All hail the DVR and syndication

I’m nearing the one year anniversary of DVR ownership. If you don’t have a ReplayTV or TiVo, and you watch TV, you’re missing out on a very cool device. Think of it as a VCR with a 40+ hour capacity, but with no tapes to rewind and it’s programmed by selecting the show you want to watch, not the time, day, or channel it’s on. It’s behavior-changing because you’re now watching TV at your convenience.

Last night I finished watching the entire Deep Space Nine series. I’d have to agree with Director Mitch that DS9 was a much better show than I thought, especially now that I’ve been able to watch it in sequence and follow the very long story arcs.

The show’s debut was in 1993. I loved the the first few episodes because the show had an edge that wasn’t present in TNG (hitting its peak about that time). Moving, work, and other commitments got in the way, and I stopped watching it regularly after the first season. By the third season, hitting every fourth episode, I was thoroughly confused on the story arcs. Where did the Jem Hadar come from? What is ‘White’? When did Worf come on? Aren’t the Klingons allies? Wasn’t that Vorta guy Weyoun killed? Aren’t the Romulans enemies? And so on… I gave up on it quickly.

Enter the ReplayTV or, for Tom, Ted, Mitch, and everyone else except Karen, TiVo. I set it up to record up to 40 hours of DS9 on whichever channels happened to have it showing (SpikeTV, Fox, etc). Because of the multiple channels, I could save more episodes, but the channels had different parts of the overall sequence. I had to sort the order out by using the online guides, then watch one of the threads until the others caught up and I had the whole stream. This is where I appreciated having the huge disk drive.

Then, starting over the summer and ending this week, I’d watch a block of episodes here and there. Being able to skip through the boring segments and delete throwaway episodes was nice. For example, I loathe most episodes based on the holodeck or parallel universes. It’s the Trek writer’s equivalent of deus ex machina.

Overall, I’d agree the series was better than The Next Generation. It had an opportunity to explore many shades of gray in life: allies who have their own self-interests, religion, death, and ethics. Unfortunately, it suffered from extremely long and complicated plot arcs not conducive to the self-contained, 50 minute TV time slots. The DVR fixes this. My favorite character of the show was Garak, because of his complexity. It should be no surprise that my least favorite character was Bashir.

I’m currently working on Star Trek: Voyager and am somewhere in late Season Four, waiting for more episodes to be saved.

I’m also caught up on Enterprise, having just rewatched all of last season in order and in one burst. I thought the “evil time-traveling space alien Nazi” two-fer was a bit ridiculous, but the arc with the Xindi was surprisingly well-done. My favorite characters on that show are Shran (played by Jeffrey Combs), aka “Weyoun” in DS9) and Phlox.

4 thoughts on “All hail the DVR and syndication”

  1. 40+ hours of recording time? That’s like saying there’s 10+ seconds in a day….

  2. Precisely, which is why I installed a 200G disk when I first got mine. The price difference between 40h and 60h was such enough that I could buy the 200G disk (100h) and do it myself. Installation was pretty easy.

    40h is still a lot better than a VCR 🙂

  3. Sounds like we had very, very similar experiences going through DS9, but just used different technologies to do it.

    I would also put Garek as my favorite character, but, surprisingly, Quark comes in a close second. He started as mainly comic relief, and some of the “Ferengi episodes” weren’t very good, but by the end of the series he had become a fairly complex character with an interesting love/hate relationship with Odo.

    No argument about Bashir being the most annoying.

    I can’t decide to do the same thing with Voyager. I actually got through the first season when it orignially aired and have watched a few more repeats, and I don’t know if I will ever like it.

    Enterprise: wow, it was really been bad. The opening this year with the time traveling nazis was just awful.

  4. Once you’ve exhausted Trek you could do worse than working your way through both Babylon 5 and Farscape – and then watch B5 season 1 again to see just how they revealed when you were looking in the other direction.

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