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!