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October 13, 2015

ABC Family doesn't want you to watch The Middleman

by Brett Love, posted Jul 1st 2008 11:20AM

At least that's the somewhat sarcastic conclusion I'm jumping to. As I started watching the east coast feed, an email bounced into the TV Squad inbox from reader 'Jay.' He noted that when he tried to record The Middleman on his PC, he was greeted with an error message. I had to wait three hours for the regular airing on the left coast, but I dusted off an old Media Center PC and got that very same error, as you see in the picture. I like to think that Wendy is showing her shock and outrage at the snafu in that shot. But wait, there's more ... after the jump.

This isn't anything new. A similar thing happened in May where a number of users found themselves unable to record American Gladiators and Medium on NBC one night. The difference is that, on that occasion, it seemed to be exclusive to Vista users. Jay didn't leave his system details, but my Media Center is running the earlier MC 2005. With that last go 'round, NBC eventually copped to inadvertently flagging the content. Microsoft claimed innocence, saying that they were just adhering to flags used by broadcasters. The sticky wicket being, of course, that there is nothing that actually compels them to do that.

For what it's worth, I'm leaning toward this being a Microsoft problem. I was able to record both the HD feed and the normal broadcast on my CableCo DVR. There is no reason for the Media Center software to even be looking at broadcast flags, let alone adhering to them. It's not a Microsoft problem.

Perhaps, if there are enough of these incidents, and the resulting uproars on the internet, the networks will turn some of their influence back on the Borg and help to bring about change. It doesn't seem that listening to their customers is high on the list of priorities. On a side note, with Microsoft in mind, I'd like to point out that while my Media Center wasn't recording The Middleman, it was more than happy to record All About Dung. Thanks Microsoft!

All About Dung

The other bit of this, the part that ABC Family plays in the headline, is the new time slot. Were you, like me, caught off guard when you went to watch The Middleman and found Mean Girls? I mean, it's one thing to get bumped to a different time slot by another original show, but for a tired old movie? Maybe I'm just not in touch with my inner PTC, but is there one thing about The Middleman that makes it a 10PM show? Furry reference? The Booty Chest? That's not the stuff of 10PM. It's goofy comic book action. It has 8PM written all over it.

Am I over reacting? Possibly. I just get a little antsy when red flags like later time-slots and recording shenanigans start popping up for a show that I really want to find success.

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Probably not a Microsoft issue, I think. I tried twice record the episode, at its regular time and the late-night repeat, and each time my Philips DVR cut off the recording at 15 minutes 16 seconds, reporting an E26 error (can't record).

The Philips is a freestanding, non-Tivo, non-cable, non-satellite digital recorder -- as far as I can discover, the only one you can buy in the U.S. As far as I can discover, it doesn't use any Microsoft OS. But it honors the "don't record" flag.

July 03 2008 at 2:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I don't see anything wrong with this, I mean every company has procedure and regulations. I mean they stream their shows online so you know they want you to see it, they are giving it away for you everyday on their website!

July 02 2008 at 7:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

That's why I use gbpvr - screw media center...

July 02 2008 at 2:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My TiVo has been recording it just fine. It is a fun, quirky show - reminds me of the live action The Tick! I just hope this lasts longer than that did.

July 01 2008 at 10:43 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Supposedly they patched this. Check your Windows Updates

July 01 2008 at 5:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

It's most likely a bug in Microsofts DRM system for Media Center. Media center users had a similar problem with NBC shows a little over a month ago.

The FCC's broadcast flag was overturned in 2005 so a bug on MS side is the most likely culprit. Isn't DRM fun?

July 01 2008 at 4:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I was really surprised bu the sudden time change too, but at least the DVR picked it up. I found the show to be extremely kiddie/goofy on the first episode and it certainly seems geared for younger viewers so the 10:00 switch was very weird.

July 01 2008 at 3:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have one word for you: MythTV

July 01 2008 at 2:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Recorded just fine on my Dish DVR. Already watched it. ;-)

July 01 2008 at 1:44 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The 8 pm showing recorded without error on my PowerBook/eyetv 200 here in Seattle.

July 01 2008 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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