For longer than I care to admit, my evenings revolved around the television. I had shows to watch every night of the week. Picking favorites for some nights was easier than others, but somehow, I always found something to watch.
Looking back, the quality of my viewing selections makes me cringe. I couldn’t stay awake late enough to watch the top-rated ten o’clock dramas. So I filled the hours with banal situation comedies, an endless variety of reality shows, VH1 Top 100 countdowns, and occasional episodes of Jerry Springer, Cheaters, and Dr. Phil. You know — must see TV.
Years ago, I changed my cable package. As part of the introductory offer, the company threw in a Digital Video Recorder (DVR). No big deal. I had several VHS recorders that just blinked 12:00, never once actually recording the show I’d hoped to record. Same thing, right? I never picked up the device. Had I known the value of a DVR back then, I’d have hopped in my car immediately and driven any distance to pick one up. But, as is often the case avec moi, I didn’t know, and didn’t bother finding out. Dumbass.
Despite not having the equipment enabling me to use the feature, the cable company charged me out the wazoo for DVR after the introductory offer ended. I didn’t really notice for another year or two. Hey! Don’t judge me. Like you look at every line on your cable bill every month. When I discovered the error, they only refunded the charge for the prior three months. Needless to say, I’m no longer with that company. Bastards.
DVR came with the package I got from my new provider. Now I set all my favorite shows to record. There aren’t that many — American Horror Story, Project Runway, Masters of Sex, Top Chef, and when they were on — Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Dexter, and Hannibal. Now and then, I’ll record something else that catches my eye. When I feel like watching television, instead of scrolling through hundreds of channels looking for something — anything — to watch, I’ll watch something I’ve recorded.
Being able to watch what I want when it suits me is great. Even better is the ability to fast forward through commercials. Watching Project Runway live takes about 90 minutes. Skipping the ads knocks more than thirty minutes off the viewing time. I hate to think of the hours I wasted watching ads before I got DVR.
Lots of reality shows repeat whatever happened before the commercial break when the show resumes. I guess they’re making sure anyone with short-term memory loss can keep up. For the rest of us, DVR means skipping all that crap too, shaving another five or more minutes off my viewing time.
I also like the ability to pause something I’m watching live. Pausing for ten or fifteen minutes when the show starts lets me skip ten or fifteen minutes of commercials. Three-thirty football games interfere with my nap time. So I record the game to watch when I wake up. The delayed start is sometimes enough to let me fast forward through commercials, time-outs, and halftime.
The DVR has definitely enhanced my viewing experience. All in all, I’m watching quite a bit less television in a whole lot less time. And the more I use the DVR, the less inclined I am to watch regular, live television. Ain’t nobody got time for all those ads.