Thursday, October 30, 2008

How to watch Hulu from outside the US

I was doing some content searches today and came across TV Paradise, located at

The site is essentially Hulu minus only the promotional banner that scrolls at the top of the browser.

What the hell?

I don't understand how a bizarro-hulu like this can exist. It has literally all of Hulu's content, presented in exactly the same fashion, with the same exact search filters. The only difference is that it doesn't provide accounts for users.

This can't possibly be legal, so Hulu must either be using this as another platform to promote their content, or unable to shut the site down.

Whatever the moral issues here, TV Paradise has a prominent message advising those outside of the US to use an app called "Hotspot Shield" to access the videos (Hulu, of course, is only licensed to distribute their content in the US right now).

So, Hotspot Shield (an application which I have never used and therefore do not endorse) is apparently the answer to watching Hulu from lands near and far. It claims to hide your online identity. I assume it will work on Hulu, but if it doesn't, there s always bizarro Hulu...for now.
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Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hulu In the News

Man, I can't sneeze these days without knocking down a handful of Hulu news stories. They are basically all positive this week-- the sum of all the parts is that Hulu is well on the way to world domination.

By the way, Hulu is one year old today. So, Happy Birthday!

Who Still Watches Saturday Night Live...Live?
The name should perhaps be changed to Saturday Night Streamed, suggests the Times' Brian Stelter, and he kinda has a point: The most memorable SNL sketches of the season were likely seen by more people online than on broadcast television. Tina Fey's debut impersonation of Sarah Palin was viewed 14 million times on, compared with 10 million people estimated to have seen it on TV. Numbers for her follow-up impersonation were similarly lopsided. We love the way NBC has used Hulu, but the whole thing looks like a trap.

Web Site's Formula For Success -- TV Content With Fewer Ads
“THUMBS up” and “thumbs down” ratings for commercials. Choose-your-own-advertisement options before shows begin. Interactive games during advertising breaks.

In the last year these online advertising innovations have been popularized by Hulu, the online video Web site that will celebrate its first anniversary on Wednesday. For all that has been written about Hulu’s easy-to-use, aesthetically pleasing interface, the advertising experience is equally important.

PlayOn Adds Hulu to Your Xbox 360, PS3
PlayOn streams online video from the likes of Hulu, YouTube, and Netflix to your Xbox 360, Playstation 3, or HP MediaSmart TV. I've only tested the application on my Xbox 360 (it shows up as a source in the media blade of the dashboard), and for the most part it's worked really well.

Happy Birthday, Hulu! I'm glad you guys didn't suck
Online tv/film site Hulu launched a year ago today, and boy did we have to eat crow.

We provided nearly constant criticism of the site since it was announced in March 2007 (no name, billion dollar valuation, name translation issues, trademark absurdity, etc.). But despite a slightly bumpy launch, we had to admit that they did an outstanding job. And today I can safely say I spend more time watching Hulu than I do my standard home cable connection.

Hulu Wants to Enter UK; Held Up by Kangaroo's Troubles
We've speculated for a while that NBCU/News Corp.'s US VOD JV Hulu would like to launch here in the UK. Today C21 reports the site is considering "a partnership approach" with UK counterpart Kangaroo, with C21 even suggesting Kangaroo could itself get named "Hulu" rather than the rumoured "See-Saw"…

This is not quite our understanding of the situation. Sources told paidContent:UK the much-lauded Hulu is hoping for a UK launch next year, along with several other territories under consideration. But...

Sharing Tools and TV Shows Help Hulu Win Online Fans
Hulu CEO Jason Kilar could give you a whole list of reasons his "premium" video site has seen such stunning growth, but the sharing tools would have to top it.

TV shows such as Family Guy and Saturday Night Live appear in their full and uncut glory on Hulu, and also get widely shared on blogs and websites via simple embedding tools and e-mail links.

Not for Hulu: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

When something like the Great Pumpkin comes along, I have to leave my computer and go watch it on television with my wife.

Not some newfangled wall-mounted paper-thin television set, either. No, our tv is cube shaped, faux wood paneled, and just a few months away from being completely obsolete.

So why do I suddenly sound like a curmudgeonly old bastard? The original Charlie Brown holiday specials will do that to me.

It's both strange and wonderful that, in the year 2008, a major network will make an event out of a fifty year old cartoon that you can probably find streaming on a thousand internet sites. This annual Halloween ritual underscores the oft-noted difference between the communal television set and the private computer screen.

