REDDIN: TV’s future — think out of the box

It’s the beginning of autumn, and televisions everywhere will soon glow in the light of a new fall lineup.

New and old shows alike will beam from network headquarters, landing in your living rooms via cable, satellite or good old-fashioned rabbit ears. In a few weeks, you’ll all be settled into routines, gathering friends together to catch that newest episode of “Grey’s Anatomy” or setting your DVRs to save this week’s “House” to watch after you get back from your night class.

I, on the other hand, have two options: static or a blank screen.

Yes, I’m one of those people. I may have a TV artfully taking up space in my living room, but it’s just for decoration. I haven’t had cable installed, and I’ve been too lazy to pick up one of those converter boxes that used to be everywhere but now are practically impossible to find.

And you know the funny thing? I actually really like television.

Aside from books (see previous column), it’s probably my favorite form of storytelling. A quality TV series can easily be as good as or better than a novel, and while I won’t advocate spending hours in front of a set, I will admit I’ve had a multi-episode binge in front of the screen from time to time.

Of course, that’s the really critical factor in my TV watching habits the screen.

Even before moving into my apartment and losing the ability to turn on my television and get something that doesn’t resemble beyond-experimental noise rock, I’d started to move away from literal television watching.

I’d do my best to catch my favorite shows when they were scheduled. But when I couldn’t, I’d turn to the Internet, searching both network websites and streaming hubs like Hulu for what I’d missed.

Now, without any way of catching programs at their original time of airing, I’m instead entirely dependent on these alternate avenues, scouring the Web for the latest episodes.

And, to be honest, I’ve never enjoyed television more.

Sure, it means more work, avoiding spoilers both online and in real life, and it also eliminates the option of watching TV with friends.

But you know what? The last time I watched TV with friends, the shows we watched were VH1’s “10 Cutest Celebrity Babies,” one of those “Top 20” shows cataloguing 20 horrible-yet-funny mishaps occurring in, on, or near water, and part of a B movie on SyFy Channel about an alien and/or demon and/or witch who could capture police officers in a tube of lipstick. Fun to watch, but nothing I’d go out of my way to find.

And that’s honestly the best part. When you just want to turn on the television as background noise or to fill time, it’s there. But if there’s a show you want to watch once a week, you don’t have to adjust your life to suit the whims of a light-up box.

The Internet has finally given viewers near-absolute control over when they want to watch television, a freedom that movies, music and books have had for decades.

Sure, not every show is online yet, but the tide is turning. Networks and advertisers are slowly growing to realize Internet television is a viable platform, especially with the creation of subscription services like Hulu Plus that expand upon already-free content. Companies are developing televisions that connect directly to the Web, another innovation that will help push the superior platform: online.

I’ll probably pick up a converter box eventually, if only to leave myself the option of watching TV on an actual TV. But I can see a day in the not-far-off future when the question of whether or not to get cable is no longer a question — because cable will be obsolete.

Maybe I’ll miss learning what VH1’s favorite celebrity babies are. But I think that’s a small price to pay.