What’s On Your DVR?

Mike Dwyer

Mike Dwyer is a former writer and contributor at Ordinary Times.

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94 Responses

  1. North says:

    Nothing. My condo got wired for fiber internet. It was cheaper than Comcast, massively faster* and more reliable so we switched to fiber. When the husband called to drop the cable internet the comcast rep told him that we’d be paying the same price even without internet services. In a towering fury the husband cancelled the entire Comcast service and now we have just hulu, netflix and the chromecast for TV.

    So far I haven’t felt the bite of its absence too keenly. I sure haven’t minded the absence of the cable bill.

    *so so soooooo** much faster.

    **Like a billion times fasterReport

  2. Kim says:

    No TV here.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    I have finally watched the first two episodes of Gotham.

    I am tentatively willing to say that they might not have screwed it up.Report

    • North in reply to Jaybird says:

      It depends on how much baby Bruce Wayne they show. If he becomes an intrepid spunky little kid hero saving the day from time to time it is dead to me.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to North says:

        Hrm. Yeah, I did sort of elide that the show has too g-darned much Bruce Wayne on it.

        Maybe not too much Alfred. Have Alfred show up and offer a bit of wisdom while he’s out purchasing groceries or something… but Bruce should be a ghost that haunts the show.

        Other than that, though…Report

    • Saul Degraw in reply to Jaybird says:


      You might be the first person I have heard say this. The AV Club is calling it relentlessly mediocre and thinks it can’t decide between being serious and campy.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        You need to spend less time with hipsters and more time with nerds.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        He can be two things.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Revelation 3:16, baby.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        I contain multitudes!Report

      • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        What, you want him to be a Christian too? That’s just pushing it too far.Report

      • Chris in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        That just reminds me that much of Revelations reads like the lyrics of a song from the early 90s.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        No, wait. I’m going for lukewarm here.

        Anyway, I’d say that Gotham, so far, is hinting that The City itself is an organism. They’re trying to make Gotham a character in its own right.

        I mean, you can’t really do a Smallville kinda story with Batman. What did Batman spend his teens doing, anyway? Hanging out with college professors and ninjas. He became the best detective, the best engineer, and the best martial artist. Something like that would require Whovian levels of quality writing to make more than three interesting episodes. (This week: Bruce Wayne hangs out with George “Digger” Harkness to learn how to throw batarangs! Ugh.)

        But the city that had a Batman shaped hole in it before it knew that that was what it was? That’s some fertile ground right there, that is.Report

      • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        What did Batman spend his teens doing, anyway? Hanging out with college professors and ninjas. He became the best detective, the best engineer, and the best martial artist.

        Coming this fall to CBS:

        TRAINING MONTAGE: The Series
        Just Try Fast-Forwarding Through This, SuckersReport

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Ugh, that’s exactly what it’d be. Bruce swirling a test tube over a bunsen burner… it’s clear and it remains clear. Grimace. Bruce swirling a test tube over a bunsen burner again and it remains clear. Grimace. Third times a charm. Bruce swirling a test tube over a bunsen burner and this time it turns blue.

        But instead of thinking “Yay! He’s a chemist!” we think “He’s pregnant!”Report

      • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        batboy or batgirl?Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:


        It could be like the finale of Buffy. Whoops, spoilers.Report

      • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Slate said that Gotham works but you need to view it more as a noir than a superhero story and forget as much about Batman as possible.

        Also, even a young James Gordon needs a mustache.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Saul Degraw says:

        Have caught up with the show. The problem with the show is that I’m not quite certain that I’d love the show if I didn’t have Batman DNA injected into me by the various cultural viruses (virii?) we swim in.

        That said, I *DO* have Batman DNA. The Balloonman episode had an awesome insight that said “if justice isn’t available to everybody, that just calls out for vigilantism”.

        Last night’s episode gave a bit of a story about how Penguin started moving up in the restaurant business. (Though, sadly, it looks like they’re going to pull the trigger on that storyline next week… which is too bad.)

        Anyway, I don’t know if the show works on its own. I’m a host now. As a host, though, it’s not bad. I’m enjoying it.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Jaybird says:

      Gotham is interesting but they made some inexplicable changes in order to get as many of the crew into the show as possible. I also think that they shouldn’t have set it in the present but sometime in the past so Bruce would be an adult in the present. Alternative continuities can only take so many liberties.Report

  4. Glyph says:

    Hey, TWD was genuinely, no foolin’ good last night. (It also benefited from comparison to the somewhat similar but absolutely terrible in all respects The Strain). I hope they can keep it up but they’ve been historically been very uneven.

