Let me preface this by saying that I don't watch much TV. No really, I don't. I don't have much interest in it, and I despise commercials. I'd rather play video games or watch a DVD. When I have time. Which I don't.
The only show I was watching recently was the West Wing, which my wife and I watched together. But she's not usually at home when it's on, so it had been my job to tape it for her. Well, after the umpteenth time that either I forgot to record it, or the kids changed the channel, or the timer reset on the VCR, we decided to get TiVo.
Now, I had been saying for years that for TV to survive it needs to change. My ideal TV situation would be "TV on demand." So if I want to watch episode #82 of Lost in Space (the one with the guy dressed up as a giant carrot), I could just plop down in front of my set, press a few buttons, and have it download and watch it at my convenience.
Well, we don't have that yet. But we do have TiVo. For the two of you out there who don't know what this is, it's basically a little hard-drive connected to your cable box that lets you record TV shows, VCR style. Except that it's actually pretty smart. So you can have it record whole seasons at the push of a button, or search for and record shows of a specific genre, or even have it make suggestions for you.
The first time we booted it up, I had it search for Sci-Fi TV shows, which are never on when I want to watch them. Lo and behold, there were about 2 dozen shows on at different times, like Battlestar Galactica, Enterprise, Buck Rogers. Stuff I hadn't seen in years. So I set it to record.
That's where the problem starts. Within about two weeks I had a long list of shows waiting to be watched. And no time. And...I don't know...it seems like the TiVo is trying to pressure me into watching them. Quickly. There are little icons next to the older recordings demanding attention.
I've also noticed that shows are starting to disappear off the list before I can get to them. I taped a dozen Buck Rogers, but only 2 or 3 are left in the queue.
It's starting to make me feel guilty. It's like I made a commitment to the TiVo, and now I'm letting it down, not living up to my end of the bargain. And it's starting to get annoyed with me. It's sending me threats. I feel, when I pull up the "Now Playing" list, like I've been dragged in to a room with a Loan Shark:
"If you don't start watching these shows, we're gonna have to cut them off, one at a time. You wouldn't want me to do that, would you? I would feel real bad if, say, the second half of the pilot episode of The Bionic Woman were to suddenly...disappear off the hard drive. Capiche?"
I mean, the thing is ruthless! It wouldn't be so bad if I knew, for instance, how much space was actually on the darn drive to begin with. How many shows can I tape before I run out of space? But no, they won't tell. They just randomly erase things. My wife's episode of Body by Gilad is still there from December, but the Giligan's Island movie is gone gone GONE!
Well it's not all bad. I can skip commercials, and I'm getting to watch the new Battlestar Galactica, which is HOT.
And we haven't missed any West Wings since we got it.