Okay, okay, I’ll admit it—I’m a television (and old movie) junkie. I’ll watch re-runs of CSI-NY, CSI-Miami, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and if they come up with one, I’d probably watch CSI-Keokuk, Iowa. But I really love watching re-runs of older shows that they aren’t running even on cable anymore – shows like Hill Street Blues, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Pretender, Murder One, The Commish, St. Elsewhere, and Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip (my own personal favorite).
Fortunately, there’s a repository of many of our favorite television shows available online: Hulu. With Hulu, you can watch all of the shows mentioned above, and much more. If you can stand it, you can even watch back-to-back Mary Tyler Moore, Rhoda, and Lou Grant episodes. If you’re not from that era, you can also watch more recent shows like Lost, Desperate Housewives, Family Guy, House, The Simpsons, and The Office. The selection of old movies is pretty sketchy so far, but there’s a few old chestnuts – like the classic Basil Rathbone/Nigel Bruce series of The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes movies from the early 1940s – to while away an evening.
Getting set up with Hulu is simple and free. You just go to their website, sign up and download their free video player. The player allows you to stream their content directly to your computer, so you’ll need a fast internet connection (and preferably an 802.11n card or module, so you can watch wherever you want). You can choose to watch it in the player’s smallish default window, or you can choose to watch full-screen to get the full effect. You should be warned, though, that the content isn’t true 1080p, so you can expect some picture degradation in full screen mode.
The catches (you knew they were coming) are that you will have to watch a very short commercial every so often (not too bad —usually only 30 seconds in length, but I haven’t found a way yet to zap them), and you can only view the content on your computer – they don’t allow you to download or archive to any other medium.
Other than those minor issues, it definitely beats shelling out $40 to $60 (or more) at your local video shop for a boxed set of shows, and if Hulu continues in its success, you can bet there will be a larger selection of videos in the future.
OWC has no affiliation with this service and receives no benefit related to this support (other than a benefit we all share in the continued support of these kinds of services). If you appreciate the function or functionality this service offers, we encourage you to support the proprietors.