I’ll Be Streaming You

I’ve always been a few years behind the latest technology. I’m writing this column days after unloading shelves full of well-worn VHS tapes. It doesn’t seem long ago that my Internet access was too slow to even consider watching TV shows and movies on my computer. I had no interest in climbing on the streaming media bandwagon until late 2013, when Marvel Studios announced it was developing a TV series for Netflix about my favorite superhero, blind lawyer-by-day, masked-vigilante-by-night Daredevil.

Luckily I live with my brother, a computer programmer who has a Netflix account, and I own a Sony Playstation 3, which became the second of two household devices allotted to stream Netflix. Here we go.

At 3:01 A.M. Eastern on March 10, 2015, Netflix premiered the entire 13-episode season of MARVEL’S DAREDEVIL, and I watched it all in roughly the next thirteen hours. My aforementioned favoritism aside, the Daredevil series has been widely praised for telling its stories in unpretentious, nitty-gritty fashion, raising the bar for future TV series and movies. Days after the premiere, a second season was ordered.

The growing popularity of streaming services — no cassettes or discs to insert or misplace, no recording to set, less expensive than cable or satellite TV — is also good news for current broadcast network shows that don’t quite make the ratings splash needed to impress network executives. Not long ago, when a show was endangered or canceled there’d be wishful thinking that a cable channel — USA, Syfy, TNT — would come to its rescue. Now Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Instant Video are also thought of as possible saviors. Netflix prominently greenlit a fourth season of of the contemporary Western LONGMIRE after the show was canceled by A&E.

My favorite thing about streaming services is the ease with which I can punch in any movie or show that flits into mind and watch it right then. The first movie I watched on Netflix Streaming was JACK RYAN: SHADOW RECRUIT. Intended to revive the 1990s franchise made popular by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, SHADOW RECRUIT (starring Chris Pine) flopped too badly at the 2014 box office to make my DVD wish list, but I still wanted to watch it as a Tom Clancy fan. A few weeks later, I followed that with the better-received but similarly short-run 2014 spy thriller THE NOVEMBER MAN (starring Pierce Bronsnan).

Streaming services don’t completely replace DVDs; audio commentaries and other bonus features aren’t included in the streaming versions of movies and shows. A particular service might not have the movies or shows you’re thinking of, and how long the titles are available is another question. On the other hand, streaming services offer many titles that, for one reason or another, have never been released on DVD.

Ironically, another reason I’ve watched a lot of Netflix is my years-old cable box reception has been pixelated for months. If you find yourself hiding out from the heat this summer, I can think of no better way for a TV/movie buff to spend the day.

Feel free to leave me some Netflix recommendations in the comments.

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