Switched off to­tally

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Television - TIM MARTAIN

I HAVE a new rule for watch­ing free- to- air TV: if it isn’t avail­able on an on­line catchup ser­vice, I’m not watch­ing it.

This new edict has come about in re­sponse to the gen­er­ally ap­palling at­ti­tudes to­wards pro­gram­ming among the com­mer­cial net­works.

Sadly, it has reached the point where wait­ing to watch some­thing as it goes to air is just too an­noy­ing.

What­ever I want to watch will in­evitably start 10 min­utes late, leav­ing me hav­ing to sit through the fi­nal 10 ex­cru­ci­at­ing min­utes of Aus­tralia’s Next Top Home Ren­o­va­tion Tal­ent Cook- off Chal­lenge or what­ever other mind­less, repet­i­tive, cheap- to- pro­duce drivel pre­cedes it.

But if I at­tempt to record a show to watch later, no mat­ter how long I set the timer to run over, I will miss the end by five min­utes.

Then if you go to the on­line catch- up ser­vice, chances are that what­ever show you’re look­ing for isn’t there.

And then there’s the in­sid­i­ous mat­ter of the big net­works de­cid­ing, ap­par­ently com­pletely at ran­dom, to slot re­peats into the mid­dle of new sea­sons or some­times just not show that week’s episode at all.

Well, no more. No more scratch­ing around on­line for il­le­gal copies of stuff just so I can see the fi­nal five min­utes. No more star­ing at the TV guide or EPG won­der­ing if tonight’s ‘‘ new episode’’ re­ally is new. If I have the time, yes, I’ll sit down to watch my show. If I don’t, I’ll record it, and if that goes pear- shaped at least I’ll know there’s an easy ( le­gal) backup avail­able.

Chan­nel 10 and the ABC are lead­ers in this area, as both have ex­cel­lent on­line catch- up ser­vices.

ABC’s iView is sim­ply the best out there and what it doesn’t up­load ( very quickly af­ter go­ing to air) prob­a­bly isn’t worth watch­ing, any­way.

Ten is also very con­sci­en­tious about get­ting the bulk of its pop­u­lar pro­gram­ming on­line promptly, in­clud­ing its mul­ti­chan­nels ONE and Eleven.

Seven isn’t too bad, ei­ther, with an easy- to nav­i­gate web­site and most of its best stuff avail­able. SBS has got­ten a lot bet­ter re­cently, turn­ing its headachein­duc­ing web­site into some­thing user­friendly and com­pre­hen­sive.

Even Chan­nel 9 is get­ting bet­ter, with its new site much sim­pler to find and nav­i­gate than that aw­ful FixPlay ex­per­i­ment, and it’s start­ing to get most of its shows up there, but why it still has Sea Pa­trol and Res­cue Spe­cial Ops up there is any­one’s guess.

Mak­ing time for ‘‘ ap­point­ment tele­vi­sion’’ is still a fun thing to do some­times: in sea­son, Mon­day night is al­ways Su­per­nat­u­ral night in our house, and it’s nice to have an en­joy­able rou­tine.

But rou­tines are in­creas­ingly clut­tered these days and if TV net­works in­sist on mak­ing it harder to watch things off broad­cast, the web is the only op­tion.

I wish I didn’t need the safety net but I’m glad it’s there and it’s good that the com­mer­cial net­works are fi­nally com­ing to the party.

NOT TO BE MISSED: Episodes of Su­per­nat­u­ral star­ring Jared Padalecki, left, and Jensen Ackles are worth track­ing down on on­line catch- up ser­vices.

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