The “Backlog Channel” — How We’ll “Survive” The TV Writer’s Strike

The strike by television and movie writers has reduced the amount of new episodes of many TV shows being shown, like HEROES, ditto many of the late-night shows (although many reality shows have elected to proceed without scripting). And it sounds like the strike, even if resolved today, will delay many new episodes, even new series. (New-to-US episodes of the BBC’s LIFE ON MARS are still showing up, and HBO’s THE WIRE re-starts in early January 2008.)

When not reading or doing other non-work stuff, we enjoy watching TV shows (we get our news elsewhere), but we’re prepared — thanks to the pile of videotaped stuff that’s piled up over the past five or ten years, which we have nicknamed “The Backlog Channel.”

The pile — which I’ve pruned a few times, including, aggressively, this past weekend — are the sundry shows I’ve taped because we couldn’t watch them as they happened, because we were out, busy, watching something else on another channel, or because we missed previous episodes and are trying to watch them in order.

The pile I just triaged had everything from several years’ worth of the National Westminster Dog Show (we did see the winners), half a dozen episodes of LIFE (we’re catching up), some of the past season or three of Dr. Who (which we may not bother with), sundry PBS documentaries, stuff we’ve watched that I hung on to, and even a few show episodes I thought we’d seen, like a THREE MOONS, plus a handful of movies. (And I’ve got several boxes of videotape to sell…)

Now I’ve got everything sorted by show and date, of the main pile. (There’s still some in the closet, with really older tapes, like, I think, PBS’s broadcast of The Rock Follies… several dozen episodes of THE AVENGERS, taped in like 1990, when they were first rebroadcast.)

The increasing availability of some shows for free “on demand” viewing over cable, or on computer, has simplified some of the problem. We watched a number of episodes of AMC’s (originally intended for HBO, I gather) MAD MEN on cable, and have to go back and catch up with CBC’s charming comedy LITTLE MOSQUE ON THE PRAIRIE via the net.

And if, by some chance, we catch up with this, there’s always DVD collections via the library or NetFlix, if we feel we have the time, energy and focus… or read more books.

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