Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Time with the Fishers

I was late to the Netflix party.

One explanation, I suppose, is that I don’t feel compelled to rent movies that often. Also, I guess I wanted to support those stores that exist in real space and time and actually employ people who live in my ‘hood.

Less than a year ago, though, I decided to sign on and start designing my own queue, and maybe it was an incident a few months before that that helped incite the change… A friend and then-neighbor had raved about The Hangover. She’d seen it three times, in fact, and she told me she “pissed her pants” laughing. So, one afternoon, when a good pants-pissing comedy seemed in order, I rented the film.

And I watched it.

And I barely cracked a smile.

(Not my genre, I guess.)

The next day, I had to return it. And even though it was raining (which, in L.A., is often the top news story), I braved the inclement weather to return the stupid movie to the rental place. I also braved the rental place’s horrible parking lot, which was cleverly designed to facilitate fender benders.

By the time I got home (safely), I resented my otherwise dear neighbor-friend who had made the recommendation. It even occurred to my facetious mind that I should have asked her to return the stupid movie.

… When I received my first Netflix disc (which would have been a movie, though I don’t remember which one), my innate sense of rebellion came to the fore. I looked at the red envelope, and I thought, “I don’t have to watch this. You can’t make me watch this.”

Bizarre, I’ll admit.

After all, I was the one who had ordered it, for God’s sake.

But I hate being told what to do (even by me).

Or maybe I just hate being told when to do.

… After a few months on Netflix, and on the recommendation of a friend, I ordered Season One, Disc One of Six Feet Under. I found the first few episodes intriguing (if for no other reason than the eye candy of Peter Krause).

I also had lined up the series' subsequent discs on my queue, though they were separated by various other titles.

… Within a few weeks, when I was well into the second season of Six Feet Under, I realized that I could no longer take the interruptions from competing stories. I grabbed my mouse and made the big leap: Top of the Queue. Yup, the whole series. One disc after the other until the very end.

And having just completed the series the other night, I am here to say that Netflix rocks.

I cannot imagine having spent five years watching Six Feet Under. No more than I could imagine spending five years reading a great novel.

And Six Feet Under has all the trappings of a great novel: well-developed characters with distinct voices; interwoven plotlines that reveal the strengths and weaknesses of each of those characters; a balance of suspense, drama, and humor; and the interplay of day-to-day living with other-worldly occurrences.

Combine that with the trappings of a wonderful movie – talented actors; flawless direction; strong atmospheric details – and the ride goes to a new level of involvement.

A brilliant television series watched in as few sittings as possible is like a book-on-tape with moving pictures.

… When I lived in New York, a roommate once said to me, “I always know when you’re about to finish reading a novel, because you close your door.”

True. Because: if it’s the kind of novel I love, I usually cry at the end. (In fact, if I come to the end of a novel and I don’t cry, I feel a little short-changed.)

The other night, watching the final episode of Six Feet Under gave me all the emotional joy of a novel’s end. There remained conflict in the first half or so of the two-hour episode, but it worked its way beautifully to closure and resolution.

I had to hit the Pause button several times to wipe the salt stains off my glasses. And the next day, when I remembered specific scenes in the series finale, my eyes got wet again. The Fisher family had been a part of my life for several engaging weeks.

It’s funny, too; generally when I’ve finished watching a disc, I return it immediately to its red envelope and place it in the outgoing mail. But, I let that last episode sit on the sideboard for a few days. I didn’t want to part with it. I didn’t want to face the fact that the journey had come to an end.

I have a feeling I’ll be making my way over to Amazon one of these days, and I’ll purchase the full series. I can envision it up there on the bookshelf, between and among some of those novels that I know I’ll read again.


Jules said...

That was a good series but I gave up on netflix. I'm to impatient for the mail thing :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Amy said...

I just borrowed the first three seasons of Desperate Housewives (with the promise of the next three when I'm ready) and I'm loving being able to just keep watching if I want to. Commercial free, too!

Colleen said...

I also cry at the end of a good book. And forevermore I feel a strong connection to the story and the characters, so much so that you can usually find me at the Barnes and Noble, caressing the covers of books I've previously read.

Lazarus said...

Hmmm, I may have to check out "Six Feet Under" before I'm Six Feet Under now that I've read your rave review Katie. I've seen short clips here and there while channel surfing but never watched a whole episode. I'll put it on the "to do" list for down the road, thanks!

Deb Shucka said...

We've resisted Netflix so far, but this makes me want to sign up right away. A good story, well-told, is one of life's greatest pleasures, whether it's a book or on screen or a friend's blog post.

Sioux said...

I liked "Dead Like Me," which is certainly quirky, but I also remember "Six Feet Under."

I had a friend who used to say (when he got almost to the end of a book that he loved) that he would throw the book into a corner...He was so sad that it was about to end, and he couldn't bear the thought of it being "no more" so he would try and postpone the end by tossing it aside.

I too mourn when a great book ends. And I LOVE when a book makes me cry...

Anonymous said...

I do empathise with not wanting a book to end.I sometimes put a book aside to delay that final page being turned but my biggest fear (and those close to me will bear me out on this)is for someone to start speaking to me urgently just as I reach the final paragraph. It's a bit like someone stopping you mid-yawn come to think of it. Normally I don't hear anything when I'm reading - doorbell, music, children, husband, earth quake ... but at the end of a book - I am so afraid of being interrupted I hear a pin drop!
Not sure I could wade through all those episodes of Six Feet Under but I understand the concept!I also love the way you hate being told what to do, even by yourself. I think I am the same way LOL! :-)

Andrea said...

I was that way about Deadwood and am just as crazy for Mad Men. I remember giving up on Six Feet Under when a particularly obnoxious woman showed up. Was she a body worker? I can't remember, but I thought No, I'm not open to her and the havoc she's going to cause. It might have been a time in my life when more than enough havoc was happening and I didn't want to add another drop. (Did you know havoc comes in drops?). But that's quite a rave you've given, Katie. I might have to go back and try again. Thanks for all the passion you bring to things. I have an image of you in my mind with a sort of glow all around you.

Lisa Ricard Claro said...

We're still not using Netflix. We DVR our favorite TV shows and then watch them on Friday and Saturday nights. Our movie watching suffers until we hit a lull in new shows. :) Never saw Six Feet Under, but I remember the critics loved it. Apparently, I was missing out!

WhisperingWriter said...

I love Netflix. I use it a lot.

And I LOVED The Hangover but my best friend didn't. I guess it depends on what humor you like. Apparently I like inappropriate baby humor and Mike Tyson.

Jayne Martin said...

That was one of the all time best series either. I watched it over five years. This was BN (before Netflix). Now I highly recommend Damages, starting with season one.

The Hangover... I think it's more of a guy's flick.

cj Schlottman said...


Your got me to thinking with this well-crafted post. Clint and I rarely rented movies, but we did go out and buy them from time to time. We tried to watch all the films that were nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Now that he is gone, I don't watch movies at home at all. Just makes his side of the bed look like a giant black hole.

BUT, now I think I want to rent "Six Feet Under." You should be in PR. You lured me through the back door. Very cool.

I'm headed over to Netflix right now.

Thanks, Pal,