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Fun with live TV

By Rich Heldenfels Published: August 11, 2014

Last night provided a reminder of the joys and perils of live television. I tuned in late to the PGA coverage after seeing it was a tight match, figuring to watch just a littlle. Then I saw Mickelson hit that killer putt on 12 and decided to stick around. And that proved to be for hours as the rain-delayed match extended into near-darkness. (CBS should have shown the real conditions more often, instead of its lighter, brighter version. Yes, it was nice to see what was happening -- but it diminished the drama of what the golfers themselves saw.)

The live-ness of it made for amusing updates by CBS of its primetime lineup, the network having to jettison programs to finish at about 11 p.m. for local newcasts. First "Reckless" was dropped and "Unforgettable" listed as airing if time allowed; then, by the time the PGA ended, "Unforgettable" had been dropped, too. The steady performer "60 Minutes" survived, as did the young-adult-drawing "Big Brother."

The situation, though, was reminiscent of the calls and emails I get every fall when a late football game runs long, so "The Good Wife" and other CBS Sunday shows do not start as scheduled. The network has slid prime-time shows on late-football Sundays to a half-hour later so people have some warning, but even that is not enough to make up for lonnnnnng football games some Sundays.

Many of those complaining "Good Wife" fans do not give two hoots about football and instead are irked because their viewing plans are messed up, or they trusted the existing schedule when they set their DVRs.

Sometimes you either have to anticipate long overruns (especially if you won't be home to see your favorite show) and extend their recording time, or just keep an eye out for updates CBS posts on the day, as it becomes clear how late the football is going. You can also check for shows' appearance on-demand or online.

On Sunday, my wife is an "Unforgettable" fan, so I put some extra time on the recording schedule in case golf ran long. Then, when it was running really long, we kept an eye on when we might have to reset the DVR; when it was dropped, we just canceled the recording. There is no absolute certainty of a show airing if something live is happening before it.

And that was a heckuva final round of golf.

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