For better or for worse, TV is the center of family life in the average American household. It draws disparate members of the family together to have a shared experience. That shared experience may be vapid, bland, and unhealthy, but at least it's social. The home computer, on the other hand, is designed for a single user, and encourages family members to enter their own private world to the exclusion of others.

On a macrocosmic scale, we see the same forces at work on our nation. Network tv acts to unite the country, while cable tv (and the rapidly growing phenomenon of internet tv) works to divide the country into small demographic slices. The watercooler talk used to be about last night's primetime network offerings; now, the water cooler people are going to have to really work at it to find a show they have in common.

So, within that context, I cheer on throwbacks like "It's A Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Families with children all across the nation are sitting down to tune this one in, and even though the ratings aren't what they once were, the ritual has that all-American, nationally unifying flavor to it.

In my home, my wife and I got cozy with some local apple cider and a bag of microwave popcorn and turned the show into a little quality social time. We've tuned in for as many years as we've been living together, and I have no doubt we'll be tuning it in for as long as ABC continues to make it available.

I know that Charlie Brown will forever get rocks thrown into his pillowcase, and that Linus will never be visited by the Great Pumpkin, no matter how sincere he and his pumpkin patch may be.

Lucy will be gruff and dismissive of her brother's namby pambyness even as she collects candy from the neighbors on his behalf. Snoopy will forever relive WWII, even as that war's memory grows dim and loses all practical relevance for the average American.

Even though the show holds no surprises for us, it brings us together and gives us comfort. And that's something that we could all use a little more of.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Hulu Up!

After somewhere between 10 and 20 minutes, Hulu came back online and can continue servicing all my digital media needs.

Hulu Down!

Well, this is a revolting development.

Especially for those of us who just watch Hulu all day.

I'll let you know as soon as I notice it getting back online.

If you need me, I'll be in my trailer

This is a (long overdue) day for Hulu.

They've finally added movie trailers to the mix.

As their opening gambit, they've populated the new trailer section with 52 selections, the large majority of which are mainstream blockbusters (or blockbuster wannabes).

Some of the trailers are past their prime (Batman, Pineapple Express, etc.), but there are also glimpses of some of the most buzzed-about movies around (The Watchmen and Harry Potter, for example).

There are also some less mainstream offerings, such as Happy Go Lucky, which I'm guessing slipped by most of us at the theater:

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What I'm Watching: Mushi-shi

Not too many cartoons out there are as thoughtful and articulate as this brilliant anime offering by FUNimation. The setup sounds almost like a Japanese version of the X-Files; Mushi are spirit creatures that live in the world around us. While they are not generally evil, their very existence can disrupt the lives of humans. The main character is a white-haired, green-eyed "Mushi Master" named Ginko. He travels the world, helping those who are having problems coexisting with their local Mushi.

The storyline sounds like an excuse for lots of loud battle scenes and frenetic action, but nothing could be further from the quiet magic that fuels this show. I hardly know what to praise first. The whole enterprise is seamlessly devoted to bringing traditional Japanese culture to life. The quiet setting, the delicate artwork, the compelling human stories, and the delightfully imaginative Mushi all work to seduce me every time I tune in.

You might imagine that a "Mushi Master" would be all brawn, but Ginko is a hero of a different color. He usually blows into town, drawn to the local Mushi. He listens thoughtfully to the local human who is having problems, and then offers his advice. His two weapons are his herbal remedies, and his vast knowledge of the ins and outs of the seemingly endless forms of Mushi.

The Mushi are the stars of the show. They are usually presented as some bizarre component of the local ecology, with their own needs for survival. One episode, we might see a type of Mushi that lives in your ear canal and feeds on sounds. Another type might live in the darkness between your two sets of eyelids. A third might be connected with a moving swamp that appears and disappears overnight.

The show is very thoughtful, and always makes an effort to throw out a little food for thought as it moves through the plot of any given episode. The English dubbing is so flawless that I thought it might have been created in the US (but it's not).

In short, this is what anime is all about. If you've never dabbled in these cartoons, this is the one to cut your teeth on.

Monday, October 27, 2008

In Case You Missed It...

...Hulu premiered Tina Fey's half hour comedy "30 Rock" 8 days before it will hit network tv.

This is a Hulu coup of the first degree. Few comedies are as popular or buzz-worthy as 30 Rock has become over the last couple of years.

