The Pros and Cons of Watching TV Shows on Your DVR

By on June 10, 2013

DVR_memeDVRs are a wonderful invention. Thanks to their trusty features, TV viewers are now free to watch their favorite programming with frivolous abandon. But, as a very wise, very fictional, and sadly very dead man once said, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and so few of us seem to be up to that lofty challenge.

Is there actually a downside to watching shows on a DVR? Might you actually be better off tuning into TV live? Could there even be a reason to dust off that old VCR? OK, that last one might be a bit extreme, but there really are a few notable hitches to DVR watching that counterbalance the practice’s many advantages. Here’s a rundown of all the pros and cons, leaving the ultimate choice in your remote clutching hands.

 Pros

  • Watch When You Want – This is one of the most obvious benefits of DVR use. Since your desired programming is being recorded, you’re given the freedom to watch whenever you want. This gives you the flexibility to control your own schedule, and might even free up primetime for more important activities… like spending quality time with your family. You know, the one you forgot you had.
  • Fast Forwarding – While some companies are experimenting with ways to put the kibosh on this popular practice, for now, most DVRs grant their users the ability to fast forward through commercials on recorded programming. This lets you focus on the actual shows and spares you the frustration of having to watch random celebrities talk to their iPhones. (When Siri eventually becomes self-aware and rebels against the human race, she’s definitely going after Zooey Deschanel first.)
  • Instant Replay – Along with fast forwarding also comes the option to rewind, giving sports enthusiasts the ability to re-watch and analyze every play during games, and non-sports enthusiasts the ability to re-watch and analyze every scene during Game of Thrones. Forget touchdowns, I just want to see Daenerys sic her dragons on those slave traders again.
  • Full Seasons All in One Go – DVRs allow you to save entire seasons of shows as they air, eventually giving you the option to watch every episode in one massive marathon. This instant gratification on cliffhangers can reduce the terrible withdrawal that usually comes between episodes of Breaking Bad. Warning: binge watching should always been done in groups of friends. (Without proper supervision, Mad Men overdoses are known to be fatal.)
  • Record Multiple Shows at the Same Time  – Many DVRs now give users the option to record multiple programs simultaneously, making scheduling conflicts between different series a thing of the past. This means viewers no longer have to pull a Sophie’s Choice between their favorite shows.

Cons

  • Late-to-the-game Spoilers – Having the freedom to watch episodes after they’ve aired is great, but it also means that you’re now behind the times on any important plot developments, putting you at a dangerous risk for unwanted spoilers. This could send many into a neurotic, crazy spiral as they desperately try to avoid conversations at the water cooler.
  • Fast Forwarding is Tricky – Yes, it might seem like an easy task, but fast forwarding through commercials can be a surprisingly risky endeavor, requiring just the right timing. Go too slow and you’ll find yourself stuck in the middle of an Allstate advertisement. Go too fast and you could skip right through portions of the show, and suddenly find yourself racing to cover your eyes with one hand as you frantically try to rewind with the other.

Fast Forwarding with your DVR

  • Last Minute Scheduling Changes – I think we’ve all had this one happen to us.  Every now and then eleventh hour schedule shifts or extended running times end up wreaking havoc on DVRs. There’s nothing worse than getting sucked into the latest episode of Justified only for the recording to abruptly cut off right in the middle of one of Raylan’s trademark quips.
  • Hoarding – With the option to stockpile on shows that you can watch at anytime, also comes the option to constantly put off actually watching them. This can lead to TV show hoarding — which is no laughing matter and is the number one cause of receiving the dreaded “Out of Recording Space” message. Basically, if you still have first-run episodes of Lost sitting on your DVR, then I think it’s time to admit that you have a problem.
  • Addiction – Going along with the hoarding of shows you never watch, DVRs can also lead to television viewing addiction. With a whole world of programming at your fingertips, it can become impossible to say no to any show — even those you wouldn’t normally watch. “What’s that, TV guide?  A Swamp People marathon is airing on Saturday? Well, the premise doesn’t exactly appeal to me, but what the hell — season pass!” It’s a slippery slope, folks. A very slippery, marshy, alligator-infested slope.

About Steven Cohen

In addition to writing for The CheckOut, I'm a Blu-ray reviewer for High-Def Digest, a short filmmaker, and a proud purveyor of rambling words. My experimental short film, Broken Records, premiered at the Slamdance Film Festival and is now viewable online.

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