    I dropped a lot of my pay channels, so I am going to have to wait for later, but I am curious about The Knick and The Affair.

    I kind of stalled out on Masters of Sex and Louie, not sure if I will pick them back up again. I could see maybe marathoning MoS on a sick day or something.

    You think Constantine is going to be any good?

    Has anyone watched Brooklyn Nine-Nine? I need something to fill the comedy void left by 30 Rock.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Glyph says:

      I’m crossing my fingers on Constantine but not getting my hopes up. I genuinely liked the movie though.

      Glyph, if you like Louie, try ‘You’re the Worst’ from FX OnDemand. I really enjoyed it.Report

    • Jaybird in reply to Glyph says:

      Brooklyn Nine-Nine makes me wonder how they’re doing the whole cop thing.

      Is it one of those things where they may as well be working in a diner or a radio station or a taxi company?

      Or do they actually have authority over people who aren’t cops and this authority is demonstrated regularly? Because I doubt that they’d be funnier than The Shield.Report

    • Will Truman in reply to Glyph says:

      I have a question about Louie. Is it a good listenable show or something that needs to be watched? How much of the plot and humor is audio? I like to listen to TV shows, but some (Friends, Seinfeld) work better than others (The Office, 30 Rock).Report

      • Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’d say you probably need to watch it. A lot of it is delivery/pauses/facial reactions, and Louie also has a pretty active imagination where the visual joke is that what he’s seeing in his head can’t possibly be what is really happening.Report

      • Yeah, it’s weird to say that it is since it’s basically his standup enacted, but it really is quite visual, Glyph is right. All about his initial reactions to situations (and to his own jokes), which are in his expressions. Other episodes are just flat-out visual, as well. Check out the crucifix episode, for example.Report

      • It’s probably the least listenable show that I can think of. If you were to ask open-endedly what show you should never just listen to, I’d pick that one.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Will Truman says:

        Louie is unlistenable.

        Sorry to say that most of the most recent season was unwatchable as well. I would skip the 6 part “Elevator” story line. The best episodes were the 3 part “Pamela” sequence and “So Did the Fat Lady” which CK won an Emmy for writing and generated a lot of online buzz.Report

  5. Saul Degraw says:

    I don’t even own a DVR.Report

  6. greginak says:

    Doctor Who and football games. I don’t watch any game in real time anymore. I’ll wait until its an hour or three into the game then put it on. I can forward through all the commercials. Much more fun that way.Report

  7. Saul Degraw says:

    This does remind me of various conversations I’ve heard through out the years though.

    I often hear lots of people say they wish they had time to read a book and then they spend a long time talking about what they watched on TV and their DVR catch-up schedules. This raises a bunch of questions for me.

    1. Are people just not that into reading but they feel like it is something “important” to like and be obligated to do it every now and then? Is this just educational propaganda? Every now and then I meet someone who just flat out admits that they dislike reading or reading is not their preferred form of entertainment but they never say why. In all these cases, the person had college educated parents who tried to impart some love of books. Said people were often quite committed to professional success as well. I also remember reading an article that argued reading and writing was a bit of an evolutional fluke.

    2. What is it about TV that makes it the dominant form of entertainment in our culture? I know we are living in a “golden age of TV” and it seems staggering about how many hours of must see TV there is. My response to this embarrassment of riches is to completely ignore almost all of it. I also wonder whether it is because TV is the easiest and most anti-social for of entertainment to consume but not as anti-social as reading a book. You can semi-interact with your family while watching TV. People have said that the passive element of TV is a plus.

    3. I wasn’t allowed to watch TV on weeknights during high school. I then went to college and was away from TV watching at night because of classes, rehearsal, and homework. Then I spent a year in Japan and did grad school and law school. All of this has made it not turning on TV a kind of default for me. I don’t even use it as background noise when I am home. I will crack open a book though.Report

    • Glyph in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Saul, I can’t speak for anyone else, but A.) I love good TV and B.) I am historically a voracious and rapid reader, and that has slowed to a crawl lately with 3 kids, while my TV viewing has not suffered quite the same hit (though I only watch maybe an hour or three per week right now).

      You are correct that *theoretically* I could swap out an hour of TV for an hour of reading, but *in practice*, reading the kinds of books I tend to enjoy most, requires a focus and mental strength that is often depleted by the one hour of the day that I am alone.

