When I was a child it was always a big deal for my family to see a movie. Unless one was showing on television, we didn’t often rent movies and even less frequently go see one in the theater. When we did then, it was a special experience.
I don’t know if it was this, the novelty of movies, or their big budgets resulting in stronger performances, better visual effects and music, or perhaps my limited attention span (being only a child), but I found myself gravitating towards movies quite preferentially when given the choice between them and regular television, more especially when given the choice between them and books.
Perhaps it was well then that my parents rationed movies. I may never have read anything or come to appreciate books the way I do now. You see, as I get older I find my attention span is much longer than it was years ago. The result is an increased appreciation for long running television shows with continuous narratives (not like The Simpsons where each episode is essentially stand alone), and even more so for long book series.
Even as recent as three years ago (before the kids were born) I appreciated a good movie. Sometime between when they were born the last six months or so, I find I can’t even enjoy a book that’s under 350 pages, unless there’s at least one sequel. I suppose the reason for this is that I enjoy a long narrative. A good movie may introduce an interesting universe, problem, cast of characters, and more, but it has to resolve everything in under two hours, or four to six if there’s a sequel or two. An average novel gives you around ten hours (unless you read really fast) and that still feels short for me.
In contrast, a single season of a television series gives you around twenty episodes. Giving about forty minutes per episode it comes out to a little over thirteen hours. Almost adequate for me. Some series give twenty-two to twenty-four episodes per season, which comes to maybe sixteen hours. Assuming the format is not just episodic, but also gives sufficient time to a continuous narrative, I like single season series.
But what I really like (in television) is the long series (5+ seasons) which gives a continuous narrative and especially ones where there’s loads of character development throughout. Absent a good series to watch, I prefer the epic fantasy novel series where each book tends to average near 1000 pages and there’s at least three, sometimes twelve or more books. That can take quite a number of hours to read, and can really involve you in a narrative.
I suppose what drew me to movies in the past was the flashy effects, music and other big budget bells and whistles, where what draws me to entertainment media now is the story, rich with character, change, and plot. Those things are just harder to attain to in a movie where you only have an hour or two to do everything.