Sunday, October 13, 2013

Possible Cool Thing Alert: The B/W (only on Roku...or is it?)

Just added to the Roku Channel Store is The B/W, a live streaming service which bills itself as "Black and White done right" and is ad-supported but free. I haven't found any information about this new channel, but I have been checking in throughout the weekend, and so far, it's pretty impressive.

I had a few glitches, but overall, the presentation is pretty smooth. At any given time, you'll see the show with a little bit of clutter at the bottom: a note of what's on now, what's on next, and the B/W logo (which as I write this is NOT black and white, but green and a little too big and frankly really annoying). I could do without the clutter, but it's about typical for today's environment. The now and next bits of info could go, though.

There is no on-demand option here; you get what they're showing. But what they're showing is spectacular. When I saw the channel, I assumed it would be a parade of the usual public domain staples, and there are some of those, but overall, there is a diverse lineup including some very high-profile shows. I question the legality of this enterprise, but the ads from the likes of Best Buy and MySpace look legit, so maybe the whole thing is indeed on the up and up. Just in case, enjoy it while it lasts!

Let me get to what I've seen. I haven't sat down and watched anything start to finish, so I can't comment on whether the shows are edited or not, but the ad breaks look more like Hulu (short and repetitive) than on a subchannel or cable channel. So far I've noticed: Rin-Tin-Tin, I Love Lucy, Dick Van Dyke Show, Gunsmoke, Rawhide, Space Patrol, Fireball X-9, the Batman and Robin movie serial (!), The Addams Family, Mike Hammer, Peter Gunn, Dragnet, Robin Hood and Robinson Crusoe, The Three Stooges, and last night there was an Abbott and Costello movie. In between shows, the occasional black-and-white retromercial runs. What I have NOT noticed: Infomercials, inane lifestyle programs, recent syndicated fare like "Da Vinci's Inquest."

Folks, could we actually have a great "channel" here? I have no idea if this is a web entity or just a Roku thing. I kind of hope it's just a Roku thing because that might keep it under the radar. But be on the lookout for it if you have that little black box.


Anonymous said...

There is a program schedule for the B/W at

Rick Brooks said...

Thanks! That's a pretty good-looking schedule. I wonder if the Charlie Chan at 2:00AM is the 1950s TV show or old Charlie Chan theatricals? I may stay up and find out.