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Saturday, July 28, 2001

It's time for a confession. TiVo is taking over my life. It's my master. I'm a slave to TiVo. Somehow, after watching television for half a century, sometimes more, sometimes less, I'm now watching twenty-four hours a day. Or so it seems.

A quick review: TiVo allows me to pause live TV. It lets me decide what I want to watch ahead of time, and then watch it whenever I want. If a movie is on in the middle of the night, I can record it and watch it the next day, all with a couple of clicks of the remote. I can tell TiVo to record every episode of The Real World and watch them when I get around to it, instead of forgetting to watch them the way I used to do. I don't have to plan my day around what's on. This is very liberating.

And here comes the spooky part. Based on what I watch, TiVo decides what else I might like, and records those shows for me. While I was on vacation, for some reason TiVo decided I wanted to see programs like Clifford the Big Red Dog and Jay Jay the Jet Plane. I asked it to stop doing that, and although it still does it once in awhile, now it's giving me Emma Thompson movies. Apparently the longer you have TiVo, the better it knows your tastes.

TiVo has definitely changed the way I watch TV. For one thing, I'll never have to watch another commercial, because almost everything I watch is pre-recorded, and I can fast-forward through anything I don't want to see. I'm watching more movies now; after several abortive attempts, I finally got all the way through Fight Club tonight.

I almost never watch anything while it's being broadcast any more, except for live sports events. And even those are not necessarily watched in real time. I can pause a live baseball game and go back to it half an hour later, picking up where I left off. In a way, TiVo has given me back control of my own life, or at least the way I schedule my TV time.

(By the way, this completely obliterates the complaint I had about NBC tape-delaying the Olympics. Now I realize that I probably wouldn't watch any of it live anyway. I'd let TiVo record it, so that I could skip the heats and go right to the finals.)

I'll admit that I'm spending too much time watching television since I got TiVo. But I think it's a temporary thing. I'll go through the list of this week's movies and tell TiVo to record them, and then I have to watch them. But there are only so many new movies on each month, and once I've caught up with the ones I've always meant to see, I won't be tied down to the TV as much of the time.

Time. That's what it's really all about. TiVo has changed my concept of time itself, because I never have to worry about what's on when. It's also changed the way I read the TV listings. Now what's on (period) is more important than what's on when. I just let TiVo know what I want to see, and it appears in a list on my screen. All I have to do is click.

Here's how bad it is: I watched Godzilla 2000 Thursday, while I was working. (Well, I guess "watch" isn't exactly the right word. I had it on, and if anything had caught my attention I might have taken a few minutes to watch for real. Needless to say, I got a lot of work done Thursday.) If that's not the cheesiest movie of last year, please tell me what is.

On the other hand, I would never have known of The Winter Guest (directed by Alan Rickman and starring, yes, Emma Thompson) if not for TiVo. I've seen it listed in TV Guide, but the description didn't make it sound appealing. But since TiVo suggested it, I went ahead and watched it, and I loved it. (You probably won't, though, so don't bother.)

Unfortunately, this has cut into my reading time and my gardening time. I keep thinking I should watch everything that's been recorded before TiVo's hard drive fills up and it starts deleting programs to make room for whatever's next on my list. That's the only reason I stayed up so late last night watching Knife in the Water (Roman Polanski's first feature film, in Polish with English subtitles).

purple iris

Some new blooms appeared while I was away.

Yes, I have been watching Big Brother 2, and yes, I do think Kent was an idiot for (a) believing Mike, (b) going off on Krista, and (c) not getting rid of Will when he had the chance.

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