The death of cable TV bundling is nearly upon us, as signaled by HBO’s announcement today that it will offer an internet-based streaming subscription in 2015.
“That is a large and growing opportunity that should no longer be left untapped,” said HBO CEO and chairman Richard Plepler. “It is time to remove all barriers to those who want HBO.”
That’s big news in an industry that has been incredibly resistant to disruptors like Apple. And the Apple TV specifically stands to gain immensely from this shift towards Hollywood finally selling premium content unbundled.
Widget, widgets, widgets. Boy, have we got some widgets for you. And text. Plain text. Plain old text, turned into a calculator. And widgets. Did I mention those? Weather widgets. Battery widgets. And yes, text widgets.
Read all about these new widgets and other new apps in this week's App Watch.
WunderStation from Weather Underground hooks into thousands of privately owned weather stations and presents their data in an iPad app. The smoothly animated graphs are beautiful and can tell you way more than you’d ever want to know about rainfall, barometric pressure and even UV. If you have stations near you, it’s pretty rad. If not, no biggie – the app is $Free
Filthy name, great app. Droool is a “photo gallery for your social networks.” Browse pictures from Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Facebook and more, and index pictures from iCloud and other local folders without moving or copying the files. It’s fast, simple and looks great, and it’s free with in-app purchases. $Free
Terrible name, great app. iBetterCharge monitors your iOS devices’ battery level over your Wi-Fi network, using the same connection that iTunes Wi-Fi sync would use, if you still synced your iPhone with your computer in the space year of 2014. It can pop up warnings when the battery drops to a preset level, and a click on the menu bar shows you the level of all the devices on the network. $Free
This is what the Internet is made for. Photogrammar puts 170,000 Depression-era photos in a searchable, browsable archive. Explore on an interactive map, search or get into the Labs section and browse by metadata sourced from the U.S. Farm Security Administration and Office of War Information archives. Warning: serious time-sink. $Free
PlainTextMenu takes the text on your Mac’s clipboard and transmogrifies it into something useful. It strips out formatting, so you never get big ugly Comic Sans when pasting from a colleague’s Word report, and it can turn the text to uppercase, lowercase or title case along the way. From the school of One Thing Well. $1
Web service re/spin takes Spotify playlists and transforms them into Rdio playlists. If someone’s going to share a playlist, it usually comes from Spotify, and re/spin works with published Spotify playlists. Or you can just paste in a track list copied right from the app. It also works with Last.fm. Remember when PCs couldn’t read Mac floppy disks? It’s like fixing that all over again. $Free
You know all those hard drives grafted onto your Mac? Keep a close eye on them with StorageStatus, an app that turns hard drives into traffic lights in your menu bar and changes their colors when they do something. It knows when they are sleeping, it knows when they’re awake, and it knows when they’ve been good or bad. $3
Not new, but awesome nonetheless. Calca is as close as you’ll get to a plain text calculator. Tap in complex formulas or simple sums and see the results right there in a plain text document. Set variables or just add numbers. And see all your pages synced over iCloud between Mac, iPhone and iPad versions, as well as Windows(!). I love Calca for its balance of simplicity and power. From $3
Finally, a version for the iPad. TVShow Time tracks your favorite TV shows and tells you when they’re on. Browse shows and show synopses, and get notifications when something is about to air. See the shows on a calendar, view news about your shows and read about new shows. It’s pretty comprehensive, and looks great on the big iPad screen. $3
In an amazing twist of celebrity, Community star and rapper Donald Glover has gotten to voice Miles Morales, the Ultimate Spider-Man, in the Disney XD animated series.
As it’s Glover that was the original inspiration behind the alternate universe Spidey, written by comics star Brian Michael Bendis, this is a treat for fans and the actor himself.
“That’s the great part about the Spider-Man costume: He can be anybody,” Glover told USA Today. “Spider-Man could be a girl. Spider-Man could be an old man. You don’t know. So I just tried to be as me as possible, because you’re always just going to bring it back to yourself when you watch the show.”