I saw an article about a month ago in which some NBC bigwig said that they would have broadcast the 30 Rock premiere earlier in the season if they knew this Fey-as-Palin thing was going to be such a big hit.

I'm not sure if the early Hulu release is a direct result of that desire to capitalize on the Fey phenom, or whether it's a happy coincidence, but it does underline to networks something that Hulu can provide-- flexibility. NBC was able to post the episode early without having to worry about promo ads or shuffling their schedule around, and that's money in the bank, baby.

Anyhow, I hope you take the 21.5 minutes (way to scalp another 60 seconds off the funny, NBC) to enjoy the season 3 opener, which features Liz's attempt to adopt, and the return of Jack Burns.

Watch the episode here!

Hulu Awards: Panelist FAQ

What are the Hulu Awards?
The Hulu Awards are given annually to the best content hosted at, in a variety of categories. They recognize movies, television programs, clips, short-format programs, and film shorts for being the best in their field.

Who decides what content is deserving of a Hulu Award?
The Hulu Awards are given out by a panel of select people, who have been chosen for their interest in the type of content that Hulu hosts. The panel consists of 25 members, each of whom spend a lot of time reviewing the eligible content and giving their informed opinion. The public at large is also given the opportunity to vote for their favorites; the total public reader vote is equal to one panelist.

What are the benefits to being a panelist?
1. Well, hopefully you have a genuine love for movies, television, and/or other online content, and you will get a certain pleasure from having your opinion weighted in a public forum.
2. Hopefully, the process will broaden your horizons and help you in your online publishing efforts by exposing you to new content that you would not have considered watching before.
3. This is something to add to your online resume, and if the ceremony gets as much attention as I'm hoping it will, it will be a feather in all of our caps
4. Over the years, I hope to build this up in visibility and prestige. That means that, over time, the composition of the panel will become increasingly exclusive. But those who complete their participation this year will be asked to return for next year.
5. You should be able to generate extra traffic to your blog or website, as I will be linking to the sites of panelists in a variety of ways

When is the annual online ceremony?
The next Hulu Awards online ceremony will be held in March 2009. More details are to follow.

As a panelist, what are my duties?
Each panelist has a minimum duty to participate fully in the nomination process. During the nomination period, each panelist will receive a weekly email. The weekly email will describe their specific tasks for that week. Almost always, that will consist entirely of the following:
1) Review the list of eligible nominees and propose your favorites for nomination;
2) Review the proposed nominees and vote on which of these deserves to be an actual nominee;
3) Vote for which of the actual nominees deserves to be the winner of the Hulu Award for that category

How should I get my picks to you?
Email them to me at

What is the time commitment for the panelists?
The time commitment is difficult to define, because it is highly subjective. The real question is, "How much research do you have to conduct in order to cast a vote in good conscience?" For some categories, you will probably be very familiar with the material that is up for nomination, and can just go on your instincts. In others, you will not know anything at all, and have to come up with a way to make your decision.

Can I promote my blog through this process?
Absolutely. In fact, any time you publish anything on your blog about a show that is currently being considered for an award, I will link to it and recommend that everyone checks it out. I would like this to be a big discussion about the online content that we all love, and that discussion has the potential to move a lot of eyeballs to all of our sites.

That seems relatively simple. What if I want to do more?
There is certainly a lot of work to be done, and I welcome your help in making this the best possible awards ceremony it can be. The nomination process is currently the most pressing and visible part of the process, and there are many tasks associated with defining categories and eligible content for those categories. As the nomination process comes to a close, there will be more behind the scenes work as we attempt to get full participation from the nominated shows. If you would like to take on an additional task, please email me, and I will give you some options.

What are the dates for the various categories and the Awards Ceremony?
Here's the time line for the remaining Hulu Awards work to be done. We're taking a long Christmas break, just because I know how hard it is to get anything done during that period, and finishing up the nomination process in January.

