TV Guide Blues

Kevin Drum is searching in vain to provide adequate replacement for the television listings until recently published as a supplement to the Sunday L.A. Times. Interestingly, I can’t recall the last time that I looked at a paper listing of television programs or wished that I had one. I seldom need to look to see when a program is coming on and when I do (usually for a sporting event or a one-time program like a political debate or presidential speech), I simply go online.

I grew up with “TV Guide” and later also needed the newspaper supplement to deal with cable offerings. My parents still look for individual shows to watch but find them almost exclusively by the “TV Guide Channel” available on their cable system.

Nowadays, my wife and I simply set the DVR to record all episodes of the programs we like and watch them at our convenience. For the most part, I don’t even know what days the shows I watch come on, let alone the time. Indeed, were it not for the giant logos they insist on superimposing on the screen, I wouldn’t even know what network broadcast them.

I wonder whether my practice or Kevin’s is more usual these days.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jay says:

    Deb uses online TV listings and when TV Guide’s and Yahoo’s became unusable, she looked around and found that of all things AOL’s is hands down the best online listing service out there. One more way in which they’re doing a remarkable job transitioning from joke of the internet ISP to respectable content provider.

  2. John Burgess says:

    It’s my experience that most newspapers have on-line ‘TV Grids’. Once you’ve identified your provider, you can get the day’s programming in a fairly convenient grid format. An advantage is that the programs are usually hyperlinked to a very brief synopsis of the program.

    The quality of implementation varies, of course, according to how much money the paper is willing to put into the non-profit service.

  3. Steph says:

    DVRs rule.

    If one could marry a DVR my marriage would be in trouble :).

    I have all my shows on auto record so I don’t have to remember to set them up.

    And you can set up to 10 days in advance woo hoo.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    You might try giving up on TV all together. I did a few years ago and I am so much happier now. I’ve never seen an episode of survivor for example. I have no idea who Kevin Seacrest is (other than his name showing up in pop culture references).

    Just to be clear I have a TV and I watch DVD movies. I just don”t watch any broadcast or cable television. I haven’t seen a commercial in years (unless you count movie previews). Actually thats not quite true, I’ve seen commercials at the local theater, and they’ve been so godawful stupid as to remind me why I gave up the habit in the first place.

    Just something to consider.

  5. James Joyner says:

    I watch DVD movies. I just don”t watch any broadcast or cable television.

    I’ve never seen the distinction, really. “Movies” are just content for viewing, just like “TV shows.” I don’t watch “Survivor” or “Idol” but they’re surely no worse than, say, “Jackass The Movie.”

    Programs like “House,” “Lost,” “Heroes,” “Battlestar Galactica,” and others are every bit as good as — and often better than — fare seen at the theater. Their episodic nature allows much deeper character and plot development, certainly.

  6. brainy435 says:

    I haven’t looked at a printed TV listing in years, ever since I got hooked on Time Warners DVR. I now have 2 TiVo’s, one hooked up to my network, and they rock.

    I like the Time Warner on-screen guide MUCH better than the TiVo one, though.

  7. John Burgess says:

    James: I agree. I do watch programs like House or CSI. Character development is the key to my interest and it’s far better done on serialized TV than could possibly be done on film–barring things like the epic, multi-part things like LOTR or Harry Potter.

    I also watch sports, occasional things on History Channel or Discovery, but almost none of the current events programs. I’m happier with transcripts.

  8. James Joyner says:

    almost none of the current events programs. I’m happier with transcripts.

    I made that transition after getting married. There’s only so much time and watching those programs — even via Tivo delay — is pretty inefficient way to glean small bits of info.

  9. carpeicthus says:

    I download TV, basically same as DVR. I don’t even know what day some of my favorite shows come on. And yes, enjoyed properly, I think the best TV is better than most movies.