The 'skip' button

GoVideo DVR4400

Watching TV is hard

It all began a few weeks ago when KCET, the PBS station, changed the schedule. To that point, I had been a happy TV camper:

  • 5:00pm – BBC News
  • 5:30pm – Nightly Business Report
  • 6:00pm – Newshour with Jim Lehrer
  • 7:00pm – The Daily Show (repeat)

scheduleThen they moved BBC News to 4:00pm, the Nightly Business Report to 4:30pm, and the Newshour to 7:00pm. This is all wrong! Who wants to watch TV at 4 o'clock in the afternoon? How can I choose between The Newshour and The Daily Show?

I considered getting TiVo, but then I learned that TiVo requires a monthly fee in addition to buying the hardware. What's up with that? It's like buying a tape recorder and then having to continue to pay every month, just to use it!

I considered subscribing to Time-Warner's digital cable which offers DVR (digital video recorder -- essentially TiVo built into the cable box). It would only cost about $15 more per month than I currently pay. But then I would need a cablebox for each TV. And that starts to add up to real money.

Oh, no, I might actually have to learn how to program my VCR!

OK, I'm not an idiot. It's not that I can't do it. I, too, mock those whose VCRs flash blinking 12:00 without stop. I can do this. I can read and follow the instructions, however convoluted. I can do this. I did do this.

Lacking skill

Then I discovered that I have a skills deficit: I don't know how to watch programs on tape! I'm sitting there, watching taped episodes including the commercials! This is soooooo wrong!

My remote control has a button "SKIP" that fast-forwards the tape for 20 seconds, a typical length for a commercial. But I can't get into the habit of using it. This is soooooooo frustrating. How annoying to sit there watching the commercial (I don't care what PBS calls them, they're still commercials) and then realize that I don't have to watch it!

Life is tough!

I'm not much of a TV person. It does me no good to have a "basic" service that gives me 73 channels. Seventeen of them are shoppping channels, thirteen are religious talk shows (not that there's anything wrong with that — it's just not for me), eight are Spanish-language (not that there's anything wrong with that — it's just extra effort to follow the dialogue!), and thirty are re-runs of I Love Lucy and Leave It To Beaver (been there, done that — already lived the 50s!).

So why is it that the four programs I really want to watch — that I regularly "schedule" in my head — are at the most inconvenient times?

Oh, well. Beginning this weekend, it will all be moot. The channel landscape will be carpeted with the Olympics 24/7.

I only hope fervently there's not a repeat of Munich. I suppose it's a good thing the Greek's are just finishing up the venues — at least terrorists can't have "cased" them 5 years ago!