26 January 2008


Most people tend to think of TV watching as a passive activity - you sit there and watch and that's about it. Sometimes you can discuss it with other people after it's over, but it's not quite as fun and interactive as having an intelligent discussion while the story is unfolding.

Unfortunately, there's a downside to watching with other people. Talking about the show during the show tends to mean missing parts of the show. It's possible to rewind and rewatch, but that breaks up story momentum - plus it can be an art form to get it to start again at the right spot.

Fortunately, we now have text messaging. It makes no sound, and therefore drowns nothing out, and the receiver can choose when to read the incoming messages. Additionally it has scrollup - a written log of everything everyone said. This allows fuller, more complex discussions, especially after the show is over.

I prefer to watch TV with people over IMs or IRC. As someone who likes to pay full attention to a show and not miss a thing, watching with people in the same room tends to annoy me. Invariably they want to talk while it's on, if not to me then to each other, and they never wait for commercials. By having them over the computer instead, we can have all the fun of intelligent play-by-play discussions with none of the annoyance. Win-win for everyone!


Janiece said...

MWT, I have to admit sometimes I talk during shows. But I'm usually talking to the show, rather than to my Samrt Man.

Things like, "What did you do to your hair?" and "Why are you doing that? Are you a retard or something?"

Fascinating observations, to be sure. Much eye-rolling usually ensues.

Jim Wright said...

Yeah, I usually yell at the characters too, and both my wife and I like to make snarky comments - especially when we're watching a really crappy SciFi channel movie. Plus, we use an HD DVR realtime cable box, so we often backup in order to hear things we've missed while making snarky comments. I don't think you'd like to watch TV with us.

Personally, I can't watch a movie or a TV show without my laptop. I like to look up the actors and trivia about the show. I'm a pretty regular visitor to IMDB, about ten times a day. :)

Tom said...

I'm with Jim. I use the HD DVR so much I don't usually watch anything live. I delight in skipping commercials. If I am watching live, I'll still reach for the skip button by habit.

I don't text or IM at all, much less during TV watching. And while I do have a laptop, my living room Linux machine uses the same HD LCD as the TV. I don't know if PIP works with HDMI and VGA inputs. Maybe I'll try it to find out.

MWT said...

Yeah see ... I talk during shows too. And sometimes I annoy myself! But it's gotten a lot better now that I've switched it over to typing instead of real yelling. ;)

The whole rewind/rewatch thing has probably gotten a lot better since the last time I've tried to watch TV with other people. Back then it was a VCR. It's tricky to get those to stop at the right patch of tape, so sometimes the remote holder has to go back and forth several times. If this process has gotten a lot smoother since then, I probably wouldn't mind quite so much.

Anonymous said...

My younger (15 yo) son is relentlessly analytical about tv shows. We like shows like Lost, Heroes, and Battlestar Galactica, so there's lots to puzzle about.

Some of the time he can hold off until the show is over to begin the "I wonder why" soliloquy... but sometimes he starts at the first commercial break, talking into the show, and it drives me nuts too.

Shawn Powers said...

Jim, I'm with you on the laptop thing. I'm an IMDB junkie too. "Where is that guy from anyway..."

But I also browse the web, etc. And as far as talking goes, I usually snark up a show as well. I don't mind when the discussion has to do with the show, but I do get annoyed when someone talks about a completely different topic while we're all trying to watch something.

And yes, digital rewind is the bomb.

Jim Wright said...

Realtime DVR/TiVo is the best thing ever invented. Seriously it's up there with the wheel and penicillin.

And IMDB is a close second. Nothing bugs me more than when I know I've seen some minor actor somewhere, but can't place it. Take the girl in the Lincoln/Mercury commercial (Oh, don't act like you don't know which one I mean), I knew seen her somewhere - Yep, Stargate Atlantis, Larrin, played by Jill Wagner, The Mercury Chick. Hah! How did people live before IMDB? How?