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Taming the TV
"Hey! I was watching that!"
"This is SO boring!"
"If I have to look at Darth Vader one more time, I'm going to turn to the dark side!"
Maybe it was the Oregon rain, or maybe it was my newly-retired husband watching the History Channel for months on end with no reprieve from military deployments. Whatever the reason, we needed a solution.
Ask any member of my family what they'd like to watch on TV on a given night, and you'll get a different answer: World War II documentary, Hannah Montana, The Daily Show, Jurassic Park I, II, or III. With far-flung interests like these, it's not difficult to imagine how, during the first rainy spell after my husband's retirement from the Navy, the immediate area around our TV remote became a combat zone.
When I read student papers in my work as a college English teacher, I can easily discern the readers from the TV-watchers. So, maybe it was my teaching experience, or maybe it was the years my husband was deployed for months at a time, but I just couldn't opt for the quick and easy solution -- separate TVs in everyone's rooms.
But when we'd moved back to Oregon, the cable company had given us something that could be a nifty solution: a Digital Video Recorder. We'd used it to record programs that were on while we were out, but after one particularly tense skirmish that left us feeling as though World War II fighter pilots and Velociraptors had torn through the family room, we decided to use the DVR in a new way.
We browsed through the coming week's listings, and in a calm and rational discussion, chose programs for the week in advance, letting shows we were all interested in take priority.
The first choice was easy. Although two of us were rooting for Blake, one for Lakisha, and one for Chris Sligh, we all cast our weekly votes for American Idol. Even after this year's Idol was picked, the DVR solution continues to work for us.
Planning what we watch ahead of time has made the family room a more peaceful place. And, because we record almost everything we watch, we no longer watch commercials, which saves about 20 minutes per hour of programming for things like playing games or reading. Most importantly, though, using the DVR in this way has made TV less of a way to tune out and more of a way to tune in to something together.