Friday, July 14, 2006

Termite Television: DVR

This was a good week to write about television, since I just got cable in my home for the first time in four years. Ah the nourishing bounty of several hundred channels of entertainment: I've already been struck with a deepening appreciation for Countdown with Keith Olbermann, found nightly bliss amongst the fraternity on Baseball Tonight, and even enjoyed some childhood nostalgia with old episodes of The A-Team. There's seems to be a lot more weird crap on the dial than I remembered: I've spent significant time watching old episodes of the Mr. T cartoon, wrestling matches from pre-history between Hulk Hogan and Big Bad Boss Man on MSG, and game shows from the Nickelodeon of my youth I'd forgotten existed (how that dude from Nickelodeon GUTS ever made it all the way to Yes Dear is a question that will be debated for eons).

But nothing has been more important than my discovery of perhaps the greatest invention in human history: DVR. For a measily nine bucks a month, I can pause, rewind, fast forward, and record any program my twisted heart desires. It's sort of like becoming a mad god of television. Like a Viking, I control all I survey. None are safe from my hand. I SAY THEE NAY COMMERCIALS!

Watching shows you missed because you were watching something else (or something really lame like going outside or speaking to other human beings) is fine and dandy. But the real pleasure is scouring the channels for movies, saving them, and sitting down to watch them later. You wouldn't believe the caliber of movies that play at 5:00 AM. Frank Tashlin's frothy Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter? doesn't come out on DVD until August; I caught it this week after an early morning airing on the suprisingly excellent Fox Movie Channel. And Fritz Lang's obscure Pacific Theater picture American Guerilla in the Philippines has never been released on any home format, but I caught it thanks to my DVR (so this is how Tom Gunning feels!). Other highlights from my first days of DVRevelations: Monte Hellman's Two-Lane Blacktop, Howard Hawks' Monkey Business, and Otto Preminger's River of No Return.

Tonight I can choose from Police Beat (I missed it's brief run in theaters), Rosetta (After the astonishing L'Enfant, I'm sorely in need of an education in the Dardennes Brothers), Welles' Othello or the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre (how have I gone my entire life without watching it?!?). Renting half of those movies would have cost me the nine bucks I'm spending on the DVR widget for the entire month.

Truly this is why God gave man eyeballs.



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