Friday, July 5, 2013

This Week in Instant Watching

Special thanks to the Founding Fathers for helping out with the column yesterday, but today's words and thoughts are all mine--though they can't help but be influenced by the enduring legacy of Alexander Hamilton. Dude was bad-ass!

The standard beginning-of-the-month Netflix catalog dump brought few surprises--mainly a bunch of the same MGM titles that keep rotating in and out--but there are always some interesting things that jump out. Jimmy Stewart's Call Northside 777 is interesting because it's part of the Fox Film Noir DVD series, and Fox classics are always welcome on streaming. Along those lines, I note the presence of Liz and Dick in the notorious 1963 Cleopatra. All those new Elizabeth Taylor fans Lindsay Lohan made when portraying the legend can now see if the original can possibly stack up to the modern-day version.

The big highlight for me is 56 Up, the latest in Michael Apted's brilliant documentary "Up" series, films produced 7 years apart that show a constant group of subjects at the various stages in their lives.

Recent films like 6 Souls, The House That I Live In, and As Luck Would Have It (Did I mention Salma Hayek is in that one? I did last week? Sorry, it's hard to keep track of things sometimes. I'm no James Madison, you know) arrive at about the same time they hit home video.

Also new are a bunch of Ken Burns and other PBS titles, reflecting a recent trumpeted business extension between the network and Netflix. I'm all in favor of this because it's a broad deal with some depth to it, and it probably didn't cost a ton. I'm less enthused by the arrival of The New Girl and the hoopla accompanying Netflix's deal to become its exclusive online distributor. This is a moderately successful current sitcom with some but not a whole lot critical cachet. It may have some buzz, but not nearly as much as media elite favorites like Mad Men. i'm sure there are some people that are excited about seeing the episodes they just saw again on demand, but as a subscriber, I don't want to see Netflix spending acquisition funds on things like this.

Let me mention an odd thing that happened on Netflix last week: I wanted to watch Cheers, but the show was absent from my Recently Watched row. Uh-oh, I thought, that usually means something went bye-bye. I did a search for the title, and the show's name came up, which was a good sign, but not the show itself. I tried searching for Ted Danson but couldn't get the show. I tried looking at the row of recommended titles marked "1980s Comedies that Ended with Event Finales Including Tonight Show Appearances with Most of the Cast Plastered, the Tape of which You Still Have and May Actually Be Able to Dig Up Now." But it wasn't there, either.

The next day, though, it was back, and I could again watch "Cheers." What happened? Glitch? Sunspots? Voodoo? Beats me, but the incident is yet another reminder of the volatile nature of instant watching.

Speaking of that, regarding those unaired Don't Trust the B episodes I wrote about last week, after rechecking Hulu Plus, I can report...nothing. They're still not there, though the 11 AIRED episodes ARE, which somehow only makes me angrier.

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