The internet may have changed the way we watch television, but there’s little doubt that TV remains as an endearing a pastime as it ever has. Over the years you’ll have built up a collection of much loved shows from comedies like Cheers, Friends and Cougar Town to sci-fi epics like Battlestar Galactica and the various incarnations of Star Trek.
Keeping track of all these shows can be a bind, particularly if you’re hunting down episodes you may have missed or wondering who starred in which episode. Websites like imdb.com and thetvdb.com provide one way of keeping track, but true TV addicts will want access to this kind of information even when they’re offline.
This is where Free TvDB comes in. As the name implies, it’s basically provides a front end for all the data and images stored on thetvdb.com website, adding some useful little features of its own, such as a means of recording which episodes of a particular show you’ve seen.
Better still, it’s not some bloated, sluggish app, but a nimble portable utility that you can store on your USB thumb drive or copy to your portable apps folder and sync across all your machines. Once loaded, enter the name of the show you wish to include, then select it from the list available, pick a category to file it in and click “Add series to database” to add it to your “collection”.
Expand a show and you can browse it by season and by episode. Select one and that episode’s details appear in the right-hand pane. There’s a box you can tick to mark that individual episode as watched, but that can get time-consuming. Thankfully, right-click the season in the left-hand pane and a number of useful options appear, including the all-important “Season watched”. A similar set of options appear when you right-click a show’s name – which is how you can remove it from your database or file it under a different category.
You can also view photos, cast listings and even watch selected video from YouTube (typically the show’s opening credits). At the present time, database backups are stored in the same directory as the program itself, but future versions promise to give you more control over the backup process.
We’d also like to see more information displayed for each episode, specifically guest stars. Providing links to more information about cast members – say a simple imdb search by clicking the person’s name – would be welcome too. Despite these niggles, however, Free TvDB is definitely worth checking out for all TV addicts.