The Cliffhanger Meets the DVR!


Thanks to DISH for sponsoring this post.

TV Screen showing the DISH DVR Interface
81% full of shows. We have some catching up to do! And Beauty and the Beast? That would be Lissa’s.
Just sayin…

How do you keep a TV geek in suspense?

Tune in next week and I’ll tell you!

I hate cliff hangers.

There. I said it and I won’t take it back.

I do not want to “tune in next time” and hear what Nora says. I do not want to wait until next week to discover how the hero escapes from the burning boxcar as it plunges over a cliff into shark infested waters. I do not want to set aside a certain hour of a certain day to keep up with the 37 different plot threads of J.J. Abram’s latest exercise in addictive obfuscation.

I watch TV to relax, not get a mental workout or to develop self discipline and patience.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love the evolution in TV entertainment that has occurred over the last decade or so. It used to be that if you wanted to see a story with depth, one where the characters are truly fleshed out and explored, you had to go to the movies. TV just didn’t have the time. One hour max, minus commercials and titles meant that the writers only had about 47 minutes to introduce the story, create the problem, solve the problem, then put all the characters back just the way they found them for the next episode. In the movies, they had two hours to tell the exact same story, and in most cases, those characters would never be used again, which meant that the writers could do permanent things to their characters. They could get sick, grow up, grow old, have babies, even die.

Just like in real life.

Then some bright boy realized that if TV got rid of the silly convention that said they had to clean everything up before the final commercials, and instead treated each episode like a single chapter of a story, instead of the whole story, then all of the sudden, a TV show had 20+ hours to tell a story. Characters could be fully developed plots could be allowed to unfold naturally, instead of following TV shorthand. As writers adjusted to this new way of telling stories, TV took the place of movies for truly in-depth story telling. Story arcs began to develop.

Not all TV of course. The Law and Order series are still primarily stand alone episodes. You can miss a season here or there and still pick up on the show without any trouble. You might not know what happened to the prosecutor from a season or so ago, but it isn’t integral to the story, so who really cares?

On the other hand, take a show like Once Upon a Time. Every character on the show has two lives; the life they live in this world, and the life they once lived in the Enchanted Forest, where all fairy tales were true. As the show progresses, we see things that happen to the characters here in our world, alongside flashbacks of their former lives in the Enchanted Forest. Adding to the confusion, this season, some of the characters are trapped in the Enchanted Forest (which is no longer enchanted) and are trying to return to our world. So, to summarize, we have a single cast living two completely separate lives in two very different worlds, whose stories in both worlds are being told simultaneously, along with an excursion into a third  world, which has its own flashbacks.

Miss one episode of this show, and you are lost.

Speaking of Lost… no, let’s not. I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened in that final episode.

I truly believe that the best story telling is on TV shows now and not the movies, but in today’s busy world, who has the time to watch TV at the same time, week after week to keep up with these shows?

I don’t.

So I’ve got two issues going on here: my dislike for delayed gratification, and a time management problem with scheduling my life around a TV show.

Fortunately, DISH Network has the solution to both: the DVR.

I do two things with the DVR. First, I set it up to record the shows that I like. The receiver I use has a 1TB hardrive, which means I can save hundreds of hours of HD programming to watch when I have the time, not when network executives want me to watch. With the DVR controls, I can pause for a phone call, replay a scene I missed, or pause the show while I get a snack, answer the phone, or take care of a Honey-Do.

I can even skip commercials and that feature alone is worth the price.

I said earlier that I am a football fan. If I watch a game live, I’m in it for three hours and change. If I record it and fast forward past commercials, halftime, replays, and shots of the cheerleaders, I can be done with the game in under an hour.

The second thing the DVR does is allow me to watch several episodes of a show at once. If there’s a two or three episode arc, I can sit back and watch them all together. No cliff hangers, no waiting, no aggravation; just story telling bliss.

If I’m going to pay to watch TV, I might as well do it on my terms!

I’m even thinking of upgrading.

DISH has a new receiver they are offering right now that upgrades the DVR capabilities called the Hopper and it is pretty sweet.

Right now, we have three dual tuner DISH receivers in the house, one of which is also a DVR. We can record two shows at the same time, while watching a previously recorded show. Or we can record one and watch one. The TV in the living room, which is currently closed for the kitchen renovation (Hey, all the kitchen stuff had to go somewhere!) runs off the master bedroom receiver, which is also the DVR. Lissa’s office and one guest room run off of another receiver, and my office has the third.

This works okay for us, but it’s a little awkward. We can only watch the DVR in the master bedroom or the living room. And we’re paying for three receivers when we really aren’t using them to full capacity. And if there are three shows that we want to record, which now happens on Monday nights, we’re out of luck.  The Hopper doubles our show storage space, can record up to 6 shows at the same time, and can show four different recorded shows on four different TV sets.

Or you can watch the same show in four rooms. I no longer have to pause for bathroom breaks!

I just spoke to the folks at DISH and according to them, our monthly bill for a Hopper and the equipment to spread the signal to all of our TVs, and to keep the TV Everywhere functions we have now will be the same as it is right now.

In short, we double our storage, gain more flexibility in where we can watch our shows, and still pay the same price we are paying right now. Even better, somebody else will come in and install the system.

Not too shabby!

And honesty compels me to add that I have never fast forwarded past cheerleaders.

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