Tech

‘Loki’ and the Television of Return of Appointment

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The Monitor is a weekly column dedicated to everything that happens in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, from TV to Twitter.

Earlier this week, an old joke surfaced on Twitter. In the account to the account of the release of Disney +Marvel’s latest show, fans have begun to tweet that they were “getting up all night to catch Loki.” This riff on the track Daft Punk (Daft Pun-k?) “Get Lucky” has been around since at least 2013, when Loki star Tom Hiddleston he sang it with a journalist to a press release for Thor: The dark world. But these days, it seems even more appropriate. Considering Disney + seems to adhere to this plan where they release new episodes of stuff every week at 12:01 am PT / 3:01 am ET (seriously, why?), The only way to see them as soon as possible is to make coffee and wait for him.

There is a term for this, of course: television appointment. But in the golden age of TV, most of which live streaming, people don’t often queue up to watch something the second is available. The last show that people (well, nerds, at least) really insisted on watching ASAP was Game of Thrones. (Watch now, so you don’t get spoiled!) Since then, there have been shows where fans watch binge as soon as they were available, but the idea presented itself, week after week, to look at a new rate at the time it aired. it feels old-fashioned. Yet, in very specific cases, it’s back – even if it feels retro like the Time Variation Authority’s technology.

I can’t stress enough the “specific part” of the last sentence. Streaming services have adopted weekly broadcast programs for a few shows now – HBO Max’s Hacks, for example, airs two new episodes every Thursday, the last batch of which went on yesterday — but it’s the shows from established properties that seem to most easily earn a place on fan calendars. So, when The Mandalorian abandoned in 2019, or when WandaVision emerged in January, the public was integrated, as fans followed the sagas of Star Wars and Marvel for years. Viewers will present themselves for those shows in a way that they won’t do for a second season of Feel good on Netflix (although people have to watch it) Feel good; it’s an excellent show).

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Of course, part of that is speculation. Disney + has been pretty tight lips about their numbers of viewers, then it’s hard to say how many people are tuning in, but the volume of conversation on social media indicates who they are. It is not Game of Thrones levels of commitment, but it’s here. Also, to clarify one thing, yes, there are always a bunch of people who tune in at the same time to, like, Grey’s Anatomy and the NBA Playoffs. Often, a presidential speech or a candidate debate can be TV appointments, too. That’s not what I’m talking about here. This, in turn, is about streaming programs, which viewers have typically seen as part of a buffet of TV options to visit at any given time, becoming a TV to watch (now).

It is possible, of course, that part of this is a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. During the closures, there were no Star Wars or Marvel movies hitting the theaters. (Also, most people were stuck inside and lacked options.) Someone who was waiting for that opening night repair had nowhere else to go. In Bad Batch o The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Maybe once the big Marvel movies start returning to theaters this summer, the appetite to watch the new Disney + shows that the minute they drop. Until then, though, we’re all just hoping to get it Loki.


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