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April 9, 2014

The Couch Potato: Free premium channel brings ‘The Heat’

NEW CASTLE — In our house, we very rarely watch live TV anymore, as most of what we want is recorded, ready and essentially commercial-free on the DVR.

There’s nothing better than watching a show without all of the interruptions, so the DVR is the go-to source for entertainment.

But every once in a while, the Couch Potato will sit down to find that the DVR is empty. Not literally empty, but just nothing to catch my fancy. That doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, it’s frustrating to say the least.

So I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was our free HBO preview weekend, which allows us to record, watch and enjoy all that HBO and Cinemax have to offer across their 15 or so channels. Needless to say, I had more than enough to watch this weekend.

I started this barrage of the senses with one of my personal favorites that not many people have caught yet — “Veep,” starring “Seinfeld” alum Julia Louis-Dreyfus as the vice president of the United States.  

I recorded the entire second season as HBO played the 10 episodes back-to-back throughout the day Saturday. Even though I had already watched the whole second season, it was good to refresh myself with the biting humor and pettiness of politics in D.C. It’s really a great show with great performances, and I highly recommend it.

Next, I appeased Mrs. Couch Potato by recording the movie “The Heat,” a buddy cop comedy starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthey. She saw the movie in the theater with some friends and has been bugging me to see it with her since, because she enjoyed it so much. When I showed her that I recorded it, she kind of just made a weird noise, so I’ll chalk that up as a win for the Couch Potato!

I got some other good stuff recorded, such as the movies “City by the Sea,” “The Internship” and “Man of Steel,” which were all on my list of movies to see. I haven’t got to them yet, but they’re waiting.

So that all leads me to the crown jewel of the weekend. But let me first explain.

The Couch Potato is not poor, but certainly not swimming in it either. HBO and premium channels are an expense that is hard to justify in our house.

For that reason, I have always caught up on premium channel shows through DVDs, sometimes years after they first aired on television. One of my favorites in this category is HBO’s “Game of Thrones,” which aired its fourth season premiere Sunday night.

(I'll offer some thoughts on "Thrones" next week)

I had watched seasons one and two on DVD a couple years ago, and then camped out at my buddy’s house on Sunday nights last spring to catch season three, but he has since canceled his HBO access. Since we had the free preview, I watched the premiere of season four Sunday night at home.

So now I have a quandary. Do I shill out the money and get HBO for two months so I can watch the rest of season four? Or do I wait for the DVDs, which won’t come out until Christmas? I’m either losing money or waiting too long, so it’s a lose-lose, in my opinion.

Whatever I decide, I have some major watching to do to start cleaning out my DVR again. While I certainly won't be frustrated from lack of stuff to watch, I have a feeling that I’ll be getting some literal “heat” from Mrs. Couch Potato as I start my television-watching quest.

(Questions, comments or ideas? Email at:

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