Summertime TV Blues: Sifting Through the Junk That You’ll be Seeing on TV Over the Next Three Months

Do you hate the summer TV schedule as much as I do?  Are you confused by why the best TV shows all take their hiatus from June – September?  I actually tried to research why all the TV stations give their best shows the summer off, but I couldn’t find any legit info.  My best guess is that back in the times before DVRs, TiVo and On Demand, these networks realized that summer is when families take vacations and spend a lot of time outside…meaning that’s when people are least likely to be sitting in front of their TVs every night.  But now with so many different options to tape your favorite shows, doesn’t it make sense that the schedule would adjust and there would actually be decent shows on during the summer months?  Apparently not.

I took the trouble of monitoring Entertainment Weekly’s “What to Watch” section for three weeks in May to see what new summer shows they were promoting.  Sadly, here they are:

United Stats of America – Twin comics make statistics about the USA interesting (doubt it) – History Channel, Tuesdays

The Devils Ride – Inside look at the conflicts and drama of a motorcycle club in San Diego (there was already a show like this that I didn’t bother to watch, wasn’t there?  Sons of Anarchy?) – Discovery Channel, Tuesdays

Around the World in 80 Plates – Competing chefs travel the world and learn about international cuisines, then try to cook the local flavors (sounds like every other cooking show) -Bravo, Wednesdays

Common Law – Cop partners have a problem—with each other.  So their captain sends them to couples’ therapy (what an incredible twist on the typical cop show!   Two men that have to go to couples’ therapy!  Groundbreaking stuff!). – USA, Fridays

Mom Caves – An attempt to show the world that moms need their private spaces for relaxation just like men need their man caves (every woman I know relaxes by watching trashy TV and reading gossip magazines.  So this show is about a room with one TV and a bunch of magazines?  Boom, show over) – HGTV, Saturdays

Pregnant in Heels – A “pregnancy guru” helps expecting moms through the joys and perils of having a baby (I’m not sure I even have a comment here.  This woman apparently helps pregnant women deal with major dilemmas…like how to go on a date when you’re eight months pregnant.  Sounds awesome) – Bravo, Tuesdays

Duets – A play on those other singing competition shows…only this time the judges actually sing with the contestants (I don’t listen to Kelly Clarkson or John Legend sing regularly, and I don’t even know who Jennifer Nettles or Robin Thicke are.  So it’s doubtful I wanna hear them sing with wannabe singers) – ABC, Thursdays

I Cloned My Pet – This might have been just a one-episode show, but basically it follows people who had an obsession with their pets, and those pets died, and now they’re trying to clone the dead pet, or something.

Hip Hop Squares – A hip hop take on the old Hollywood Squares show (seems like it’s geared towards a specific viewer, and it’s not me) – MTV, almost every day

Men At Work  – Four men navigate work, friendship and women (I’ve actually watched a couple episodes of this show as it’s the only sitcom on this list.  It’s pretty terrible…recycled jokes about one of the guy’s girlfriends wanting to have sex too often…there’s the stereotypical ladies’ man, the nerd, the guy who just got dumped and is depressed, and the normal guy.  Don’t waste your time) – TBS, Thursdays

It’s a sad list of shows.  But do me a favor and let me know if there are any shows on this summer that are actually worth watching.  And do yourself a favor and go see some movies instead of watching Pregnant in Heels.  Specifically go see The Avengers in 3D.  You won’t be sorry.

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Adventures in Relocating: Losing My Mind over Home Entertainment Choices

I worry that I’ll come home one day to find Julie trapped inside my wire jungle

I have already lost two full days trying to solve this riddle, and there’s no end in sight.

In my current apartment, we have DirecTV, a DVR for recording shows, and a Blu-Ray player.  Our DirecTV package has most of the regular cable channels as well as HBO & Cinemax.  We have typically bought the NFL Ticket and MLB Extra Innings packages to watch football and baseball when they’re in season.  Our Blu-Ray player can stream Netflix Instant content.  Those are all of the options we have available at this time. While Netflix Instant is affordable at $8 per month, DirecTV rapes us to the tune of $124 per month.

With the move to the new place in LA only two weeks away, I thought this would be the right time to do a reset of my home entertainment packages to see if I can A) leverage different services and devices to have a broader choice in TV shows and movies, and B) cut out some significant costs from my current situation.

As I started researching this topic via the web and chatting with friends, I came across an endless amount of options: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Instant Video, HBO GO, Roku, AppleTV, iTunes, DirecTV, Comcast, On Demand, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, illegal downloading…

Don’t worry, this can go even one layer deeper in complexity when you start to consider the following: Netflix has its instant service and its regular/ship you dvd’s service; HBO GO only works if you have an active HBO subscription through a participating cable or dish provider, Hulu has free and plus services, Roku has four different devices with options on picture quality as well as having ports for your USB cable.  Not a single service seems to have “everything.”  For instance, Netflix Instant has almost every well-known TV show, but lags in making the newest seasons of shows available to you.  Hulu Plus’s claim to fame is that the newest episodes of currently airing TV shows are available the day after they air.  But their problem is they don’t have deals with all the major network and cable channels so some shows are missing.  Amazon looks awful for current TV shows but awesome for movies.

It also seems like if you were to create a spreadsheet that matched up all content providers (i.e. Netflix, Hulu, Amazon) with all the physical devices that the content can be streamed through (i.e. PS3, Xbox, Roku), your computer would probably explode.  Just like my head was about to do when I started to consider all these options.

Maybe the first thing I should figure out is what I really want access to. Ideally I want to be able to watch any new/currently airing TV shows close to the date that the new episodes actually air.  I also want to catch up on old seasons of still-airing shows like Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Game of Thrones and 30 Rock.  I need the ability to watch the playoffs of all major sports.  But I also need access to every Red Sox and Patriots game. Movies don’t matter as much: I just want the option to see most new movies that are coming out on DVD.

I know some people who have gotten rid of cable/satellite service all together and get their content exclusively from the Netflix and Hulu’s of the world.  This is the dream scenario, and I eventually want to get there. But here are three reasons why I’m reluctant to get rid of DirecTV/cable: playoff sports still have a lot of games on channels like ESPN, TBS, TNT; without cable I feel like I might miss out on something (there’s no logic to this feeling, it’s just an emotional reaction); and Julie will go ApeShit on me because all of the ridiculous shows she watches are on Food Network, MTV, E!, and TLC, and I don’t think she could get access to all of that content from another service.

I guess I’m leaning towards keeping DirecTV (but going back to the most basic package possible), and then buying a Roku to stream Netflix Instant and the MLB.tv package on my TV.  This will probably satisfy me for three months, at which time I will buy AppleTV, subscribe to Hulu Plus, buy a PlayStation 3, add HBO to my DirecTV package again so I can access HBO GO, and of course activate the NFL Ticket just in time for football season.

I’m exhausted from this talk we just had…any better suggestions for me?