TV Article

The Year DVR saved TV

The benefits of TiVo -- Ken Tucker reveals his addiction to digital recording

The benefits of TiVo

You know the feeling: You'd like to keep up with Heroes and Dirty Sexy Money and Survivor, but you can't quite fit 'em all into your viewing time and still have time for Dancing With the Stars and that new translation of War and Peace. The solution, now more than ever this year, was a DVR of your choice.

My increasing reliance on TiVo in 2007 dovetailed with a trend in my viewing habits. Many times, unless I was grappling with a show I was reviewing, I wanted to watch a lot of stuff, but not sit through all the boring parts. Presto! Heroes became more bearable knowing that I could record it and then skim past any moment it looked like Mohinder was about to make some rumbly proclamation. And I'll confess that I watch Las Vegas...but only the scenes with Tom Selleck, whose wry presence and wittily baffled interaction with the young 'uns in this motley cast is the series' sole charm.

In fact, thanks to the odd couple of TiVo and the writers' strike, I've actually been able to expand my viewing this year. For the first time, I began thinking, ''Hey, I'm an American — why aren't I watching NCIS or Law & Order: Special Victims Unit?'' You know, those shows millions of folks around the country watch while people who work at pop culture magazines twitter on about Flavor of Love and Gossip Girl.

TiVo enabled me to scan through the slow spots of NCIS (and once I got over admiring the youthful vigor of Mark Harmon's white-gray brush cut, those slow spots turned out to be...pretty much the entire hour) and skip past the weekly horrid sex crime committed on L&O: SVU to zone in on Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay's moral outrage as expressed through a clenched jaw (Meloni) and misty eyes (Hargitay). This season also presented quite a few time-period conflicts — I wanted to watch Dirty Sexy Money and Life; Chuck and House and Reaper; Mad Men and Burn Notice. TiVo bailed me out, time and again.

Do I worry that with all this skimming, my attention span is withering, that I'll become as distracted as an Amazing Race contestant searching for a clue box and not noticing the Eiffel Tower as it whizzes by? Not really. TiVo has enabled me to focus on the stuff I really want to — like learning how to win a bar fight (thanks, Burn Notice). And I really am plowing through War and Peace. Meanwhile, when I suspect that I may want to go back and really ponder the subtleties of Kryptonian lore that sent Supergirl to Smallville this season — well, that's what the Save Until I Delete option is for.

Originally posted Dec 21, 2007 Published in issue #971-972 Dec 28, 2007 Order article reprints