Two years ago when I was first starting out on this website, I posted a diatribe called "Just Say No...To TiVo." I think the content in said article is pretty self-explanatory, but now, two years later and after reading an article in this week's Entertainment Weekly about the most commonly DVRed programs, I had to revisit the issue. Do I still feel as strongly against digital recording devices as I did a mere twenty-four months ago?
Well, the short answer is that I still don't own a TiVo-- or any other kind of DVR-- for either of my two TVs in my one bedroom apartment, so that should say it all, right? But it is really so much more than that! Sure, a DVR buys you the freedom of not having to spend all of your nights in when you want to make sure to catch Penny singing a sick Sheldon "Soft Kitty, Warm Kitty" on The Big Bang Theory or play WhoDunIt with Rick Castle his muse on Castle. A DVR also allows you to rewind and pause certain images or sequences over and over for the uber-obsessive, in case you want to try to decipher the week's coded message in the FlashForward title card or just ogle a shirtless demon-hunter (Supernatural) or watch Barney get slapped into submission in a montage (How I Met Your Mother). And admittedly, a DVR comes in handy when there is a favorite star guesting on a program, and you have everything that particular person has ever done in your library and you can't will yourself to miss even one (um, fill in your own example there...)!
However, the shows that most of us end up DVRing are our second choices. They are ones we would watch if nothing else was on in their time slots but up against something else new and fresh, these fall by the wayside. The DVR is convenient because it means we can catch them after all (though nowadays the same can be said for online media sites, as well), but without them, we wouldn't be missing a whole lot. After all, how else can you explain why GLEE, the breakout show from the fall season, is only the sixteenth highest show that gets DVRed? The "real" fans still prefer to watch it "live." The "real" fans know that if they DVR and wait until the next day to tune in, they will miss out on countless conversations in schoolyards and break rooms, as well as be forced to hide from Facebook and Twitter status updates, lest having the episode spoiled for them.
This explains why second-rate crime shows like The Mentalist (#1), NCIS, and Criminal Minds (#s 6 and 7, respectively) crack the top ten, as well. In essence, these are all shows that are not necessary to be watching, and when we DVR them, we keep them on the air longer than they deserve instead of pushing the behind-the-scenes talent to increase the intensity. With so many other longer-running and better put together productions with similar stories out there, these get DVRed on the off chance that the viewer has a few spare hours to spend one weekend and wants to zone out in front of a marathon.
Don't get me wrong: I'm not knocking marathons. It is quite the opposite, actually, in that I love marathoning certain television shows, and I do so more often than not-- sometimes in the middle of the week, sometimes with friends by my side on the couch! These TV fests turn into full on viewing parties and can actually bring people together as they share their common love of a particular program. Admittedly the DVR makes that easier. However, so does on demand programming and DVDs, so I'm still not willing to bow down to the DVR yet.
What was most interesting to me, though, was that reality television barely cracked the list of highly DVRed shows at all. Many believe this to be because of the "live" factor as well, especially for programs like Dancing with the Stars, that requires you to see it within a certain time period to be able to call in and vote and therefore be a part of the show yourself. I'm beginning to wonder, though, if maybe-- just maybe-- reality TV has finally hit its downturn and is on a slope to lead it out the door and off our television screens, even if only by a few shows at a time in the beginning. After all, with the invention of a DVR more people can tune into scripted programming, so with more eyes on them and their products, writers and producers have to up the ante on quality. Perhaps audiences are finally wising up that even a slow-to-start scripted program is still better than a flash-in-the-pan "reality" show. And if that's the case than maybe the DVR isn't all bad...but check back with me in another two years just to be sure!