When DVRs attack! (Your most painful mishaps)


Ever since Annie Barrett posted an open letter to her ultimatum-giving DVR/life partner a year ago, I’ve been living in fear that my DVR would one day develop a mind of its own. On April 7, it happened. It was set to record the return of Samantha Who?, which I was particularly psyched for because it appeared to be a Barry Watson-heavy episode. My recorded shows list said the episode was waiting for me, but when I tried to play it, all I got was a dark screen. Hell no. After a few more failed attempts (it turns out that screaming calmly pleading "plaaay," as you select play from the beginning doesn’t help), I gave up and just wanted the listing gone. My DVR/life partner wouldn’t let me delete it. It was as though it wanted it to sit there in the queue — like some severed head skewered on a stake in the middle of a medieval town square as a warning — to remind me that it could, in fact, crush me whenever it wanted to. And I realize I got lucky this time: It wasn’t a show that I write a TV Watch for. It wasn’t a series premiere or a season finale. It wasn’t an episode that couldn’t be viewed on the network’s website. But the next time, it could be. (Shudder.)

So, because we’re all about the group therapy on PopWatch, I think it’s time we all share our most painful DVR mishaps. I’ve got a friend in L.A. whose DVR just decided not to tape America’s Next Top Model for the third week in a row. She’s not amused. My coworker Gretchen Hansen says her DVR fought back recently, also around the time of a scheduled Top Model recording — could the machines be working together? — by "blinking like it was picking up signals from outside our solar system. Then it started playing the toe pick scene from the movie The Cutting Edge, and THEN it died." ("Wait, you have The Cutting Edge on your DVR, Gretchen?" "It’s on my DVR twice. Why? Don’t ask me. Ask my DVR.")

Your turn. Make us weep!

addCredit(“America’s Next Top Model: William Hueberger /Pottle Productions Inc”)

Comments (91 total) Add your comment
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  • SS

    My DVR up and decided not to record the season finale of “Make Me a Supermodel.” Can you imagine my frustration after watching this show week after week to then not be able to see who finally won but instead having to read about it? WTF!!!????

  • Green Gummi Bear

    I’m just wondering if anyone else has been screwed over by DirecTv. The whole reason I started with them was that they had TiVo, so I stayed loyal. But the recorders kept crapping out on me, so they would replace them. Then a few months back, they replaced it with their own product, they no longer have TiVo. “But it’s a sub-standard product, I want my TiVo back” I told them. “It’s the same thing” they kept syaing. “Uh, no it’s not. If I pay for a BMW and get a Kia (no offense to Kia, but I paid for BMW), it’s not the same thing”. They didn’t see the difference. So I miss my FAR superior TiVo product, one egonomicly designed, for this crap that keeps messing with me (dare you to try and catch the end of a show like the Daily Show, if you don’t skip right, it just sits at the end, asking if you want to delete it, no way to view Jon’s Goodbye). And the biggest fubar it made – The returning Lost episode, just decided not to record it. WHAT?!? Screw you DirecTv, screw you.

  • NineDaves

    my dvr sometimes decided it wants to just record half of an episode. not even half – sometimes 6 minutes, 18 minutes, etc. apparently, sometimes my dvr acts like me when i am working out. i want to go the full hour, but i get lazy.

  • Steph

    Mandi – sometimes you just make my day – for real!
    Anywho – I was about to express some of my DVR/LP issues – but then out of fear of revenge (i.e. I’d get home tonight and last night’s episode of Without a Trace, love Enrique Murciano, will be inexplicably gone) I decided simply to say – DVR/LP – Love you!! You’re the best! I really don’t mind that you sometimes cut off the ends of good episodes, or won’t let me record more than 2 shows at once, or forget that I asked you to record EVERY single new episode – it’s all good – you are the best..that stuff doesn’t even bother me…I swear…

  • Andy

    A few weeks after getting my tivo it decided to update itself during the middle of primetime. It had to restart the entire system while updating the whole thing took about 30 minutes cutting off the last 20 minutes of two shows and the first 10 of the next show.