Check out the clip below as Peter Parker (voiced by Drake Bell) meets Miles Morales, voiced by Glover.
Following the success of movies like The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy, and TV hits like Arrow and The Walking Dead, we're suddenly seeing a host of comic-book-based shows in development for the upcoming television seasons.
Whether it's the sure bet of Gotham (which takes a backward glance at Batman's famous city) or more-obscure fodder like iZombie (in which a young Veronica Mars-type character eats brains), many cable and broadcast networks are getting into the act.
We're lucky to live in what's truly a golden age of comic book media. Here are the upcoming comic book shows we're looking forward to most.
The Flash is a direct spinoff from The CW’s surprisingly better-than-expected Arrow (which is based on DC Comics character Green Arrow). The Flash will focus on the fastest man alive and his struggles to control his mystical Speed Force powers, plus the guy from Ed is in it — yes!
There’s nothing better in comics than a good origin story, and The Flash's is pretty fun. The show debuts Oct. 7 on The CW.
Constantine is based on the long-running Vertigo comics series Hellblazer. First appearing in Alan Moore’s Swamp Thing back in 1985, the character of John Constantine has evolved over a stellar print run, with a huge cast of authors and illustrators leaving their own marks on the character.
We’re hoping the television version of JC will retain much of the character's arrogance, sarcasm and substance abuse. Constantine debuts Oct. 24 on NBC.
Brian Michael Bendis' Powers is one of our favorite comics to read, as it offers a fresh perspective on the superhero genre. Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are quintessential homicide detectives, only they investigate crimes committed by people with extra-human abilities. It's like Law & Order: Superpowers.
Here’s hoping Sony Pictures Television takes this one seriously and really digs into the grime of the comic book's storylines when it streams the show on PlayStation Network his December (it's slated to be PlayStation’s first original series).
It's 1946, and Strategic Scientific Reserve agent Peggy Carter must balance her office work with the secret stuff she does for Iron Man's dad Howard Stark. This spinoff of Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. got started as a one-shot special that came bundled with the Iron Man 3 home movie release.
Agent Carter garnered enough interest to warrant its own show, which will air on ABC starting in January 2015 and be helmed by some of the big Marvel movie directors.
Another safe bet here is Fox’s Gotham, a look at the city that birthed the Batman. This is a prequel of sorts, with a focus on Detective Gordon long before he becomes police commissioner.
Gotham looks to be cut from the same cloth as Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., with most of the superhero stuff on the sidelines (making things much more television-friendly in terms of budget). While we're kind of over all things Bat, this could turn out to be the sleeper hit of the season — we’re willing to keep an open mind until it debuts Sept. 22 on Fox.
Preacher, based on the ultra-violent and incredibly profane comic book series from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon at Vertigo, is a not-so-safe bet. That’s why we’re super-glad that AMC (The Walking Dead) has picked up this amazing look at American culture and its obsession with big guns, Christianity and hyper-masculinity, all filtered through a Texas setting. The show reportedly will debut in 2015.
Veronica Mars' Rob Thomas has taken on another powerful teen female show with iZombie, loosely based on the Vertigo imprint of the same name. Starring Tinkerbell from ABC's Once Upon a Time, the show will look at what it takes to be a young zombie. The Eisner Award-winning comic should prove to be a great live-action show, if the CW doesn’t totally soft-focus everything. The show is expected to debut during the 2014-15 season.
Thank the gods for Netflix, which has corralled a bunch of Marvel characters — including Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist and The Defenders — to create original programming. While many of these are second- or third-tier characters, Daredevil is a personal favorite of mine; a good TV show could go a long way toward rinsing out the bad taste left in our mouths by that Affleck-powered movie a while back.
Daredevil is penciled in for a May 2015 release, with all 13 episodes being unleashed by the streaming service at once like a gang of Hell's Kitchen hoods.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie put us to sleep when it came out in 2003. Alan Moore's comic book, which began in 1999 and continues to this day, should be a fantastic story engine, since it ties into many fictional heroes and villains from the past, like Allan Quatermain, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Invisible Man and Captain Nemo.
