Sunday, June 23, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #166

1) Amazon Prime Video: For one thing, I have been diving back into Corner Gas. However, the service added and re-added a bunch of trashy and old movies this week, and it's good to take a look at the vast (yet impenetrable) library and remind yourself that Prime has movies like Soul Brothers of Kung Fu and Kill Them All and Come Back Alone.

Best of all for Prime, its new series Good Omens was targeted by a Christian group...that blamed NETFLIX! It gets the publicity and a good chuckle out of the whole thing.

2) Netflix: Kudos to Netflix for working out a nice little stunt with Amazon to take advantage of the Good Omens 'controversy. More importantly, I saw some great Cheers this week. I also think it added an old anime that was some kind of big deal.

3) YouTube: There were tons of great promos and ads uploaded this week, including:

 Plus the Ben Casey shows are still there!

4) Watch TCM; I mean, the fact that I watched a short subject called Famous Boners isn't the only reason it's rated so high this week, but it doesn't hurt. Be tankful I didn't rank it 6 and 9.

5) Boomerang: The 0 a month I am paying for it now (they haven't yanked it yet) continues to provide superior value. In addition to watching some more Raod Runner toons (thanks, Top Cat James, for the recommendations), I am enjoying the goofy latter-day Flintstones

6) Hulu: It's quiet this "offseason," but it's good to hear the Hulu head honcho say he expects that under Disney, the service will expand its original content.

Or is it? I'd rather hear, "We're going to spend insane amounts of money snapping up all the archival TV content that isn't accounted for," but I realize I'm in the minority.

7) NBC: Punky Brewster season 2 really got that Very Special Episode train rollin', closing with the memorable Challenger disaster story. Can season 3 top it? Am I really going to watch season 3 of Punky Brewster?

8) Pub-D-Hub: I was already feeling good about this scrappy channel when I listened to the second episode of its podcast (I mean, it has a podcast!), but then it dropped an overdue but meaty update today.

9) WWE Network: Give the Network major credit for unveiling a collector's Holy Grail, the 1986 Crockett Cup, in longer form than anyone would have expected.

10) Our Miss Brooks: Yes, a channel offering all "available" episodes. I think their definition of "available" may not gibe with that of the program's copyright holders, so enjoy these while you can!

Sunday, June 16, 2019

Streaming Power Rankings #165: Special Father's Day edition

Happy Father's Day, everyone! Since I happen to be a dad myself, and not just the father of this blog, I am going to be indulgent this week and throw out much of my normal scientific, reasoned approach and rely on impulse a bit more for these rankings. Next week we will get back to the analytics-driven approach to which you are accustomed.

1) YouTube: June's YouTuber of the month should not be someone who posts videos of herself playing video games, nor kids opening toys, nor someone showing off a shopping "haul." The honor goes to the good citizen who is uploading

2) Amazon Prime Video: I have been making an effort to utilize Prime Video more lately, including seeing originals like Bosch and Good Omens plus oldies like Yancy Derringer and The Joey Bishop Show. I don't see great reviews for Too Old to Die Young, but it's an intriguing original, though I was dismayed to learn it starred Miles Teller.

3) Netflix: Jessica Jones is back, and there are a lot of new originals that don't interest me, but I enjoyed--wait, I didn't actually see a lot on here this week. My kids and I did, though! Goosebumps 2 is surprisingly entertaining.

4) Hulu: It made a big deal with Lionsgate to get exclusive post-theatrical windows for its feature films starting in 2020. It already got some of these rights thanks to a separate deal with Epix, but now Epix loses the rights. The thing nobody seems to be reporting is how this affects Amazon Prime, which got some of the same rights, I think, due to ITS deal with Epix.

I guess what I'm saying is this is a win for Hulu and maybe even hurts a potential competitor or two.

5) Boomerang: Remember last week when I said I canceled my subscription? Well, I am on borrowed time, I guess, but still have access to it. So I watched some goofy stuff this week like Richie Rich cartoons. I complained about the 4/99/month rate, but my current price is outstanding.

6) Shout! Factory TV: I want to give a nod to Shout! for finally figuring out how to get its Roku channel back up and running. Yes, a lot of the material is available elsewhere (and w/o ad breaks if you find it on Amazon), but this is still a tremendous collection of free content.

7) Martin Kane, Private Eye: Yes, an entire Roku channel devoted to presenting as many episodes of the 1950s TV show as possible. There will be dozens of new Roku channels added in June that are more glamorous, but not many that I will watch as much.

8) DAZN/ESPN+:  Because I forgot to rank it last week, when it had tons of buzz after airing the stunning Ruiz-Wilder boxing upset, and this week, ESPN+ had the Tyson Fury fight.

9) Cinemax: They say no publicity is bad publicity. At the beginning of the week, chatter had it that Cinemax would be basically a throw-in in the upcoming Warner Media streamer. I thought that was bad publicity because it proved how inessential the channel was. Yet now Cinemax has a new Carla Gugino series (Jett) which, if I squint hard enough, almost sorta sounds like Karen Sisco. I'm gonna have to squint really hard to see it since I don;t see myself having Cinemax anytime in the near future, but, hey, I am thinking about Cinemax.

10) Showtime: Similarly, the acclaim for the series finale of Billions and the premiere of City on a Hill has me actually thinking about Showtime for a change.

Monday, June 10, 2019

Streaming Power Rankings #164

We're a day late and a dollar short, and by that I mean a dollar short for some of these streaming services out there charging too much money. Let's get into it:

1) HBO: I personally caught up with the last season of Veep, and I think the show went out on a high note and never got the acclaim it deserved (though it's certainly not for everyone). it was just an outstanding achievement all around for everyone involved with the series and the TV highlight of my week.

Meanwhile, I personally don't know if I can bring myself to watch Chernobyl, which has somehow become a bit of a buzz-generating sensation for HBO and a reminder that you can never count them least not until AT&T gets a chance to ruin it.

2) Boomerang: I saw one of the funniest Road Runner cartoons ever the other day, and I may have to re-evaluate my lifelong lukewarm attitude towards that series. I guess what I m trying to say is that I am saying bye-bye to Boomerang after a month, but I enjoyed it, and the service provides more value each month because it isn't rotating titles out. I still think it should be a buck or two less a month, though.

3) YouTube: We live in a world in which I can talk about an obscure 1980s ABC sitcom on the podcast, then, bam, find that someone uploaded an episode. It's also a world in which one of the fine members of our BOTNS Facebook group, inspired by one of our past episodes, can share a link to two episodes of a 1980s Canadian game show

This is a good world.

4) Amazon Prime Video: It debuted a brand-new Jonas brothers movie...but I decided not to penalize it because I have been watching Good Omens and Family Ties.

5) Netflix: I thought Netflix uploaded a lot of nonsense this week, but on the other hand, I enjoyed some of its original comedy efforts. The new sketch show I Think You Should Leave is way out there but smart to get in and out in less than 20 minutes each episode, and I enjoyed the Bash Brothers "tribute" from Lonely Island, though it was a bit too long. Maybe IT should have gotten in and out in less than 20 minutes. Still, a series of rap videos about Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire? You have to respect that.

6) NBC: Again, don't sleep on this one. Enjoy the free stuff on here before Comcast figures out how to take it away and/or charge for it. As for me, hey, not one, but TWO very special episodes of Punky Brewster this week. It kind of makes me feel warm and fuzzy. Much better than watching Chernobyl, which would make me feel warm and glowy.

7) TuneIn: Unlike Slacker, it doesn't require a log-in, so it provided a nice quick background music fix for me while writing this weekend.

8) Watch TCM: I keep reading all the articles about AT&T figuring out how to price its new massive streamer with HBO on board, but the real crown jewel is TCM, and the one property a bunch of people who don't currently pay for streaming video might be willing to look at. I am still hoping AT7 doesn't--see a theme this week--screw it up, but on the other hand a standalone app without authentication and with an expanded on-demand library would be a boon.

Keep those short subjects coming, TCM. This weekend I liked A Glimpse of Argentina and a Robert Benchley short, among others.

9) MLB TV: Why is it the Pirates keep showing up on the free game of the day? Does someone like the uniforms? The great season of Josh Bell? Continued inducement to get ME to subscribe?

10) Locast: I haven't watched much of the NBA Finals, but what I have has been courtesy of Locast.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

What I Want to See from the Streamers in 2019: Part 3

I have neglected this series of posts in recent months, but a lot has happened already in 2019, and I get a feeling that more and more old series will be spread around the various streaming video sites as the year rolls on. Here are my personal picks for great (but realistic) adds for some more OTT channels:

Pluto TV: Pluto is a great little free service, and with Viacom's recent investment, it could go a little deeper than just adding new channels devoted to, say, Wahlburgers. Last year it added shows like Charlie's Angels to its on demand library. Unfortunately, only season 4 is available right now. It's a shame that these free services don't just get the whole series at once.

