About my TV-Program Episode Numbers Page

I've set up this page to ask visitors to my web site not to ask me for recordings of TV programs. My page of Episode Numbers is not a catalog of my video library. I do not have all these programs sitting around, so I cannot make copies to give away or sell. If you ask, all I can do is send you a polite reply restating what you'll find on this page.

These are shows that we may have watched at some point since 2001. We have not watched (or even recorded) every episode. We have not saved copies of any episodes. Most of these programs are not airing now, or are not on channels in our cable plan, so we won't be seeing them again any time soon. Some of these programs are very old and are not likely to be broadcast any time soon – or perhaps ever again.

All the requests I've received (so far) have been about old PBS programs (mostly NOVA). I don't know any more than you do about how you might get a copy of an old PBS program that's not available on their website. PBS clearly has an untapped market. I suspect they feel that either there's not enough demand for the old episodes to cover the production costs, or the original source media are missing or of inadequate quality for mastering DVDs. Whatever the cause, I can't get you a recording. Sorry.

Why my TV-Program Episode Numbers Page Exists

We have a ReplayTV model 3060 digital video recorder (DVR), bought in February 2001. If you know what a TiVo is, then you know what a ReplayTV is. In 2001 these 2 brands were the market leaders. (These devices are also known as Personal Video Recorders, PVRs.)

The model 3060 has a 60GB internal hard disk, and can store 20-60 hours of content, depending on the quality level selected for each recording. PVRs of this vintage make a nightly phone call to a server (maintained by the manufacturer) to retrieve program schedule data for the individual unit. The PVR is uniquely identified so the server can provide the correct local schedule – reception over the air or by cable, which cable company (I'm in an area with overlap), which cable service plan (basic/plus/max/etc, digital/analog). The PVR also sends data back to the server. Replay and TiVo have not been forthcoming about exactly what data they collect about their customers, but TiVo did release statistics about how many times Janet Jackson's 2004 Super-Bowl half-time show wardrobe "malfunction" was replayed, so that gives you some idea of the detail that might be possible. (Remember, they have registration information identifying (at least to the household level) each PVR that calls in.) Their privacy agreements state that they will release data only in aggregate forms, but you have to collect individual data to produce aggregate data. (I would not be surprised to learn someday that some administration has gone after individuals' TV recording/watching habits the way the current one has gone after records of phone calls, web surfing, email, and public library usage.)

ReplayTV also has a website where (with a login and password) I can see some of that collected individual data – the contents of my ReplayTV as of the time of its last phone call for schedule updates. This shows the program title, usually the episode title, and the date, time, duration, and channel. I archive this information and compare with the previous update to list what programs have been deleted and what's new content. Since episodes are not always broadcast in the correct sequence, I decided it would be very useful to have sequence numbers for the episode titles. This turned out to be a lot of work, but it has been worth it. I have found numbered episode lists on the web for most commercial TV programming. PBS programming lists have been more difficult to find. Some shows do not list episode numbers or broadcast dates, and when I can find them, they are not in any kind of consistent format. But I have collected a large list of sequence numbers (or first-air dates) to apply to my ReplayTV listings.

It occurred to me that the sequence data was useful in itself, and it would be nice to have access to it away from my computer. If you want remote access to data (and you don't mind sharing it), the obvious thing to do is put it on a web page. Hence, my page of TV-Program Episode Numbers.

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