Lightening My DVR’s Load   

Time to get out the DVR remote and do a little schedule cleanup.Remember my vow to give up (That Wretched BeastTM) One Tree Hill earlier this season? I’ve stuck to it and I’ve discovered something wonderful… I’m much happier when I’m not forcing myself to watch shows I only “sorta like.”

That’s not, for the record, always an indication of the quality of the show. It’s an indication of what I’m like right now and what I’m looking for in my TV shows. For instance, I’m currently very anti-serious drama. I can take small doses for it but I mostly want to come home and lose myself in worlds that are fun and make me laugh, smile, and cry. I also want “real” characters to whom I can relate. I don’t want stories about the elite whose lifestyle I’ll never touch or barely-out-of-college kids who own expensive cars and houses with pools. As result, any shows that fall outside those parameters tend to lose my interest quickly. It doesn’t mean that Mad Men and Gossip Girl aren’t great shows; they just aren’t for me at this time.

The other side of that, however, is as TV blogger I feel some obligation to stick it out with as many shows as possible. Not only to be sure I’m covering a good variety for the blog but so that I can talk knowledgeably about the TV landscape overall. I don’t like judging a show based solely on a surface look at it. But. I also have a life and my growing TV schedule has begun to encroach upon that. And, let’s be honest, the quality of my blogging also goes down in direct relation to each new addition to my schedule.

Ok, now I’m rambling (surprise!!).

The point here is that letting go of One Tree Hill seems to have been that difficult first step any TV addict (or whore) has to take before she’s ready to start being more discriminate when choosing what shows deserve a spot on her TV schedule. Over the past few weeks, I’ve come to realize that juggling ten thousand shows only leads to less time for enjoying and talking about the shows I actually like. The more shows I take on, the less I want to write about any of them.

No more. It stops now. For now on, if a show doesn’t qualify as something I look forward to watching or have a strong emotional tie to, it’s getting the boot.

Naturally this is easier to do with new shows. Take for instance the deletion of Life on Mars, My Own Worst Enemy, Eleventh Hour, and Crusoe from my schedule and my DVR. I have yet to record any episodes of Life on Mars and I can’t say that I feel like I’m missing a thing. I wanted to give Christian Slater a shot to win me over but, after the pilot of My Own Worst Enemy sat unwatched for over a week, I didn’t think twice about deleting both it and the second episode. I did watch the pilot of Eleventh Hour but nothing about it impressed me. I know others who like it but it’s not for me. The second episode came and went and I didn’t even notice. Crusoe is the only one I feel any regret over. I suspect I’d like the show but I could never concentrate on the two-hour pilot and I’m sure my dislike for watching TV on Friday nights is partly responsible. I may end up giving it another shot somewhere down the line but, for now, it’s gone. And if any of these shows end up being a surprise hit? I can always catch up later.

Established shows are a little more difficult to jettison. Look at my earlier example of One Tree Hill. I effectively broke up with it after last season’s finale. I wasn’t as wowed by the show’s jump forward in time and was never fully on board with where the characters’ lives had gone. And yet it still took me a couple of weeks into the new season to let it go completely. It was easy enough to stop watching once the other Monday night shows returned but I was still reading about what had happened on other sites. Now that I haven’t read anything about it for a few weeks? I feel only relief to finally have it out of my head.

As for others, well I’ve only truly been able to remove a couple of those from my schedule. Dirty Sexy Money was easier to ditch but then it never quite sunk its claws into me anyway. It fell off the DVR last year and never got added back so I’ve barely registered its return except to wonder how it was doing in the ratings. Survivor was harder. Luckily they had that last season that started out crappy (I hear it got better but the beginning was enough to turn me off) and I stuck to my guns after removing it from my DVR. It’s a lot harder for me to get drawn in by a reality show once I’ve missed a few weeks. Plus, my offline friends weren’t as into that last season and that helped. I no longer felt like I had to be in the loop for discussions. Once the cord was cut, it was easy to ignore the new season. Especially since I don’t watch much on CBS anyway so I didn’t have to suffer through the commercials that would have pulled me back.

