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A System for TV Premiere Season

There's a reason the easy way is easy; it's fucking dead wrong.

As you're no doubt aware, I have a tendency of overthinking things and applying a little too much of a "process" to everyday tasks. For example, in the dish drainer, the forks, knives, and spoons each have their own separate slot – that's not so psycho, you say, that just makes it easier to put them in their slot in the drawer once they're dry. But here's the psycho twist. About four years ago, I was doing the dishes and it had been a heavy cereal week so there were a lot of spoons and very few forks and knives. Also, I had made a sandwich, so the cheese slicer was in among the things to be cleaned. It has a handle, so of course it belongs in the silverware part of the drainer, but which opening? I had previously decided (this wasn't my first time washing it) that it was most like a spoon, so it should go with the spoons. (But it slices like a knife, you say. True, but only knives go with the knives. There are three openings, and the knives get the biggest one all to themselves, because they have sharp points and it's important for them to have more space. So, the remaining choices were forks and spoons and it looks more like a spoon than a fork.) So, here I am with maybe one fork in the fork space, and the spoon space overfilled with spoons, and a dripping wet, sparkling clean cheese slicer in my hand. For a second, I thought, I can just put this in with the forks; it's a special case anyway, so I won't be scooping it up and putting it in the fork slot in the drawer. But that's just so not me. The spoons had been decided on, and for better or for worse, I had to stick with that decision. For no reason other than I'd decided it that way before. No special cases! Follow the rules! But it did seem a tad unreasonable, especially since spoons tend to take up more space. So, then I thought (I literally still remember thinking exactly this; I swear I'm not making it up): Let's put it in the overcrowded spoon slot this time, and then we'll see how it goes and reevaluate whether it should move to forks next time. There should be a special home for people who think like that.

Anyway, it's almost time for TiVo and I to embark on our annual evaluation of all the new TV offerings for the fall. (Well, almost all. I'm skipping Fox reality shows that I know I'll hate, and UPN comedies because UPN should just not be in the business of airing original sitcoms.) I've cleared the drives, I've bulked up my recording space to a whopping 7.46 days, and now comes the challenge: scheduling the recordings.

The networks like to play a little game with us. They seem to want us to watch their shows, but they don't want it to be easy. So, season premieres are scattered around willy-nilly. Some are early in September, some are late. Some shows bow in their individual time slots, some debut earlier (the previous weekend, for example). Some overlap with other premeires – TiVo can only record two at once, so I have to employ some economy. Plus, there are the returning shows I want to watch. It can be a headache, trying to figure out when to watch what and what to watch when. This year, I've decided I should commit to a more rigorous schedule and actually review each new show by the end of its first week, so that if – God forbid – anyone reading this site actually uses it to gauge what shows they should watch, they won't be too far behind by the time they hear what I have to say.

So the challenge is to assimilate all this information into some sort of easily readable format, which will allow me to sit down with the TiVo remote and lock in all of these recordings. At first, I drew a couple of grids on paper with a pen but, being me, this just wouldn't do. You need to have enough space to know what's on each network in each time slot of each night, with additional space for the date it premieres (a crucial piece of information; in a scheduling conflict, you hope for a really bad sitcom to premiere before one you actually want to watch, so you can record one episode, review it, delete it, and free up that time slot to record something watchable). A hand-drawn grid just wasn't going to cut it because unless you're forced to, you're never going to write small enough or in a neat enough line to fit everything on a page without a jumbled mess.

So, I whipped up a printed grid, and set about filling it out. It isn't perfect – it should be color-coded, but my laser printer at home doesn't do color – but it makes it easier for me to glance at the grid and know what starts when and where there will be scheduling conflicts. (Thankfully, due to the Olympics and the World Series (of Baseball), NBC and Fox have skewed their premiere dates and opened up a lot more chances. Otherwise, Wednesdays at 8:00 and Thursdays at 9:00 would be a real bitch.) And, the grid prints out empty, so I can make new ones when the networks all completely rework the schedules one week into the season and throw everything way off. (By the way, I learned that two relatively high-profile shows have been slotted in the Friday 10pm deathslot: Dr. Vegas with Rob Lowe and Medical Investigation with Neal McDonough. Not that these shows will be any good, but both networks are touting them heavily – seems odd to give them zero chance of success by dumping them on Friday nights.)

The sad thing is, I designed a somewhat similar grid for use while watching Jeopardy! about a year ago. I've been out of the habit of using it, but maybe when the new season starts, I'll dust it off and kick Ken Jennings's falsely modest ass around the room a few times.

Father of the Pride is starting us off on Tuesday, so buckle in and get ready for some bilious frothing rage! (Also, don't miss the new Last Comic Standing – now with more Dave Mordal! – premiering "early" for no reason on Monday night.)

1 Comment (Add your comments)

BrandonFri, 8/27/04 1:49pm

I like the grid. Don't let anyone convince you that charts, lists or grids for frivolous personal use are wrong, for they are oh so right. Christi and I put together a list (less fancy than yours though) every year of the shows we want to watch (new and returning), their timeslots, and their premiere dates.

But the cheese slicer thing... I can't back you up on that one. That's fucked up.

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