7/11/12

The Boob Tube #31: Streaming Rerun Deficiency

I want to watch every episode of SCTV right now streaming to my television set! And while you're at it, I want to watch Fridays as well!
Streaming Rerun Deficiency (SRD): it's a serious condition, folks. And we all have it.

But let me back up a bit and present you with a moderately interesting fact about Retrospace: the very first post I wrote was a short bitch session about how I can’t watch reruns of the shows I love. You could almost say it was the impetus for forming this blog – I simply had to have an avenue to whine about this. And since I don’t have my own talk radio show and everyone I know personally could give two shits about reruns, I decided to learn how to blog.

Side Note: To be completely accurate, my very first blog post was on Geocities (remember that?) in early 2008, but quickly abandoned. In that post I was bemoaning the sad state of popular music. I think two people read it.

What’s troubling is that, four years later, I still have plenty to bitch about when it comes to watching reruns. In the Information Age, four years is a long time when you’re talking about digital media. But, alas, I’m still stuck with slim offerings. I’m sorry but George Lopez reruns on Nick at Nite do not count.



"I'm sorry, sir, but the only reruns I can pick up on this thing are Law & Order."
"Dammit, Jim. You're just going to have to try harder!"
Perhaps my biggest complaint is with Netflix. On the one hand, I’m grateful for the selection of movies that far exceeded the stock of even the best video stores back in the day. I can watch an Italian Giallo, a gritty trucker movie, and a long lost 80s teen sex comedy and totally take it for granted that these films are at my fingertips. Sure, there’s a lot missing that I’d like to add to their collection; but, overall, I’m extremely thankful to Netflix.

But why can’t I stream “Good Times” or “James at 15”? It would seem vintage reruns have been given the shaft. I know IMDb and Hulu and certain other sources offer a smattering of streaming retro TV…. but I’m not satisfied. It’s 2012 and I want to stream “The Fall Guy” dammit!

I suppose it’s a supply and demand issue. If Netflix would benefit from adding a ton of retro TV to their instant lineup, they’d probably have done it by now. The number of Americans clamoring to watch “Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman” and “It’s Your Move” on demand is probably pretty small.

Let’s face it folks. If you want to press a button and watch “Manimal” and “Battle of the Network Stars”, you are officially a member of an ever-shrinking niche. Indeed - you suffer from Streaming Rerun Deficiency.  Take action now. Ask your doctor to prescribe streaming episodes of "Barney Miller" and "Joker's Wild".*

* Warning: May cause severe nostalgia.  If your nostalgia persists for more than 72 hours consult your physician.

18 comments:

  1. Gilligan, I think we may be twins who were separated at birth in a plot worthy of Balky and Larry.

    Yes, yes, yes, yes, and yes. It's my *right* to want to watch reruns of Three's A Crowd, Makin' It, and Angie. If they are uploaded to YouTube, they are usually taken down with astonishing speed. So why are my favorite old shows not available to me in an alternate format?

    Yes, I *do* want to watch Paper Dolls and My Sister Sam. I want to see episodes of all of those wonderful failed sitcoms I discover in bits and pieces on YT, mostly via their theme songs. I WANT TO WATCH MAMA'S FAMILY, DAMMIT.

    Uncut, uninterrupted, in their original glory.

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  2. If you have digital cable or an antenna that receives sidebands of broadcast channels, you may be in at least some luck. There are some full time networks that do carry retro TV. They certainly don't have everything you're looking for, but they're a start. Here are the Web sites for the networks in question. Good luck!

    http://www.antennatv.tv/

    http://myretrotv.com/

    http://www.metvnetwork.com/

    http://www.hubworld.com/hubworld/specials/hub-prime-time/

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    1. I watched the book banning episode of The Facts of Life last night on Hub and then switched on over to All in the Family on Antenna TV. So I guess I'm not completely deprived.

      I just feel that in 2012 I should be able to watch Chico and the Man any time I want. Dare to dream.