Now comes the hard part. Identifying and removing the shows that I’m interested in but I haven’t gotten too attached to yet. Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles fits this description and I delete its series recording from my DVR. Then it went and had two episodes people raved about and now I want to watch again. Grrrr. I did stop recording House because, while I like it well enough, I’m not in any way attached to the characters and it usually takes me the entire week before I get around to watching. Definite sign of lack of interest on my part. I suspect both Desperate Housewives and Brothers & Sisters would fall into this category if they weren’t the only things on Sunday nights (in their time slots). The Amazing Race has run over several weeks in a row now because of football interfering with the start of those two shows (as in, the time I can start watching them) and it’s been a struggle to make sure I watch them and get them off the DVR quickly. Of the two, I care more about Brothers & Sisters but it suffers from being on late at night. And, really, if you start losing interest in a show just because it’s on late at night doesn’t that mean you’re not really interested in the first place??

Other shows currently on the chopping block: Prison Break, Samantha Who? (It’s lost its funny this season!), Private Practice, and Ugly Betty

Shows that would be on the chopping block if it weren’t their last season: Boston Legal & ER (I drift in and out of this one anyway but they’ve been systematically getting rid of the people I like for two years now, the more the cast changes, the less I want to tune in.)

I think that about covers it. If there’s a show missing that you’re curious about, ask. I know I’ve likely forgotten something but these are the ones that stick out as not currently living up to my interest in them. I don’t want it to be a chore to sit down and “work” my way through my DVR. I want to hit that “recorded” button and be excited by the choices available to me.

What about you? How’s the new TV season affecting you? Are you watching more or less now? Is it overwhelming or still manageable? Where’s the gauge on your TV fatigue?

3 Responses to “Lightening My DVR’s Load”

  1. 1
    Eolivet says:

    I’ve been paring down my viewing this season, as well. My sister keeps begging me to watch NCIS. I was a faithful viewer until two years ago, when it got really bad. I didn’t watch last year, and despite my sister assuring me it’s back to being entertaining, I just…can’t bring myself to watch it again. It’s like the show personally betrayed me. ;) Usually I’m more forgiving, but…not this time.

    I’ve also stopped watching shows I was only watching for sentimental reasons (“Without a Trace,” sigh). I pretty much adopted your philosophy: if I’m not entertained, I’m not watching. :)

  2. 2
    Gaby says:

    I’m certainly watching less now in a week than I did last fall (think there was 12 hours then, now it’s 10), but compared to my first two years of college? I’m watching a lot more. During my sophomore year, the main show that I clung to was Veronica Mars. There were a couple others, I think (like South of Nowhere), but it was mostly VM. During my first year, it was VM and Arrested Development. Gilmore Girls, I made it through 2/3 of the year on that one. Everwood, I tried to stay with it, but sort of gave up after the winter hiatus (though I did see a couple from after that long hiatus).

    It’s funny how I go through phases. I watched a lot of TV during high school just as I watch a lot now. And after I’m done with this year of college, I’ll be done with it and hopefully it’s off to New Zealand, so I’m sure I’ll be cutting back once more once that happens.

  3. 3
    Patty says:

    The only thing I have really given up on is Prison Break. I’ll watch it on DVD when it comes out. It’s always better that way. I am still clinging to OTH and SCC. The first because I feel like I was one of 3 people watching it the first year and the second because, well, David Austin Green is hot! And it has been better. They always seem to get off to a slow start and build.

    I am with you on Dirty Sex Money – last weeks episode is still on my DVR but I am just not caring. I am sticking with Private Practice now that Dell is back.

    I stopped Heroes and Lost last year. I figure those are two more that I will wait until they are done and watch one week while I am on vacation after the DVDs are out.