Friday, July 30, 2010

Must Watch Friday: Tivo

This week romantic thriller author Nina Bruhns waxes poetic about her Tivo...and a few of the shows she’s watched on it lately.

Okay, show of hands. Do you own a Tivo? Have you even heard of a Tivo? If not, you are missing out on mankind’s best invention since the cathode ray tube (and if you don’t know what that is, you’re way too young to be reading this). My advice? Find out what it is. Buy one. Not that I’m biased or anything. Yes, you can easily live without a Tivo (or similar DVR device), but I guarantee that having one--and using it wisely--will make your life much easier. Well, assuming you watch TV. If you don’t, go check out Writers’ Wednesday. For me, I only watch what I program the Tivo to more channel surfing and ending up watching really dumb stuff. And I can’t remember the last time I saw a commercial. Even if I am watching a show the same night it’s on, I’ll Tivo it and wait half an hour to start it so I can zoom through the commercials. Talk about a time-saver.

I’ve had a Tivo for about eight years now. Well, actually two Tivos. One for upstairs and one for downstairs. It’s great, because they can trade shows with each other, and with my computer (on our wireless network), as well as download shows and movies from Netflix, Amazon, YouTube, and iTunes. This week I finally got a new HD unit. Wow, what a difference in the picture! And it has two hard drives so it can record two shows at once for those times when the networks schedule your two favorite shows at the same time. I love it.

n addition to Tivoing all my favorite TV shows (so I can watch them when I want to, commercial free), most weeks I Tivo and watch anywhere from five to ten movies. Some of these are movies I program in when they are released, and have to wait a year or more to show up on cable and my Tivo, and some I pick via the TV listings using the two-sentence blurbs. Some weeks I get lucky, some weeks everything I Tivo sucks (kinda like picking books from the back covers).

This time I got lucky.

Stories about parents are not usually my favorite—yeah, we all have parent issues and who needs to wallow in someone else’s?—but two movies showed up on my Now Playing List (it’s always a treat to open up the file and see what has recorded overnight, like opening a Christmas present every day!) with the parent/child dynamic as their main theme: The Thing About My Folks (Paul Reiser, Peter Falk) and My Life So Far ( Colin Firth, Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). I’d been avoiding both for a while now, letting them languish on the Tivo for several weeks, but in the summer vacation black hole between the end of the old season and the beginning of the summer replacement season, I was that desperate to find something worth watching. I’m so glad I was!

Paul Reiser started out as a stand up comedian, but has turned into a wonderful actor and now screen writer. I loved the only other movie I’ve seen him in, a little known, touching film called Strange Relations (aka My Beautiful Son), about an adopted man who searches out his birth family in Ireland for medical reasons, and gets more than he bargained for (but then, so do they). In the funny and heartwarming The Thing About My Folks, Reiser and Falk strike out on an impromptu road trip and discover things about each other—and other family members—that changes their relationship forever. My Tivo is now set to record any film written by Reiser. One can only hope there will be more from this talented comedian-turned-writer.

My Life So Far is one of those terrific British historical films, about a ten-year-old lad growing up in Scotland just after WWI. Though it’s told through the boy’s POV, this amusing story is not a kid’s film. It is really about the adults in his eccentric but loving family. If you like Masterpiece Theater, be sure to set your Tivo to catch this one.

Family dynamics are also a big theme in some of my favorite TV dramas this past season. I have Tivo Season Passes for Brothers and Sisters (who can resist Sally Field as the meddling mom?), as well as for Weeds, Numbers, Medium, and yes, Dexter. A parent or parents add considerably to the emotional and dramatic impact of all those shows. Of course, the fabulous writing doesn’t hurt.

As for the summer season . . . well, this seems to be the time all my really favorite shows appear. For some reason, summer has become romantic suspense summer. But guess what? Even though they’re about cops, spies, bad guys, and thieves, these shows all have great family dynamics as a major part of their plots, too. I love Burn Notice, The Closer, White Collar, In Plain Sight, Memphis Beat, and the new Covert Affairs.

But the great thing about owning a Tivo is that it doesn’t matter what season it is, you can watch all your favorite shows and movies anytime you want. How great is that?

Nina Bruhns is a bestselling romantic suspense and thriller author, an unapologetic baby boomer, and a lover of happy endings. .This week book 1 of her IMMORTAL SHEIKHS trilogy for Harlequin Nocturne, LORD OF THE DESERT, hits the stands. Books 2 and 3, SHADOW OF THE SHEIKH, and VAMPIRE SHEIKH, will be out in November and February. In June, her Nikita Black novella “BINDING HER HEART” appeared in the WEDDING FAVORS anthology for Berkley Heat. Her December single title, IF LOOKS COULD CHILL, is up for the Daphne du Maurier Award for Best Mystery/Suspense of 2009, to be announced this week.

Reach Nina at or

1 comment:

  1. Hmm..Tivo sounds great,Nina, but do you ever find yourself with such a backlog of stuff you never find enough time to watch it? This is the problem I find with the Listen Again facility on the radio. Programmes are available online for a week, and I keep thinking 'I'll catch it tomorrow' but then tomorrow never comes.
    At least there's no time limit on Tivo.