I remember as a child pressing my thumb to the soft-rubber up-or-down channel buttons on the remote and watching the screen jump to Cosmo Kramer bursting through Jerry's door, or Eric Matthews dancing, calling out his principle and neighbor, "Feeney! Fee-hee-hee-heenay!"
These bursting experiences of delight were almost never when an episode premiered, or when I said to myself, "I want to watch Seinfeld. I want to watch Boy Meets World. I want to watch Friends." They came when Disney Channel or one of the Seinfeld Syndication Networks or NBC decided to play the one where "Monica Gets Wasted Before Her Surprise Party."
These were the golden days of reruns and they were perfect for sitcoms.
Today as I scroll through Netflix, I'm rarely inclined to throw on a 30-minute classic with a laugh track. Not when there are tear-jerking documentaries on Tig Notaro and edge-of-your seat new dramas like Bloodline at my disposal.
The other part of it is, I don't want to always choose.
All in all, Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are improving television. More heady-well-produced shows are coming out, and more classics and diamonds-in-the-rough are available for today's audience. But there is an allure to television as a mindless, easy, after-work vice.
Commercially curated programing does the work of choosing for the viewer, and that has the power to arouse a certain kind of joy.
When a channel plays an old episode or movie that you love, you get that same excitement that occurs when a DJ throws on a classic song that you know all the words to, but haven't thought of in years. This nostalgia trigger sits inside an expedition by Tommy Pickles and his fellow Rugrats as much as it sits inside of the opening guitar in Blink 182's "All the Small Things." We just need someone--DJ's or Television networks--to pull it for us.
Unfortunately for those of us who've taken the monetarily-conscious route of ditching cable and getting all of our on-screen entertainment from borrowed passwords and fast wifi, we don't get that excitement. I miss it.
But, I'm not worried. Television almost seems to be certainly moving online. Talk shows and news programs are already catering to the digital community making a large portion of their content available to internet users, especially viewers of Hulu. The NFL will air a game on Yahoo this season. Once the pro football is online, honestly, what American is going to buy cable?
Yet, I still have hope for the rerun.
This same thing already happened in music when digital downloads completely changed the power of radio. With all of the playlists and albums in the world at their fingertips, overtime, people showed that they missed the curation by supporting Pandora, Satellite Radio, Spotify, and podcasts as a satisfying happy-medium.
The point to take from this all is, Netflix or some other app needs channels, and they need to cut me in on the project.
Is the rerun dead? For me, personally, it's in a bit of a coma. Plenty of people around the world still enjoy it and the wonder of channel flipping. But, with the shift to consumer-driven entertainment rapid and undeniable, I still hope that Netflix adds channels. If not for me, do it for the rerun.