The recent writer’s strike had major side effect at my house. We have two TV sets, one in the living room and one in our bedroom. Until recently, both sets were connected to VCR/DVD players so we could watch TV and tape shows. But just before the strike started the living room player went on the fritz. No problem, I thought. But when I went shopping for a replacement, I found that my choices had been limited by the changing nature of the recorder business.
Not only is new technology replacing the old,but competing technologies were making it hard to decide which way to go with a new setup. This was before Walmart’s Blu-ray deal. I was looking for something sensibly priced so the one I picked was inexspensive and capable of recording and playing but when I got it home I discovered that it didn’t have the required coaxial cable connection. Luckily for me this turned out to be one of the situations where stopping and thinking let me realize that maybe I didn’t need to buy.
So I took it back and got my refund.
And then the writer’s strike hit and the networks began running out of shows and then substituting reality junk shows and reruns and we discovered that we didn’t miss the taping and watching that much. We both read a lot anyway. Now we began to take longer walks and plan things that didn’t have us running back to the house in order to catch a show. Or worse, planning our love life around which show we just had to watch first.
I know, even saying that makes me realize that here we were two adults and we were scheduling our lives around some TV show. What’s more what I found myself looking at the shows differently. When a show wasn’t available, I found myself wondering about what I actually missed about the thing. Was it really valuable to me to find out how the writers had twisted the plot on Heroes? Was I adding anything to my knowledge of how the world works by watching the series of innuendos that form the basis of Desperate Housewives? Sure I like the humor of House and the sexy interplay between the cast on Bones. But did I need them when I could find a 1000 books that would do the same thing for me and more.
While I was pondering this, I also began to recognize that the cable networks actually made TV watching a lot more sensible by making their shows available on a replay schedule. The networks just started trying this out over the last couple of years in response to their continued loss of viewers. The networks are stubborn though. They still cram in the commercials, and act like children by scheduling their show to overlap the hourly break in hopes of keeping us from switching to another channel. What? Do they think we don’t notice or care?
Of course, the one thing we did keep watching is something we both love. Professional basketball, Go Lakers and Clippers. But spending more time on our computers these days and not having to worry about the TV is actually quite a great relief. Now when we do watch, we can be surprised and entertained because we’ve been on vacation and frankly, it feels damn good.