Right now I'm thinking of an almost-orphaned show that is long out of print on DVD and has never been a presence on a major streaming site (as far as I know). You can find the episodes online, but Pluto might make a nice home for...Moonlighting. Just make sure it's the whole thing so that in 8 months we don't find ourselves with only season 5 available.

Boomerang: As long as Boomerang is going to sort everything by character instead of recreating the way the cartoons originally aired, I want to see "collections" devoted to some of my favorite characters. I want to see the Snagglepuss 'toons on here, but I think my number one pick is the complete Breezly and Sneezly so I don't have to buy the Peter Potamus Show DVD set to get them.

And this OTT service is all about using the stuff it already owns, but I'd love to see Boomerang step up and make a deal to stream all those Jay Ward and Total Television cartoons from the 1960s: Rocky and Bullwinkle, Underdog, Tennessee Tuxedo, King Leonardo...These have been a mess in syndication, and the DVD releases cleaned things up a little bit, but I'd love to see them all in one convenient streaming location.

Roku Channel: Roku has an interesting array of licensed content from different sources, so I am going to assume just about anything is possible. I have never seen Three's Company streaming anywhere, and while its profile has shrunk in the last decade, it was a huge hit in its day with a ton of nostalgic value.

Tubi TV: A year ago, I wouldn't have guessed the likes of Magnum P.I. and The A-Team would show up on this service. However, Tubi's growth has been slow but steady, and its recent library deal with Universal is really beefing up its catalogue. So how about adding one other high-profile classic from that studio, one I didn't see mentioned in news reports of the agreement?

That's right, I'm talking Quincy M.E.!  Make it happen, Tubi!

Sunday, June 2, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #163

If you're wondering why Shout! Factory TV is never on this list anymore, it's because the Roku channel hasn't been fully functional for months. Word is they are working on it and have a stripped-down version up now while they figure it out. Fortunately, a lot of their good stuff is available on Prime and on Tubi.

Here we go with 10 channels that do work on Roku!

1) Watch TCM: If I get access to this at my own place again, I may never leave the house. My girlfriend and I had a great time watching the short subjects on here. Who know a Technicolor dramatic adventure of the Royal Canadian Mountain Police could be such a riot?

2) Boomerang: I am having a blast watching the old toons on here, but I had committed to getting only a month. However, I kept an open mind in case they added something awesome for June that would make me change my mind. Well, the good news is Boomerang added 3 new shows this week. the bad news is, it's Camp Lazlo, My Gym Partner Is a Monkey, and Codename Kids Next Door--new series that don't interest me. I'm glad to see Boomerang adding stuff, though, and not constantly removing it like DC Universe does.

3) Pub-D-Hub: I actually spent an hour of my life listening to a podcast explaining the structural channels of Pub-D-Hub...and I loved it! I got an explanation as to why the content adds are less frequent now (partly it's because of the work they put into revamping the channel due to Roku's changes), and, hey, I just like that they put it out there.

4) Roku Channel: An impressive set of additions for June, including the entire run of Tales of Wells Fargo, some of Just Shoot Me (Not my cup of tea, but not overexposed elsewhere), and movies like Die Hard, Gravity, Unforgiven, and Platoon.

5) Netflix: Not a lot interests me in the new originals--oh, how I wish David Letterman had better  guests--but there is a nice little batch of older movies coming this weekend, particularly from Warner Brothers (like Network and Cabaret), and I got some value from the old TV.

6) Prime Video: Expect this to rise in the ratings if Good Omens is any good, as I plan to watch some of that soon. In the meantime, I finally started Bosch (so far, so good), and I got back into Real People. Why? Uh...maybe I will have an answer in another item or two.

7) Hulu: It debuted a Dr. Ruth documentary, but I am all about Brooklyn Nine-Nine right now.

8) NBC: Still don't have a good excuse for watching more Real People. However, this makes me humble and prevents me from being judgmental about NBC's free app, which added a bunch of stuff recently--much of it reality programming from its family of cable channels. Now, I don't have any interest in that sort of thing, but plenty of people do, and so kudos to NBC for making it available. And who am I to judge after watching not only Real People, but also--on this very app--Charles in Charge.

9) DC Universe: It really should be higher this week in the wake of a successful Doom Patrol season and strong reviews for the debuting Swamp Thing, but it's very disappointing that no other new material is coming in June. There just isn't enough here for the average person (unless they are really into the digital comics) to get this each month at the current pricepoint.

10) MLB TV: I have a semi-formal rule to rank MLB whenever it shows the Pirates as the free game of the day, even when the Buccos lose, so MLB squeaks in here again.

Monday, May 27, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #162

Happy Memorial Day, everyone!

1) HBO: NOW what? Yes, HBO wants to "replace" Game of Thrones, but let's give it one more week to bask in the success of the series. I think a lot of people hated the finale, but they watched.

2) Netflix: Historical Roasts sounds interesting, and the latest seasons of the CW shows have all migrated here. Plus Outlander coming here is a pretty big deal, right? the new What/If looks like it could be horrible but maybe fun horrible. For me it was all about the comfort food of old sitcoms, but it was a decent week for Netflix overall.

3) Boomerang: I don't need access to Huck Hound 12 months a year, but it's nice to have it every now and then. I'm hoping for one really cool new cartoon added before I let it go in a week or two.

4) Hulu: I really wanted to see Live in Front of a Studio Audience bur couldn't see it live. Enter...Hulu! Ramy continues to get good buzz. Hulu seems to be steadily building something. Will Disney continue this or will it introduce some radical changes?

5) Pub-D-Hub: After a spotty few months of updates, the PUB is back on track (I watched a Boston Blackie episode this week) and even launched a podcast of sorts for its customers.

6) Amazon Prime Video: A slow week for adds, but I enjoyed some Yancy Derringer and Make Room for Daddy.

7) YouTube: Did I mention that a few weeks ago someone uploaded tons of old This Week in Baseball episodes? Don't all go at once. Let's not call too much attention to it.

8) My Retro Flix: The greatest channel I kind of don't want everyone to know about has added a handful of movies for the spring.

9) Starz: If you're interested in seeing The Jeffersons, the original, here's where you need to go.

10) Sony Crackle: And here is the streaming home of All in the Family--unfortunately, only the first two seasons.

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #161

1) HBO: After the Veep finale and an acclaimed Muhammad Ali movie comes the TV event of the year, the Game of Thrones finale, and though I don't watch the show, I am kind of pleased it has totally overshadowed the end of The Big Bang Theory.

2) Netflix: I give them credit for trying with the Laugh-In special, and it's been a great resource for those of us getting ready for Endgame. There are some returning series I totally forgot about (White Gold?), but I am glad to see another season of Nailed It, which I hope to watch with my kids if I can drag them away from...

3) Boomerang: Oops. I messed up that transition. I thought I might be able to watch some classic toons with my kids, but I'm the one enjoying goofy stuff like Yogi's Ark Lark on here while they watch...

4) YouTube: Yep, here it is. Kids love, love. love YouTube. I could bemoan them watching so many videos of, say, kids playing Roblox, but can I really talk when I spend so much time watching old network TV promos?

5) Amazon Prime Video: Thanks for giving me one extra episode of Happy Days, Amazon. Now how about adding some more? It did add more Pink Panther Show, so maybe more is on the way. Also, Amazon is getting a lot of critical praise for Fleabag season 2.

6) CBS All Access: I have to admit, the end of The Big Bang Theory is a big deal, and cord cutters who want to see the last episode can go here for it.

7) Hulu: I'm looking forward to George Clooney's adaptation of Catch 22, and I should probably have this higher. but I didn't actually watch anything on here this week.

8) The CW: Here's another of my periodic reminders that if you don't want to wait for Netflix, you can see all the CW shows here for free on the app. I wonder if this will change when CW shops it shows around when that Netflix deal expires. I admit I still do find myself just waiting for ad-free Netflix sometimes.

9) Pub-D-Hub: After several weeks off, it returned with a new look and, more importantly, a new update of content, including a Boston Blackie episode.

10) I Married Joan: I sincerely love that not only did someone create a Roku channel devoted to this old Joan Davis sitcom, but they tout it with the line, "All episodes available!"

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #160

1) Netflix: As someone scrambling to catch up on the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I'm glad that most everything is right here in one convenient place. Let's not worry right now about what happens when all this stuff leaves Netflix.

