How To Watch a Procedural TV Show in 30 mn


TV shows are too long. There it is, I said it.

They are too long because there is a lot of “fat” in a lot of scripted series. By fat, I am referring to countless wasted minutes in each episodes where the characters or the action seem to do nothing to advance the story in a meaningful manner.

The worst offenders are procedural TV shows. As much as I love them (and boy, I do), I find that there are too many scenes that are unnecessary and that really don’t advance the plot at all. They are filler at best. Here are a few them that I really want to abolish:

Musical Scenes
In every CSI episode, there are inevitably musical sequences where one of the CSIs goes through the evidence to extract the piece that will unravel the mystery. While that is nice for some, I find these sequences to be tired and really not adding anything to the episode. Plus at the end of each sequence, there is inevitably a scene where one of the protagonist explains what we just spent the last 5 minutes watching. So guess what, I skip the musical scenes and go straight to the explanation. You try that and you can shave up to 5 min per episode.

“Find The Suspect” Scenes
Ok, so you are a cop and you are entering a home for the first time. You slowly walk through the entire house and you clear each room until the suspect jumps out from the best hiding place in the world. This scene that I just described can sometimes take 5 minutes in an episode. If you skip the whole “Let’s spend some time looking for a suspect” sequence, you can shave off some additional minutes

Emotional Scenes
Ok, when I am watching CSI (I hate harping on CSI but they are the worst at this), I am not interested in scenes where the character expresses doubt and confusion about their own lives in a case. I am interested in the crime, not why Sheldon from CSI NY is sleeping on a friend’s couch. Skipping these scenes can shave around 5 minutes on average.

These are my big ones. There are many more but they are not recurring scenes and are too numerous to count. Now if you are keeping count, I have managed to shave out about 15 mn out of a given show. The remaining 15 min come from skipping advertising (I know Duh).

This whole exercise is not for the faint of heart. It requires two ingredients to be successful:

– Solitude: It’s hard to fast forward shows when you are watching it with someone. Believe me, I tried.
– Dexterity: Skipping the boring parts can be a dangerous exercise as sometimes you can skip over some important detail, so you have to be very versatile with your remote.

Now, I don’t mean to paint a wide brush here. There are some TV shows that do a good job of minimizing this or at least making it tolerable. The Mentalist is a good example of a show that I rarely if ever fast forward as the tone of the show and the dialogue of the characters is so engaging that I want to see it all. You can also add in that bucket, Burn Notice, The Closer and Lie To Me.

In essence, I hate to waste my time. Whenever I can, I try to do small things to make the most out of everything I do. When I have a choice between two elevators, I always take the left one because 9 times out of 10, no one is taking it. When there is an accident on the freeway, I don’t slow down to watch the wreckage. I just happen to apply the same logic when there is a procedural show on TV.

Am I the only one in my madness? Or are there more like me out there? If so, speak up below and share your thoughts. If you disagree with the whole approach, also chime in and let me know how you approach this whole TV watching thing.