How My DVR Blowing Up Taught Me a Lesson

Dish Network DVR Until my DVR died a quiet death in the middle of the night, I never realized how completely reliant on technology I am.

My wife and I woke up to a surprise this past Saturday.  We settled into our weekend routine of waking up by watching The Soup, and when we hit our DVR button to access the show, nothing happened.  We reset it.  Still nothing.  Live TV was fine (and still is), but our ability to pause and record it was gone.

After I called Dish Network, they promptly sent us a replacement receiver that I installed easily.  The problem, though, is that all the recorded shows we were saving for whatever reason are now gone.

We lost a lot of TV that we’d been stockpiling, almost 80 hours worth.  Part of the reason we kept so much was simply not having enough time to watch it as it airs; we often do marathon sessions in free evenings or on weekends.

What We Lost:

  • Pushing Daisies, Season 2 – We were saving this because we can’t bring ourselves to watch such a wonderful show end in obscurity.  This was our rainy-day season.
  • 24, 2 episodes – I was hoping to watch these Sunday afternoon, and the DVR ‘sploding made me miss this week’s, too, for being behind.
  • LOST, Season 6 – I intended a serial re-watch as soon as the episodic season ended. Sad times.
  • Mega Shark vs Giant Octopus – This one was actually still on there at my wife’s behest, not mine, if you’ll believe me.
  • Stargate Universe – Same plan as LOST.
  • Two weeks of The Colbert Report – There are few shows that lend themselves so well to starting, stopping, and continuing as well as this one.  22 minutes of minute-long humor is fantastic for those scattered days.  Luckily, these are a dime a dozen even without DVR.
  • FlashForward – I had been saving these for the past 4 weeks until after finals are over so I can finally figure out if I like the show. Now, who knows if I care enough?
  • How I Met Your Mother, Season 5 – Much like The Colbert Report, HIMYM fills those 22 minutes when I should be doing something else pretty nicely.
  • The Soup – Only one episode and we were able to catch it on a rerun, but it broke our habit!
  • Glee – However many episodes my wife had stockpiled.
  • V – We were waiting until after LOST finished to be able to tackle this one.  We loved the first 4 episodes, and were looking forward to these when we had time.

All in all, we lost about 80 hours of TV (our DVR is one of the 100-hour dinosaurs).  What’s worse, though, is that we lost all of our timers.  So we have to go back through and manually set our timers, hoping we don’t miss anything or get a priority wrong.

Some of these shows will be no big deal to catch up on.  Pushing Daisies, for instance, is out on DVD already.  We just have to hop to the store or Netflix and decide we want to watch it.  Others, like Stargate Universe and 24, are available online, and we had few enough episodes saved that I can catch up without being out any real effort.  Others, like FlashForward and V, were far enough in their season that the typical 5-episode window for online catching up has run out.

Admittedly, this is no end-of-the-world situation.  But it is kind of irritating.  I had my plan for the summer laid out where I could watch a few episodes here and there, catching up on certain shows at my own speed.  Now, though, who knows?

Hook, Line, Sinker

I Heart TVThe worst part is that I realized how dependant on that single piece of technology I had become.  Jennifer and I often joke back and forth between clips on The Soup with it paused.  We couldn’t do that Sunday night.  So we had to remain silent in order to hear all the jokes and only cut up with each other during commercials.

Yes, you read that right.  The DVR influenced the way my wife and I interacted with each other, and its being out of order affected us in a negative way.  Before you go thinking we’re pathetic, I’d like you to note that The Soup is a half-hour comedy for half an hour each week.

But the point still stands.

I have become so utterly dependent on technology in my life—just for entertainment; don’t get me started on productivity software—that even the way I interact with my wife is affected by it in some small way.  Is that a bad thing?

I don’t know. Maybe.

I mean, I keep my iPhone on me at all times.  I keep Outlook open at work all day long.  I even keep a Hootsuite tab opened at both work and home for those moments when a fleeting 140-character message might catch my attention and blow my mind.  Is being attached to how my DVR lets me watch TV really any different?

With all this in mind, I think that maybe the best thing I can do right now is take a step away from my technological tethers and just go read a book.  Now, where did I put that Kindle?


By B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.


  1. Tell me about it. We are on our 4th DVR now via Comcast. I can’t even talk about all the shows we lost and the other shows we forgot to add back in to the schedule when we got the new DVR. They need to have some sort of backup system. Maybe Tivo has one? Not sure.

