As I Twittered (tweeted? I’ll get this right), sometimes you forget to do something: pick up milk on the way home, feed the cat or empty the dishwasher. On the whole, not so serious. And with a digital vide recorder or a Media Center PC, you shouldn’t have to worry about missing an episode of your favourite show.
That is, unless you forget to program the system to record your favourite show.
That happened to me this week, as I neglected to restart recording of The Office on NBC.
Luckily, NBC Video Rewind is available on the NBC 24/7 Video page, where you can view full-length episodes of NBC shows (posted the morning the day after they air), including 30 Rock, Heroes and others. You can also watch quick recap, two-minute replays that provide a Cliff Notes video clip of the show.
As we found with Hulu.com, we were able to find episodes of The Office on the web, available for streaming for free to your computer, live over the web. ABC and CBS also make many of their popular shows available for viewing on ABC.go.com and on CBS.com respectively, with many available in HD.
But most interesting over the compressed streaming video (fine for travel and desktop viewing) is full SD and HD video, downloaded to your PC. Normally relegated to Bit Torrent file downloads, we’d rather have a network blessed (read "legal") way to get vide to our Media Center computer (or any PC for that matter).
Thankfully, there’s the beta for NBC Video Direct, where full episodes are available for download. Using NBC Direct (now in beta), you can download full episodes to your Windows PCs. We first installed the NBC Direct player (available free) and then after registering were able to download HD versions of current and past favourites (do you miss Erin Gray in Buck Rogers?). For The Office one hour premier, it took about 10-15 minutes or so at home to get the full HD file.
Last fall, the New York Times said that the NBC Direct Beta was "not quite ready for prime-time" but a lot changes in a year. There’s a full list of shows available, the performance was flawless and overall our experience this week has been quite positive.
So, next time you neglect to program your DVR or PC to record a show from cable, satellite or broadcast, remember that there is a fallback for many of your favourite shows.