Saturday, March 9, 2013

Life Without Cable, Part I

I jotted down some notes about our initial experiences without cable:

Night 1 (Tuesday of this week): The bottom line? Suck. The cable was officially turned off today, and we can’t figure out how to get our TV to receive regular digital broadcasting. Seems we may need an antenna? Not sure. Ordered one from Amazon that will get here in two-ish days, pending the outcome of the “Snowquester” that is supposed to hit tonight. In the meantime, tried watching Suburgatory on Major suck. The show stopped to buffer/load every 15 seconds or less. Gave up after 15 minutes of frustrating effort and only about 65 seconds of actual programming viewed. No TV tonight. This isn’t looking good, but I’m willing to admit it’s too soon to tell. On the plus side, I may find more time to read on my hands…

Night 2: An improvement, by far. Today was a snow day (that was lacking in much actual snow, sadly), and the kids spent a fair amount of time watching kid shows on Netflix through the Wii that is connected to the living room TV (did you know there was a She-Hulk? Like half the girls born in the ‘80’s, her name was Jennifer). In the evening, M. and I could have paid bills and finished our taxes, but instead we drank red wine, ate minty brownies (from scratch! I rock!), and watched mindless sitcoms. Since we are still Roku-less (UPS sissy-ed out on the whole “delivering in mildly wintry weather” situation), we hooked up the laptop to our TV with an HDMI cable and watched a couple of episodes of Modern Family and the Suburgatory episode I couldn’t get through the night before on Hulu Plus. Overall it worked pretty well (no buffering! Ha – the first time I typed that I wrote “buggering.” There was also no buggering, that’s true), but scenes with rapid movement were pretty jerky, especially on the Modern Family episodes. Overall, I consider it a win.

Night 3: The Roku has arrived. It is fairly simple to set up. Soon we are up and running and watching a couple of episodes of Raising Hope via Hulu Plus. There is no issue with any “jerky” scenes at all – an improvement over the night before.

Night 4: Since it’s a Friday, the kids get to watch TV after school. I fire up the Wii and launch Netflix. Finn is in time out (dude has SUCH an attitude lately!), so Lucy chooses first. We watch a 51 minute showing of various “Angelina Ballerina” episodes. She is enthralled, Finn less so. It is followed by a short episode of the Avengers. Both kids are mainly happy. Once they are in bed, Mark and I try hooking up our new antenna to the basement TV, which has just arrived. Based on where we are holding it, we can receive anywhere from 4 to 7 channels. These channels include NBC (spotty), Fox (very spotty), the CW, Qubo, and some other stuff I’ve never hear of like Ion and Ion Life. Cannot receive ABC or CBS. This is not looking good. We give up and decide to try the antenna on the living room TV tomorrow, and watch two episodes of the original Netflix series “House of Cards” instead. It’s pretty good, actually, with decent star power (Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright) (side note, did you know that M. has never seen Forrest Gump? I think that’s a crime). It’s kind of like West Wing without the witty banter.

Day/Night 5: Saturday morning is easy – the kids are fully entertained by the Avengers and whatnot available on Netflix. They also throw lots of fits when the TV gets turned off, which is both normal and super annoying. M. tries the new antenna on the living room TV and finds it gets the same seven channels the basement TV does. Suck. I don’t understand this, since when we first moved to this house and didn’t have cable yet, we got lots of digital TV channels – somehow, and neither one of us can remember how. I think we are doing something wrong. However, he tries the antenna with the TV up in our bedroom, and it gets about 20 channels, including the major networks. At least there is one room in the house where M. can watch some sports. At night we watch the remake of Footloose for free from Amazon Prime down in the basement. Despite my extreme love of and loyalty to the original, I can say that the remake is pretty good. The new Ren could never be as cool as Kevin Bacon, but he’s pretty good. Julianne Hough is just too cute to be Ariel – I don’t buy her “angry rebellion.” But it’s an enjoyable hour and forty minutes. We also spend some time searching the Roku to find more TV shows, and many of them disappointingly seem to be NOT FREE. Duck Dynasty (shut up, it’s entertaining), House Hunters, all of these seem to cost $1.99 an episode through Amazon. I need to explore online more, as this seems ridiculous to me. Why would an episode of House Hunters from 2002 cost me $1.99 when I’m already an Amazon Prime member? It does seem, though, that we could watch any number of Doctor Who episodes for free…

Now you have a little bit of insight into the sick amount of TV we watch. Also, clearly this is a process we are still trying to improve/perfect. Onward, eh?

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