Week of November 10:
Best Non-Competitive Reality Series
Best Competitive Reality Series
Best Celebrity-Driven Reality Series

Week of November 17:
Best Comedy TV Show
Best Comedic Short
Best Movie Comedy

Week of November 24:
Best Dramatic TV Series
Best Movie Drama
Best Non-comedic Short Format Show
Best Short-Format Comedy

Week of December 1:
Best Non-Anime Cartoon Series
Best Anime Series
Best Animated Short
Best Family Movie

Week of December 8:
Best Travel / Leisure Series
Best Cooking or Food Show
Worst Reality Show

Week of December 15:
Best Classic Movie
Best Action TV Series
Best Web Original
Worst Web Original


Week of January 12:
Best SciFi/Fantasy TV Series
Best SciFi Movie
Best Videogame Coverage
Worst Scripted TV Series
Worst Movie

Week of January 19:
Best News Show
Best Information Show
Best Talk and Interview Show

Week of January 26:
Aggregate Awards
Best Clip
Best Hulu Feature
Best Studio

Week of March 2:
Hulu Awards Night!
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Sports Programming Award Heats Up!

Okay, we've gone from a list of over 51 eligible nominees to a short list of 18 proposed nominees. The proposed nominees are those selections that captured the interest of at least two of our panelists.

The panelists will now vote on which five proposed nominees will actually receive a Hulu Award Nomination. Our first nomination is at stake! I'm so excited I've soiled myself.

Here are the proposed nominees:

2008 National Heads Up Poker Championship
American Gladiators
Battle Dome
Built to Shred
Buzzer Beater
Fantasy Fix
Fed Ex Orange Bowl Game 2008
Fight Girls
MMA Fight Weekly
Ninja Warrior
A Shot At Glory
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 2007
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 2008
WWE Classics

And here are what our panelists are saying about their picks. I encourage everyone to speak their mind so that, when the dust clears, we have the five best nominees we can possibly have.

Panelist: Emily from Eclaire Fare (‏)
Proposed Nominee(s): Firsthand
I chose nominees based on their production values, entertainment value, and unique perspectives on the sports they involve. I had never watched any of the 51 eligible programs listed, so I went into the selection process unbiased in that regard.

Surprisingly, my favorite of the three nominees was Firsthand. I don't normally follow extreme sports, but I liked how this show gave an inside look at the sports' athletes, while also showing impressive stunts and providing a sampling of different artists and music. I felt like there was a little something for everyone.

Panelist: Jason from The Semi Large Show (
Proposed Nominee(s): NHL
They have highlights, full games, and interviews. It's great to see what's going on in the world of hockey.

Panelist: Amrie from My Take on TV (‏)
Proposed Nominee(s):
The Matty Blake Show - love his sarcasm
Pinks - huge fan, watch it with my dad!
Ninja Warrior - hilarious
M80 - love Motocross!

Panelist: Antonice from The Angry Premed Student (‏)
Proposed Nominee(s):
American Gladiators— I nominated this because this is a classic. Yeah. It has been remade for the new generation but it’s all the same games and rules. You simply can’t go wrong with Gladiators!

2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship—I like Poker. Not a very good poker player but I jump at the chance to play and learn and become a skilled player, this is why I chose this for my second nomination. Poker has become such a phenomenon worldwide, that it’s hard to NOT want to play or even watch these people play and win millions on a card game!

Battle Dome—This,to me, is a combination of American Gladiators and some bad talk show. I liked the few episodes I saw.

Panelist: Ralph from This is Some Scene (‏)
Proposed Nominee(s): PINKS
Sports is my least favorite category, however I love cars. So my nominee for best Sports programming has to go to PINKS. I love the heated negotiations between the drivers and there is a lot at stake - Lose the race, lose your ride. Good drama.
Panelist: John from Axiom's Edge (‏)
Proposed Nominee(s):
I'm a Football guy, so I'm going to go with what I know (with one exception):
1. Best of Bowl Bash 2008 (some good highlights from some good games)
2. Fantasy Fix
3. College Sports Minute (though why is there nothing from the last two weeks?)
4. National Heads-Up Poker (took a look at this and found it addictive)
5. Any of the Bowl Games
Panelist: Liz from her pop culture blog(
Proposed Nominee(s):
Fight Girls--Another series where the episodes are short and sweet; and the drama that a bunch of women live together and then have to fight one another Vegas is riveting to say the least. Battle's like American Gladiators and WWE, with a sprinkle of Jerry Springer. And oozes with so much schtick that it's kind of hard not to watch.

A Shot at Glory--I am a sucker for "back story" profiles; and I think this show provides great access to today's athletes and strides to inspire as well as inform.
Panelist: Yours truly
Proposed Nominee(s): Built to Shred
Built to Shred has all the authenticity and camaraderie of a Jackass episode, with none of the gross or reprehensible behavior. It basically features a group of inventive pro skateboarders building dreamscapes to skate upon. They use of a variety of materials and locations for their raw material. You don't have to be a skateboarding fan to enjoy this program. One downside is the quick-cut editing. I think that the average shot length is literally about three quarters of a second. I'm not exaggerating. Hey Fuel! These retinas have to last me a lifetime! Quit trying to burn them out!

