You Just Ruined Yesterday… and I Was Looking Forward To It!

How do we have timely conversations about TV if we’re each on our own timeline?

A status update from one of my Facebook friends just revealed who got kicked off last night’s “American Idol”. That makes me furious. Why?

Because I’m a time traveler.

With my DVR, I can travel back in time to last Thursday and watch the most recent episode of "Top Chef". Thanks to Internet filesharing, I can travel forward in time to see the BBC "Doctor Who" episode that won't air in the United States for another 3 weeks. With TiVo, I can jump back in time, 45 minutes after "FlashFoward" has started, and then bend time back so that I finish watching the episode live.

But like all fictional time travelers, time traveling through TV is a lonely life. Flexing the TV time continuum gives me total control of my favorite past time, but it unplugs me from my second favorite past time, talking about TV. In my alternate universe, it’s still Monday and “American Idol” hasn’t happened yet, so there’s nothing to talk about.

Today, we are all TV time travelers. But to stay spoiler-free, we avoid Facebook, steer clear of certain emails, and pre-qualify all in-person small talk.

This is unacceptable.

I want you to be free to post your questions about the ending of “Lost” that just confused the hell out of you. Friends on the east coast shouldn’t have to wait the obligatory 3 hours before tweeting snarky jokes about “Survivor”. I want to (no I have to) post impulsively and uncensored about TV.

If “timeshifting” was the last great technological innovation in television, timeshifting the discussions about TV is the next great challenge.

Can someone get on this, please?

I'll lob out a suggestion, this one for Facebook: An app that "locks" any conversation tagged with a specific episode of a show you watch. Here's how I see it working:

  • Status updates that are tagged with a show you haven't watched yet (like this week's "Lost") are blocked.

  • After you catch up on “Lost”, the app unlocks those previous comments, creating a virtual waterfall of commentary, discussion, reviews, jokes, etc., that was previously out of site. You hop on the train, adding your opinions and perspectives.

  • At any point, you (or anyone else in the conversation) can hop off the train: If you’re not interested in the not-so-timely opinion of your friend who just caught up on the "Lost" season premiere, you can disengage from the conversation about that older episode, without unplugging from other conversations.

Is it a perfect solution? Far from it. But it’s a start. Until we get closer to my version of this TV Utopia, please give me a couple of days before ruining Idol. In the meantime, you could just say the kid who got kicked off was “the one Randy thought was pitchy.”