2) Amazon Prime Video: Sneaky Pete is back for all you fans of things happening in 2019, but I am impressed by the addition of the first 5 seasons of Perry Mason, most of a season of Happy Days (apparently the same meager assortment available on CBS All Access), and the first 4 seasons of The Brady Bunch. Yes, the Cousin Oliver episodes are too hot to touch right now.

3) HBO: The Veep season finale and Game of Thrones keep HBO riding high.

4) Boomerang: This channel has added so much of the goofy toons of my youth in recent months, I have to give it another month. Those late Seventies/Eighties Flintstones cartoons--the Shmoo? Fred and Barney as cops? CAPTAIN CAVEMAN?  I am gonna relive them even if they are less than stellar.

5) YouTube: Forget the NBA playoffs, I think we need to look into this Houston Gamblers vs. Pittsburgh Maulers game someone uploaded here this weekend.

6) Hulu: I don't know if it's turning it into subscribers yet, but Hulu is riding a real wave of critical acclaim lately, now headlined by the sitcom Ramy.

7) MLB TV: The Pirates once again made the Free Game of the Day spot...and this time, they won!

8) Court TV: I was never a huge watcher of the cable TV version back in the day, but I didn't think it needed to be transformed into...whatever it became. It's cool to see an established channel revived as a totally free entity available in the Roku channel store.

9) Pluto TV:  Me when I first saw all the Viacom channels added to Pluto: Oh, this is lame. It's just 'curated' selections of them and nothing resembling live streams of the linear channels." Me a minute later when I noticed Beavis and Butt-head was on: "YES! "[BANGS HEAD UP AND DOWN]

10) NBC: Two things are becoming clear in my gradual Punky Brewster watch: 1) NBC was really, really high on T.K. Carter at one point. 2) I obviously have way too much free time.

Sunday, April 28, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #159

1) HBO: I thought The Case Against Adnan Syed was terrific television, and, oh, yeah, Game of Thrones. Plus the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony premieres this weekend and makes for decent background noise.

2) Criterion Channel: We're getting a better idea of what this will be going forward. It looks like there will be a nice but small addition of licensed titles in May (such as a collection of George Cukor movies). Fortunately it appears that the Channel finally fixed the big glitch that was affecting the end of many movies on the Roku version.

3) Netflix: Another week, another chance for Netflix to irritate its customers--this time by canceling The Santa Clarita Diet after 3 seasons. Interesting timing considering a Hollywood Reporter piece this week claims that Netflix's back-end money sharing with talent goes way up once an original series reaches...season 4.

4) YouTube: A lot of what I saw recently, I don't want to mention because it may end up on battle of the Network Shows (available wherever you get your podcasts!), so I will highlight this 1999 ad from Chuck's Classic TV Clubhouse:

5) Hulu: Just moving along, and it is adding a lot of reality-type shows lately. I've mainly been watching Seinfeld.

6) Philo: I am still making my way through American Soul (just saw Don declare war on Dick Clark!) and each week look forward to Viceland's Dark Side of the Ring.

7) MLB TV: Keeps putting the Pirates in that Free Game of the Day slot...and the Pirates keep losing! Is there some kind of connection?

8) Tubi TV: Added Incredible Hulk and Emergency (sadly, only the first seasons for now) plus 1980s Mr. T show T and T.

9) Amazon Prime Video: Slow week for Prime except for adding Werewolf in a Girls' Dormitory, but I have been trying to enjoy the season 1 Carol Burnett Show episodes instead of lamenting

10) GITV Classic TV Series: New free channel in the Roku store offering a bunch of classic TV episodes in the public domain and (ahem) some others as well.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings: Week #158

1) HBO: I can't keep throwing shade at Game of Thrones. No, not everyone who has a TV watches it, but everyone who has a TV and writes about TV does.

2) Criterion Channel: I continue watching the heck out of this while it's free. It doesn't look like it will improve the user experience anytime soon, but the movie selection is impressive. This week I enjoyed some Columbia Noir, some Godzilla, and a Maysles brothers documentary. I look forward to seeing what's new in May. Will we see more evidence of the Channel's willingness/ability to license films each month?

3) Hulu: Lowering prices of some of its Live TV service add-ons. Repeat: loooooowering prices.

4) Amazon Prime Video: A slow week for adds except for the new season of Bosch, which I really need to try sometime. Yes, I said that when season 4 dropped.

5) YouTube: LMAO the other day watching the "It's Raining Men Collection" from Late Night with David Letterman thanks to the great Don Giller's channel. "A certain segment of the audience finds it very entertaining. That's all I'll say about it."

6) CW: I may not have accomplished as much in April as I thought I would heading into the month, but I caught up on The Flash and Supergirl.

7) MLB TV: As I write this, I am watching the National League best (record) Pittsburgh Pirates via the Free Game of the Day!

8) Tubi: I watched the last episode of the Martin Lawrence/Kelsey Grammer Partners this week, and I won't say it's good, but...I see what it was going for. I mean, I can't believe it tanked the way it did. I can only assume it was that 10/90 deal, where FX was afraid of committing to 90 more and pulled the plug after 10 rather than gambling. Anyway, you can find this "hidden gem" on Tubi!

9) Pluto TV: It continues adding content and making deals, with stuff from new owner Viacom and its family of cable channels (MTV, Comedy Central, etc.) adding shows soon. It really should bring back the "hide/favorite channels" feature, though, because sooooo many of the live channel options are garbage.

10) Netflix: I got an email saying basically, "You know why we are raising your prices?" And the answer was something dumb like, "To better the service." Thanks for the insight. Meanwhile, a story comes out that Netflix is giving 60 million bucks to BeyoncĂ©. I realize many are excited about her Homcecoming special, but to me, that is a colossal waste of money and an insult at a time when my subscription rate is going up. It seems like for every deal that sounds interesting, Netflix makes 2 or 3 that just sound like it is tossing money at something I will never watch.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #157

1) Disney+: It doesn't even exist yet, but a lot of potential customers can't wait till it does. Disney won the week with a spectacular presentation that had people salivating, all topped with the announcement of a $7/month price point. Even if the content disappoints (and unlike DC Universe, it isn't going to roll out one measly episode each week), that price makes this a no-brainer for millions of families who can afford another streaming service. It also serves as a first strike against companies like Direct TV and Comcast, who you just know are hoping to dive in with their own streamers with half the content at twice the price.

2) Criterion Channel: It was almost overshadowed by Disney, but this new outfit, after a shaky first day, had a successful launch and already captured the hearts of many film lovers. It's too expensive and has a ways to go with its user interface, but it is accomplishing what it wants to do creatively.

3) HBO: If I were a Game of Thrones nut, this would be higher, but I'm one of the folks who aren't. Yes, despite media coverage, there are lots of people who haven't been watching the show.

4) Amazon Prime: Donald Glover's Guava Island premiered, but I was fascinated by the addition of Hollywood Backstage, a 1960s syndicated magazine-style show that aired on American Movie Classics years ago.

5) Netflix: Disney's price point sure makes you want to take another look at how much you're getting out of your Netflix sub, especially on a week like this where the debuting originals don't look all that appealing.

6) WWE: Coasting off another big WrestleMania weekend and will likely drop out next week, but news that it is going to add more 1980s Mid-South TV is encouraging.

7) Philo/Sling (tie): This week's announcement by YouTube TV that it was adding the less-desirable channels Philo carries and jacking up its price 25%, coupled with Sling running a big sale, will have a lot of people taking a look at combining these two services for their live TV needs.

8) Pub-D-Hub: Makes its return to the list with a convenient selection of Easter-themed material, plus a fun episode of Love That Bob I saw this week.

9) Hoopla: It announced a new deal with the BBC to bring more television shows free to users who can participate through their libraries.

10) CBS All Access: Sneaks into the list again due to continued buzz for The Twilight Zone, plus Star Trek Discovery and The Good Fight continuing and the NCAA hoops final on Monday. And, oh, yeah, I want to punish YouTube for raising YTTV's price 10 bucks a month.

Monday, April 8, 2019

'Mooners Monday: Remember when TBS got the Lost Episodes?

I never thought of The Honeymooners as a TBS show, and I still don't, but it was a big deal when they got basic cable rights (Showtime had the initial rights for premium cable) to the Lost Episodes. I think for those of us who grew up watching the Classic 39 on WPIX, it was weird to see any version of the series on any other outlet!

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #156

1) Amazon Prime Video: One of the best Prime weeks ever for fans of vintage TV. Yes, I was disappointed that the collection of Bob Hope specials was virtually all Christmas ones--let's get some variety in there--but I can't complain about season one of The Carol Burnett Show and a bunch of Red Skelton Hour shows, and I hope all of these collections add more episodes soon.

