Our set top box is like a virtual octopus. It can multitask. And I don’t mean do stuff sequentially. I mean it can do lots of stuff all at the same time. It can record one channel whilst allowing you to watch another. It can even record 2 channels at once whilst allowing you to play back a recording you made earlier. It can even pause a live programme should you need a loo break and then resume playing it when you are ready so that you don’t miss a single second of your favourite show. Apparently the technical term for this activity is “deferring”.
It’s a cool and convenient little facility and no mistake.
And so we decided to employ it during the season finale of Doctor Who.
Now, I need to give you some additional technical information here. It won’t sound very technical but believe me it is. We were watching Doctor Who. Got that? We had programmed our set top box to record Merlin straight afterwards (eldest boy’s bed time, etc, but he wanted to watch it the next day). OK? Still with me? It should not have been a problem.
Due to a few household happenings and an unplanned for loo break, however, we’d ended up having to defer Doctor Who. It should be fine, I thought, cos this clever technological monstrosity can record 2 things at once so even if we defer Doctor Who until it overlaps Merlin it will be able to cope. We won’t miss a damned thing.
So. Cut to us all sucking up the spectacular sci-fi feast that was the Doctor Who finale. I’m not going to give any spoilers here (sweetie) but it was brilliant. The best DW season finale ever. Packed to the gills, overflowing with ideas, spectacle and heart stopping emotion. The finest bit of television I’ve seen for a long time. If you haven’t seen it yet you’re in for a treat. Superb acting from everyone but especially Matt Smith. And he got to snog Alex Kingston. On the top of a pyramid. Lucky git.
But I digress.
We were 5 minutes away from the end. The Doctor was dead. Seemingly so. River Song (Alex Kingston) and Amy Pond (Karen Gillan) were discussing his demise over a bottle of red. River laughed: but of course the Doctor isn’t dead!
Well, we’d already guessed that given that they’ve lined up Outnumbered's foxy mum, Claire Skinner, for the DW Christmas special. We just needed to know the clever plot device that had allowed this to happen.
How did he escape? How did he do it?
The small ingenious cogs of the script began to turn. The moment, the finale denouement was about to be revealed...
And the bloody set top box stops deferring Doctor Who and suddenly switches straight to real time and commences recording Merlin.
No. No. No.
It can record 2 sodding things at once! How can it not cope with this?! It’s supposed to be clever, for Heaven’s sake!
Doh. Because it can’t record 2 separate things that are being broadcast consecutively on the same channel. The programmed recording takes precedence over the ad hoc ‘live’ recording. It can’t cope with overlapping.
Hence, my set top box f*cked River Song. And while I am secretly admiring of that singularly enviable feat (in a metaphorical sense) I am mainly seething at its black, soft moulded casing this morning and considering swapping it out for a top loading VCR.
‘Cos we had to do something that I haven’t done since I was a teenager.
We had to wait for the repeat to be broadcast in order to see what we’d missed (which, being modern times, was shown the very next day on BBC3).
Yes, I know that’s only 24 hours but in this modern world of instant gratification and immediate sensory download that’s like watching Star Wars at the cinema as a kid and then having to wait 5 whole years for it to be finally released on video before you can watch it again.
The great god technology is dead.
Long live technology.