Panelist: Rae from Ramblings of a TV Whore (
Proposed Nominee(s):
A Shot at Glory: Nominated as an excellent online Olympic companion with in-depth profiles of the biggest USA Olympic hopefuls. Each episode excels at capturing the Olympic spirit while also being interesting and informative.

Fight Girls: Reality show competition meets kick ass girls. These girls are tough and very focused on what they want but a competition always breeds drama so the show also shows the more social side of fighting in the ring.

Firsthand: Even though I know nothing about extreme sports, I found this series addicting. The firsthand profiles of the athletes gives the audience a sense of having a conversation with these athletes. The series is well-shot, mixing action in with the stories being told in such a way that the twenty minutes fly by quickly.

Panelist: Laura from Movie Review Report (
Proposed Nominee(s):
NHL- Live Every Shift (It's awesome that they have full games available and highlights for the week)

Hulu Awards: Best Show of the Eighties

The third and final category that the panelists will be considering this week is "Best Show of the Eighties."

Remember, Hulu Review readers and the general public can vote on their pick in the comments section of this post. The total audience vote will have the weight of one panel member.

Hollywood is already scouring tv shows from this era to dredge up some movie ideas. "Miami Vice" has been done and I hear a movie about "The A Team" is in the works, so can "Alf: The Movie" be far behind?

Here are the 28 eligible programs: Five final nominees coming soon!

The A Team
Archie Bunker's Place
Buck Rogers
DC Follies
Elvira's Movie Macabre
The Facts of Life
The Fall Guy
Galactica 1980
Hart to Hart
Hill Street Blues
The Incredible Hulk
Married With Children
Miami Vice
The Munsters Today
Remington Steele
Silver Spoons
Simon and Simon
St. Elsewhere
TJ Hooker
WKRP in Cincinnati
Who's the Boss?
The White Shadow
What's Happening Now?
Fantasy Island

Hulu Awards: Best Show of the Seventies

Also up for Hulu Award nominations this week are the best shows of the seventies. Technically, it's the best color tv program that aired primarily before 1979, but "Best Show of the 70s" has a nicer ring, don't you think?

So strap on your bell bottoms and feel free to wade through the following shows. It's an era that saw the Land of the Giants versus The Time Tunnel. Bob Newhart versus Mary Tyler Moore. Lou Grant versus Kojack. And the list goes on.

Remember, Hulu Review readers and the general public can vote on their pick in the comments section of this post. The audience vote will have the same weight as one panelist.

There are 28 eligible nominees, and soon that will be whittled down to the five nominees.

Here's the list!

Adam 12
Alias Smith and Jones
Barney Miller
Battlestar Galactica Classic
The Bob Newhart Show
Charlie's Angels
I Dream of Jeannie
I Spy
It Takes a Thief
Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot
Land of the Giants
Lost in Space
Lou Grant
The Mary Tyler Moore Show
Nanny and the Professor
Night Gallery
One Day at a Time
The Partridge Family
The Rockford Files
Starsky and Hutch
The Time Tunnel
What's Happening?
Welcome Back Kotter

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Hulu Awards: Best Classic TV Show

This week, our panelists will be looking at TV programs from years past. They're putting on their thinking caps and will ultimately decide what lucky TV Show will win the "Best Classic Television Show."

All black and white television shows currently hosted at Hulu are eligible.

There are only nine eligible programs, so we're coming up with a list of 3 nominees, one of whom will win the whole ball of wax.

Remember, Hulu Review readers and the general public can vote on their pick in the comments section of this post. The audience vote will have the same weight as one panelist.

Here's the list!

The Addams Family
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
The Dick Van Dyke Show
Father Knows Best
McHale's Navy
The Three Stooges Collection 1934-1936
Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

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The Weekend's New Movies

Two big-name movie additions. One is notorious for the ugly monster within that rears its head at an unexpected time, and the other is by John Carpenter...