In addition, The Joey Bishop Show is new, along with the obscurities Tucker's Witch (1982) and an old sitcom called Love & Marriage starring the great William Demarest! It's cool that a new season of The Tick debuts this weekend, but this week was all about this older programming.

2) WWE: Normally I'd put WWE at #1 since this is its biggest week of the year with WrestleMania and associated events, but, come on--William Demarest! I'd actually be more likely to resub to WWE for the vintage Mania press conferences it uploaded this week.

3) CBS All Access: I think the reviews for Jordan Peele's The Twilight Zone are all over the place, but the series got CBS a ton of attention this week. Kudos to CBS for making the first episode available for free online, too.

4) Netflix: It's actually a big weekend, with new season of Sabrina,  the debut of prestige Attenborough series Our Planet, and Unicorn Room, Brie Larson's feature directing debut. I was all over The Ranch, though. I'm still way behind, but here's an unpopular opinion: the show is much funnier than One Day at a Time.

Speaking of that series, stories circulated this week that Netflix is blocking a pickup of the canceled show by CBS All Access. Amazing that CBS can somehow look like a good guy here. Combine stories like this with the rate hikes, and I'm just getting a little Netflix fatigue. I'm even toying with the idea of doing the unthinkable and canceling it at some point and making it part of a rotation of services instead of a monthly given.

5) Hulu: It's getting some moderate buzz for its recent originals like The Act, and while that sounds like faint praise, it's better than no buzz. Personally, I'm glad for Hulu so I can catch up on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

6) YouTube: Here's another from the Anecodotal Evidence Department: Not only do my kids seem to want to watch only (or most mostly) YouTube, it seems like their friends are more focused on YouTubers than on traditional "TV shows." Disney and Nickelodeon are feeling it now, but in another decade or so, it will be all the other channels feeling it, right?

7) MLB TV: I remember when I used to think that the Free Game of the Day almost always featured two random sucky teams with little national interest or chance of contending. That's why it was so gratifying to see the Pirates show up twice--hey, wait a minute!

8) HBO: I finally watched Wonder Woman (solid, but I don't envision a need to see it again) and started the Adnan Syed docuseries (I'm very impressed by the first chapter).

9) Roku Channel: New for April: Grudge Match (I have to give in and watch this now, I think), Willy Wonka, Tin Cup, and others. It gave me some nice background viewing in The Patty Duke Show when Shout! TV wouldn't work all last week.

10) Criterion Channel: The eagerly awaited new service for film lovers begins tomorrow. It promises hundreds of titles, but it hasn't released a lot of details about exactly how much of the Criterion Collection will be available. We'll have to see tomorrow. I know a lot of people will be all over it.

Sunday, March 31, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #155

1) Hulu: First it cut prices. Now it is reducing commercials. What a novel strategy--trying to appeal to customers by making the product more attractive.

2) MLB TV: Baseball is back! MLB did me a solid by making the Pirates the free game of the day, but if you want to check out the whole season, an annual sub is yours for the price of $140, which, rumors to the contrary, is indeed less than the Pirates' 2019 payroll.

3) Netflix: Any hopes I had that the Lori Loughlin scandal would make Netflix pull Fuller House were squashed as my kids continued their third or fourth series rewatch. Meanwhile, Santa Clarita Diet launches season 3 (!) this weekend, and I am interested in Kevin Costner and Woody Harrelson in The Highwaymen, a movie about the guys who pursued Bonnie and Clyde.

4) YouTube: Lots of great old stuff showed up here this week, with my favorite being this match courtesy of the great Monsoon Classic:

I was mad about this match and the result for--well, I still get upset thinking about it! I was glad to review the original broadcast experience, though.

5) Boomerang: It added the most content I can remember in some time, throwing up Captain Cavemen and the Teen Angels and several of the NBC Flintstones revivals, like The Flintstones Comedy Show. I actually kind of want to sigh up for a month to check some of this out now.

6) Philo: My current jam is American Soul on BET, which I can see through Philo. On another note, AMC on Demand is the absolute worst as far as commercial interruptions go--ads early and often, including the same Killing Eve trailer twice during the same break. If you think that's gonna get people to buy AMC Premium, you are wrong. It's just gonna annoy people.

7) Locast: I was glad to be able to sit down and watch some of the NCAA Tournament through Locast, only to find out I had screwed up and missed the game I wanted to see.

8) HBO: Welcome back, Barry and Veep! I liked 2017's 3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, which I caught before it exited the service this week.

9) Sling TV: It's offering some heavy discounts to grab new subs, and it also added MLB Network just in time for the season. In a period in which DirectTV Now and Fubo are hiking their prices, Sling deserves credit for looking the other way.

10) PIX11: The good news is it finished its Only in New York documentary series and also added a 1990 tribute to Phil Rizzuto. The bad news is, wow, it had some big-time buffering issues on my Roku the other day.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #154

1) Tubi TV: It really is happening! Universal series like The A-Team, The Bionic Woman, and Magnum P.I. are showing up here. The deal was announced just a few weeks ago, and it's good to see it going into effect so soon. Fingers crossed for Kojak and Quincy, everyone.

2) DC Universe: I watched a while lot of DCU last week since my trial period was expiring, but I was a little surprised at how unceremoniously it ended. When I canceled, there was no attempt to lure me back--no discount, not even a "Are you SURE?" screen. Just, OK, see you. On one hand, I appreciate the ease of terminating it. I was a little surprised they were so cavalier about it, though.

3) Hulu: Quiet week for Hulu, bit it's a quiet week all around. Right now I'm just hoping Disney, which now has primary control, doesn't screw up a service that has improved year after year.

4) Netflix: I can't pretend to know anything about The OA or that it was getting another season, but it's back, along with a biopic based on the Motley Crue book The Dirt, a tome so sleazy I had to put it down for a while. Also debuting: a lot of foreign series and (noooooo) a reality show about real estate sales.

5) YouTube: I really don't know what the 1985 Miss Hollywood Pageant is, but I appreciate that someone posted the whole thing (apparently), and I may well end up watching it.

6) The CW: I may be wrong on this, but I think the commercial load on here is smaller than it is in the CW on demand versions I got on YouTube TV.

7) Criterion Channel: This upcoming SVOD service launches April 8 but generated excitement this week with a list of its special programming selections planned for its debut month. It looks like it will replicate the spirit and curation of Filmstruck, and it will be licensing titles from a wide variety of sources. That's the good news. The bad news is 11 bucks a month is probably too expensive for this kind of service...but we'll see what it offers when it premieres.

8) Pix 11: The cool "Only in New York" true crime series continues this week with a look at the 1987 Joel Steinberg case. These mini-docs combine modern perspectives with archival WPIX footage.

9) Philo: I will be exploring this "Sling without news and sports" (gross oversimplification, but not totally off base) service more in the coming weeks, but it's getting a lot of attention from cordcutters disgusted with DirectTV Now's latest price hikes.

10) Ed Wood Channel: This new Roku channel looks as low budget as it gets, but isn't that appropriate? At least you get a big batch of Ed Wood movies all in one spot.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #153

1) Netflix: A motley assortment of originals gets the headlines this week--Idris Elba is a DJ in a sitcom, a Ben Affleck heist movie, new seasons of Queer Eye and Arrested Development. Hey, remember when Arrested Development was a thing? Personally I stuck to a few scattered episodes of originals and my comfort food of classic sitcoms. My kids suddenly turning to Fuller House yet again makes me wish Netflix would use the Lori Loughlin scandal as a way to just pull the entire series.

2) Hulu: It premiered Shrill this week, added the Oscar-winning doc Free Solo, and announced a bundle deal  in conjunction with Spotify. Its live-TV service is bound to get a lot of new subscribers, too, given AT&T's apparent desire to drive everyone away from its DirectTV Now.

3) DC Universe: I always support FREE here, and DC gets credit for making first episodes of its original productions available without membership. I've been exploring some of the weirder corners of the DC world, like Wonder Woman going undercover as a singer and Superboy tangling with Gilbert Gottfried.

4) Amazon Prime: Debuts the final season of Catastrophe this weekend. I think I've added about two dozen Discovering... documentaries about movie stars in recent weeks; maybe I should start watching them. Perhaps the oddest thing added this week--and that says a lot given how much junk shows up on here--is an episode of a 1966 San Fran children's show hosted by...Anton LaVey!

5) PIX11: After months of adding nothing of interest (meaning archival footage) to its Roku channel, PIX unveiled the first two installments of its Only in New York digital series--mini documentaries about true crime subjects of interests to New Yorkers. The Goetz subway shooting was first up. This is cool free stuff. In a nice little touch, in the wake of the announcement that Tom Seaver was retiring from public life for health reasons, PIX also added a vintage clip of Tom Seaver in the Yankees broadcast booth.