Halt and Catch Fire isn’t Silicon Valley where the presence of a woman in a skirt sends the coders into a tailspin. This is the dying cry of the zipless f**k, before everyone got spooked about AIDS. This is hot neon, the smell of the soldering gun on a circuit board, and the deep empty place inside that drives creative people to do crazy things, think different, and meet each other where the metal meets the code.
Unfortunately, dismal ratings may possibly keep the show, whose plot hinges on a rag-tag group of misfits reverse engineering the IBM PC around the same time Woz & Jobs were busy home-brewing in the garage, from being picked up for a second season.
You can watch Halt and Catch Fire, named for the machine code (HCF) that was able to cause a computer to stop working, on AMC or iTunes.
We feel so strongly about this retro-tastic show (Coleco! Pong! Texas Instruments!) that we put up a petition to save it. Here’s why you should sign:
In a recent Reddit AMA, Jerry Seinfeld hinted at the fact that his titular show Seinfeld could finally be coming to Netflix. Overjoyed, one fan summed up the sentiment for all of us: “The day Seinfeld is on Netflix is the day that I never see anyone ever again.”
But Seinfeld isn’t the only show currently missing from the Netflix stable. From hugely popular sitcoms to political thrillers, there are plenty of shows out there still unavailable to streaming customers. Since playlists vary according to country, I've based this on the U.S. Netflix. Scroll through our gallery to see the nine series (sort of) no self-respecting streaming video service should be without.
In some ways, this pick has already been made for us. As the previous page demonstrated, for a show that’s apparently about nothing, people sure do want to see Seinfeld make an appearance on Netflix. Although it did dip in quality after co-creator Larry David left, at its apex no other comedy can come close to matching the triumph of Seinfeld. Hopefully Jerry is right, and this will find its way to Netflix ASAP. With classic moments in virtually every episode, this show is the stuff binge-watching was invented for.
Friends might not quite reach the heights of Seinfeld at its best, but it’s still certainly in contention when the conversation turns to greatest sitcoms of all time. While Friends is in heavy rotation on TV, it’s less widely available on streaming services like Netflix (unless you happen to live in Mexico where the first five seasons are inexplicably available, with Spanish subtitles).
Megahits like Friends are kept under tight contractual lock and key, which means they’d be a challenge for any streaming company to wangle. But when it comes to available shows we’d like to see on Netflix could there be a better choice?
Featuring great performances from stars Damian Lewis and Claire Danes, Homeland is one of the best series to hit U.S. screens in ages. Telling the story of a returning United States Marine Corps Scout Sniper war veteran who may or may not be a “turned” member of al-Qaeda, the show picks up the political thriller mantle of 24 and runs with it. If only it could run onto Netflix.
True, the latest season shows a decline in quality versus the top-notch first series, but it’s still gripping television. Couldn’t noted Homeland fan President Obama put in a call to Netflix or something?
I’ll admit it: I’m not the world’s biggest fan of The Big Bang Theory, but I’m perfectly willing to accept that I could be objectively wrong about this -- certainly based on reader’s reactions to a previous post I made on the subject. Word has just been released that shooting has temporarily ground to a halt since the stars are demanding more money. Provided producers acquiesce (and why wouldn’t they?) maybe Netflix execs could follow suit and whip out their checkbooks, too.
With John Cleese, Michael Palin, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle and Terry Jones currently in the middle of their London, England victory lap, interest in the surreal antics of the Monty Python crew is more alive than the parrots they claimed to sell in arguably their most famous sketch.
Featuring countless comic masterpieces jammed into 45 episodes over four series, the complete Monty Python’s Flying Circus would be a worthy boon for Netflix, helping create a whole new generation of Python devotees, while giving longtime fans the chance to revisit their favorite old sketches. As it is, Netflix features the superb Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie, but is it too much to ask that we get the complete works of Cleese et al.?