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  3. What about SCTV, then? I took 2 minutes out to read the post as I thought it involved SCTV! I NEED to stream it- I rely on it for my grade 11 history class.

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  4. i shit u not, my roomie and i were JUST clamoring for Mary Hartman Mary Hartman. YouTube has a spattering of funny clips and it got us jonesing for real eps. also, SCTV was one of the funniest things in my youth. good times, good blog, keep it up!

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  5. The big problem with variety shows like SCTV is the royalties. Not only do the actors get paid per view (or DVD sale), the musical guests get a cut and the song writers get a separate cut. The money starts to add up. That's why the SCTV DVDs cost so much when they came out and didn't sell very well. As far as sitcoms go, I don't think it's as complicated, but everyone has to be paid. They're still working out the details with all the principals on the old Batman TV show. Anyway, I don't think it's the technology so much as getting the copyrights and the royalties straightened out.

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    1. Paul DucaJuly 14, 2012

      Exactly...music rights held up the DVD releases WKRP IN CINCINNATI (they ended up replacing a lot of it) and FREAKS & GEEKS.

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  6. I would be watching "Battle of the Network Stars" even while at work if that was available!

    I did a post on classic TV on Netflix streaming and it's pretty consistently one of my most popular posts. So, several somebodies are interested. I should update that, some of those shows aren't streaming anymore.

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  7. Count me in on this retro-minority; one of my favorite tv memories growing up was the made-for-tv movies in the 70s; "Duel" & "The Night Stalker" have been long available as they were 2 of the most popular ones, but what about Hope Lange as a reincarnated witch on "Crowhaven Farm"? Or William Shatner in... "The People"?

    A couple months ago, one of the movie cable channels aired the AWESOME Valerie Harper movie from 1977, "Night Drive" and I was in made-for-70s-nirvana!

    I think at the very least, there should be a cable channel devoted exclusively to ABC, CBS & NBC's Movies of the Week!

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    1. Actually I don't hope they make such a network. I'd never leave the house or get any work done. I'd neglect my wife and kids. It would be awful. Please, no Movie of the Week channel!

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  8. Yep, I'd be watching The Master, Riptide, and Blue Thunder 24/7!

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  9. There should be a channel where we can watch all the Movie of The Week movies.

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  10. I actually just found out about It's Your Move yesterday. Good timing on that. :)

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  11. Yeah, you've probably addressed this before, but USA's seminal "Nightflight" deserves to live in streaming perpetuity.

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    1. I have:
      http://my-retrospace.blogspot.com/2009/05/remembering-night-flight.html

      If I had to pick any one thing to have available streaming, I'd pick this. There was no better way to spend an evening at home than in front of Night Flight.

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  12. Loved SCTV and miss it. It was much funnier than comedies today even with the horrible laugh track. I have been craving Battle of the Network Stars for years. It's the ultimate recipe for entertainment so why did they stop? Maybe it would be too complicated these days with FOX and other cable channels wanting a team to participate too.
    http://chaka4612.blogspot.com/search?q=battle+of+the+network+stars

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  13. What is the SCTV picture a parody of?

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  14. I work in film and TV. Here is the answer to your question. The powers that be don't want Good Times, The Fall Guy, Night Gallery and 1966 Batman available to the masses because they know that once Generation Y sees shows of that quality, they will compare them to what is on offer now, and viewership of and ratings for today's modern dreck will plummet.

    It's the same reason YouTube and the RIAA are working unusually hard together to prevent uploads/downloads of any quality music made before 1980. Were they to fail, then "O Most Sacred Demographic" will, say, compare Seals + Croft to Justin Bieber and Lady Gaga, of course instantly choose the older music, and modern record sales will plummet. So your answer is yes, there is a conspiracy. Yes, it's all about demographics and money. They want Gen Y kept stupid. And no, there is nothing we can do about it.

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