6) CBS All Access: It's giving away codes for a free month again, but it also showed some momentum this week with Star Trek: Discovery ending and The Good Fight beginning.

7) HBO: It's now included in the main DirectTV Now packages, which would be good if it weren't part of a massive price hike. I watched The Darkest Hour this week, which isn't an outstanding movie but which has that compelling Gary Oldman performance as Winnie Churchill.

8) Acorn TV: Its new series Manhunt with Martin Clunes looks like a worthwhile endeavor.

9) YouTube: Does anyone else think that we'd be talking a lot more about the stupid aspects of YT if not for Facebook and Twitter?

10) Tubi TV: I'm gonna be eager for those old Universal shows, but Tubi just added the short-lived but intriguing Showtime series Roadies. That's good for people like me who don't have Showtime, but it certainly makes Showtime look small time.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #152

Welcome once again to the longest-running weekly feature...on this blog.

1) Netflix: My latest temporary deep dive is Frasier, and, wow, the more I rewatch it, the more I think the series is actually underrated. Netflix also debuted Ricky Gervais' new series and a Clark Johnson joint starring Alfre Woodard (Juanita) that sounds like the kind of movie people who lament the lack of "serious" movies in the theater ought to watch.

2) Hulu: Now that I don't have YouTube TV but remain without cable, I have renewed appreciation for Hulu stockpiling current shows like Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

3) Amazon Prime Video: Tin Star season 2 premiered this weekend, but honestly I'm more likely to watch Stingray, which also came to Prime this week. The Stephen J. Cannell shows have found a HOME on Prime!

4) YouTube: I don't have YouTube TV, but I still marvel at how much my children seek out YT over any other content source these days, including Netflix. A little Disney Now, yes, but, man, that Disney + can't come fast enough if the company wants to keep its grip on the young'uns.

Plus one of the channels I subscribe to posted episodes of Star Search and partial episodes of The Morton Downey Jr. Show and The Byron Allen Show.

5) DC Universe: If you're watching some of the new original live-action programming on here and you worry about what kind of budget they have to work with, well, just watch the old syndicated Adventures of Superboy episodes in the library.

6) Parsons Jarrett Wrestling: Non-wrestling fans, bear with me. This is a brand-new totally free Roku channel offering samplings from many of the big territories whose tape libraries are not controlled by WWE, plus some added value in the form of new intros and interviews. Best new channel to hit Roku in months.

7) The CW: See #2.

8) Shout! Factory TV: I continue to explore the fascinating time capsule that is the 1970s PBS series Soul!  which offers Stokely Carmichael in one episode and Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes in the next.

9) HBO: It should have been a great week for HBO with the deserved buzz for eviscerating Jacko witn the Finding Neverland documentary, another eagerly anticipated doc in The Case Against Adnan Sayed, and making the Internet go crazy with yet another Game of Thrones trailer. Yet there's an air of sadness because AT&T is making its presence felt, and just about everyone assumes it will ruin HBO. Let's enjoy it will while we can!

10) NBC: Starz might have earned a slot due to the premiere of season 2 of American Gods, but I lost track of how many reviews spotlighted some variation of the word "boring." So instead, NBC gets in due to me actually putting some of their "Throwback" shows on as background this week...and kudos to them for leaving so much library content up for free.

Sunday, March 3, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #151

Let's get to it, folks. This was such a big week for news and events that the usual first-of-the-month add assortment doesn't have the impact it normally would.

1) YouTube/YouTube TV: Let's give a final shout to YouTube TV, which I think is by far the best overall cordcutter live TV service (I haven't tried Hulu yet). I am saying goodbye to it for now, but I am pleased to learn I can pause my membership and keep my settings AND DVR recordings for several months in case I want to reactivate it later.  On price, channel lineup, overall performance, and especially the unlimited DVR, I think YouTube TV bests everyone else out there that I have sampled.

2) Hulu: I did start diving into Hulu this past week, and the service dropped it's base subscription by two bucks, which warrants a high spot in any list. Plus the live TV part of it reportedly passed DirectTV Now by reaching 2 million subscribers, now trailing only Sling.

3) Netflix: Netflix is only number 3 because of extraordinary circumstances.  I got on a big Friends roll again this week, and more importantly, the streamer did so well at the Oscars (most notably Alfonso Cuaron's Best Director win for Roma) that Steven Spielberg felt the need to declare that IT MUST BE STOPPED.

4) Amazon Prime Video: Any other week, Amazon might be higher on the strength of new original series The Widow with Kate Beckinsale (though I heard surprisingly little buzz about it), plus the entire run of Little House on the Prairie, The Practice/Boston Legal, and The Unit.

5) Tubi TV: Kudos to Tubi--ad supported but free, remember--for announcing a major licensing deal with Comcast/NBC/Universal/Woody Woodpecker/Whatever it is that will bring old series like Magnum P.I. and Battlestar Galactica, plus others that haven't been rebooted (why no Punky Brewster V 2.0?) to the service. Tubi ain't messing around, and there go my fears that Comcast would save all its library content for its OWN forthcoming streaming service.

6) DC Universe: Doom Patrol seems to be holding strong, but I am checking out the original Young Justice on here, a show I didn't "get" the first time around.

7) HBO: The explosive Jacko documentary is making headlines, plus it debuts Skyscraper, which on one hand is a "see it in a theater" movie but on the other seems like a "wait for HBO" movie. I final saw Justice League on here this week, too. W

8) Disney Now: I sure hope my kids aren't too bummed when they find out I don't have authentication through YT anymore.

9) MLB TV: Because baseball is back1 Yes, exhibition games, but it's baseball!

10) Starz: I give it props for adding Good Times and re-adding Diff'rent Strokes to its Starz Black channel as well as the on demand offerings on the network and the app.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #150 (Special "150 is a cool round number" Edition)

Hello, readers! It's a quick one this week as I prepare to maybe semi-watch the Academy Awards,

1) Netflix: The Umbrella Academy looks like a hit, and Netflix also unleashed some other stuff of interest, but for me, it was all about watching some things with my kids and getting back into the easily watchable Friends. I wonder if a lot of people are sufficiently spooked by the prospect of the forthcoming Warner/AT&T service to just watch as much of the show now.

2) Amazon Prime Video: I buzzed through another season of Corner Gas, and Amazon keeps adding some interesting-looking older documentaries about movie stars like Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, and the like. The new docuseries This Giant Beast may well make the economy entertaining fodder (and not just confusing and/or depressing). I continue to be intrigued by oddball stuff that shows up like The Mighty Kong, a 1998 animated straight-to-video effort starring Dudley Moore. Honestly, I don't think I knew Moore was even alive in 1998.

3) Hulu: I dipped a toe into Hulu Appreciation Week but didn't really commit beyond a Seinfeld or two. After this coming week, I will no longer have YouTube TV, though, and will rely on Hulu for the current shows I watch, like...Wait, none of those shows come to Hulu. Well, there's always Seinfeld.

4) YouTube/YouTube TV: I have one more week of YTTV to enjoy, and I am trying to clear my DVR. I am loving all the content on one of my favorite channels--one devoted to vintage MLB footage and games--but I fear it's pushing it with some of the stuff it's uploading and is risking trouble. So forget I mentioned it.

5) DC Universe: Doom Patrol is a bona fide hit, and I am exploring some more of the service's library. Yes, reports are that actual subscriber base is low, but I am enjoying this at the reduced price I enjoy right now.

6) Roku Channel: Roku had a very good week on Wall Street due in part to the ad revenue (present and future potential) generated by this.

7) Pluto TV: I have no interest in watching live red carpet coverage of the Academy Awards, but People TV or whatever is offering that on Pluto, and Pluto is proud of it. So if you're anxious to see what Richard E. Grant and Marina de Tavira are wearing, this might be your shot.

8) HBO: I've been catching up on some movies here (Funny People--interesting in spots but too long and doesn't really come together for me), but HBO is also running an original movie with Jeffrey Wright (O.G.). It's a slow week for streaming, but it looks like HBO will have a strong March.

9) Showtime: Desus and Mero debuted on the channel this week and just may deliver more buzz and young viewers to Showtime than anything else in recent memory/

10) Epix: Let's close out the trifecta of premium services with Epix, which launched a standalone SVOD network recently to practically no reaction. I don't see how this can thrive unless it beefs up its original programming and lets its movie deal die (right now, all its big movies go to Hulu and Prime several months later), but more power to them. Personally I wish there was one less big outlet and all this stuff were consolidated a bit, but if Epix is going to exist, it should be available without a cable subscription.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #149: Special Pre-Presidents Day Edition

1) Amazon Prime Video: It continues quietly adding good stuff. This week alone, it unveiled 80s shows Wiseguy, Crime Story, and The Greatest American Hero. I have a nice routine of watching Corner Gas, and Amazon started teasing its upcoming Lord of the Rings series.

