Hard to Not to Spoil DVR Users' Fun

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I accidentally blurted out a spoiler the other day.

We had some visitors in the office from Washington, D.C., last Tuesday. While we were chatting about the local weather (the first snow day for New York City schools since 2004), I made a lame joke about how there apparently was a terrorist attack on the White House Monday night.

One of the visitors reacted with shock — at what I'd said and, after a recognition moment, that I'd given away some of the action from the prior night's 24.

Seems he'd DVRed it.

Oops, my bad. But with DVRing so prevalent now, it's hard to know when it's safe to talk about your favorite shows.

Or even when to stop the playback.

I generally watch 24 either with some “buffered” time so that I can race through the periods between the signature stopwatch chimes that bookend the commercial breaks. Or I watch the episode another night, with all the ads buffered.

I say “stop the playback,” because 24's scenes from the next episode are filled with spoilers. Including that Jack Bauer & co.'s terrorist adversaries were going to invade the White House.

How they pulled off the invasion was worth tuning in for. Now that I've been resensitized to the risk of ruining other DVRing fans' delayed gratification, I won't spell it out, but it was ludicrous enough that Dave Barry, while live-blogging the episode, opined the writers were smoking crack.

The preview having given away the White House bit, though, was part of what made me feel safe in mentioning it. I assumed anyone who wanted to see the episode at least had watched the previous episode and knew that plot point. (The person involved, to whom I apologized, agreed with me later.)

It's a tough call — watch the preview, knowing it will be filled with answers to the questions of what's coming next, or snip the episode before that.

Last week also made the choice of when to watch 24 hard as it was a two-hour episode. Add in buffering time and that makes bedtime quite late, for me anyway. Don't watch, though, and the risk of hearing spoilers the next day is high. You might even hear spoilers for the following week, from people who watched the preview for the March 9 episode (titled “Day 7: 8:00-9:00 p.m.”).

Despite the high risk of hearing spoilers from people like me, according to Nielsen figures cited by tvbythenumbers.com, 24 has consistently been in the top 10 most-DVRed shows this season.

Maybe the safest thing, then, is to avoid me the day after your favorite show airs if you've recorded it but not watched it yet.

Meantime, I'll try to curtail my blurting.

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