Smile Politely

The many ways to watch movies on TV

I don’t have the greatest selection of movie channels. There are people with really well-rounded movie channel offerings on their TV programming packages. Some people get all the movie channels.  Sadly, I am not one of these people. I just get the HBOs, the Encores, and the Cinemaxes. And I also get Turner Classic Movies, which I occasionally flip to, and IFC, which has been blessedly showing Miller’s Crossing a lot lately. (I so wish I could say “take your flunky and dangle” to someone and have it be relevant and real.) Additionally, falling in love with Mad Men reminded me that I should check AMC every now and again, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised whenever I’ve tested those waters, though, obviously, watching Goodfellas without swear words and sex is not as fun as watching Goodfellas with swear words and sex. 

So, yeah, I don’t even get that many movie channels, compared to some people. But I love watching movies, and I love watching TV, and I love the combination of the two activities, so I make good use of the movie channels I do get.

I’m not a movie-channel-watcher in the sense that I tune in for the new movie HBO premieres every Saturday night. I want to watch a movie when I want to watch it, not because I’ve been waiting for it to come to HBO. And on a Saturday night, I usually don’t want to be watching Kung Fu Panda or Fred Claus or any of the other movies HBO shows on Saturday nights. No, when I’m not watching a movie channel for an original series (which is something I do, often), I’m usually flipping to the movie channel at random times looking for something to watch — something to engage me. I believe I could create some sort of scale of the many-moods-of-my-movie-channel-watching that college level Psychology classes could use to rate, um, some aspect of the human behavior. Here, for your study, are my habits, briefly:

Sometimes, between ENCM and ENCA there are multiple movies going that I want to watch, movies that I’ve probably seen on TV a gazillion times before, so I visit all of them, sometimes pausing for longer on one, sometimes flipping back and forth rapidly so my brain is in each storyline. A night like this might include Weird Science, The Running Man (starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Richard Dawson of Family Feud), and Knocked Up. Or Predator 2, Hard Target, and the AMC presentation of Casino, without the swearing or heads in vices.

Sometimes, there are movies on TV that I’m utterly overjoyed to find and I must stop to watch them. This happens every time Highlander, The English Patient, Dawn of the Dead (the remake), an Aliens movie, or Out of Africa is on. I have seen these movies before. Many times. But I am still overjoyed when I stumble upon them.  

Sometimes, I flip to a particular movie on TV because I know I have watched it, but I can’t remember watching it, so I have to see it again. This has happened with movies like The Weight of Water (you’re trying to remember it now too, aren’t you?). Misanthropic Sean Penn movies make me really sad — like, sadder than The English Patient.

Sometimes, I stop on a particular movie on TV because it looks futuristic or it seems to be about werewolves or there’s romantic love and/or sex in it at the precise moment I’ve flipped to it.

Sometimes, I impress myself with my patience for old movies on TV, because old movies sometimes bore me. You can judge me. I’m not ashamed. Old movies are sometimes boring if I know Transformers is on another channel. But occasionally I get really into an old movie on TV, like Touch of Evil, Night of the Hunter, North by Northwest, or Gone With the Wind. A lot of times I watch these movies all the way through without even flipping to Transformers once.

Sometimes, I get excited by a movie on TV that I haven’t seen before. I only feel so-so when this happens. It’s really not that big a deal. I mean, I see a lot of things on TV that I’ve never seen before. Catching one of those things on a movie channel is the same as catching one anywhere else, like, say, on the Food Network. I did see the Naomi Watts and Edward Norton movie The Painted Veil in this way. That’s a good movie. I am happy I saw it on TV. (I also saw Drugstore Cowboy in this way.  I know … you’re saying, how can you not have seen Drugstore Cowboy before? But I hadn’t seen it before! I saw it like a month ago for the first time. On TV.)

Sometimes, I’m not in the mood to watch a movie on TV and I get irritated if the person watching TV with me is in the mood to watch a movie on TV.

Sometimes, a movie on TV makes me recall a certain childhood memory, like Coal Miner’s Daughter. I’ve been watching that movie on TV for a long time.

Sometimes, I forget I even have movie channels for, like, weeks. Then I excitedly rediscover all the movie channels I could’ve been flipping to all that time.

And sometimes, my OnDemand greatly alters my watching of movies on TV. Sometimes, I spend the better part of an hour searching through the OnDemand of all my movie channels, never actually choosing something to watch.

Psychologically speaking, I wonder about the habits of those of you with greater, more well-rounded movie channel offerings on your TVs. Are you just overwhelmed by possibilities every time you turn on your TVs? Are your synapses firing at a greater rate than mine? How on Earth do you cope with the magnificence? And most importantly, will you adopt me? I’m really fun to watch TV with!

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