Serving as a more charmingly comedic but equally quirky Twin Peaks, Northern Exposureran for 110 episodes between 1990 and 1995. Telling the story of a New York City physician, named Dr. Joel Fleischman, who is sent to work in the fictitious town of Cicely, Alaska, the show spends good time introducing us to Cicely’s cast of oddball residents. Northern Exposure might be the most obscure show on this list -- although it racked up a ton of awards and nominations durings its original run -- but it’s the kind of series that could definitely have a second life on Netflix.
Earlier this year it seemed like Netflix-subscribing Community fans had it made: after the popular cult sitcom was cancelled by NBC after five great seasons, fans took to social media demanding #SixSeasonsAndaMovie. Despite being inundated with requests, Netflix turned the Dan Harmon-produced show down, eventually letting it get snapped up instead by Yahoo Screen (who?).
“It’s season six of Community — you’ll be watching it the way you always watched it, only now, it’s legal!” Harmon quipped at this year’s Comic-Con. He may be right, but instead of having to subscribe to both Hulu and Yahoo Screen to get the whole show, wouldn’t it have been better had Netflix not bought the whole thing?
Serious question for Batman fans: Has there ever been a better, truer-to-the-comics, sustained take on the Dark Knight than Paul Dini and Bruce Timm’s Batman: The Animated Series? Rewriting both the DC Universe and TV animation in a way that is still felt today, there is no series I would rather have on Netflix than this one. It’s currently available in Canada, but not yet the U.S. To cheat somewhat, I’m using B:TAS as a catch-all to also cover The New Batman Adventures, Batman Beyond, Justice League and anything else Dini and co. laid their hands on.
To be honest, I could’ve spent this whole gallery populating it with HBO shows like The Wire, The Sopranos and Deadwood. That I didn’t is actually less to do with the fact that these series show up on every “best of” television list around, and more to do with the fact that HBO recently signed an exclusive deal with Amazon Prime. Once that deal elapses, however, Netflix should do everything within its power to capture the HBO back catalog. It would be worth it for Game of Thrones alone.
It’s definitely trailer week, especially for comic book and other genre movies, but here’s one for an upcoming DC television show based on the Vertigo property, Hellblazer. The show will cover the exploits of a certain John Constantine, supernaturally sensitive wizard-type who wears a trench coat, smokes incessantly (in the comics, at least) and does smart-ass battle with the angels and demons who plague us mere mortals.
The trailer really brings on the horror tropes: the creepy bugs on the wall revealing a scary message, the creepy flat-affect kid with the sharp knife, the broken-neck demon in a human body shot. You know, all the hits.
Check out the trailer below for all the creepy footage from what could be the best comic book show of the upcoming season.
TV isn't always a meritocracy. With that in mind, here are our picks of five shows that were canceled way before their time, and five more we wish would vanish into a black hole, never to be seen again.
Which ones made the list? Check out the gallery above to find out.
When it comes to shows taken from us too soon, there’s nothing that compares to Firefly. The brainchild of Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator and Avengers director Joss Whedon, this superb sci-fi/Western series only crawled to 14 episodes before Fox pulled the plug due to subpar ratings.
The show's cult fan base sounded off so loudly that the series was sequelized a few years later in 2005 movie Serenity, which picked up with the same cast after the events of Firefly's final episode. The movie was critically acclaimed, but flopped at the box office. This is why we can’t have nice things.
It sounds crazy to suggest that a franchise which is coming up to 50 years of age was canceled too soon, but the original Star Trek television show was kicked off the air after just three seasons!
Revived after posting strong syndication numbers, the sci-fi franchise spawned more than a dozen films and four spinoff TV series, but there was definitely a time when James Tiberius Kirk and the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise genuinely seemed to have reached the final frontier. “You Star Trek fans have fought the good fight, but the show has been canceled and there’s nothing to be done now,” wrote a TV critic in 1969. Truly illogical, captain!
I narrowly avoided including Buffy spinoff Angel on this list for fear of including yet another Joss Whedon project. Then I remembered Dollhouse, his short-lived sci-fi show about a mysterious organization that implants false memories and skills in mind-wiped humans known as Dolls so they can take on various missions.
