BLU DEAL: Harry Potter Hogwarts Collection (Blu-ray + DVD) $97.99 http://t.co/64SY0jkGMg
Time Trax: The Complete Second Season – Dale Midkiff returns as time-traveling cop Darien Lambert in the second and final season of the cult sci-fi series from Harve Bennett.
THIS WEEK’S REVIEW
Pop a Gleemonex, sit back and enjoy Kids In The Hall: Brain Candy! (Warning: Do not read while driving or operating heavy machinery.)
CROSSING THE STREAMS
As you may recall, the internet came to an end a few months back when “Streamageddon” hit Netflix Instant. Approximately 1,000 titles disappeared from the service, causing much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments. A scapegoat was needed, so fingers were pointed at Warner Archive Instant. They, in their greed and lust for bandwidth, surely must have spirited the titles away, secreting them under their red demon cloaks under cover of darkness for use on their own streaming service.
The angry internet villagers pursued Warner Archive with torches and pitchforks. All the while, the scrappy young streaming service professed its innocence in the theft. In the end, all the hullaballoo couldn’t prevent Streamageddon from crashing down upon us. In the blink of an eye, helpless victims watched as their instant queues dwindled from a magnificent 500 titles to a mere 457. In its aftermath, victims attempted to seek solace in binge-watching Arrested Development but to no avail.
Today, we survivors have rebuilt society but we are changed. Streamageddon is now the stuff of legend, whispered about in hushed tones and the subject of strange folk songs sung by mad-eyed minstrels. We eye our Roku and Apple TV boxes with suspicion, the question always lurking in the back of our minds: when will you turn on us again?
As you may have gathered, the entire Streamageddon situation was blown a teensy bit out of proportion. In the end, it didn’t even seem like anyone was particularly upset that some titles had vanished from Netflix. It was more like a growing frustration with competing services. There is enough streaming content available to keep you busy (or, more accurately, idle) for years to come. The trick is tracking it down between Netflix, Warner Archive, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime, and a host of others.
The most common refrain I heard online was, “I just want one single service where I can find everything. Is that so much to ask?” Well, actually yes. Really, you couldn’t be asking for more than that, could you? The problem is one of perception. When Netflix first started, they were very explicitly challenging video stores like Blockbuster. So when they introduced their streaming service, people imagined it as a video store in the sky where they could get whatever they wanted, whenever they wanted.
But Netflix has made it very clear that they don’t want to be seen in that light anymore. They view themselves as a challenger to pay-TV channels like HBO. If streaming services like Roku are seen as a threat to cable and satellite companies, then Netflix and Warner Archive should be seen as analogous to HBO and TCM.
Look at it this way. Back in the 80s, when I still had satellite TV, HBO would send out a monthly programming guide. I’d sit down with it and see that Krull was playing this month and that I had about 15 opportunities to watch it. If I missed it, it was my own damn fault. Today, I go to Netflix and see that Krull is available to watch instantly. (Note: it isn’t but it has been in the past and I just like using Krull as an example because it amuses me.) I now have plenty of opportunities to watch it but if I miss it, should I blame myself or should I blame Netflix because I wasn’t told what my window of opportunity would be?
The TV landscape is changing and I do believe streaming is the wave of the future. Right now, it’s the closest you can get to putting together an a la carte cable package of only the channels you’re interested in, a goal that has been the holy grail of TV audiences for decades. At $9.99 a month, Warner Archive Instant’s diversity makes it a bargain for a movie-lover like me and an excellent alternative to blind-buying every single DVD you may have a passing interest in. Netflix Instant continues to have a relatively large selection, even if you have to hunt for some of the more interesting gems. Hulu Plus (priced, like Netflix, at $7.99 a month) has some good stuff, primarily thanks to their partnership with Criterion, but their strength continues to be TV shows.
Of course, all of these individual services add up and eventually, your monthly bill might be comparable to a cable bill. Then again, if you’re the sort of person who feels compelled to subscribe to every single available channel, you probably don’t have much of a problem with channel-bundling on cable packages.
And again, none of this is to say that streaming is a viable alternative to or replacement for DVD or Blu-ray. If you want to guarantee your ability to watch whatever you want, whenever you want, there’s only one way to do that and that’s physical ownership of a disc. But for those moments when you’re just sitting around with no particular place to go, streaming will one day be where you get your TV. Hey, Krull is available on Amazon Instant Video!
- Dr. Adam Jahnke