      You might consider whether other people are in my same boat.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Glyph says:


        I totally get how having young children and other responsibilities can make it hard to read. I also know many people who are like me and adults without children who can say they want to read but….and then talk about whatever must see TV was on.

        Apparently my brain is hyperactive enough that even grad school and law school could not deter me from pleasure reading.Report

    • greginak in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      Many people have things they think they “should” do but don’t or do things they “shouldn’t”. Instead of just trying to remove their internal dissonance or just being open about what they want to do, they try to paper it over with “not enough” time or various other excuses. It’s just people. I don’t think it’s a great way to run a life, but its what a lot of people do. It is much healthier to try to get your actual desire to align with your actual behavior. People do it all the time with food: “Well i shouldn’t have that extra donut but…..” If you want the second donut just have it, nobody is buying the story. Trying to spin a good story brings more attention.

      I’m pretty meh on tv nowadays. But look at it this way, even for tv junkies they still ignore 99% of most tv shows out there.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to greginak says:


        There is probably a lot of this involved. Though the extra donut is more likely to lead to a heart attack and diabetes so the analogy is not quite perfect. I know there are plenty of times when I should have a salad for lunch but get something that is not unhealthy but not salad healthy either.Report

      • greginak in reply to greginak says:

        Well of course it’s not a perfect analogy. No analogy is perfect. A perfect analogy wouldn’t be an analogy it would the exact thing we were talking about in the first place. Now Pedantic Man is needed elsewhere ( swooshes cape and calmly walks away)Report

    • @saul-degraw

      I’m with you. As the number of supposedly “must” shows has increased, I’ve mostly retreated into sports, news, and reading. I watched a few seasons of Mad Men, then just got sick of how many people would talk about it, creating quickly-forming conventional wisdoms about themes and characters, which made it basically impossible to enjoy the show on my own term. So I just tapped out. I’ve seen one episode of Breaking Bad. I liked The Killing while most everyone didn’t, but haven;t watched a second of the new Netflix season. Have never sniffed a moment of House of Cards or Orange is the New Black. Even shows I consciously like(d) I mostly quickly drift away from now. I have a couple I keep up with, but not because I think they’re really good, rather I jut got hooked on the characters. The Newsroom is terrible but I ended up liking it; I like this PBS department store thing – not the one with Ari Gold, but the one that just got beaten out by it – basically because it’s pleasant and unpretentious. I don’t recommend either as a good way to spend your time.

      The main focus, or medium, of my media consumption at this point is podcasts (or when possible, actual radio), which are, btw, almost universally free.Report

      • …Obviously from that I do watch more TV than Saul, but the point is, I’m really not experiencing the Golden Age in any personal way, and I’m not finding anything on TV to really compel me to watch it anymore. I watch some stuff, it’s fine, I turn it off. I probably don’t go back to the same thing. There might just be too much stuff, or I might be protecting myself from getting hooked on any more than I want to be hooked on.Report

      • Chris in reply to Michael Drew says:

        The wonderful thing about Netflix/Prime is that you can watch one show at a time. Granted, you’re always at least a year late, but it takes the burden out of all of that “must see” television.Report

    • Mike Dwyer in reply to Saul Degraw says:


      I watch a fair amount of TV and I read a lot too. I don’t think one prevents the other. I read on my lunch breaks at work and in the evening before bed (and also in the deer stand). I watch TV for an hour or so each night and then binge a bit on the weekends.

      As for who likes to read, both my brother and sister were excellent students, are college graduates, intelligent people and neither one of them read for pleasure. They just never got the bug.Report

    • @saul-degraw TV is typically far more urgent than reading. While DVRs let you time shift, there is a huge incentive to stay within a week or so of current otherwise the happenings are much more likely to be spoiled, and even if they aren’t, you miss out on the conversation. TV is inherently social in a way that books rarely are. To have the same effect with books, you need to have a book club or it needs to be an exceptionally popular book.

      I am one of those people who wants to read more than I do. It’s not that I am insincere in my desire to read. It’s just that it’s rarely urgent, so it doesn’t happen all that often. The same ends up happening for me with movies. There are a lot of movies I want to see, but I rarely do because by the time I can watch it (I can’t get out to the theater these days), the window has already closed on The Conversation.

      I actually made the decision last year not to watch shows until the end of each half season. It’s a tradeoff, though. On the one hand, it’s easier for me to follow what’s going on. On the other, I miss a lot of the benefits listed above. However, since I am typically caught up by the next summer, I don’t miss out on it entirely. But basically I gain in my personal enjoyment, but lose out on the more social aspect.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


        One of my friends suggested that TV does act as a social bond and there is that urgency aspect so you can participate in office conversations. I know during fantasy football league times there are a lot of conversations that just go above my head.

