Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Take Five: Adventures With DV-R

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on February 13, 2009


For many years, I had resisted the urge to pursue any sort of TiVo or DV-R type cable recording device. This would likely surprise many, considering that someone who watches as much TV as I would no doubt find the perks of such a service to be gargantuanly advantageous. But I felt my reasons for not acquiescing were good ones:

  1. It would make me less disciplined as a TV watcher.
  2. It would cut into too much money I could otherwise be spending on Chinese delivery and Rock Band downloads.
  3. It would result in me watching even more TV than I already do.

So for all of college and my first year out, I made do with a cheap VC-R borrowed from my cousins (which I used only in the gravest of TV emergencies) and a very active internet connection. But it got to the point where even my parents were ribbing me for not having one of these, and it made me reconsider if the negatives were really that negative:

  1. Being a “disciplined” TV watcher resulted in a lot of late nights of deciding in between watching Family Guy reruns for the 30th time or hoping that new anchors would make watching the same SportsCenter I watched two hours before somehow fresh.
  2. The cost of DV-R was really not that considerable, and would likely only result in one less order of dumplings and hot & sour soup and maybe a pass on downloading another Disturbed song on Rock Band a month.
  3. I was already watching as much TV as a human being could possibly watch without resulting in physical entropy.

Consequently, I made the plunge about a month ago by picking up a DV-R, and have of course yet to look back. It hasn’t changed the quantity of TV I’ve watched–the TV’s on whenever I’m home, pretty much no matter what–but the quality has drastically improved. No more midday malaise resorting to O.C. or Sopranos reruns the millionth time, no tricky 6:00 hour in between Pardon the Interruption and Jeopardy, and no more miserable late nights. The only problem now is recording things faster then I can watch them, which all things considered, is a pretty decent problem to haave.

The most obvious and immediate benefits are the ease with which I can record Sixers games when I’m at work and LOST episodes when I’m at home watching Sixers games. But far more exciting are the opportunities the service affords me to watch things that I would likely never watch before–either because I’m not at home when they’re on, watching something else when they’re on, or simply don’t think to flip past the channel when they would be on. It means I can see a preview for a show like Life on Mars or Burn Notice, think “hm, never seen that before,” and take a flier on it. I’m not interested enough in them to torrent their episodes or catch ’em on Hulu, but if I can have it on in the background while I’m falling asleep, waking up or writing to you lovely people, why not give it a shot? It’s given me a new sense of purpose in my TV watching–whereas most people would likely view spending two+ hours watching Kerry Wood’s 1998 20-K game against the Astros as a complete waste of time, it makes me feel oddly productive.

So with that in mind, here are five of the better dice rolls I’ve made since acquiring the Black Box:

