Funny, isn’t it, how you can become so dependent upon a technology that didn’t even exist just a few years ago.
OK, maybe funny isn’t the right word. Perhaps a better word would be ‘sad’.
Yesterday, my Digital Video Recorder — the DVR — sent me an ominous message when I tuned in for my recorded daily dose of liberal propaganda, The Daily Show, followed by 20 CCs of The Colbert Report. The PVR message was: “DVR service is not available or currently disabled. Please call your cable operator.” This was scary on two fronts. One, my recorded shows were not available, and two, I had to call my cable operator.
Equally troubling, the on-screen TV guide which I have grown hopelessly dependant upon now lists ‘To Be Announced’ for every channel, every hour. I just assumed this was a brief glitch that would repair itself, but after several hours, I decided to take the plunge and call Shaw. Actually, I didn’t call Shaw, but I used their “concierge service” which allows you to contact Shaw online. This is infinitely better than phoning and waiting for a Shaw person to answer while listening to a Musak version of ‘Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head’ , a process that can last anywhere from five minutes to tomorrow. Anyway, my “concierge” tried a long-distance fix, to no avail. The only option then was a house call, and the earliest time is late next week. Why so long? I don’t know, but I’m not happy.
I can still watch TV. The picture is fine, and all the channels are there. But now, I can’t record, and I don’t know what’s on.
What is this, the 20th century?
Back in the old days this problem didn’t exist. When I was growing up, we had a two-channel universe — channels 3 and 5 — so it wasn’t particularly difficult to remember which channel was showing I Dream of Jeannie (channel 3), and which one was showing The Ed Sullivan Show (channel 5) on Sunday nights. Later, as the viewing universe expanded, we all depended on the TV listings that came in the Friday paper (or the bible of TV listings, TV Guide), and planned our viewing accordingly.
Ironically, with the TV universe expanded to impossible-to-remember proportions, the TV listings in the Friday paper are gone, as is the TV Guide (which was once the highest circulation magazine in Canada). You can blame the on-screen listings for the demise of printed listings.
Thanks to on-screen schedules and DVRs, the whole process of watching TV has changed. Anytime I’m a little bored, and I am a little bored a lot, I turn on the TV and browse the schedule looking for something to divert my attention for a little while. Now, for at least a week, I have no on-screen schedule. I have dozens (hundreds? I don’t even know) of channels at my disposal, and I don’t have a clue what they’re offering. It’s like going into a restaurant and not looking at the menu.
Worse is the lack of recording capability. I record every show I watch — even Downton Abbey, which has no commercials. I record movies for future viewing. I record Saturday Night Live, and whip through the commercials and the lousy musical acts and the even lousier sketches. I will sometimes record a sporting event, about an hour into it, and skip the commercials and the intermissions. Best of all, I don’t have to remember when any of my favorite shows are on, because the DVR does it for me.
It is not too much of an exaggeration to say that the Digital Video Recorder is the Greatest Invention in History. And now, I am without. Oh, the humanity.
This is going to be a long, difficult week. Maybe there’s something on TV to take my mind off my woes. Oh, wait ….