Monday, December 13, 2004

DB on TV: Netflix Obsession

I love Netflix. If I could teleport back to 2001, I’d pour every penny I had (True Confession: $43.95) into its stock. To think… I could have been a thousand-aire.

Netflix is a DVD rent-by-mail company. You pay a flat fee of about $20 a month and you get to keep three DVDs at any given time. No late fees, ever. When you’re done with one, you throw it into a little sleeve (free postage) and pop it in the mail. Two or three days later, you get a little present in the mail along with junk mail and the water bill. If you’re online omnipresently like myself, you can tweak your DVD queue anytime you want. They have thousands of titles, you don’t have to drive and park and drive and park to rent something at a stuffy Blockbuster waiting on a line for someone Stoned Out of Time and Mind to take your cash, and you eliminate late fees forever and ever. So: watch the DVDs whenever you want, no late fee, no hassle, no having to run two errands. I love it: this was made for me.

Netflix is also fantastic for watching season packages of television shows, miniseries (think Shogun, North & South, War & Redemption, whatever’s your bag), or really old, obscure, or cult stuff. It’s allowed me to watch mountains of television footage that I missed out on the first time around or can’t get because I can’t afford insane monthly cable fees to get “premiere” channels. It’s allowed to take in shows like The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, The Dead Zone, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Alias in from the very beginning.

There’s a remarkable difference in watching the very cream of the crop of television shows, without commercials, from Episode 1 to Episode 22 or 24, straight through. Especially with shows with complex and compelling story arcs (all of the shows I mention above apply) you get to feel the full weight of sub-plots, character motivations, and telling foreshadows. Plus, it’s great fun to rewind to parts that you missed because a) the dog barked b) the doorbell rang or c) you fell asleep in your 3:30 am cereal.

And, if you’re like me, you get to see some really nifty special features that come along with some discs. I personally love a good audio commentary from a show creator, writer, or cast member. Joss Whedon, creator of the incredible trio of shows Buffy-Angel-Firefly, is particularly entertaining in providing directorial notes, cast trivia and tidbits, and a sense of the overall season arc and direction. (Serenity, the film project to come out of the obscenely cut short Firefly, will be out next autumn).

The DB on TV series will get down and dirty into many of the above shows and more, so stay tuned...

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