  • Zoot

    Wait a minute. My DVR recorded the Cutting Edge on a whim as well. It took a week for my husband and I to quit accusing the other of recording it. We finally agreed it was some weird glitch in the matrix (while deep down inside I still thought he recorded it) and moved on with our lives.

  • Elizabeth

    I tried to get the NBC lineup last night (opting for baseball) and no such luck – totally revolted. Thank god I caught up online this morning. Son of a mother & father indeed!

  • MJButah

    GGB…I feel your DirectTv pain, my TIVO died and they gave me one of “their” DVR’s which promptly broke and had to be replace two weeks later. The worst thing is, I know have two disconnected DVR’s sitting around my house with a whole bunch of shows recorded on them. I told the lady at DirectTV that they owe me John Adams on DVD since some of the episodes are on the TIVO, some on the old DVR and some on the new one. They don’t think it’s funny.
    I loved my Tivo, it understood me!

  • Gretchen

    Maybe it is ANTM that has an issue – my DVR had the red recording light on the whole hour and when i went to watch it, only 1 MINUTE was recorded…that’s not even enough for the “Previously on…”
    Also, my DVR will record the majority of shows sometimes, then shut off anywhere from 5-15 minutes before it ends, so I lose the best parts! Then one random LOST ep was just skipped over – even though it has a season pass and is scheduled to record any new eps.
    This post seriously makes me feel better though – I thought I was the only one with a janky DVR!!!

  • Snarf

    Last year my dvr went wonky in the final minutes of a cliffhanger episode of Heroes (Sylar vs Peter/Mohinder) GAAAAAAAAAAAH!
    Luckily one of my friends who lives across from me had it.

  • Becca

    The one and only time my DVR malfunctioned was when it decided not to record the SEASON FINALE of LOST last year! The SEASON FINALE! Fortunately I was able to watch it at abc.com the next day but that was one painful night.

  • Anonymous

    My DVR decided to delete EVERY SINGLE PROGRAM TIMER – yes, that’s right. It did not record any shows for 5 days! When I sat down to watch my weekly GH marathon, I realized it had not recorded anything – all week! I went into the scheduling area and saw it had wiped out everything i had programmed. I cannot tell you how long it has taken me to get all my timers (i love tv) back up – but now, when i tell it to record new episodes only, it also records every time that particular episode repeats. AHHH! Dish Network – I am not happy.

  • Anonymous

    During my two week honeymoon (extended because a hurricane hit Jamaica the day we were supposed to leave), the power went out in our condo in DC. It came back on a few minutes later, but the cable box needs to be manually turned on. We missed two weeks worth of tv and my wife nearly killed the dvr when she found out the last three episodes of her favorite telenovela were replaced with a black screen.
    Anyway, I’m beefing with Tivo right now. The device I spent $250 on in 2005 doesn’t do High definition. So to get my favorite HD shows recorded that way, Tivo wants an ADDITIONAL $300 (and of course they offer no trade in program) plus $12 a month for the service. Meanwhile, my cable company will rent me their HD DVR for $12 a month with no purchase necessary.
    I’m torn. On the one hand, the hashmarks and the 8 second instant replay buttons are awesome, and Tivo’s interaction is great. But do I want to get burned by Tivo AGAIN? The jury is still out on that question.

  • kats

    Mine has yet to skip anything but will randomly give season passes to shows I’ve aked it to only record once. This is particularly true of the NFL Network for some reason.
    BTW, a few questions for the experts…I have the DirecTV dvr. Can it record more than two shows at once? Mine won’t and it will only record a second one if you’re watching one of the shows it’s recording. Useless…. Also, if you have DirecTV can you get TiVo or another DVR or is their brand the only kind available? I’m still new to this whole dvr thing.

  • Jane

    If I watch another show while recording another, the show I’m recording will have red lines streaming across the screen. This also happens if I rewind a show. The problem is that it happens arbitrarily and with no consistency, so I feel like I’m being held hostage.

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