overthinking the idiot box

April 18th, 2005

A chronicle of that most co-dependent of relationships: a girl and her TiVo

Bride of TiVo
Getting a Second Chance at TV True Love

by Liz Shannon Miller

When you buy a TiVo, it's because of the convenience, the promise that, for now and for ever, your favorite shows will be easily acquired and viewed. Never again will you wring your hands over a malfunctioning VCR, speed through showers or dates or red lights in order not to miss those first few minutes. This is a big part of the TiVo honeymoon. The deep exhales it allows.

But after that phase, you start realizing that not only are you able to TiVo the shows you normally watch, but you're able to give other stuff a chance -- stuff that airs when you're normally at work or asleep, shows that wouldn't normally fit into your schedule. And while one might think that the pickings available daytime and late at night are pretty slim, one might be forgetting one of the most beautiful words in the English language: repurposing.

In theory, I'm totally against the slow conglomeration that has swallowed most producers and broadcasters of television. But I'm going to be able to watch NBC's new limited series Revelations, even though it airs opposite Alias, because Revelations is being rerun on CNBC and the Sci-Fi Channel within hours of premiering.

It's exciting to know that at 5 PM Thursday, while I sit behind my desk, Senor TiVo will snag the first episode of apocalyptic funtime. Especially since the last time I was in this situation, I fell in love with Veronica Mars. All thanks to Paris Hilton.

Paris Hilton was truly terrible in the second episode of Veronica Mars. Make no mistake about that. But one could probably attribute her appearance on the show as what convinced MTV, owned by the same conglomerate that owns UPN, to rerun episodes of the fledgling girl-detective drama the week after it premiered on UPN.

You have to admit, they're both pretty cute.
While I'd heard good things about Mars when it first premiered, my Season Pass was already heavily burdened, and noting Mars conflicted with the genius that is occasionally Scrubs, and also that UPN would probably cancel it if it turned out to be any good, I figured it was best to let it go. But when I did a halfhearted search through upcoming listings, and I saw that the MTV reairing of the first episode totally didn't conflict with anything John C. McGinley-related, my love for pilots took hold.

And I LOVED that first episode. Stylish, smart, sharp, funny, sad. I was hooked. And fortunately, MTV was rerunning the second episode the next week, and the third... When MTV finally gave up on there being another Hilton guest appearance ever, I was so hooked that I let the funny doctors go. Scrubs, I figured, I could catch up with it in reruns. Veronica Mars had MYSTERIES, and who killed Lilly Kane was of far more interest to me than how much longer I could take Zach Braff's lo-fi antics. (Okay, maybe it wasn't as hard a decision as I'm letting on.)

I wouldn't have bumped it up in Season Pass priority, though, if the following episodes hadn't truly delivered on the promise of the first, and the mysteries of Neptune High threaded throughout the course of the show were not only developed, but expanded upon. Like any good procedural (Veronica's a busy bee when it comes to petty-crime-fighting) Mars delivers strong stand-alone stories; but like any good serialized mystery, there's always another twist waiting at the end of the episode. Having the chance to discover this show and really falling hard for the crispness of the writing, the steady quality of the acting and directing, and the deft interweaving of subplots and clues, is yet another reason Senor TiVo has such a fond place in my heart. Senor Tivo makes life GOOD.

Now, of course, we are thick into the run of episodes leading up to the finale, and rather than being a bittersweet drive towards what could be the last episode ever, UPN finally got up the balls to announce an early renewal for Season 2. God bless good news like that. Speaking of which, Revelations looms on the horizon -- and I'll be able to know soon if it's heaven-sent or hell-bound. Just a few hours after everyone else.

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Return to Vol. 1, Episode 2.