The most famous crotch-shot in American film history has officially hit Hulu. Director Paul Verhoeven cranked out two and a half hours of suspense, complete with all the sultry sex he could wring out of Michael Douglas, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Sharon Stone. When it first came out, the movie had enough innovation and plot twists to make it come off as a pretty good popcorn movie, even getting some praise from most critics. But now? I have to say that in 16 years, the movie industry has moved on so completely that it is unwatchable. The action scenes are unacceptably cheesy, the plot twists are all telegraphed far in advance, and the plodding pace is simply tortuous, even in this reduced 2:08 cut.

Some reviewers on Hulu have complained about the excessive commerical breaks on this feature, but I didn't think it was too bad. There are 10 breaks over 2 hours, and while it's true that two hours of tv programming wouldn't have 10 commercial breaks, these breaks are shorter at about 30 seconds apiece.

I'm going to make a prediction that this will spend some time on Hulu's most popular movie list, but it will be from people hoping to snatch a glimpse of Sharon Stone's catch (Wait! Strike that. Reverse it).


Any horror/scifi goon worth his salt is going to tell you that John Carpenter's 1982 remake of The Thing is a masterpiece. That, and it has Wilford Brimley, the Quaker Oats guy, so you know it's going to be good. Carpenter takes full advantage of the claustrophobic interiors of the research station, and the desolate open wastelands that surround it. Made before CGI, the movie has quality gore aplenty, but the real heart of the movie is the oft-imitated atmosphere of paranoia bred by the idea that any of the travelers could be harboring the monster among them.

The Weekend's New Show

Just one new show added this weekend. That means Blue Gender is the best new series of the weekend. It's also the worst.

: Four 23 minute episodes
Clips: None
Studio: FUNimation
Rank: C+
This is the first anime show I've seen that is truly epic in scope. We're in the year 2031, and a race of big insect-like aliens called "The Blue" have taken over the earth, with a predictably dire impact on the human race. Some humans have taken the battle to outer space, while other human survivors live in the cracks of a post-apocalyptic world. So I like the setup, and the storylines really take advantage of this scope, with the four episodes posted covering everything from "warrior training to battle giant bugs" to "little girl needs saving."

But for all that, the series didn't really grab me. I think anime is most successful when it draws on deep-rooted japanese culture to bring a fresh twist to tired old storylines and art. The drawing on Blue Gender is sub-par, reminding me more of GI Joe or Battletech than most of the other artful anime that's out there. The story, while different from other anime I've seen, didn't strike me as something too different from what the American cartoon factory churns out on a semi-regular basis.


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Friday, October 24, 2008

The Week's Most Popular TV Episodes

#1 Family Guy (S7E3 "Road to Germany")
Last week's rank: New to list
Weeks on list: 1
Stewie, Brian, and "Mort the Jew" journey back through time to do battle with Hitler and the WWII era Nazi party. A great opportunity for Stewie to masquerade as Hitler, with an excellent Chaplin reference thrown in for good measure. I particularly like the random musical parody of Little Shop of Horrors.

#2 The Office (S5E3 "Baby Shower")
Last week's rank: NA
Weeks on list: 1
Oh God, this show is just getting funnier and funnier. Michael is devastated when Jan shows up with her baby after having frozen him out of the birthing process. Michael browbeats the staff into throwing her a baby shower, which goes spectacularly wrong. Dwight tests her stroller while she's occupied creeping out the Dunder Mifflin staff. Don't forget to watch the extra clips that didn't make the original episode.

#3 Family Guy (S7E2 "I Dream of Jesus")
Last week's rank: #1
Weeks on list: 3
Three straight weeks on the list? That's unprecedented (at least, unprecedented in the three weeks I've been compiling this list). The episode, in which Peter meets Jesus working in a video store and befriends the son of God, is filled with funny sacrilege.

#4 Saturday Night Live: Weekend Update Thursday (S1E2)
Last week's rank: NA
Weeks on list: 1
This was a solid half hour of comedy, with the best moment being when the crazy McCain rally lady (who in real life told McCain that Obama was an "Arab") wandered onto the set spouting inacurracies. There was also a parody of the plumber-centric debate between McCain and Obama.

#5 Heroes (S3E6 "Dying of the Light")
Last week's rank: NA
Weeks on list: 1
Last week, Heroes nabbed the #4 slot, so this bow at #5 seems to mesh with reports that the show's ratings are in a state of decline. I'll make it easy for the Heroes folks: less time travel, more fights! Although at least they're utilizing Sylar this time around.

