Back in April, I bought a NowTV box and a 6-month entertainment pass. I was wondering at the time whether I’d want to continue the experiment beyond 6 months, but here we are in October, and I can say it’s a categorical yes.
In fact, I love my NowTV so much I barely watch TV through any other service. It’s a great example of unbundling and why it might be the future of TV. Instead of paying over £20 per month for a basic satellite package, which inevitably includes loads of channels you would never watch, NowTV gives you a smaller selection that has plenty of good stuff to watch, for a much lower price. £6.99 per month is the post-offer price, which I wouldn’t be prepared to pay if the service hadn’t also been fairly glitch-free and reliable. So you don’t record anything, but everything is available on demand, on your TV, your laptop, your iPad, or your iPhone.
The family ploughed through Game of Thrones fairly sharpish, and then watched season 4 as it was broadcast. That was worth the first £35 I paid. At the same time, we watched all of the episodes of Mad Men that we hadn’t seen (i.e. since it moved from BBC2 to Sky). We watched Season 5 of Modern Family and a whole bunch of other stuff, such as The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight, and Girls (season 1).
I’ve tried a whole load of other shows, not all of which were worth pursuing. For example, Ray Donovan did nothing for me, and Enlightened seemed like a bit of a clone of The Big C, which I grew tired of before the end.
So what have I been watching lately?
- Number one on my list has to be The Newsroom, the Aaron Sorkin scripted television news fantasy starring Jeff Daniels and Emily Mortimer. So it tanked, and it has been cancelled (with just six episodes to come in a truncated Season 3) and I can see why, but I confess I love that fast-talking screwball comedy script style and I absolutely loved losing myself in the fantasy of what TV news could be. I also have a giant soft spot for Olivia Munn. I might watch The Newsroom again from the beginning. The day I realised I’d watched the last one of Season 2 was a dark one indeed.
- A surprising hit with both myself and the kids was the surprisingly funny Adam Buxton’s Bug. Watching interesting music videos and then reading out the genuine YouTube comments in funny voices doesn’t sound like it ought to work, but it is hilarious.
- The Leftovers has recently started, and you get to be an episode ahead on NowTV. It is complete nonsense, of course, and being from the team that brought us Lost will inevitably end in disappointment, but for now I tolerate it.
- Veep – watched in the wrong order (Season 1, followed by Season 3, now Season 2), but still funny at times. And it has Elaine in it, so…
- The Blacklist. Has now appeared as a Boxed Set, with Season 2 ongoing. It’s part of the new brutalism, which I’ll be writing more about at some point. I’d watched a couple of episodes from the middle of the season before, but watching from the beginning was better. It’s pretty good, though can be horribly violent.
- Unforgettable. A kind of Mentalist clone with Poppy Montgomery (from Without a Trace) as a woman who is unable to forget anything. Apart, natch, from the murder of her own sister, or something. It’s bearable.
- Perception. Another Mentalist (or Castle?) clone, with him out of Will and Grace, and her out of The OC, and her out of She’s All That. Yes, Rachael Lee Cook is the main reason to watch this show about an FBI consultant who suffers from schizophrenia and is ‘helped’ in solving crimes by his hallucinations. It’s moderately entertaining.
- Forever is very new. It’s an, um, Mentalist/Sherlock/Castle clone about a doctor who is both immortal and accident prone. He teams up with a cop to solve crimes and gets killed a lot. I’ll watch it as long as they don’t become a couple.
- The Last Ship. Another new series, produced by Michael Bay, it’s a preposterously stupid show about the last US Navy ship in a world brought to its knees by a virus.
- Legends. Sean Bean plays an FBI agent who lives his cover so deeply that he seems to have forgotten who he really is. Also appearing: her out of Heroes. Another new brutalist show featuring graphic violence.
- The Alternative Comedy Experience. Proper standup in a small venue, some of which is brilliant, some of which is… not. Curated by Stewart Lee, who interviews some of the comedians about their craft.
- The Tyrant. New show about a fictional Middle East country, its dictator, and his westernised brother. Kind of soapy, but a bit different.
- Justified. A boxed set and the new Season 5. I’ve been a big advocate of Justified over the past few years, but I’m less into this. It’s all a bit repetitive and samey. Seems to have fewer interesting female characters this time around, too. So I’m in one of those I’ll watch anything else moods with it.
Not bothering with: boxed sets of 24, Prison Break, Lost, The West Wing, Without a Trace, Scandal, etc.. There really is quite a lot to choose from.