        So in a sense, I am probably self-otherizing myself from “The Conversation”.

        In a total non-humble brag, people often tell me that I am very smart and know a lot of things. I know a lot of things because I read a lot in both fiction and non-fiction. Now I guess one can ask whether I am intelligent because I read or I read because I am intelligent.Report

      • Saul Degraw in reply to Will Truman says:


        The point is that I honestly don’t think I am more intelligent than other people. I feel like anyone who is literate can do what I did to get smart. Just read. Most of my reading wasn’t even for school. My mom will tell you that most of K-12 career was spent reading what I wanted to read instead of what I needed to read for school. My all over the map grades from middle and high school prove this point 🙂Report

      • Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        intelligence is relatively unaffected by the amount of time you spend reading.
        Extelligence, on the other hand…

        If you want to train intelligence, you’re looking at other skills.Report

      • Jaybird in reply to Will Truman says:

        (And I’m pretty sure that most of us here are pretty familiar with being the smartest guy in the room. The big problem that *I* have is that I’m sometimes the smartest guy in the room and I’m pretty effing stupid. “Jesus Christ”, I think to myself, “How have we survived as a species?” When I was young, I was pleased to be the smartest guy in the room. Now it depresses me and I actively try to find places (like this one!) where I’m not, not by a long shot.)Report

      • Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Yeah, I suspect that for a lot of people who like reading, choosing TV over reading at any given time is just a problem of intertemporal choice.Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Will Truman says:


        I would say you read because you are intelligent.

        One doesnt get intelligent BY reading.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        I spend most of my day being the smartest person in the room. And the tallest and the strongest and the fastest. Working with four-year-olds will do that for ya.

        At least, THAT was the case. Until I stupidly went and hired a co-teacher who is very much like me except younger, prettier, taller, faster, and smarter. D’oh!Report

      • ScarletNumbers in reply to Will Truman says:


        1) I think the proper word to emphasize would have been “was”, not “that”.

        2) Pics or it didn’t happen…Report

      • dhex in reply to Will Truman says:


        “I spend most of my day being the smartest person in the room. And the tallest and the strongest and the fastest. Working with four-year-olds will do that for ya.”

        so your life is like that question about fighting the horse sized duck or a hundred duck sized horses, and you chose the latter?

        also you forgot “least incontinent”.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Will Truman says:


        I will say that I didn’t actively pursue my line of work because of the grandiose sense of self it allows me… but it is definitely a perk. Bring on the horse-ducks!Report

    • Kim in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      As to 1), the people I hear most often say “I dislike reading” are dyslexic, and reading is actively more difficult to them than most people. You try reading an entire paragraph (or page) at once.

      2) If you’re passive while watching TV, you’re doing it wrong. Also, find better television.

      3) TV is never a default for me. I watch what I want to watch… when i want to watch it. Occasionally the computer picks for me.Report

    • At the formative age when kids seem to get addicted to TV, (a) there wasn’t a TV because my dad was a poor college student followed by (b) we lived where there were only two channels, reception of both somewhat subject to the weather. (Man, do I feel old after writing that.) Anyway, I was an early and voracious reader and developed that addiction instead.

      For much of my adult life, TV was something that you had to make specific times in your schedule for. Technology has largely fixed that, but Will’s remark about being part of the conversation is relevant. There weren’t a lot of things I was willing to make time for. ST:TOS when it was first on when I was a young teen; BTVS because my tween daughter was interested; my undergraduate school’s football team’s occasional TV appearance. Reading was something I could do on my schedule, during those moments when I wasn’t busy. Sometimes “unbusy” was something forced on you — there are a lot of trashy paperbacks on shelves around the house that were filler for time spent in airports and on airplanes.Report

    • kenB in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I don’t watch much TV, but I’m more likely to watch a show (streaming) than read a book these days. Besides what others have mentioned, one thing I’ve noticed is that it’s easier to get past the boring/painful/annoying parts of a show than of a book — the show keeps on going even if I check my email or look at IMDB to see what else these actors have been in or go to the kitchen to get a snack, whereas I make no progress in the book unless I keep making the effort to read the words. It’s rather like how riding a bike can be easier than running, because on a bike you can occasionally coast, but on foot you need to keep flinging your legs out in front of you or you stop entirely. I have bookshelves full of books that I’ve abandoned 50 or 100 pages in due to this phenomenon.Report

    • LeeEsq in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      The idea that reading is a worthwhile way to spend your time is relatively recent. Up until the mid-20th century, parents routinely warned their kids that reading too much will hurt their eyes. In the 1943 Hitchcock movie, Shadow of a Doubt, its explicitly said. Television is what caused the shit in belief towards reading.Report

    • Maribou in reply to Saul Degraw says:

      I watch a crapload of TV (delayed on streaming or on DVD sets) and I read a lot. Probably more than 300 books this year, across almost every genre. I think your frustrations give you a lot of confirmation bias. Though the two things do scratch somewhat different itches for me.

