Catching up with pop culture at the watercooler

Published 12:00 am Sunday, September 17, 2006

I knew when I married last June that my life would change for the better, but I had no idea how much.

Then my new husband and I hooked up the TiVo we received as a wedding present, and a whole new world opened up to me.

In the years I&8217;ve spent in the newspaper business, I have discovered few opportunities to watch primetime TV.

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I almost always work late, whether it&8217;s covering a meeting or editing pages.

So I couldn&8217;t relate to watercooler talk about shows like &8220;The Amazing Race&8221; or &8220;Lost.&8221;

I was stuck watching late-night infomercials or reruns of old TV shows on Nick at Nite.

While others were busy chatting about the newest sitcom or discussing the merits of the &8220;American Idol&8221; hopefuls, I could only tell you everything you ever wanted to know about the Total Gym hawked by Chuck Norris and Christie Brinkley.

But with a digital recorder like TiVo, I had high hopes that I could finally catch up with all of the shows I was missing.

We started small, recording a couple of &8220;Seinfeld&8221; repeats, an homage to the affection for the show that my husband and the gift-giver &8212; one of his groomsmen &8212; share.

We had a few mishaps. Last year&8217;s Iron Bowl was the first time since he learned who Bear Bryan was that my husband missed the Alabama-Auburn game.

I faithfully recorded it, but somehow it got erased in favor of &8220;The West Wing&8221; the next night. (That&8217;s one of those newlywed mistakes I&8217;ll be hearing about for the next 50 years.)

But once we got the hang of things, TiVo became a great little helper. With just a few clicks of the remote, everything you wanted to watch in a week was set up to record for you. No VCR tapes, no blinking 12:00, no missed TV shows.

But then we began to learn a little thing about TiVo: It takes on a mind of its own.

Suddenly every &8220;Seinfeld&8221; broadcast on our cable system &8212; that&8217;s a lot of Jerry, George, Kramer and Elaine &8212; was being recorded faithfully, even when we didn&8217;t ask the machine to do it.

Likewise with &8220;Law and Order&8221; and its various incarnations.

Suddenly there was no room on the TiVo for new shows, because there were too many of our old favorite reruns crowding them out. &8220;Little House on the Prairie&8221; comes on in primetime on TVLand. How could I sacrifice that for some new, unproven show?

My watercooler discussion dreams were quickly fading.

Of course, TiVo itself has apparently become its own community.

There&8217;s a Web site where you can order products and services and find answers to technical questions &8212; but there&8217;s also an online forum where you can discuss the shows you TiVo (it&8217;s a verb now, like google). Folks on the forum even plan conventions &8212; or &8220;cons&8221; &8212; at which they can meet each other to discuss TV shows in person.

But I wonder how they find the time, considering they must be spending all hours of the day watching the TV shows that TiVo records for them. I think I&8217;ll skip out on that in favor of my little watercooler discussions.

Because, having had my fill of old favorites like &8220;Friends&8221; and &8220;The Cosby Show,&8221; I&8217;ve started catching up a bit on the new TV shows.

Of course, that&8217;s because I gave Josh one of the new video iPods for Christmas, and I&8217;ve discovered you can download shows like &8220;The Office&8221; and &8220;Lost.&8221;

Anyone thirsty?

Kerry Whipple

Bean is editor of The Democrat. She can be reached at 601-445-3541 or by e-mail at