they are. Allow time for your expectations to build up and you'll almost always be disappointed. Thus S2 was a lesser experience than S1.
A change to a much busier job also meant Tuesday nights at home watching telly were a less relaxing affair than they had been when I was plugging away at the previous year's vegie job. (There's a whole post in "What's the best job for watching TV?") The same thing happened with Cracker which, coincidentally, also ran in 1994 and 1995. Season 1 was fabulous, Season 2 much less so.
My advice to those of you with the money to buy DVDs, or with a talent for theft, is get the DVDs. Watch the episodes one after the other, like I have with The Wire. (The elder is right.) Don't give the bastard a chance to disappoint you. The Wire is fantastic, but I'm going to watch it, and watch it, and watch it until it's done. All in one time in one place. The same goes for Battlestar Galactica. Who'd have thought a show that was a remake of a cheap series that was based on a cheap movie would be this good. Sure, it's got the odd dumb moments - Starbuck going from pilot to biologist to fly the Cylon fighter, for one - but it's a ripper.