      And I feel almost zero social pressure to watch things. Then again I enjoy listening to people talk about books, movies, tv shows, etc that I’ve never even heard of. It’s like a puzzle with added insight into the person talking. Maybe try the social piece that way – ask questions, be interested, don’t be all upset if they say “WHAT?? You’ve NEVER SEEN IT??” but rather see it as mildly entertaining and don’t respond.

      I suspect you’ll feel less pressure if you take that route…Report

  8. North says:

    Oh also, since I no longer have cable I won’t be able to contribute a ton to any The Walking Dead discussions since I’ll be “watching” the show via recaps.Report

  9. Kazzy says:

    As I discussed on my OTC post, “Black-ish” is a great new comedy airing on ABC at 9:30 on Wednesdays (right after “Modern Family”). It stars Anthony Anderson and Lawrence Fishburne and follows the exploits of a ‘blackish’ upper-class black family. Much of the humor is racial in nature, as a major theme in the show is Andre’s (Anderson) difficulty with his children’s seeming lack of connection to the black culture he identifies with. He grew up in the inner city but his kids are growing up in a tony LA neighborhood, attend a primarily white ritzy private school, and do things like request bar mitzvahs. His wife (Rainbow, played by Tracee Ellis Ross, daughter of Diana Ross) is biracial and while her background has not yet been explored*, she has a very different perspective on racial issues, which creates some tension between the parents. Lawrence Fishburne is Andre’s father, may or may not live with the family (it’s unclear if he lives there or is just always around), and is amazingly on point.

    The show will be funnier if you understand certain cultural elements of the black experience in America over the past 30 years or so, particularly the urban experience. While some of the humor is explicit (such as giving ‘the nod’ to other black people), some is very subtle, such as a reference to CPT. And some of the humor is completely unrelated to race and is simply typical family or work or relationship or life stuff.

    All in all a thoroughly enjoyable show that in addition to making you laugh, can possibly pull back the curtain on life experiences that may be foreign to much of the audience. That is a pretty valuable experience.Report

  10. Maribou says:

    I have not DVR.

    But now that I’ve finished Bones, I’m thinking (once I go on a brief movie / ted talk binge) next up will be catching up to Justified and Mad Men (as up as Amazon/Netflix will let me, anyway).Report

  11. Michelle says:

    We have a DVR but have never once used it. Instead, I usually catch up to shows I’ve missed through On Demand. There’s really very little out there that I enjoy watching anymore. Mostly The Good Wife (best show on network TV) and Parenthood (which is in its last season). The Russian enjoys The Blacklist, but I usually sleep through it. And yeah, Grey’s Anatomy. I’d watch the new season of Girls on HBO but we switched from the outrageously expensive Time Warner to the much less outrageously expensive AT&T and HBO wasn’t included in the package. I’ll live.

    I’ve managed to avoid the Walking Dead, not that I’d watch it anyway because I detest all things zombies and vampires and am hoping the fad fades into oblivion soon. I’d probably get rid of all channels except for basic cable, but The Russian would have a conniption fit if he couldn’t watch and rewatch crappy movies.Report

  12. Tod Kelly says:

    So far this fall there have only been two shows I’ve made a point to watch each week: The Blacklist, and Last Week Tonight.Report

  13. rexknobus says:

    A bit off-topic, but a strong recommendation: FemRex and I have been watching our (300+) DVD collection in alphabetical order. No skipping. “What’s next?” and up it goes. Each of those disks was bought for some reason (not always quality — Vagaries of Fate steps in). Fun, surprising, educational, and some of them just get tossed. From “Manhunter” to “Moonstruck” to “Mr. Moto” in a few short evenings. Brings up some flicks that you would never otherwise be in the mood for. Highly recommended if you have a significant library of movies.

    DVR? “Person of Interest” “Blacklist” “Gotham” for both of us. “Survivor” for her. (Yick.) “Flash” for me. (Nerd!) “Foyle’s War because we are just that classy.Report