  • American Idol (Early Episodes). I hadn’t watched American Idol with any regularity since my roommate got me into the Bo Bice / Carrie Underwood season my freshman year–liked parts, but too much filler, too many boring contestants, too much Seacrest. And I’m not sure if I’ll stick with it into the teeth of the competition. But man, those early episodes. They’re not pretty, and they take some cheap shots, but IITS friend Victor put it best in his on point analysis of the appeal of Paul Blart: Mall Cop–sometimes, you just wanna see a fat guy fall down. My favorite moment was undoubtedly a college kid from I think the Utah week, who performed an extremely timid version of “Walking on Sunshine” after telling Simon that where he saw himself in ten years was (roughly) “In a house…hopefully with some wooden floors…” (his exit, fairly pre-determined, was oddly self-aware for a spectacular Idol failure, leading me to wonder why no stunt journalist had ever taken on an AI audition). Plus, the advent of the Fast Forward button–less filler, less boring contestants, much less Seacrest.
  • NBA All-Star Games. It’s funny, because I don’t even remember being too interested in the 2008 All-Star Game while I was watching it last year–I had no real rooting interest, and the players didn’t seem to have one either, so I wasn’t sure why I should care. Now I see the point–as an NBA cultural snapshot, the All-Star Game has no peer. NBA TV has been replaying all of the All-Star Games of the last 30 years or so–though I only really started taping within the last decade–and the marvel-worthy moments n those I’ve watched so far are plentiful. Allen Iverson affectionately asking for coach Larry Brown after winning the game MVP, the emotional peak of a soon-to-be extremely tumultuous relationship. Kobe Bryant putting on a clinic in Philly but getting booed anyway, an early lesson for Kobe that you can’t go home again (especially after breaking their heart in the finals the year before). Steve Francis, Wally Sczcerbiak and Stephon Marbury performing the parts of successful, well-liked NBA players. And if that’s not all compelling enough, you also get Jason Kidd hitting half-court buzzer beaters and Tracy McGrady throwing alley-oops off the backboard to himself. Fantastic stuff–I’ll be catching ’em all next year for certain.
  • Demetri Martin. I never watch The Daily Show, and I had no idea who Demetri Martin was, minus the fact that he was in an episode of Flight of the Conchords, and I could’t even tell you which one. But I read a comeplling article about him, a couple of my friends are in love with him, and the previews for Important Things, his new Comedy Central show, looked OK. So I took a look at the series premiere, as well as an old CC special of his that aired the night before, and I think I can now count myself among the ranks of my smitten friends. Important Things was pretty hit-or-miss–so much so that I don’t think you can find a review of it that doesn’t use the phrase “hit-or-miss” in some capacity–but when he was on, he was absolutely Chappelle-worthy. The comedy special was even better–I actually remember seeing commercials for it two or three years ago and being struck with the hilarity of the “Cuteness of Girl vs. How Interested I Am in Hearing About How Intuitive Their Cat Is” graph, but I had no memory of Martin being behind it. In any event, his stuff should be on my DV-R radar for some time to come.
  • Gossip Girl. I’d always meant to be more up on Gossip Girl than I had been–I liked it pretty well, and felt that it was somehow important, but would never be emotionally invested enough in a show filled with such largely unsympathetic characters to download it or get the DVDs. I only watched it when I was home and nothing better was on, resulting in me seeing about four episodes total, with about a half-season in between each. Now, though, I certainly have 40 minutes a week to spare for some pretty, snobby 17-year-olds (played by pretty, slightly less snobby 24-year-olds) and their narcissistic ways, and I’m glad to have the show in my life. It appears I picked a good time to reinsert myself as well, as we appear to have moved into the “Sex With Teacher Scandal” subplot phase of the show’s career–a must for any epoch-making teen drama worth its salt, and one which GG has possibly already gotten to three or four times without my knowledge. Don’t tell me what happened last week, though–I could only tape two things at a time, and my conscience made me prioritize the Presidential Address over GG last time out. Mistake, no doubt.
  • GAC’s Top 50 Videos of the Year. My stance on Mainstream Country is, somewhat regrettably, a fairly common one of northern popwatchers–I recognize its right to exist, but I’m not going to voluntarily interact with it all that often. As should be no surprise to readers of this blog, though, I’ll watch anything in countdown form, and that certainly includes country videos. Besides the fact that it’s important to remember that in certain corners of the world, “How Great Thou Art” is an acceptable cover choice, Andy Griffith is an enviable music-video cameo and Trace Adkins may as well be a Jonas Brother, it was just kind of fun to see this musical canon with whom I had such limited interactions–a learning experience that confirmed that most of these songs weren’t for me, but that I was sort of glad that they were out there anyway. Bravo to GAC, too, for doing a full top 50 countdown, one rerun after New Years eve, and one that even had a reputable host in crossover megasuccess Taylor Swift. And a couple of the songs–Keith Urban’s “You Look Good in My Shirt,” Billy Currington’s “Don’t,” Plant & Krauss’s “Gone, Gone, Gone”–actually inspired me to fire up SoulSeek. Might have to check back on the weekly Top 20s every once in a while.

One Response to “Take Five: Adventures With DV-R”

  1. Victor said

    FYI, your gracious link to me leads to a random Staind song, which offends me…as a Limp Bizkit fan.

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