#6 The Simpsons (S20E3 "Double, Double, Boy in Trouble")
Last week's rank: NA
Weeks on list: 1
It's a Prince and the Pauper redux when Bart trades places with a wealthy and accented look-a-like. How does this show keep coming up with stuff they haven't done before? The show has been heavy on the relationship between Homer and Marge over the years; in a refreshing change of pace, this episode has two great scenes with Marge and Bart being cute and cuddly together at bedtime.

#7 The Daily Show With John Stewart (S13E134)
Last week's rank: NA
Weeks on list: 1
This episode has a real gem in it when Rob Riggle travels to Palin's hometown of Wasilla, where she served as mayor. They draw a biting contrast between the actual Wasilla and the small town values that Palin espouses, and also the assertion that the Wasilla mayor is a good training ground for executive decisions.

#8 Family Guy (S7E1 "Love Blactually")
Last week's rank: #4
Weeks on list: 3
Three spots on the top ten list? Family Guy is a fricking monster on this site. This is the episode where Stewie convinces Brian to take it slow with a new girlfriend, only to see Cleveland, of all people, move in on her.

#9 The Daily Show With John Stewart (S13E133)
Last week's rank: New to list
Weeks on list: 1
This episode has a lot of Joe-the-plumber talk, which I'm frankly getting very tired of.

#10 House (S5E4 "Birthmarks")
Last week's rank: na
Weeks on list: 1
Every once in a while, House squeezes its way onto the bottom of this list. This is one of several shows that are being posted regularly onto Hulu, 8 days late. I'm not sure what the theory is there.

The Week's Most Popular Movies

Here are the five most popular movies on Hulu this week.

#1 Dragonheart

Last Week's Ranking: NA
Weeks on List: 1
How the hell did this make #1? I guess Quaid or Connery have more pull than I realized. I'm very curious to see whether this has the legs to hang around next week. It's a fantasy actioner in which Quaid makes his living as a dragon slayer, although the dragon in question is his boyhood pal, a CGI dragon voiced by Sean Connery.

Last Week's Ranking: #3
Weeks on List: 3
This is the movie that keeps on ticking. The most popular Hulu movie of all time is once again climbing the charts, demonstrating that it has staying power on this list. The comedy stars Elisha Cuthbert as a porn star, Emile Hirsch as the naive boy who falls in love with her, and Josh Duhamel as a hilarious sleazy producer.

#3 Starship Troopers

Last Week's Ranking: #2
Weeks on List: 3
Another 1-slot slide for the buggy battle flick. Director Paul Verhoeven won a lot of fans when he turned out this space age action movie that launched the career of Denise Richards. What most people don't remember is that it features Neil Patrick Harris, whose post-Doogie career has blossomed recently. Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 62%.

#4 The Fifth Element

Last Week's Ranking: 5
Weeks on List: 1
This movie is a real workhorse for Hulu, drawing the eyeballs in huge numbers long after it's debut. The Bruce Willis/Milla Jovovich scifi climbs into the slot that was held by "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" last week, which is a little ridiculous if you pit the two against each other by any quality-based criteria.

#5 Crawford

Last Week's Ranking: #1
Weeks on List: 3
Crawford has peaked, and is now in a state of decline. As I said when it debuted on Hulu, I loved the political documentary, and I love what it's showing at the top says about the intelligence of Hulu viewers. Now that the election is wrapping up, I would expect this to slip off the list next week.
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The Week's New Shows

Hulu busted out some nice offerings this week. Enjoy!

Presented from Worst to First

The Losers

Survival School

Episodes: Five 24 minute episodes
Clips: 26 clips broken down into 5 different categories, including "Obama Girl"
Network/Studio: Mojo
Grade: C
Mojo unveils their latest stab at low-budget reality, and I have to say that this one is not really worth watching. The idea is to spotlight a five month long wilderness survival course for US airmen. Like "The Academy," it makes the order-barking instructors the heroes of the show, while the recruits all struggle to follow orders well enough to blend in. There's a lot of puke-inducing attempts at tearjerking, and the show does its damnedest to make every situation look as life-threatening as possible. I would recommend the far superior "Carrier," which takes a comprehensive documentarian approach to all aspects of life aboard a military air force carrier.

