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August 3rd, 2019

Pacing Myself

The TV show I'm currently watching is BBC's Life on Mars. In it, a Manchester cop has an accident and wakes up to find himself no longer in 2006 but in 1973, still in Manchester, still a cop but out of his time. He has to do his job with 1973 technology, and deal with 1973 attitudes. Meanwhile, he doesn't know if he really has time-traveled 33 years into the past, if he's having a delusion in a hospital bed, or if something still else is happening. And he sees and hear signs that people from 2006 are, somehow, trying to reach him, maybe, or perhaps this is also all part of a delusion.

He has trouble with all this. So would you.

Time travel, as much as I know it's impossible, is a storytelling sweet spot to me. It's appealed to me since I watched Land of the Lost as a really little kid. Star Trek, which I dearly love, has done deeply affecting time-travel stories. And my friend Mary-Suzanne strongly, strongly recommended Life on Mars to me, plus years ago, I'd seen some of the brief-lived American remake of the show, relocating the story from Manchester to New York City.

Something I wasn't quite prepared for: it's an intense show, and a frequently sad one. We see the cop at vulnerable moments where he hears something he shouldn't be able to hear, and he can't reach whomever is speaking to him (if, again, of course, they are), and little impossible moments keep happening to him... It's a mind-fuck, on so many levels, for him.

As the first series (of two) of Life on Mars is eight episodes long, I can watch these episodes staggered out. I had to learn to do that. Years ago I watched the first season of The Walking Desd then the second season almost immediately, and about halfway through Season 2 as I powered through I realized: it was negatively affecting my mood. I was spun-up and sad. I finished the season, but even though I want to see the third season, such as for Danai Gurira as Michonne, I have yet to. Take it slower, Chris. Sometimes it's a good idea.

I'll do so in the near future, too: I have the DVD set of Twin Peaks: The Return, which I still have yet to see two years after it first aired. I've gotten advice from those who have seen it: watch the first four episodes quickly, yes as a binge-watch, but then watch the other 14 episodes singly, and pace myself. Maybe every other day; maybe every week, same as it first aired. Watching the first four episodes in a row is similar to how they originally were presented: the first Sunday Showtime aired Episodes 1 and 2, then the second Sunday it aired 3 and 4, and I've heard watching all four fairly quickly puts you in a better headspace for watching the continuation of the famously weird, offbeat, and emotional original. Which, you won't be surprised to learn, I loved as it first aired.

Sometimes speed is needed: last year I powered through Season 1 of Star Trek: Discovery, as I was watching on a one-week free trial of CBS All Access. Fifteen episodes in six days, though I still didn't get reimbursed even though I canceled the trial within the week. But when I watch more of Discovery, it won't be at speed like that.

Because sometimes you can use time.