The premise sounded like it could simply be a show in which its star, Eliza Dushku, got dressed up in various outfits (that alone should have guaranteed a minimum of three seasons). But Dollhouse was packed full of Whedon-y goodness and grew to become one of the most intriguing sci-fi shows in recent history, even though it only lasted two seasons.
Set in the late 1800s and revolving around the residents of Deadwood, South Dakota, this foul-mouthed HBO Western was beloved by virtually everyone that saw it. Everyone, that is, except for HBO executives, who canceled it after Season 3.
While there were initial plans to give Deadwood a proper sendoff with two TV movies, those plans now seem to have fallen by the wayside. We hold out hope that someone comes to their senses.
A pie-maker imbued with the power to bring the dead back to life solves murders with his resurrected childhood sweetheart, a private investigator, and a love-struck waitress. What’s not to love? Seemingly nothing, which is why Pushing Daisies received 17 Emmy Award nominations, with seven wins. Then it was canceled, presumably by someone who won’t be brought back from the afterlife anytime soon.
There are some events so shameful that you have to wonder if there’s something deeply wrong with the human psyche -- the kind of thing Arthur C. Clarke was alluding to in 2001: A Space Odyssey when he suggested that civilization was inextricably tied to murder and bloodshed.
The inexplicable popularity of Two and a Half Men is one such example. I've never actually met a fan of this show, but they must exist unless 4.8 million people leave their TV sets on every week as some kind of situationist meta-prank.
Here’s how awful the show is: CBC recently announced the series will end after its next season, and I’m still including it here. Why? Because they shouldn't even let it finish out with a flourish of human decency. Just cut to black in the middle of an episode and never mention it again.
I should love The Big Bang Theory. As a nerd who loves tech, comics and pretty much anything else that used to mark you as a potential lunch-money theft target in high school, a show that features geeks (as opposed to, say, five unfeasibly attractive friends living in apartments they could never possibly afford) should be right up my alley.
So why should The Big Bang Theory be canceled immediately? There are a bunch of small reasons: The jokes aren’t funny, the characters are unlikeable, and a laugh track in 2014 is all kinds of lame. The real reason, though, is that it’s in no way an accurate portrayal of geek culture, but rather the same kind of dumb pocket-protector brainiac jokes we’ve been suffering through since the 1950s. HBO's Silicon Valley is roughly a billion times better.
The Simpsons is, at this stage, essentially a zombie. It looks a little bit like the entity you once knew, but the spirit is gone, and now it just lurches around the wilderness looking for brains to feast upon. Even the most ardent Simpsons fan will readily admit that things haven’t been the same since the late '90s, when the show lost its zing and began its steep decline.
It’s not even like you can just blame the show’s age, though: While 25 seasons is a long time by anyone’s reckoning, South Park has been on the air for 17 years and can still raise a good laugh every episode. It’s sad to say, since I once loved The Simpsons, but creator Matt Groening has basically undone all his good work at this stage. Boo-urns!
“What, that great 1991 Academy Award-nominated Disney movie?” If that’s genuinely what you thought when you read this, then skip to the next slide and don’t sully your mind with knowledge about this abomination of a show, which has been soiling the airwaves since 2012. A loose remake of the 1987 CBS series of the same name, this sci-fi police procedural is woeful on just about every level. Oh, and the “Beast” character is basically an underwear model with a blemish on his cheek. The horror, the horror!
It would have been very easy to pick, pretty much at random, a reality show from E and hold it up as the final example of a show that we’d like to have scrubbed from our brains using neuroscience’s answer to bleach. That would have been too easy, though. Instead, how about the crushing disappointment of a show that is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?
They've done so much right with the Marvel Cinematic Universe that it seemed they should certainly be able to transfer some of the magic of Joss Whedon’s Avengers movie to the small screen. Sadly, they haven’t.
