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TV Weekend: Mad Men Returns, A Nation’s DVRs Feel the Strain

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Frank Ockenfels/AMC

Once upon a time, Sunday was a nice evening to relax and take in a good show or two before the work week began. Now it’s more like a job in itself, even if you don’t watch TV for a living. As network after network uses Sunday as a showcase for marquee series, it’s become like a one-night advertisement for the DVR industry. If you’re anything like me—and even if your tastes are different—you don’t just watch TV Sunday night. You acquire TV Sunday night. You drive up to it like a big-box grocery store, loading up a supply of things to watch, at some point when you have time, before a week passes and they go bad.

I mean, yes, there are hundreds of channels; there is a lot of TV on television any night of the week. But Sunday night has become a particular loading zone for appointment shows, and even if you don’t make appointments for all of them, that leaves a lot. And as the two-hour season premiere of Mad Men lands like a psychedelic Braniff Airlines jet this Sunday, it only adds to the load.

And to the scheduling conundrums. I watch Mad Men the night it airs. That’s a non-negotiable. I watch The Good Wife. I like to watch The Amazing Race when I’ve got the time. When Game of Thrones returns—just one more week—that goes on the must list. (Though at least I get advance screeners of that one; civilian viewers aren’t so lucky.) In another couple weeks comes the premiere of Girls (best new series I have seen so far this year). Week after that is Veep (more on the fence about it, but it goes on the Season Pass list).

And that’s just me. Maybe you also watch Once Upon a Time every week. (I’ve been catching up on it in fits and starts, unable to really fall for the show.) You might be watching The Killing when it comes back in April. (I am not judging!) Maybe The Borgias. (Still not judging!) Or, when it debuts April 1, Starz’s Magic City. (I will kind of judge! But that’s a matter for another post.)

Nor have I mentioned many other broadcast and cable shows, nor the options in other seasons. (I really miss Homeland, yet on the other hand, thank God it’s not also around right now.) As I said, I get screeners of some of these shows and I’m usually still catching up this week. As you clear the decks for Mad Men (if you are), let us know: what’s your Sunday-night TV triage strategy?

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