Wednesday, September 22, 2004

 

We escaped into the paradise of TIVO

The TIVO Transformation of Our Lives
by Steve Johnston and read on 9/22/04

Dear Reader: I am easily identified as being among the last of the “radio generation.” My formative years were greatly influenced by “Fibber McGee and Molly”, “The Shadow”, and “Jack Benny”. (To the younger audience: These and similar radio programs of the 40’s and early 50’s gave way to the predominantly music stations--Rock and Roll, Country and Western, Gospel, etc.--and to living room TV fare such as “I Love Lucy”, “The Mickey Mouse Club” and “Dragnet.”
Since this is about TIVO, I’ll need to “dispose” of the entire second half of the 20th century very quickly. TV came into being in my life about 1953. Television has evolved: sitcoms, Hollywood reruns, CNN and its imitators, cable and dish, and VCRs. Also-- we’re now into the computer age--being able to play movie DVDs and downloaded movies anywhere/anytime when using a laptop computer.
Simply put, TIVO is a computer.
In terms of usefulness, TIVO replaces the VCR. Rather than playing prerecorded tapes (these are linear, a point worth reflecting on), its strength is being at the juncture of a many-channel TV system to download and store preselected programs on its hard disk. From there the TV viewer can see a “multi-course entertainment menu” or switch to Live TV, if desired.
Rather quickly, one desires Live TV less and less.
Certainly, for years Luba and I have enjoyed videos from the library or from BlockBuster, and since last Christmas, also DVDs. Several factors kept getting in the way of our enjoyment, however. First, you must leave home to both obtain a video-on-loan, and then return it. A late return can result in fines. Bummer.
Storing recorded episodes of “Frasier” became time-consuming and meant a $4 tape was simply taking up shelf space. So, I pretty much gave that up in 2002. And while videos don’t rely on a computer (these are random; worth noting), VCRs can’t offer up a table of contents on the screen.
The final straw was the quantity of unwelcome and intrusive commercials we were being forced to watch on Live TV. Not surprisingly, the endless vehicles of political spin in 2004 were the worst of these.
I went on a quest to find relief from all that bother. Where had the enjoyment gone?
Having gotten the market research out of the way and having purchased a TIVO unit, I plunged in this new experience to satisfy my curiosity as to why TIVO is now the rage. (I expect that Spokane is behind some other parts of the country.)
With the indispensable help of a remove, storing a preselected program became child’s play. Previously, I had grappled with tough decisions -- such as, if you go out to an event on the same night as “Frasier” is on, will you return in time to see it all OR should you avoid the risk and plan on taping it regardless. Risking often meant being disappointed. Enjoyment, zero.
With my new TIVO at hand, I quickly decided I’d record “Frasier” every time the weekly segment came on. Thereafter, I gave no thought to my plans to be home and in front of the TV or not. Why was that so less stressful? It’s because I was no longer going to be watching “Frasier” at 9 PM, period. Hey, man, that’s Live TV, and who needs it?!
Actually, that bit of news is the climax. And this is the epilogue. Freedom’s just another word for ... skipping through commercials so as to watch a one-hour program in 40 minutes, a three-hour movie in 2 hours; for always having something I want to watch, even at 2 in the morning when I can’t sleep; for not ever caring if I miss the concluding episode of a BBC “Mystery” program. Freedom means saying goodbye to network schedules. --The transformation is complete: I ain’t never gonna be a TV slave again!
[End]
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