I took an afternoon off recently. Working from home and for myself, this is relatively easy to do. Instead of nestling in my office for the day and sitting in front of my laptop, I nestled on the couch with remote control in hand.
There’s not much on television during the day and I wasn’t in the mood for a “Law and Order” marathon. So I hit a pretty button on the remote and out splayed a wonderful list of programs that I had recorded, some as far back as three years ago.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I love the convenience and niftiness of a DVR. If you don’t have one, imagine a souped up VCR without the extra machinery, video cassettes or clock blinking the wrong time. They basically function the same way, but a DVR comes as a feature on your cable box (hence no extra machinery) and it can hold dozens and dozens of hours of footage digitally (hence no video cassettes). It’s terribly easy to use. It’s also become a pain in my ass.
The problem is that I have a mental block — a tic, we’ll call it — about having a certain percentage of space on my DVR available for recording at all times. My magic number is 65%.
DVRs vary in how many hours of programming they can hold. Mine is 100 hours. That’s a lot. But I’ve danced with the devil a time or two. The closer and closer I got to my cap, the more severe the warnings got. When I got really, really, really close, the DVR warned me that it was going to start deleting stuff if I didn’t. It even highlighted the shows slated to get the ax.
I try like mad not to let it get that far. I can’t take the trauma; it makes me feel uneasy and claustrophobic. But lately I’ve been hovering kind of low. Like, 26 and even as low as 15. Can you imagine?! That means that I only have space left for, like, five more movies, four more sitcoms, and a Maury Povich paternity test episode.
Once I got as low as 5%. I almost had a coronary. To be fair, I had just returned from a three-week trip and many of the shows that I regularly recorded and promptly watched were just sitting in DVR land, awaiting my return. But 5%! I didn’t have the guts for it; I purged the whole thing.
Okay, not the whole thing. I saved three episodes each of Breaking Bad, Grey’s Anatomy (my allegiance to Grey’s is completely irrational), The Closer and probably another drama or two that I don’t remember right now. But almost all the movies had to go. The only things I kept that weren’t favorite tv shows of mine were the three films from The Lord of the Rings trilogy (still ain’t seen ’em; sitting on DVR as I type this), an NBC Nightly News episode I made a ten second appearance in, an episode of House Hunters International that featured my cousin Nakia, and Oprah’s final show — because it was brilliant. Everything else had to go.
So how am I back at 24% available space right now?
I did some preemptive deleting that was supposed to avoid this problem. That’s how I ended up missing most of Veep and Scandal. Veep turned out not to be as interesting or smart or funny as I hoped, and Scandal was so over-the-top Shonda Rhimes-y that I jumped ship after two episodes. My DVR has no room for stuff I’m only lukewarm about.
How about you? What’s the oldest thing sitting in your DVR right now? Do you make a tv appointment with yourself to watch stuff and then feel the sweet bliss of deleting it? I do. Why else would I be watching Moonstruck at 3pm on a Tuesday?