Unintended effect, part the second

I thought TiVo would be responsible for many hours chained in front of a television set. On weekends, that sometimes happens.

But I think I’m probably watching less TV than before I switched.

I’ve developed a habit with the machine — TiVo will catch it for me, I can watch it later. "Later." That’s the catch, isn’t it?

"Later" sometimes never comes. Last month, I was working on a project that required a number of hours each evening. I ended up watching a lot of TiVo over the Thanksgiving holiday because a three-week backlog built up.

It’s rather odd that a machine designed to make TV viewing more convenient is actually contributing to a weaning of the viewing habit.

I’ll still park myself in front of the set for "appointment viewing" — these days, it’s Battlestar Galactica, Gilmore Girls and Lost. For the shows I like but don’t love — Ugly Betty, all three Law & Order shows — I’ll wander off and assume I’ll catch up on the weekend.

Then the weekend arrives, and a marathon of viewing seems like a lot of work. (I really should consider cutting back on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report.) So I end up working on computer instead.

I still love all the things TiVo can do for me — record two shows at the same time, rewind and fast-forward live broadcasts, provide a program guide.

But the ultimate convenience of watching on your own time doesn’t really work when that time gets occupied by other distractions. The fact TiVo opens up my time to those distractions is quite the conundrum.