Miss last night’s MELROSE PLACE? Want to get your gleek on with the cast of GLEE? Well, now more than ever, it’s simple to fire up your computer, head to a web site and catch up on everything you’ve missed or relive the moments you wish you hadn’t erased from the DVR. But how good are the sites? Special theTVaddict.com contributor CT take a quick look at some of the most popular outlets on which to play network executive by creating your own personal line-up!
Two words: Hulu rocks (Unless of course you live outside of the United States which is an entirely different story for an entirely different day). From their kick-ass ad campaign to the best selection of current and past television shows — not to mention movies, including documentaries — the folks at Hulu have made themselves the best destination on the web for people lookin’ to kill a few hours. The site allows you to throw shows into a personal que, subscribe to favorite shows and — best of all — stop watching a show and, upon returning, have it pick up right where you left off, even if you don’t get back to it until days later. Plus, where else can you watch anything from 21 JUMP STREET to the animated RETURN TO THE PLANET OF THE APES? Yeah, like I said: Hulu rocks.
This site, like most of the shows it features, is obviously designed for teens suffering from attention-deficit disorder. Bright colors, pretty things popping up every two seconds. But trying to find what you actually want to watch? Next to impossible. And if you want to watch, say, episodes of SUPERNATURAL from last season as a way to catch up on what’s happening now, forget it. You’ll be lucky to find the past three episodes of any given show on the site. It’s great if you want to miss an episode you missed last week (although don’t count on them having it posted the day after it aired, as is common on other sites), but beyond that, it’s a mess.
Content wise, ABC’s site has most of the basics covered as far as the network’s own programming is considered. (It is, however, odd, that the site features episodes of GENERAL HOSPITAL, but not the network’s two other daytime soaps, ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE.) Unfortunately, like several other sites, most shows only offer the past three or four episodes. Apparently, networks haven’t realized that a new viewer to, say, UGLY BETTY, might like to go back and watch the show from the beginning. ABC.com is, however, pretty easy to navigate, with less-obtrusive pop-ups than are found on many other sites.
Along with its own line-up, NBC’s site also offers several original shows as well as classic’s like THE A-TEAM, MIAMI VICE and QUANTUM LEAP. Unfortunately, NBC, too, only offers the most recently aired episodes, meaning that if you get sucked back into HEROES yet again after having abandoned it twice (don’t judge me!) you can’t go back and view episodes from the previous seasons. See a recurring problem with the network sites, perhaps?
We’re deducting major points from CBS for making the odd decision not to include current episodes of several popular shows such as THE BIG BANG THEORY or THE GHOST WHISPERER, and yet featuring half-a-dozen or more episodes of BIG BROTHER. Huh? They do, however, score a few points back for featuring full episodes, clips and even behind the scenes material from their entire daytime line-up, as well as a healthy collection of classics, including the original MELROSE PLACE and TWIN PEAKS.
The FOX site is downright confusing. Not in it’s offerings, which are pretty straight-forward, or in it’s navigation, which isn’t tough. But what makes little sense is why the site only offers the past few episodes of such serialized shows as FRINGE or DOLLHOUSE, but the entire season of HELL’S KITCHEN. While only the first two episodes of DOLLHOUSE’s second season are available on the FOX site, three additional episodes from season 1 are offered on Hulu. I’m just sayin’.
Hey, we have to include something for the news junkies, right? MSNBC’s home page is almost as cluttered as that of the CW, which makes sense seeing as the network which dubs itself “the place for politics” is schitzophrenic at best. It ain’t easy finding such offerings as COUNTDOWN or THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW on the site, and the pulldown menus for the shows are ridiculously difficult to navigate. Worse, once you finally get to the current episode of any given show, you can’t simply watch the entire program. Instead, you must click on each individual segment.
Finding actual episodes of any Fox News offerings on their site proved as difficult as making sense of anything Glenn Beck says. As best we could tell, there are no full-episodes of Beck, O’Reilly or Hannity available on the site (although you can buy their books!). The site itself is overcrowded and disorganized, so if someone figures out that they actually do offer full episodes, please let us know and we’ll re-evaluate our grade.