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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Telecommunications: Cable TV


I got myself believing that I didn’t watch very much television anymore. Getting a DVR has put that into real question, because I record almost everything I watch, so it becomes much easier to track.
A digital video recorder is like a TiVo, or so I am led to believe; I never owned a TiVo. I can watch one program while recording another. This comes in very handy when we put Lydia to bed and it's 7:45. I can’t watch JEOPARDY! because it started 15 minutes earlier. (I mean, I technically COULD, but it would be wrong.) So, instead, I'll watch the evening news. THEN I'll watch J from the beginning (and be done with it in 13 minutes, and that long only because I listen to the interviews.)

With the old VCR, I’d get really behind watching J because I’d have to find the correct show on the tape. My wife will tell you that I was pretty much of a moaner when it came to watching shows on a six-hour tape. She’d say, "Let's watch Gilmore Girls!" But I’d groan, "Do we HAVE to NOW? It’s the fourth item on the tape, and I’ll have to go back to find it, then skip over it later!" Now, we have a menu, and we can watch whatever we want whenever we have the opportunity.
The other thing I can do is to tape two things at once, which I gather from Mark Evanier TiVo cannot do. Boy, I wish I had this feature some years ago when The Equalizer was on CBS and St. Elsewhere was on NBC, both on Wednesday at 10 p.m.

The downside to the DVR is that it has finite capacity, some 30 hours; it seems to be some combination of number of shows and the hours taped. On Tuesday, I was up to 33 shows unwatched, 98% capacity - we were busy with other things, and I had taped a Macca special here, a Johnny Cash special there- which required dumping a couple shows quickly.

So what AM I recording to watch?
Weekdays:
6:30 pm ABC World News Tonight. We usually watch it after Lydia's in bed.
7:30 pm JEOPARDY!, which, unfortunately, really starts at 7:29:50, so I miss one or two introductions.
Sunday:
9 am: CBS Sunday Morning
9 am: This Week - I couldn't decide so I’m taping both.
7 pm: 60 Minutes- But why does the machine suggest that it will actually start at 7 pm when there’s a 4:15 NFL game? I end up recording Cold Case just to see the last 60 Minutes segment.
8 pm: The Simpsons, if I can find when it’s actually on after football.
Monday:
12:35 am: Ebert & Roeper
8 pm: Arrested Development – so I finally decide to watch the show, and what do I get? Two weeks of "encore performances" of Prison Break, then a pair of AD episodes, back-to-back, then more Prison Break.
Tuesday: This has been "Must See TV" night for me for a while
8 pm: Gilmore Girls
9 pm: Commander-in-Chief
9 pm: My Name Is Earl – I know about counter-programming, but why are the only new shows I’m watching on at the same time?
9:30 pm: The Office
10 pm: Boston Legal
10 pm: Queer Eye- which must be on hiatus
And we eagerly await the return of Scrubs
Wednesday: Nothing
Thursday: Nothing. A night of shows we have watched in the past but have given up on: Survivor, The Apprentice, E.R., even Joey. Actually, we have, at my wife's suggestion, recorded a couple episodes of Everybody Hates Chris, one of which we have seen and enjoyed.
Friday: Nothing
Saturday: The evening news, if it isn’t pre-empted by college football. Otherwise nothing. (With the networks often showing reruns of shows that were on during the week, why don’t they just give the time back to the affiliates? I suspect it's because it IS a time they can occasionally run specials and they don’t want to surrender the time permanently, but that's a guess.)

So that’s 15 hours a week, more or less. Probably a few minutes of news in the morning for the weather.
Here’s where you say, "You oughta be watching X." Well, it won’t be CSI or NCIS or any show that portrays how crummy people are to other people. I’ve given up on 24. I don't plan on getting HBO.

So we tape early in the week, and watch later in the week.
My wife watches the evening news, 60 Minutes, and the Tuesday shows except Boston Legal. Actually, we haven't seen Commander-in-Chief in three weeks, but we will, we will. It's recorded and it's retrievable, unike some VCR tapes I have. For example, there was a Temptations movie (2-part, 4-hour) taped, never watched; must be 5 years ago now.
The other thing my wife views is figure skating. I say I don't watch it, but I could, if asked, provide an analysis of the pros and cons of the old scoring system (based on 6.0) and the new one. So I don't sit down to watch it as much as it's on while I'm reading the paper and I get to absorb it by osmosis: Grand Prix. Triple salchow. "Fell out of doing a triple lutz and only landed a double; that will cost him plenty." And why do the sponsors (this year, Ore-Ida and Marshall’s) run the same commercial, 3 5, even 9 times in two hours? Fortunately, she usually watches this in the recorded mode, so she can zap past them.
Yes, I watch some sporting events, but I tend to be a playoff fan: from September on in baseball, from Thanksgiving on in the NFL, March Madness in men’s college basketball. But if a baseball game happens to be on during the season while I'm flicking through the channels, I will check it out, especially in the summer when many shows are repeats.

And maybe I'll find that Temptations tape.

Next time: Internet

1 comment:

tomthedog said...

I've got TiVo with DirecTV, and I can tape two shows at once. I think you need to have satellite instead of cable to get the 2-at-once option. Now I'm so spoiled I want 3-at-once!