Friday, November 23, 2012

Priority Viewing

"How do you watch all that TV?"

I've been asked that question for most of my life, and my answer has always been the same - "Priorities."

When I was a little kid, I would transcribe the TV Guide that came to my house each week and align network programming grids. My dad introduced me to the genius of The Honeymooners and SCTV, while my mom preferred The Twilight Zone and Mary Tyler Moore. TV was in my blood. I dreamed about getting one of those giant satellite dishes, but the line needed to be drawn somewhere.

As I grew older, syndication and cable programming created more opportunities to watch, but the major innovation was the VCR.  I could record programs, and made stacks of tapes of my favorite series. This made a huge difference in my viewing habits (and probably the size of my rear end) from all the couch time. 

In college, I joked with my housemates about when our favorite shows started to go downhill, and "jump the shark" was born. There was plenty of time to watch in college, and when I met my soon to be wife, she knew what she was getting into if she stuck with me long term.

As the years passed, technology aided my viewing habits with TiVo and the East and West coast feeds of DirecTV. Now I was able to record twice the programming, or catch an early prime time show at 11 or midnight on the West coast feed.  Working on the Jump The Shark every night alerted me to TV trends and what was worth watching that particular evening.

I didn't miss any family moments or events as my kids grew up. I was there for the birthday parties, saw all the recitals, traveled to Disney, coached teams, you name it...and I was happy to be there for those special times. Watching TV also became part of our family routine, and being able to record stuff allowed for lots of flexibility. 

These days I have Cablevision and DirecTV on the TV's in my house, all with recordable boxes. My main TV has an external hard drive for additional storage, a must with HD programming.

Sports is really the only thing I watch live anymore. On Sunday nights I record six to eight programs, and then I'll watch them throughout the week.  On Monday to Wednesday, I usually watch and record TV from around 730pm to 10pm. Thursdays and Fridays I can stay up a little later and get some extra viewing in. I catch up on the weekends, and then it all starts over again.

I'm also aided by the networks sending me pilots and other episodes. Plus with On Demand, instant viewing on Netflix, and DVD box sets galore, it's much easier to catch up on practically any show these days. Let's face it, you don't even need a TV to watch with the advances iViewing has made.

I've been married for 21 years and my daughters are now in their teens, but I still get my TV in.  I learned to appreciate clever children's programming like Arthur and Yo Gabba Gabba and tolerated torture like Barney when my kids were little.  Now we watch Modern Family together. I watched thirtysomething to appease my girlfriend in college, and now I'm watching Mad Men or The Good Wife with my good wife. 

Another question I used to get asked was "How are you going to make a living sitting around watching all that TV?" Thankfully, I was able to figure that out too.

It's all about priorities.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Spoiler Rules To Live By

On today's GeekTime, we all had a long (and geeky) conversation about spoilers and the rules that should apply. Many listeners thought we were joking around.

I wasn't.

I take my spoilers very seriously. There are two types - spoiling with excitement (SPE) and spoiling with intent (SPI)

When it's SPE, you just can't help yourself. This is forgivable since it's a byproduct of television viewing exuberance.  SPI, however, is just plain obnoxious. The classic "I know something you don't know" maneuver.

I've been guilty of doing both in the past, so I wanted to lay down my spoiler rules to make sure we're all on the same page.


Rule - 5 days

Whether it's The Walking Dead or Modern Family, Homeland or Sons of Anarchy, when an episode is over I am ready to talk about it.

However, I respect that most people don't watch TV as often and as frequently as I do. A five-day grace period provides plenty of time for viewers to catch up.


Rule - 48 hours

A poisonous plant. A flash forward. A bullet in the head. Season finales are potential game changers. EVERYONE wants to talk about a season finale as soon as it's over regardless of how good or bad it was.

Two days is enough time for your pals to catch up on the program. This is important TV. Prioritize, people.


Rule - 24 hours

A snow globe. A cut to black. A jail cell.  However a show comes to an end, it's too tempting to hold back any conversation about it. You just can't help yourself. One day gives enough time for anyone to catch up without the episode being spoiled. You're avoiding newspapers and the internet all day anyway. After that...all bets are off.


Rule - None

If a series has completed its live episode run, there's no such thing as a spoiler. C'mon, you've had ample time to watch The Wire or Battlestar Galactica. Shame on you for not catching it the first time around.

I'm not saying you should SPI here, but if you do, it's guilt free. It's all in the game.


On Jon Hein's TV Show, we really do try hard not to spoil stuff.  In "The Week That Was", we consciously pull clips that don't ruin the end of a given episode. And it's awfully tempting to do so.

But let's face it, JHTV is a weekly show that discusses...TV! If you're listening to the show, and I'm thankful that you do, you might occasionally hear some spoilers from the past week's programming.  But it's all me.

If we all follow these spoiler rules, the world of television will be a better place. 

Now let me tell you how Breaking Bad is going to end.  This Heisenberg guy...