|two separate |
yet equally important
(It's not just TV, for the record... am also a huge fan of intelligent radio documentaries, plays and readings. BBC Radio 4 I'm looking at you.)
I joke sometimes that I'm not sure if I knit so that I can watch TV, or watch TV so that I can knit.
And my favourite kind of knitting TV is the procedural: the various Law & Orders, the CSIs and their ilk. You name it: Homicide, Castle, Criminal Minds, Bones, The Mentalist, Spooks (MI-5), the original Prime Suspect, Cracker, The Wire in the Blood, and so on. The TV shows that feature detectives solving a crime. (Any good recommendations? Leave 'em in the comments!)
Hey, if someone dies before the opening credits, I'll watch it.
It doesn't have to be a murder - I enjoyed Law & Order: Criminal Intent during its run, and sometimes those stories were about fraud and robbery - but it most often is.
I find this kind of TV both engaging and satisfying - there's a puzzle, and there's a conclusion. (Not to say I don't like TV without a conclusion; am currently totally obsessed with Fringe. Although on the surface it's also a procedural, there is a larger story arc that's fabulously complex and open-ended.)
And it's also very easy to watch while paying attention to something else. The point about the procedural is that they follow a procedure. The solving of the mystery follows a procedure; a set of rules the cops much (roughly) follow. The drama itself also follows a procedure. The procedural shows follow the same structure: a crime is committed, detectives are called. Evidence is collected. Suspects are interviewed. Someone is arrested. This person is proven to be innocent and released. Evidence is reviewed. The right person is arrested. And then the cops go out for breakfast/coffee/beer.
This repetitive aspect is what makes them so very satisfying - but also very easy to watch while knitting.
If I miss a few key lines of dialogue because I'm counting stitches, I'm not going to get lost. If I need to leave the room to get a new ball of yarn, I know that the suspect they have in interrogation in the first 20 minutes is not guilty. If there's a particularly grisly crime scene (Criminal Minds, The Wire in the Blood) or autopsy (CSI), I've got something to distract myself with.
I can happily watch my "murders" all afternoon, knitting away. When I've got a knitting deadline, my TV supplier Norman knows he needs to ensure that I've got a bunch of DVDs or episodes stacked up on the DVR. It doesn't really matter if they are old or new, if they are set in the present day or the past, if it's a serial murder or a story about insurance fraud; if it's got a crime and detectives, I'll watch it.
Sure, if the detective is charming, funny and handsome (Castle), or the social analysis particularly intelligent and thought-provoking (Homicide), or the setting fabulously interesting (Wallander), even better. But honestly, all I need is a crime and some cops.
The funny thing is that I've tried watching some of these without knitting in hand, and it's not nearly as much fun. The shows dealing with the more grisly or nasty crimes are difficult to watch and discomfiting. The lighter shows are often uninteresting or silly. The dated look or style of some of the older shows grates.
And I do enjoy other types of TV (Fringe, as mentioned above); and costume dramas like Downton Abbey, and of course, the single most engaging and intelligent piece of television ever made, The Wire. And there's movies on DVD, too, of course. (And I have pretty good access to those...)
But I watch at lot less of the "good stuff": the movies and high quality, intellectually challenging and visually engaging television. Why? Because if I do miss a few key lines of dialogue, I could be in serious trouble. And the engaging visuals demand to be looked at. And foreign films require me to read the subtitles.
So it's not just that the procedural is good knitting television: I'd go so far as to say that knitting is really the best way to consume these shows, and these are really the best things to knit to.