Netflix, I’m convinced, is the greatest invention of all time. It took a tedious, nigh-impossible chore — going to a video store, picking out a movie, coming home, watching it, and then going back to the store to return it — and made it as easy as ticking a box on the internet and opening and closing an envelope.
Naturally, opening and closing that envelope become too much goddamn work, so Netflix quickly reinvented the greatest invention of all time, and came up with Netflix Instant, which lets you strean movies and TV shows on your PC and TV just moments after you decide you want to watch them.
The catalog of streaming entertainment isn’t entirely fantastic, but it’s constantly growing and changing, so from time to time I’ll post about the better stuff I’m watching, so you can watch it (in the U.S., at least) if you haven’t already.
That Mitchell & Web Look (Seasons 1, 2 and 3)
Sketch comedy by Robert Mitchell and David Webb. Clever, rude, insightful, silly, almost always funny if a little over-reliant on recurring characters. Like all sketch comedy, it’s hit-or-miss, but they’re fully aware of it, even featuring a sketch where they discuss how to order the sequence of hits and misses in the show. I think this is the best sketch comedy since Mr. Show. That’s Numberwang!
I admit I never got the big deal about Banksy, but I sort of do after streaming this documentary, which I never would have rented because I never got the big deal about Banksy. Meet an unusual fellow who videotapes everything in his life, watch him infiltrate the underground street art community, and see him somehow become the toast of Los Angeles as a street artist himself. If you only watch one documentary from 2010 (like I did) watch this one.
Volumes 1-4 have been streaming for ages, and while I own them on DVD, this means I don’t have to fuck around opening the boxes and looking for the discs I want and losing precious seconds inserting them into the DVD player like some kind of caveman from two years ago. Volume 5, which aired recently on Comedy Central, is already online and streaming. Not a lot of instant classics, but a few strong episodes, like “The Late Philip J. Fry” and “The Prisoner of Benda” are worth a second, third, and fourth viewing.
I recently sold my box-set of the single season of Firefly, and then immediately pined for them. Luckily, Netflix saved me from having to slink back to Dimple Records to re-purchase them by having them available to stream. Shiny!
Serenity, the film made specifically so Firefly fans would shut the hell up about the show being canceled, isn’t great, but at least you can see the useless characters from the show die. (I am fully prepared to argue about why these characters are useless and deserved to die.)
The Larry Sanders Show (all seasons)
I didn’t watch much of this when it was on, and after streaming about eight episodes recently, I’ve decided I don’t entirely love it. Still, it’s evident how influential it was, considering how many of the best TV comedies these days are single-camera, no-laugh-track affairs.
I never, ever, ever would have rented this, but I streamed it one day because otherwise I might have had to do something productive. It’s great, fun, and charming, and since it’s not a Pixar film it won’t make a shameless and transparent attempt to cause you to weep uncontrollably (though it does have its sentimental moments).
If you’re watching anything good on Netflix Instant, let me know in the comments.