Published Oct 16, 2006

I was in the midst of watching the exciting Philly-Saints game when it happened; all of a sudden, my TV screen turned black and I could hear the hard drive on my Tivo thrashing. I waite and waited for my football to return but, sadly, there was nothing but black. So I pulled the plug, gave it a moment, and then restarted. My Tivo came back to life, told me to wait a moment, then told me to wait a moment, then told me to wait a moment…

OK, this wasn’t going well. Two pulled-plug restarts later, I called Tivo tech support and, after a laudably short time spent on hold, I was walked through a short troubleshooting process. Well, short-because-we-never-get-enough-activity-out-of -the-DVR-to-get-past-step-1 troubleshooting process. My beloved Tivo was thereupon officially pronounced dead by the incessantly sunny, helpful tech.

Now, I’m not angry my Tivo died; I’ve had it for 3 1/2 years, and, frankly, that’s about as long as hard drives last these days. Yes, I hoped it would last a little longer, maybe long enough for me to get some money and decide if I wanted to go all HD or not, but it was a good, full run, and Lord knows I’ve kept the thing either recording or playing every free minute for all of those 3 1/2 years. Of course, there’s no warranty replacement for a 3 1/2-year old piece of consumer electronics, so I was offered a small discount on a Tivo, although the tech suggested I go out and buy one, ‘cause I’d save money that way. And, living in fear of being Tivo-less, I did. I found a Tivo at Best Buy, within walking distance, for just $30 after rebate, so off I went.

Of course, when I got to Best Buy, they had something better, so I paid $60 (after rebate, of course) and took that home instead. No, I didn’t feel bad for ditching the girl I came there for; the new one is much sexier.

That’s right, I got a dual-tuner Tivo. No more Sunday nights of football vs. Simpsons, or Thursday nights of Ugly Betty vs. My Name is Earl; now I get to have my cake and eat it too (supposing that at least one piece of my cake is in basic cable).

The dual-tuner box is almost the same as the single-tuner one, so it took just moments to plug in; set-up took longer, but soon that familiar Tivo screen was in front of me. And then, tragedy struck again!

Ooh, there’s the catch: Tivo keeps all of my personal preferences on my personal machine, not on its network. That means that my lovingly-refined and -prioritized season passes are all gone, all of the secret times I’ve found to tape things at are forgotten, the relative importance of all of the shows I watch must be recalculated. It’s a mess. Or, rather, it’s an empty space, the opposite of a mess, but the same in end effect: just as hard to fight as a massive pile of spaghetti. I’ll have to rebuild all of my season passes.

Maybe that’ll be a good thing; maybe I’ll try to pick some new shows I’d like to see, and throw away some ones I was bored of. I’m just sad that I hadn’t seen the Battlestar Galactica and USC vs. U Dub games taped on Friday and Saturday; those, I’ll be sad to miss. But by tomorrow I know that the twin beneficent forces of my new Tivo and syndication will have brought me a whole pile of Law and Orders with which to distract my broken heart. That is, if I program Law and Order back in.


L&O jumped the shark when they killed Claire in a car accident, years and years ago. Gil Grissom is way cooler than… well, than whichever generic people L&O has these days.

I’m seriously considering getting a TiVo 3 — two HiDef tuners — and upping my Comcast service to HD…

Ooh, that’s right, CSI’s on my list too!