What we’re left with is a show straight out of the formulaic '90s that lacks any of the recognizable characters or compelling plotlines of big-screen Marvel tales. With Marvel already running the risk of burnout with the number of flicks it’s pumping out, it should forget about this misstep and focus on completing its Hollywood takeover.
Did we miss out your favorite hidden TV gem, that was taken from us before it had the chance to find its audience? Or did we want to send a show you love off to the Sarlacc pit that is TV hell? If you have strong thoughts on this topic let us know what they are in the comments below.
The official musical instrument of the 2014 World Cup is the Caxirola, but it has already been banned from stadiums. Not because it will drive you out of your mind with irritation like the last World Cup’s vuvuzela, but because the Caxirola is considered a security risk (or more likely, a perfect booze and drug-smuggling device.
The Caxirola looks like a cross between a lemon and a set of knuckledusters. Inside the hollow plastic bubble are hundreds of beads that rattle when you shake it and make a “nice, pleasant” sound. But you don’t have to bother with a real plastic lemon: you can buy the app.
As a kid I never really liked football, but I loved Panini football stickers. Now there’s an environmentally friendly way to collect and swap stickers (if you consider making an iPad or iPhone to be less damaging than printing a paper book). The official Panini Online Sticker Album app lets you collect and swap stickers, and stick them into a virtual album. Swapping is done online, and you get three sticker packs with the free download. $free
I’ll be buying my Spain World Cup shirt down at the local knockoff market, but the real deal has some features that partially justify its $150 price tag. Dri-FIT microfiber, laser-cut mesh and ventilations zones will keep you cooler than if you went topless. And of course you’ll get the shivery chills every time you remember how much you paid for it. $150
Maybe you want to follow the World Cup from the beach, or the park, or just not be stuck indoors. Or maybe you live in a foreign country and you want to listen to an English commentary while you drink Brazilian beer and watch the match in a Brazilian bar.
For this, you need the radio. Either tune a real radio to the BBC, like the World Band Tecsun radio that people like on Amazon, or grab the excellent (free or paid) TuneIn Radio app, which, as its name suggests, tunes in to any radio station that transmits via the internet. I recommend the BBC.
Stuck in rainy Europe? Don’t own a passport to leave the U.S? No problem. Google has visited the World Cup stadiums so you don’t have to – just head over to this page to virtually tour any of Brazils World Cup stadiums via Street View.
Pick them on a map or just browse the list, and you can even take a look at the streets outside.
Just before the 2010 World Cup, I remember seeing lots of men dragging huge boxes into their apartment buildings. What better excuse for a new TV than a World Cup? Right now, the Wirecutter says that the best TV you can buy is the Samsung F8500, available in 51, 60 and 64-inch models and ready for 3-D should you happen a cross a game broadcast that way (and sport is probably the only reasons to use a 3-D TV). Best of all, the 51-incher is currently $1,800 on Amazon, which is $900 off list price.
The supermarkets are already full of Brazil-related plastic junk, and even folks who only watch football once every four years are getting excited. Why? It’s World Cup time, of course!
Here we have a selection of apps and gadgets, clothes and toys to help you follow along and enjoy the show. The only thing we haven’t included is streaming app, because broadcast rights vary from country to country. Our workaround is to watch on TV or listen on the radio. Or do it like the Brazilians and head to your local bar.
As a huge fan of Vertigo Comics’ Hellblazer, about hard-bitten wise-cracking paranormal detective John Constantine, I’m warily excited about the upcoming TV series on NBC. Wary because of the totally off-base movie of the same name. Excited because, well, it looks like they got a bunch of things about the character and universe in which he lives “right.”
“I think as with the source material,” says series lead Matt Ryan in an interview with IGN, “there’s so much to draw from in terms of the character and the balance of humor and wit and dark and gritty. It’s great, because John has this kind of real sarcastic, ironic British wit. It’s funny, but at the same time it’s serious and dark and gritty. It’s got it all, I think.”
At first glance, the trailer (below) looks like the show creators understand more of the character than the 2005 movie starring Keanu Reeves ever did, including emo angels, a world-weary John Constantine and his famous trench coat.