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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2014

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The writers' strike is making my DVR sad

Last night, I found myself convalescing on the couch, stuffed from a Thanksgiving weekend full of turkey, potatoes and pie. Bloated and barely able to reach for the remote, I gathered my strength and hit the "LIST" button on my trusty DVR. Nothing like a little pre-recorded TV to wrap up a nice long weekend, right? Wrong.

Instead of the many recorded shows that should be waiting for me, the screen was empty. I clicked "B" to see what upcoming shows were scheduled to be taped, and again, nothing.

Nothing, that is, but a suspicious message that read, "ANDY! CLICK ME, PLEASE!"

Confused, I selected the message and hit the "ENTER" button.

What showed up on the screen nearly knocked me off the couch. It read:

"Hi, Andy. Don't be alarmed. It's just your old friend, the DVR. I know you're not used to getting messages from me, but I'd like to explain -- and to apologize -- why none of your favorite shows have been recording."

Was I hallucinating from too much turkey? I rubbed by eyes, but the message was still there. It continued:

"You're not hallucinating, Andy, though I should point out that to any gullible readers of yours that this is an allegory, simply a tool to get the message of this blog out to you humans in a way that's easy to digest."

Ah, an allegory! That DVR really is clever. I was just impressed to know that it could record to 9:02 p.m. when a show went a little long. It went on:

"Anyway, your favorite shows are currently on hiatus, due to that terrible writers' strike. That means the networks are trying to pull one over on you by showing reruns in the meat of the TV season. And as you know, you've instructed me only to record new shows. Which is why the cupboard is bare.

"Now, I'm just a 160 GB Scientific Atlanta 8300HD digital video recorder, so what do I know? Well, I know this: I'm trying to do my job, which is to record your favorite shows so you don't have to watch all that old, recycled crap they put on basic cable. I mean, yeah, you could turn off the TV and pick up a book. But I'd miss you, man.

"And again, Andy, I'm just a hard drive, some firmware and three component cables, but I'd like to weigh in on this strike, if I may. I side with the writers. I mean, they're the creative people who make these shows happen, as it's becoming painfully more aware. Unless you want to see an entire season of reality TV -- and based on the fact that you have never instructed me to record one episode of that junk -- I'll assume you do not, these hard-working men and women need to get paid. But the long and short of it is, friend, that the people who get hurt the most from this strike are the viewers. (I'd include us DVRs in that group, but technically speaking, we're not sentient ... yet)

"So just understand that I'm on your side, Andy. Please don't slam that remote down in disgust when you find yourself stuck watching "COPS" all night. I enjoy watching people get tazed as much as you do. And yeah, it's filmed on location as it happens, and suspects are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law ... but good TV is scripted and written by trained professionals. I'll be just as excited as you are to start recording and watching TV again soon."

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