March 1, 1990

HBO and the Non-Sequential Movie

My good friend the Blues Cowboy, once talked about media he cannot flip past when he's watching TV or listening to the radio. He mentioned the movie Ocean's Eleven as a movie he watches through to the end when he comes across it on HBO. I have six channels of HBO, and before I bought my TiVo, I experienced a moviewatching phenomenon: The HBO Non-Sequential Movie. Because HBO shows movies over and over on their six channels using a schedule only they understand, viewers who browse HBO will tend to start watching movies from somewhere in the middle. My first experience with this was in 1992, when I lived for three months in an apartment with HBO. That summer I saw The Hunt For Red October so many times, my Russian pronunciation got a seal of approval from a native Ukranian. Ocean's Eleven is one of those films I have seen in thirty-minute chunks about fifty times. And to think I almost bought the DVD! My then-girlfriend and I once watched The Fugitive on HBO, her in Somerville and me in Watertown, neither knowing the other was watching, and we both started at about the same time. The next night we got together and watched the first half on DVD.