But I don't care HOW good it is, I ain't watching this Lorena Bobbitt docuseries. Uh-uh, nohow, no way.

2) Netflix:  It was another eclectic week of adds, with a documentary about flat-earthers, a Studio 54 doc, The Umbrella Academy, and more. I didn't watch any of that, mind you, but I got my money's worth elsewhere on the service this week.

3) DC Universe: A big week for DCU with the premiere of Doom Patrol, its second original live-action series and the recipient of some good reviews. Plus Wonder Woman thwarted an effort to revive Nazi world domination plans! Granted, she actually did that 40 years ago, but I watched it this week.

4) YouTube/YouTube TV: One of my favorite YT channels is Highlight Heaven, which finds compelling ways to compile sports clips. A recent example is this collection of "Knowing the rules" plays. You'll understand when you see it:

5) HBO: The service debuted Deadpool 2 and continued to psyche people up for Game of Thrones. Meanwhile, I watched the just-premiered Nick Buonoconti documentary (typically classy HBO Sports-type production) and Battle of the Sexes (I was disappointed and felt it didn't really capture the excitement of the Billie Jean King/Bobby Riggs spectacle).

6) Hulu: Last week I declared it time for a personal Hulu Appreciation Week!

Well, that didn't happen. But Hulu added Dharma and Greg, which will not be part of my appreciation week, which will start tomorrow. More interesting is the announcement of a series of connected (everything has to be "shared" and "connected" these days) Marvel Comics animated shows coming to Hulu. That one surprised everyone, I think.

7) NewsNet: Here's a refreshing new channel on Roku (and other platforms). It aims to be like the old Headline News--straight news every half-hour without talking heads and opinion. I saw 8 minutes of it, and I can't imagine the kind of kook who would think this was liberally or conservatively slanted. It's being done on the cheap, but it's being done.

8) Slacker Radio: I prefer the oldies on TuneIn, but my kids like Slacker. They also seem to like skipping the songs I like, but I don't think they are doing it on purpose. Not totally.

9) Curiosity Stream: It announced it raised $140 million in new funding, which bodes well for its short-term viability. It seems committed to continuing and spending money on new programming.

10) CBS All Access: They offered me another free month, which I graciously declined (by ignoring the email), but I appreciated the offer and would gladly take it in the near future. They sure do want to keep those sub #s up there.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

What I want to see from the streamers in 2019 (Part 2)

After we called for it here on the blog, Hulu added The Bob Newhart Show last week. Clearly this blog is an influencer.

Never mind that it was announced as coming in July 2017 and was pretty much inevitable.

What wish will come true next? Perhaps one of these shows I would like to see on SVOD in 2019:

Starz: It has ongoing deals with NBC/Universal, but it is swapping shows out. It just "traded" A-Team and Magnum P.I. for Miami Vice and Knight Rider, two shows that were already on NBC's site. How about adding a series no one else offers right now, like Columbo or Rockford Files?

NBC: Speaking of which...I know Concast is planning its own streaming service, and maybe it's saving the likes of the aforementioned Columbo and Rockford, but I have another suggestion: NBC has a lot of sci-fi/fantasy shows available, but not a lot of classic cop/detective action. Might I suggest Kojak? 3 seasons were on Hulu for years, but now the whole series is in streaming limbo.

Crackle: Fantasy Island appeared on Crackle a few years ago for a few months, only a handful of episodes, and then disappeared, never to return. Never...until now! The cheesy ABC staple would make a nice streaming option for Crackle, which I often forget even exists. Does Sony still remember it exists?

Shout! Factory TV: Do they have streaming rights to It's Garry Shandling's Show? If not, who does? Shout!'s complete series box set is apparently out of print and selling for ridiculous prices at that certain major online retailer. Come to think of it, the Season One set is too expensive for 16 half-hour episodes.

This is a classic show that deserves wider exposure. I would love to see Shout! Factory make this available on its website. I hoped HBO's Shandling documentary would give his pre-Larry Sanders effort a boost (even if Garry himself was ambivalent about it), but so far, nada.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #148: Hey, wait, football's over? Edition

You know, the NFL still hasn't figured out how to put up a free, worthwhile streaming channel. Time to move on, though, and get ready for the national pastime.

1) Netflix: I am interested in the newest edition of music docuseries ReMastered, this one focusing on the great Sam Cooke, and also debuting are the new season of critical favorite woke-com One Day at a Time, a Kevin Hart comedy special, a Steven Soderbergh basketball drama, and a new season of Nailed It. For me, the real value of Netflix this week was unwinding after hard days at work with some commercial-free sitcom reruns.

2) Hulu: It apparently made some kind of big hubbub with an egg and a Super Bowl ad, but here we like to celebrate content, and after me complaining for months--hey, mere days after I called for it here on the blog--Hulu finally added the rest of The Bob Newhart Show. Yes, THAT is what I want my willpower to influence--reruns on streaming video. That's much more exciting than success, fame, fortune, or romance.

I think I am going to declare a Hulu Appreciation Week to get back into the service and watch some of the stuff I praised it for acquiring in 2018. So look for this to have a high spot next week, too.

3) Amazon Prime Video: I don't know if this White Dragon is any good, but it looks interesting, as does acclaimed movie Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far on Foot.

4) YouTube/YouTube TV: I am loving the old baseball game uploads, like the 1972 playoffs.

5) Shout! TV: I enjoyed another few episodes of Soul!  but I am disappointed that Shout! didn't bring back Black Omnibus for February.

6) CBS All Access: CBS gets credit for being an easy (but pricy) streaming home for big events the last two weeks: the Super Bowl and the Grammys. After this, though, CBS, you have to start bringing good shows!

7) HBO: I'm very much looking forward to Won't You Be My Neighbor, which is this weekend's movie premiere.

8) DC Universe: I watched the Doom Patrol episode of Titans, which was interesting enough not only to rekindle my interest in Titans, but also to make me look forward to the upcoming Doom Patrol series.

9) ESPN+: It announced reaching 2 million subscribers, which a very impressive number considering how young it is and even more impressive if it's a real number. Oh, I am sure they have had 2 million subscribers, but how many were free riders who quit after the trial?

10) Adventures in Paradise: I'm not sure the world needed a small Roku channel devoted to showing grungy-looking episodes of the 1959-1962 Gardner McKay series, but the program created by James Michener will never be on DVD, so enjoy it while you can.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #147 "Enjoy the Big Game" Edition

Everyone is gonna be glued to the Big Game tonight...except those who aren't. Here are some of the streaming alternatives if you're just not interested in the Big Game (and a few if you ARE).

1) Netflix: Let's face it, it was a hell of a week for Netflix, and not just because my kids have somehow gotten into Total Drama Island reruns. The company unveiled a snazzy new opening animation, it added a slew of movies like the Jaws flicks, and it debuted a bunch of originals. All this, plus the premieres of The Incredibles 2 and Ant-Man and the Wasp. Boy, it would sure be a shame if anything ever happened to keep Netflix from getting those Disney movies, wouldn't it?

I didn't even watch any of this stuff, but in my defense I discovered John Amos had a recurring role on The Ranch, so it's time for me to catch up on that one. I see very good reviews for Russian Doll and Jake Gylenhaal's Velvet Buzzsaw seems to be generating some buzz. I also like that Netflix created a movie section spotlighting award winners like its own Roma. Sure, it's self-congratulatory to an extent, but it's a nice tool for viewers, and it reminds us that it has more Oscar winners and contenders than maybe we remembered/realized (Pulp Fiction, East of Eden, Annie Hall, The Graduate, and others).

2) Amazon Prime Video: A great week for Prime, too, even without a new Poirot series starring John Malkovich. It added a ton of Sony/Columbia classics, from really big ones like Holiday and Born Yesterday to obscure ones that I don't think even made it to Sony's MOD DVD program. Its February 1 catalog drop featured a lot of the usual MGM titles that bounce around all over the place, like some of the Bond movies, but also less traveled ones like The Matrix trilogy and The Blues Brothers. I also see Prime is quietly adding a bunch of Monogram movies including Charlie Chan and Bowery Brothers flicks.

3) Locast: This service is great: A non-profit venture designed to get local broadcast stations to viewers free. It just arrived in my area, it's on Roku, and it's a great option to anyone who doesn't want cable but wants to see local affiliates...and maybe watch, say, the Big Game! The annoying thing is the 5-second promo/donation request that loads every single time you load a channel, but I will say it again: this is FREE. Check for availability in your area, and enjoy it while you can because I'm sure this irritates the hell out of the broadcasters, who will spend big bucks to squash this.

