Wednesday, January 09, 2008

DVR Was Ruining My Life, Then the Writers Went on Strike

In a way, I'm glad the Hollywood writers have gone on strike.

DVR was ruining my life. I was recording everything I was remotely interested in. And because many of those things were reruns that I couldn't filter out, I was recording a lot. For example, I've become addicted to Food Network, but most of their shows are old. They're new to me, but they're old. I can't tell the filter to not record stuff I've seen (the only options are "First run only" or "First run and repeats"), so I end up scheduling hours upon hours upon hours of shows.

With the DVR on as my constant standby, television programming was no longer a reason not to go out. Even though I had no "can't miss" shows in the pre-DVR days, there was always, in the back of my mind, the knowledge that if I attended a particular happy hour, it would be to the sacrifice of watching a particular show. No longer.

Indeed, I stopped watching live television altogether even when I was at home for it. Why watch live TV when you can watch the recording later and skip through the commercials? So now even if I'm home during a good television show, I'll delay watching it, instead watching something from my recorded list (43 minutes instead of an hour), and returning to the "live" show later.

It seriously got to the point where my Netflix queue was stagnant for about two months. I used to have a system where I'd watch all three of my Netflix DVDs every weekend, because they'd get replenished by the time the next weekend came around. Now, though, the sheer number of DVR'd shows I have to catch up on makes it difficult to make time to watch three DVDs on top of that. (Worse, these three DVDs are of television shows (Veronica Mars and Gilmore Girls to be exact), so each of those DVDs has run times of about 3 hours (4 episodes), as opposed to the usual 90 to 120 minutes.

So in a way, the writer's strike is kind of good. For me. It means fewer new shows are being recorded, which means substantially less for me to have to catch up on every week. (Unlike Paula Deen shows, for example, I had safely set my DVR to record only first-runs of Bionic Woman and Pushing Daisies.)

A part of me wonders, however, whether the strike is a bit self-defeating.

It's already been noted that the networks are turning to reality shows to fill the void of scripted shows. American Gladiators is returning, and an impromptu new season of Big Brother is starting, to name a few examples. And let's face it, a lot of the American public eats up all that crap with a silver spoon. (I'll readily admit that I was hooked on BB as well -- until it was clear that the Donatos would do really well, at which point my hatred for them both caused me to stop watching.) Game shows like Deal or No Deal and Power of 10 are also stepping up to fill the void, along with some new ones.

Because the American public seems more than content to watch "reality" shows, are the writers really making much of an impact by keeping new scripted television off the air? Or will America eventually become so content to watch "reality" shows that they won't care about the death of some of their favorite scripted shows? And when all the dust has cleared, might networks decide that the reality-to-scripted ratio is better when the scripted shows are limited, thus resulting in fewer opportunities for writers?

Just some thoughts that fleetingly pass through my mind. Just to prove that the Idiot Box hasn't completely dumbed me down yet.

... Or has it?


anne said...

Could I take it personally, I wonder? I get to the country of dreams, TV show-wise, and ka-boom. No TV shows. Pooh.

Rich said...

Time to grab a book I keep telling myself, but all I keep watching is Law & Order reruns...