And so have I.
I have really grown to hate NBC. Used to be my favorite network. The steady deterioration of ER (I quit last season around the time of the second Ramano-helicopter incident) is part of it, I suppose, but the biggest thing that drives me absolutely nuts about them is their stupid-ass time shifting games.
I’m sure the other networks do it, and I know some of the cable networks do it, but NBC doing it has about driven me mad. It’s like they’re programming for the dark ages over there, or something. What they do is mess with the start and end times of a lot of their shows. Specifically their Thursday night shows; I don’t know how much they fuck around with start and end times on other nights because the only other NBC show I care about now is West Wing. I know about Thursday because I used to have to record just about the entire evening. Back when I was using a VCR, them messing around with times wasn’t as big a deal. It was annoying, sure, never knowing exactly how much you had to pad Friends to be sure you got the final joke. Would you need five extra minutes? Three? Ten? Who knows? All to fool you into watching whatever piece of crap followed it.
Now that I have a Tivo to do most of my recording dirty work, NBC’s stunt programming has migrated from annoying to royal pain in the ass, so much so that I pray every morning that ER will be cancelled already so that I don’t have to keep recording it for my wife. The way Tivo works, it reads the programming information and schedules its To Do tasks accordingly. If two programs you have on a Season’s Pass overlap, it looks at how you’ve prioritized the programs and chooses accordingly, hopefully picking up the lower priority program in reruns. Because NBC insists on doing things like making ER start one minute before ten, Tivo sees a conflict and won’t record another show I have as a Season’s Pass that comes on in the preceding hour, CSI. Tivo will allow you to pad programs automatically, adding a set amount of time to the beginning or end of the show, but it will not (at least my model will not) allow you to shorten a Season’s Pass program. Therefore, every week I have to go in and manually record ER–missing the first minute or more–so I can get another program on another channel that doesn’t even technically conflict. Just because NBC wants to make it harder for me.
These stupid little games can’t actually work on people, can they? I just find this time shifting (or whatever the hell you call it) to be so fucking insulting to me as a viewer. “Maybe we can fool them into watching this crap show by pretending there’s no other channels out there.” Fuckers. Here’s an idea, instead of goofing around with when your programs start and stop, how about coming up with some interesting content? Last week, for example, Tivo was slated to record Joey until 8:40, because that was what the NBC programming information was for the show. The show actually ended a couple minutes after eight thirty, so I had several minutes of stupid Will and Grace or something just hanging onto the end of the show. No big deal, sure, except that I DON’T WANT IT THERE!
I realize it’s a little thing to go into my Tivo and manually record ER, or whatever, I just can’t stand that I have to do it because some stooge at NBC thinks this is a good way to get ratings. I almost never watch live television anymore now that I have a Tivo. I should imagine more and more people will be altering their viewing habits in this way (with whatever PVR technology they have). It would be nice if companies like NBC would realize that this is what we are doing, that we’re going to do it no matter how they feel about it, and so the least they can do is not make it more of a hassle for us to do so. Because this little issue, this stupid little issue, has made me leery of trying out new NBC shows, for no other reason that I’ve come to loathe NBC for acting like I’m a moron.
I can’t wait for ER to go off the air.