4) DC Universe: I am finally starting to get some value out of my trial membership, and the service is slowly coming around a bit. It's cool that it debuted new DC Animated Universe movie Reign of the Supermen last week, and though I am not overwhelmed by Titans, I'm going to stick with it.

5) YouTube/YouTube TV: This week I caught up with some old promos and commercials, like this one for Good Morning America and local Kanas City news. I love it when local ads from markets like KC turn up on YT. I mean, I grew up on New York stations and enjoy the nostalgia, but it's nice to see vintage material from different markets. People had VCRs in the Midwest, too, right?

6) Hulu: A slow week for Hulu, mind you, but it did reportedly spend a ton of money for a big ad to air during the Big Game.

7) NBC: Two confessions, both equally shameful: 1) I watched more Charles in Charge this week. 2) Willie Aames made me laugh out loud.

8) Shout! Factory TV: It rolled out another big update for February 1, including a ton of genre and cult movies.

9) Tubi TV: I continued my celebration of Black History Month by watching another episode of the ill-fated Martin Lawrence/Kelsey Grammer sitcom Partners. Why am I spending so much time on stuff like this and Charles in Charge when I have all that Netflix content to watch?

10) CBS All Access: If you don't have an antenna setup, cable or satellite, or Locast, here's one way you can watch the Big Game.

Oh, what am I doing? I'm not selling mattresses or pizzas or whatever. It's not the Big Game. It's the Super Bowl. SUPER BOWL. It's the SUUUUUUUUUUUUUPERRRRRR BOWLLLLLLL!

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #146

I could give you a long explanation for the lateness of the rankings this week, but...I won't. Let's keep it simple. In fact, the rankings this week reflect the current "tidying" craze. It's all about simplicity.

1) Hulu: Two words: Price decrease. I don't care what the rationale is, and, yes, the live TV package is going up, but for me, the $2 cut to the base package is a most welcome surprise.

2) YouTube/YouTubeTV: I was going to cut YTTV after the playoffs, but I miscalculated/forgot the billing date, and, hey, I got it for another month! That isn't a ringing endorsement, but it does guarantee I will be watching a whole lot of it this month and trying to clear the DVR in anticipation of my next "forgot to cancel in time" milestone.

On regular, old YouTube, an uploader gave us tons of old baseball games from 1984, including playoffs; and 1981, including a random Pirates/Astros game. Just the thing for sports fans who would rather hear about Tom Brookens than Tom Brady this week.

3) Netflix: The aforementioned Marie Kondo tidying up craze is really out of hand and it shows how Netflix really dominates the culture these days. Oh, yes, plus there is the fact that Roma is the frontrunner for the Best Picture at the Academy Awards. Yet we haven't forgotten about the price increase, Netflix, nor the fact that you somehow felt it necessary to present a series that gives us Ted Bundy's "side of the story."

4) Amazon Prime Video: Big run for Mrs.Maisel at the SAG Awards livens up a relatively slow week, and I am sure a lot more people are watching Baywatch than will cop to it.

5) Pluto TV: Viacom bought Pluto for $340 million, which sounds bad for viewers (many of whom assume that it's good-bye, free Pluto) but sounds pretty darned good for Pluto.

6) Shout! TV: I celebrated Dr. King's birthday with two episodes of seminal 1970s PBS showcase Soul!  And also with multiple episodes of What's Happening!!, which I think he would have loved.

7) WWE Network: It just had one of its biggest events, the annual Royal Rumble, and reportedly is getting a lot of eyeballs for its recent drop of Superstars from 1992.

8) DC Universe: Recent metrics indicate Titans and Young Justice are two of the most popular shows on streaming video right now. I don't believe that, of course, unless DC has somehow rigged the system, but I feel like I should give at least some credit.

9) Pub-D-Hub: It gave us an unspectacular update this weekend, but it was an update, and it's good these folks seem to back on schedule.

10) CBS All Access: Hey, cord cutters, here's a way to get the "big game" this weekend if you don't have a good antenna set-up.

Thursday, January 24, 2019

What I want to see from the streamers in 2019 (Part 1)

In this series of posts, I will name one specific thing--usually a classic show of some kind--that I personally would like to see (and that is halfway reasonable to expect!) on each service in 2019.

Hulu: This is easy: The rest of The Bob Newhart Show. This was promised years ago, yet there are still only the first 3 seasons. We finally got St. Elsewhere in 2018; it's long past time for the other half of Newhart's best series.

CBS All-Access: I said it before, and now I say it again: A perfect add for this channel is Mannix--tons of episodes, already on DVD, ready to go. BUT I am going to say Love Boat or the rest of Happy Days. SOME of season 2 for a show that was on forever--and, boy, was Happy Days on forever--just doesn't cut it.

WWE Network: It's astonishing how underrepresented the expansion era is on the Network. Even before Hulk Hogan's self-inflicted exile from the organization's good graces, there was a notable lack of 1980s archival WWF.

The Network just added 30-some episodes of WWF Superstars from 1992 because the earlier incarnation known as Superstars of Wrestling has legal issues with the title, but there's no reason its predecessor, Championship Wrestling, can't be uploaded in full. If the Network can't find a way to get its original flagship up, then add the rest of All-Star Wrestling up through the Wrestling Challenge years. As sleazy as the bringing back of Hulk Hogan has been, at least maybe they might have the impetus to add more of the eighties to the Network.

DC Universe: I'm already disappointed at the fact that this fledgling streamer is rotating content (a nicer way of saying it regularly removes stuff). Even if we accept that as a thing, why doesn't DC put the 1960s Aquaman cartoons up to accompany the similar Filmation Superman episodes it offers? Now is the time, right? I don't see much reason to save them for the DVD release of the movie. Also, there is a small batch of Super Friends that is inexplicably missing from the current available lineup.

Amazon Prime Video: The apparent ongoing deal with Warner Brothers for older stuff that brought Kung Fu and The Dukes of Hazzard to Prime last year means this one could--nay, SHOULD be a reality in 2019: Night Court.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #145 (Special MLK Day Weekend Edition)

We all know that there is no better way to honor the late Dr. King than to sit on your duff and watch TV, so here we go:

1) Hulu: Hulu finally got a big victory of sorts over Netflix by surprising everyone and unveiling a competing Fyre Festival documentary days before the premiere of Netflix's original. I like the idea of there being a little one-upsmanship between the two companies. I especially like the idea of Hulu not raising its prices (see #10).

2) YouTube/YouTube TV: Big Cultureshark ups to the person who started uploading Misfits of Science last week.

3) Amazon Prime Video: I am going to fold IMDB Freeview into here until/unless it does more to establish itself independently (like create a stand-alone Roku channel).  I see it as significant added value for now. Speaking of that, we get another streaming surprise--there are always items that never show up on the "Here's what's coming to __" lists that circulate--the 9 non-Hawaii seasons (the "classic years"?) of Baywatch. It's supposedly remastered for high-def, which means stripped of all the original if that matters. Public service announcement: Yasmine Bleeth joins as a regular in season 5.

In other news, Car 54, Where Are You? is now on Prime. Joe E. Ross is no Yasmine Bleeth, but this show is a welcome addition.

4) The CW: Hey, remember the CW app? I'm sure glad I did because my recording of the third part of the Arrowverse Elseworlds crossover inexplicably disappeared from my DVR library, forcing me to head here to see it.

5) HBO: I just can't get excited about the likes of Crashing and High Maintenance, but this upcoming documentary about Jimmy Breslin and Pete Hamill sounds good, and all the Sopranos nostalgia flying around lately reminds us that

6) Showtime: HBO's perpetual neglected sibling returns with new episodes of SMILF and Shameless plus the debut of Don Cheadle's Wall Street period comedy Black Monday and a big (bigger 5 years ago, I guess) fight between Manny Pacquiao and Adrian Broner. I hear Emmy Rossum's Shameless character "continues her downward spiral." Hasn't she been on a downward spiral ever since the series began?

7) CBS All Access: Star Trek: Discovery returns, and I bet a significant percentage of this channel's subscriber base does, too.

8) ESPN Plus: The UFC/ESPN relationship officially began with a big card that unfortunately featured known scumbag Greg Hardy.

9) FilmRise: A lot of the content here is available on other platforms, but it's here in one place (with ads, of course). I haven't tested it yet, but I think it's good to remind everyone that, as an example, Batman (1966) is here and free (with ads, natch).

