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11:03 a.m. - June 18, 2005
TiVo - The Best Thing...Ever!
I used to think that automatic drip coffee was the greatest invention of all time.

That’s before I had TiVo.

When we moved into our first house in 1997, I made sure we had DirecTV installed and we bought all of the movie and sports packages, which at first seemed to be a folly. But when Liz started working the night shift later that year – it was a boon as she had a wide variety of stuff to watch when she got home. And I, of course, had sports packages for the NHL, MLB and the NFL, so I had plenty of games to choose from.

But the VCRs we had were not the most reliable things in the world – they kept dying. And when Katie came along, she had her own ideas on what she wanted to watch, when she got her limited TV time, and it wasn’t always sports (well, not her first choice anyway), and it certainly wasn’t going to be movies like Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs. “Who’s that Daddy?” “That’s Mr. Blonde, Katie! Oh, don’t look….he’s being bad!”

So I had to memorize the Noggin schedule for the weekends because I know what she wanted to watch. And by God, I had a sense of pride knowing the exact order of a certain block that Katie liked (Oobi, Maisy, Miffy, if I recall correctly, was the order of choice back in the day).

When we decided to move, of course we had to move the DirecTV service. Cable? Seriously? Only when they have the NFL Sunday Ticket. I gave up the other sports packages when Katie came along, but Sundays in the fall is for the National….Football…League…and I’ll be damned if I give up that . Working the remote during the early games is an art form, and should be handled by professionals only as to not miss a play on the main game you are watching but to keep informed on the 7 to 9 other games going on at the time. And by informed I mean making sure you see each score.

DirecTV had a deal going on in December that if you used their moving service, you could get a TiVo receiver for a low price. I asked if it was that much per month, and they said – NO! Silly! Since you have almost everything we offer except the Playboy Channel on 24/7 (like THAT would fly) there’s no upcharge per month for the TiVo. Just commit to a year and the receiver is yours for a low, low price.

I took me all of 10 seconds to say yes, only because I thought whether to call Liz before saying yes. I didn’t.

The day we moved in, the dish and the TiVo receiver were installed. And the receiver’s a marvel. Mainly because it has TWO inputs – meaning you can watch one thing and record something else – or you can record two shows at once (but you have to be watching one of them if you want to watch live TV). Or you can be watching something you already recorded while TiVo records one or two shows.

TiVo is much better than a VCR because the quality is superb and you can pause live TV with a click of a button. And that comes in real handy when idiot friends call you during Six Feet Under to rub it in that they’re at the Pixies concert and YOU couldn’t go when they were in Indy because you were on baby alert. Yeah, Moose, I’m talking to you, and if I didn’t have TiVo I would have been extra sore because I would have missed the dude getting run over by his SUV this past week.

TiVo just proved its worth again. I’m on the early shift (yeah, it’s like Dragnet with a 7-day old baby. Saturday, 12:34 AM. I’m working the early shift with Kristin. She needs to eat – and I’ve got to feed her. My name’s Smed…I’m a Dad) and TiVo was recording a showing of Best Week Ever. If I was stuck viewing a live feed I would have missed 10 minutes of it – but I could start it from the beginning, skipping through all the commercials (another bonus). I saw the whole show in about 20 minutes of actual time. Bonus! That’s 10 extra minutes of my life where I can do something…well, actually I’m doing it now writing this thing. So I guess everyone wins!

Programming it to record is fairly simple. The easiest thing to do is to set up Season Passes, which means it records any showing of a program on a particular channel. That’s handy for those of us into great shows like the West Wing, Six Feet Under and the Sopranos where you don’t want to miss an episode, but may not be home the night it airs. (OK…also Survivor, Iron Chef, the Apprentice, and Hit Me Baby One More Time. By the way, the Knack was hosed a couple weeks ago. Vanilla Ice? C’mon…Oh! I digress….)

Right now I have 28 season passes set up, covering Katie’s favorites, every permutation of Law & Order known to mankind (I know if they have Law & Order, Ottumwa, Iowa – I’m there on the season pass. Hey, why don’t they have Law & Order, Internal Affairs? They always come off as hard-ass bozos on that show – and everyone remembers Scanlan from Barney Miller. So why not have a show for Internal Affairs? I’d watch. Oh, the topic is TiVo…back to it.), and shows like NUMB3RS, and racing of all sorts.

But the main thing I’m getting out of TiVo is recording movies on all the movie channels. No more DVDs to buy, no more pay-per-view charges. I have all sorts of movies saved – like The Outlaw Josey Wales, Double Indemnity, Wuthering Heights (the original, please, thanks), and (for some reason) the Starsky and Hutch movie (I am blaming Liz on that one – seriously. I deleted it and caught all sorts of heck). And watching movies that I have stocked up helps in the odd hours Kristin is awake – you can only watch so many Law & Order SVU episodes. Besides, when you are feeding your infant you don’t really want to see a show about child abduction, do you?

There are some drawbacks if you don’t set it up right. TiVo tries to guess what you’ll like and records stuff for you – which you mostly delete. Just because I like Seinfeld, TiVo, doesn’t mean I want to see every consarn episode of Friends.

It may seem like I’m a paid endorser for TiVo, but I’m not – I’m just a happy client.

So what shall it be tonight? Caddyshack or Othello starring Orson Welles? Ah, decisions, decisions.


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