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Finding the shows you like is easy, and many include user rating averages.
Keeping up with your favorite shows should be no big deal in the age of mind-reading digital video recorders -- right? Yeah, talk to us after some "friend" ruins every surprise on Facebook 10 minutes after you miss an episode. Enter Episodes, an app that promises to save you the trouble of obsessively tracking daily television listings on your own.
To find and add shows via the search screen is easy, thanks to a clean and intuitive interface, and the majority of shows feature crisp artwork and helpful descriptions. You'd think David Tennant was still the star of Doctor Who, and Stephen Fry's long-running UK staple QI is nowhere to be found, but the overwhelming majority of current shows are well represented.
Each show includes promotional artwork and a summary, and slide-to-remove keeps you from axing anything from your watchlist accidentally.
Unfortunately, Episodes fumbles schedule-tracking with alarming regularity. On a Tuesday evening, both Lights Out and Southland should've appeared near the top of the watchlist, alerting us to new episodes that were mere hours away. Episodes might even have been thoughtful enough to alert us to the fact that they'd air simultaneously. Instead, both shows were buried several finger-flicking screens away, and each indicated a full seven-day wait.
Could be an isolated incident, right? It isn't, though. The next day, a new episode of Justified scheduled for broadcast that evening inexplicably showed up as having already aired. Meanwhile, a listing for The Cleveland Show indicated the correct day, but the wrong time. The more we compared Episodes' schedule listings to reality, the more discrepancies we found. To be fair, it is right more often than it's wrong, but it's hardly the fail-safe don't-miss-your-favorites assistant it should be.
There's one problem with this example from our watchlist: it's just plain incorrect.
For what it's worth, Episodes also includes a simple recommendation engine that purportedly uses the star ratings you can assign to each show on your watchlist. Unfortunately, even here Episodes needs considerable work. While it dug up possibilities I wouldn't have heard about otherwise, like a Japanese anime series called Ergo Proxy, most suggestions seemed wholly random, if not downright useless. At no point did I add a single reality show to my list, and yet I'm told I might be into dreck like Teen Moms 2? WWE NXT could reasonably follow from my enthusiasm for the slow burn of Lights Out's pugilism drama. But what could possibly explain an entry for the cancelled 2001 series The Tick, which lasted all of nine episodes, as something I might want to track a decade later?
Fawlty Towers and The Tick? Really? Surely I might like something more recent.
The bottom line. Episodes is a cheap way to keep a casual eye on the shows you're interested in, but it simply isn't reliable enough to keep you well-informed about your favorites.
iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 4.2 or later
Simple but effective and attractive interface. Easy to find and add most current shows to your watchlist, or browse episode lists and synopses. Recommendations can be deliciously obscure.
Date and time listings are riddled with inaccuracies that largely defeat the app's basic function. Recommendations include shows that have been dead for many years while disregarding many current possibilities.