10) Netflix: Dropping the company out of the ratings altogether would damage the credibility of this prestigious list, so I am not doing that. Netflix deserves punishment, though, for planning its biggest price hike ever, and not all that long after its last one. It's terrible news and, as the industry leader, it may give other outlets "cover" to institute price hikes.

I hate seeing all the apologists say, "Oh, it's still a great deal." So what? It's still a big price hike as a percentage, and it's legitimate to complain about it. "Big deal. There's so much content on there." Yeah, and how much of it do you want to watch? Did they really need to spend so, so much on deals with the Obamas and the Murphys and Shonda Rimes? Maybe they did, long term, but I might not watch any of that stuff. "They have to do this because other companies won't give them their content anymore." Yeah, partly because Netflix is throwing cash at all the original productions. Netflix decided to go this route.

OK, you got me: This mini-rant is really just another excuse to complain about Netflix losing Quincy.

Saturday, January 12, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #144 "Baby It's Cold Outside" edition

I am not one to judge a decades-old song by 2019 standards unless it is a lot more blatantly offensive. I just don't see much use in it. What I DO like to gripe about is the weather. Now, THAT is somewhere I can make a difference. So consider this my official demand that spring arrive early and winter get out of here.

The cold weather does provide an excuse to catch some more streaming video, though...

1) Netflix: Roma and The Kaminsky Method were big winners at the Golden Globes and helped create the perception of a big night for the company. Originals include the returning Friends at College (Apparently someone likes that show) and a Chevy Chase/Richard Dreyfuss film (come on, you're curious), and Solo keeps the Disney movie pipeline flowing. Speaking of that, I finally watched Rogue One, and I am still a couple movies behind, but that has to be the best Star Wars flick since the original trilogy, right?

2) Hulu: I have to give Hulu big-time props for doubling its subscriber count in 2018. Now, a big chunk of the gains might come from all the free subs it is giving through carriers like Spring, but, hey, it's not my money. Future Man season 2 premieres this weekend.

3) IMDB Freedive: It's always exciting when something new and FREE arrives with a variety of content, and, boy, does IMDB Freedive have it--all sorts of movies, like Foxcatcher, Donnie Brasco, Panic Room, and Adaptation; and TV shows like Dallas, Fringe, and Gilligan's Island (could some of those Warner Brothers shows I've been earmarking for Prime come here?).

It's all ad-supported, but not obnoxiously so from my limited exploration, and fortunately, Roku users like me can catch this through Amazon Prime. This is essentially the ad-supported free streaming service Amazon denied it was unveiling. I guess they branded it IMDB to avoid confusion with Prime, which is already confusing enough. And that reminds me...

4) Amazon Prime Video: The good news is it offers a nesting place for Freedive. The bad news is it exiles it to a row on the Roku version of Prime and, at least as far as I can tell, makes it impossible to browse. Still, it's there, and, yes, you see the ads when you watch Freedive on Prime. Prime itself unveils British series Informer and the critically acclaimed movie Eighth Grade. I'm interested by the addition of a bunch of 10-20-year-old HBO documentaries, original movies, and comedy specials. Sometimes it seems that the HBO stuff is never refreshed, but here is some "new" material.

5) YouTube/YouTube TV: The only thing that knocks it down a peg or two this week is that it doesn't authenticate Watch TCM yet. I finally got the latter to work on Roku, only to find out I couldn't actually see anything on it.

6) Roku Channel: Roku is having a big month and getting a lot of good ink for its stock performance, and the resulting pub is certainly drawing attention to the channel, which is slowly adding content on a regular basis.

7) HBO: Ocean's 8 premieres, and True Detective returns, but I think the biggest buzz comes from HBO announcing that it will announce the return date of Game of Thrones this weekend.

8) DC Universe: It's a good thing I am ranking only the streaming video because the comic book aspect of this thing is a huge letdown. Some Super Friends makes me feel better.

9) Disney Now: It sneaks into the rankings on the basis of Kickin' It, one of my family's all-time favorite series that my kids suddenly decided to revisit.

10) Gomer Pyle: I'm not a big fan of the series, but part of me really admires an entire Roku channel built around reruns of it.

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

The Wonderful World of TCM: Carol for Another Christmas (1964)

There is a reason I am not writing this until a week after Christmas, and it's not that I was too lazy the holiday week. And the one after that. Well, not only that.

I didn't want to sully the Xmas season with a dose of "Bah, humbug!" You see, somehow, Carol for Christmas, despite an all-star cast and pedigree, is not a great watch. Oh, it's worth seeing, of course, and all praise to our true Santa, Turner Classic Movies, for showing it, but once is enough for me.

This TV special aired December 28, 1964 on ABC and was part of a series of specials sponsored by Xerox promoting the United Nations. Wait, December 28? Hey, what a great time to air a reworking of A Christmas Carol, right--3 days after the holiday. Almost like writing a post about it two weeks--uh, never mind.

Produced and directed by Joseph Mankiewicz and written by Rod Serling, the special comes off like pure propaganda. I mean, I won't complain about, say, dramatizing the horrors of Hiroshima, but the screenplay shows off the didactic side of Serling. It goes out of its way to promote ingternational cooperation at the expense of storytelling, and I think the agenda-pushing would work much better in a 30-minute format than in this feature-length scenario.

Still, it's Serling, it's atmospheric, and it features an outstanding cast led by Sterling Hayden as the Scrooge (Daniel Grudge here). I could go on about the plot and other production details, but I found an interesting article on TCM that says it all, so just head there, and I will share some screencaps.

Among the standouts: Ben Gazarra, Steve Lawrence, Eva Marie Saint, Pat Hingle, Angry Mob, and Peter Sellers (himself fresh off a massive heart attack):


Sunday, January 6, 2019

Streaming Video Power Rankings #143

As we settle into the new year, it's a good time to take stock of ourselves and what we can do better. And by "we," I mean YOU, streaming video on demand providers. This week I plan to unveil some wishes for 2019--things these outlets can add to improve themselves. That's what resolutions are about, after all--other people improving themselves.

It was a quiet week for new material, especially compared to last week, but let's count 'em down--or up, depending on how you look at it.

1) Netflix: I made it through my kids' run through of Fuller House in one piece, Alexa and Katie (their next watch) is tolerable, and I love the Brian Regan show. Also, Netflix added the Indiana Jones movies. This week's #1 ranking is driven largely by the young Culturesharks, though.

2) YouTube/YouTube TV: Yep, I'm keeping YTTV one more month for the playoffs, but, wow, each week brings news about its competitors that makes it look even better. As for regular ol' YouTube, I love the fact that, just ahead of this weekend's Bears/Eagles game, someone posted a Bears/Eagles game from nearly 40 years ago.

3) Boomerang: I will say good-bye to Boomerang again this week, but I give them credit for adding some things--the original Penelope Pitstop and Dastardly and Muttley, plus--oddly--the original Monchichis and a reboot. Nothing against them, but I'd rather they put up some Snagglepuss.

Nonetheless, I have been watching a bunch of The Flintstones lately and reminding myself that it was one of the great shows of its era. Boomerang has the whole series, I think, too, but unfortunately, it's kid-centric interface makes it tougher than it should be to find specific episodes.

4) Amazon Prime Video: It was a pretty good week for high-profile movie adds, with Beautiful Boy and Leave No Trace joining the service. I'm trying to figure out why Prime has some but nowhere near all episodes of Tony Palmer's 1970s All You Need Is Love popular music history series. I'd love to get into these, but my completist mentality makes me want to wait until they are all there...or at least the first one!

5) Roku Channel: I was never a big fan of The Patty Duke Show, but it makes decent background viewing. I give Roku demerits for dropping the first two seasons of Good Times. Just license the whole series and leave it up there, please!

6) Hulu: A quiet week on the TV side, but it did add 2018's acclaimed Annhiliation. I feel I may have to just commit to a show and really tear it up because I don't feel I am getting much out of Hulu lately. I think the no-ads CBS All Access plan spoiled me a bit.

7) Pluto TV: Finally Buzzr is on the Roku version of Pluto (it was on other platforms for some time). The addition of the classic game show network could make Pluto one of the best time-waster options around.

8) Shout! Factory TV: It offered another substantial assortment of new material for the first of the month. If you have Prime, much of it is there without ads, but I like that Shout! is keeping at it. It quietly assembled an impressive collection of genre flicks and is adding to it each month, but I'd still like to see them do a little more with classic TV.

9) Starz: Miami Vice is a welcome addition, but I am still stung by the loss of the 1980s Rambo cartoon, which (admittedly) I did not watch. in my defense, I figured, why would they ever have to get rid of that?

10) Curiosity Stream: I confess I didn't actually watch anything on here; I just want to rank it again because I still feel guilty for having it free for a month and only seeing a few things.