    1. I don’t know if I can or not, but I am going to do some digging on the internet today and see if I can’t figure out a way to back the files on the HDD in the receiver up. I don’t like losing things to technological snafus. There should be a way, as people rip TV shows all the time; I just don’t know the logistics of it.

  2. It’s disappointing that you lost so many hours of good entertainment (I’m a big fan of Stargate Universe and Lost, for example), but don’t let it get to you. It’s good to let go, sometimes, and karma couldn’t have pulled your plug at a better time.

    It’s Spring! The days get warmer and the sun sets later. Go for a hike or get a tan or something blasphemous like that.

    Unlike your summer vacation, those TV shows won’t be going anywhere but onto store shelves for you to watch at a later date. Not to mention, you can use if you’re desperate for TV. Streaming TV on the internet seems to be more reliable than exploding DVR’s.

    1. What is this hiking you mention? Tee hee!

      The good thing is that this incident will likely let me get Netflix again and see some of the programs I’ve been hesitant to buy. I may actually get through shows like Stargate Atantis and Dexter in the afternoons this summer.

      I’ve never used Ninjavideo…but I’m going to check that out now!

  3. DVRs aren’t very popular over here in the UK and although there are a few systems now via cable, satellite or your phone line that let you pause TV ‘n stuff I don’t many people who bother with it. I suppose we’re too used to watching the BBC – it doesn’t have adverts – and being forced to remain silent during the entire programme 😀

    I don’t actually watch so much TV anymore and usually just buy the DVD boxset of shows I want to watch. That way I can pause as much as I want!
    .-= We Fly Spitfires´s last blog ..Expand Or Die =-.

    1. I had no idea that BBC didn’t have ads. BBC-A does! Boo! Unfair!

      I bought a lot of seasons for a while, but as I’m trying to get a little debt paid off, those have been on the chopping block lately. Hence, Netflix!

  4. My fiance and I do the exact same thing with pausing TV while we watch it. I hate watching live TV now, it is extremely annoying not being able to interact during a show. I also loathe commercials now that I’m used to watching without them. I probably haven’t seen a TV commercial in two years or more.
    .-= Void´s last blog ..StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Be Aggressive =-.

  5. Another thought… this is the reason why people rip TV and put it on the internet for others. With seasons of TV shows backed up on hard drives people never have to worry about a set-top box exploding on them.

    I don’t know many people who watch live TV anymore, but I know plenty who would be pissed if their DVR died.

    I think cable companies need to think about completely changing the way they deliver TV. So many people download shows – without commercials – and stream them to their TV. There is obviously a market for content delivered that way, maybe cable companies should monetize it with a subscription for completely on demand TV. Every show, any time, one monthly rate. I would pay it.

    Netflix is already somewhat accomplishing this with their streaming service (available on set top devices and all current video game consoles). The problem is Netflix doesn’t have every show on television to watch, which is really what people want.

    I think there is a huge untapped market for this kind of content.
    .-= Void´s last blog ..StarCraft 2 Newbie Guide: Be Aggressive =-.

    1. If there were a 100% ondemand service, I’d subscribe. Hulu has mentioned doing that, but it won’t be for every channel that Dish offers me. If it did, I’d be there in a heartbeat.

      What I really want is the iPhone to get the Netflix streaming app like the iPad has. When that happens, I don’t know if I’ll need my DVR. 😉

  6. The real thing about DVR/TiVo/Foxtel IQ (Aussie version), or whatever you want to call it, is that it really turns TV into a completely different beast.

    The way Foxtel IQ works, I can scroll through the on-screen TV guide, select a show, hit record, and it automatically records the whole show for me plus 5 extra minutes at the beginning and end to cover late broadcasts. Then, if its an episodic show, I can hit a button called Series Link, and it will automatically record all episodes at that timeslot of that show, without me having to set any timers or fiddle around with VCRs or anything.

    My girlfriend and I almost never watch TV live. In fact, recently I had to un-series-link a few shows because I just wasn’t watching them all. We were recording a good 3-4 hours of TV a day and watching on average maybe an hour. It wasn’t practical.

    The fact is though, that that technology and how it applies to TV is as hugely evolutionary as the Internet is to computers. TV entertainment is like a completely different activity comparing Foxtel IQ with the lack of it.

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