TV only works when it fits my schedule

Originally posted at Pop Quiz, Hotshot! on May 11, 2007

A fellow Pop Quiz, Hotshot! staffer’s recent column on ‘Lost’ has reminded me of a topic that’s long bothered me about TV shows: their unruly schedules.

You see, I don’t own a digital video recorder and I don’t have TiVo either. I have a VCR, but I rarely use it. I’ve found that if I do record a show, I don’t watch it very quickly. The tapes languish on top of my TV for weeks at a time.

And then, there’s the lingering problem of forgetting to record episodes. That’s been a frequent problem, that and the fact that many shows purposely start and end at odd times, in an apparent attempt by the networks to mess with DVR subscribers. It’s all a huge pain in the neck.

So I’ve come to realize that I can really only watch shows as they air. That means that I’ve got to make time for the shows.

That’s no big deal — until the shows I like start moving around.

This problem has surfaced multiple times in the last few years. “Lost,” as you may remember, debuted in an 8 p.m. time slot. Then it jumped to a 9 p.m. slot and this year jumped again to 10 p.m.

The time changes were truly aggravating because they fouled up my attempts to watch other shows — namely “Smallville.” I turned to recording “Smallville,” the lesser of the two shows, and watching “Lost.”

But in the end, watching “Lost” as it aired proved to be a hassle. Its time change meant that I had to watch something that night, even though I would occasionally be out of the house Wednesday nights. With two shows on at the same time, I had to pick one to record and one to miss.

In the end, I ended up giving up on both shows. I had missed too many episodes of “Lost” to even bother trying to catch up this season. “Smallville” was only so-so in the first place.

The same thing happened to me this year too. “BattleStar Galactica” jumped from Friday nights to Sunday nights.

The change was just troublesome enough to mess with my ability to keep track of it. Fridays at work, one of my PQH! compatriots would remind me: “New episode tonight!” That was enough of a help that I could remember it.

But the switch to Sundays was tough. Now it was: “New episode Sunday!” and I never remembered. In fact, with that schedule change, I only managed to see about half of this season’s episodes — and many of those were actually from tapes I borrowed from someone else.

Based on viewing patterns, schedule jumps are a never a good thing for TV shows. They’re often an effort by the network to avoid competition (”American Idol” is the culprit for “Lost” changes), to bolster its status as a showpiece for the network (As is the case for “Battlestar”) or to dump the show into a lackluster timelsot for a more profitable show.

No matter why the networks do it, it nearly always leads to disgruntled or lost viewers. You can count me as both lost and disgruntled.

Sure, I could probably rent these shows as box sets. I could even buy a DVR, but you know what? They’re only TV shows.

If they don’t fit in my schedule, they don’t get watched. That’s all there is to it.


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