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10 Things I learned from FiOS TV

Today's post is only marginally related to spec fic, and not at all related to ebooks, eReaders, or the Kindle.

Until this year, my husband and I had never paid for television. We relied on over-the-air transmissions and rabbit ears, and thus were limited to about ten local channels: the big three traditional networks, Fox, the two syndicated networks (the WB and whatever the other one is called), three PBS stations (one of them came in really fuzzy), and a Spanish language channel. I saw no point in paying for TV (no one ever starved without it), and my kids watched too much TV anyway. Whenever Jeopardy had a cable TV category, I always missed every question.

Then the digital transition loomed, so we bought a new digital flatscreen TV (to be sure at least one TV worked), and we got two converter boxes. But we weren't entirely happy with our Interenet service, and when we found out the price of the FiOS bundle (TV, phone, long distance, and boradband) we signed up to get it. After all, both kids were out of the house (except for summers), so there was no question of anyone neglecting their homework for TV. I'm really glad we did because our local stations not only changed their frequencies, they changed their signal strength. We get about 12 channels now on our over-the-air TV, but don't get two of the three big networks.

Mind you, we didn't get any premium channels, or a DVR, just "basic cable." With FiOS (Fiber Optic Subscribers) that's still hundreds of channels, although some of them are HD duplicates. Anyway, I can now report the following things I have learned:

1. There is not really that much original sci-fi on SyFy. Except for the Stargate stuff, I don't watch it nearly as much as I expected to. BBC America has the good Dr. Who episodes.

2. Channel proliferation is endemic. There is not a History Channel and a Food Channel, there is a Military History Channel and a World War II History Channel and so on. There are countless cooking shows spread over several channels. Even the Military Channel has its own cooking show (The Grill Sergeant).

3. Alton Brown is awesome! He has said he was aiming for a combination of Mr. Wizard, Julia Child, and Monty Python, and he hit a bullseye. I will probably never cook anything based on his recipes but he is fun to watch.

4. Reality TV is about as real as my spec fic novels and as genuine as my hair color.

5. We actually still watch a lot of network TV, PBS, and some Fox (not Fox News, mind you. Bleagh!).

6. I swear there are some shows that seem to be on all the time, on one channel or another; Bones and NCIS seem to run in an endless loop.

7. Jon Stewart and the Daily Show do indeed cover the news. If he writes his own stuff, the man is a genius.

8. Some movie channels have brought back my childhood. I you change to that channel in the middle of a movie, keep watching. There's a good chance they'll just play it again right away, just like theaters used to do when I was a kid.

9. The picture quality with an HD TV and a FiOS connection is amazing— not especially flattering to network newscasters and other folks who have a lot of closeups, but amazing nonetheless.

10. With FiOS, it takes a heck of a lot longer to figure out that there is nothing on that I want to watch.

How about you? Has TV taught you anything?

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( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 2nd, 2009 03:17 am (UTC)
Every now and then, I catch a documentary, either one about nature or on some historic event. I love nature documentaries and have watched them since a kid. They can teach alot about how the world around you ticks, in a non-human sort of way.

History documentaries can give good lessons on politics, people, cultures, etc. Which can help with story ideas.

I do not watch reality t.v. regularly. But every now and then I might watch a few minutes of some of the shows where people are competing against each other for some large prize at the end.

The thing I think most about is they might not seem very real, but can show how people may act when they have a goal they percieve as being important in an individualistic way. Lying, cheating, manipulating group dynamics. Can be used to create characters in polictal situations when it comes to manuevering others.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 03:49 am (UTC)
I love PBS documentaries! And some of the British sitcoms are hilarious. My daughter really likes the reality cooking competitions. I think they have less of that maneuvering you're talking about. It's hard to go Survivor and back-stab a souffle. I've heard some reality shows actually have writers, but they don't write actual scripts, just outlines..

Dec. 2nd, 2009 04:11 am (UTC)
Jon Stewart is a genius on so many levels, it boggles the mind. He alone is worth having cable for.

I have to admit, I love the Food Network's Diners, Drive Ins and Dives. I also am slightly addicted to the Dog Whisperer on NatGeo...and Andrew Zimmern on the travel channel. I don't go so far as to DVR them, but I catch them when I can.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 12:55 pm (UTC)
I do not understand why the guy on DDD doesn't weigh 350 pounds! He does nothing but drive around and eat incredibly rich food. It sure looks good, though.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 01:31 pm (UTC)
Seriously. When I see the pure FAT that goes into all that stuff, I cringe.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 03:19 pm (UTC)
SyFy is a channel that has gotten progressively worse the longer it's been on. We watch it when EUREKA is on. And like you, I watch DOCTOR WHO on BBCAmerica and not on SyFy as I was informed long ago that the episodes on SyFy have anywhere up to 10 minutes edited out whereas BBCAmerica shows them uncut.

I feel you about some shows running all the time. I swear that USA has an all-day NCIS or MONK marathon every Saturday. I fully expect to see the LAW & ORDER Channel pop up any day now. I remember reading somewhere last year that on certain days you can watch 14 to 18 hours of various LAW & ORDER shows. That's how much its rerun on various channels.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 03:39 pm (UTC)
The LAW AND ORDER channel! I love it! The CSI channel should be right behind it.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 06:55 pm (UTC)
And you think that by now somebody would have given use the DOCTOR WHO Channel and the STAR TREK Channel. Doctor Who has over forty years worth of episodes. More than enough to support it's own channel. And I'm pretty sure that between six TV series and 11 movies the STAR TREK Channel wouldn't be boring.
Dec. 2nd, 2009 07:29 pm (UTC)
Yes! The channel whose unending mission is, to go where no channel has gone before....
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )

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