Episodes: One 24 minute episode
Clips: None
Network/Studio: FUNimation
Grade: C
Is it wrong to complain about a cartoon being surreal? This subtitled japanime offering is about a living dead woman named Makina Hoshimura. She is charged with hunting down other living dead so that she may one day find peace. It's a heavy theme, and many of the settings and characters are eerie and sombre. That's the part I like. But, in a fit of schizophrenia, every second or third scene is loaded down with bizarre slapstick humor that could only appeal to the kiddies. One minute, a creepy serial killer reminiscent of Heath Ledger's Joker is jumping out of a window. The next, a goofy man steals food from the plates of children and gets smacked in the head with a frying pan (with over-the-top sound effects). The art is similarly schizoid, with moody realism giving way to hepped up emoticons on a regular basis. There's a half of a good cartoon here-- maybe even halves of two good cartoons. I suppose there's some reasoning to blending the two forms in such a jarring manner, and maybe I'm just too ignorant about anime to "get it." Whatever the case, this didn't impress me at all.

The Winners

Back on Topps

: 7 "episodes," each about five minutes long
Clips: None
Network/Studio: Vuguru
Grade: B+
It looks like some people are finally getting the hang of this short-format comedy thing. The premise in this one involves the two Topps brothers, who are the rightful heirs to the Topps baseball card company, but who are instead forced to work beneath a boss who hates them. It's an innovative setting, and lends itself easily to a variety of gags. It's similar in a way to The Office, with a sometimes acknowledged camera crew that is there under another pretense. But it also has a flavor all it's own, with some up-temp side jokes and a parade of cameos, most of them involving sports figures or sketch-comedy regulars. I watched and enjoyed all 7 episodes, and am adding this to my subscription list, at least for now (the nice thing about short-format is that it's not such a time commitment). Consider this one recommended. You can also read a nice review of the series at panelist Emmett Hawkins' blog here.

Historic Campaign Ads

Episodes: None
Clips: 32 clips, broken down by decades, which cover 50s & 60s, 70s, and 80s
Network/Studio: iCue
Grade: B+
It's always fun to look at the hopes and fears of an era, with the smug superiority that comes with retrospective knowledge. This gives us a novel and succinct way to look at the best and the worst of Nixon, Reagan, Eisenhower, Mondale, old Bush, Cheney, Ford, Carter, Goldwater, and Johnson. Many of the ads are famous, such as the racially charged Willie Horton ad run by Bush the elder, or Johnson's "Daisy Ad," which suggests the wrong presidential choice could lead to nuclear holocaust. Some of them are interesting because of what came after, such as Dick Cheney's congressional race ads from the 70s. I recommend this as the best show of the week: it's interesting, it's educational, and it's topical. The rare triple-threat.


The Hulu Man
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Angry panelist suggests some nominees

Antonice Louis, a Hulu Awards panelist from The angry Pre-med student, sent in these suggested nominees:

American Gladiators— I nominated this because this is a classic. Yeah. It has been remade for the new generation but it’s all the same games and rules. You simply can’t go wrong with Gladiators!

2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship—I like Poker. Not a very good poker player but I jump at the chance to play and learn and become a skilled player, this is why I chose this for my second nomination. Poker has become such a phenomenon worldwide, that it’s hard to NOT want to play or even watch these people play and win millions on a card game!

Battle Dome—This,to me, is a combination of American Gladiators and some bad talk show. I liked the few episodes I saw.

You can read a little more about his reasoning on his blog, here.

And don't forget, Hulu Review readers can weigh in by voting in the comments section of the post below this one...
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Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hulu Awards: Sports Programming

Earlier this week, thirty top-flight panelists considered for the first time which Sports Programming offering on Hulu is deserving of a Hulu Award. As I type, many of them are reviewing the eligible list of shows and making their selections.

And you can be involved!!!!

That's right, I'm giving you all a chance to weigh in on the Hulu Awards. The most popular choice, as measured by votes on the comment section, will count as a single vote on the panel for that choice.

You can see all of the eligible shows (and a few that aren't eligible) on this link:

Here's the list of eligible shows:

2008 National Heads-Up Poker Championship
2008 US Open
A Shot at Glory
Allstate BCS National Championship Game 2008
Allstate Sugar Bowl Game 2008
American Gladiators
American Misfits
AST Dew Tour
AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic Game 2008
Battle Dome
Best of Bowl Bash 2008
Built to Shred
Buzzer Beater
College Sports Minute
Cyclysm Sundays
Engine Block
Expedition Safari
Fantasy Fix
Fed Ex Orange Bowl Game 2008
Fields of Glory
Fight Girls
Friday Night Smackdown
Heart of Geauxld
Keep Your Eyes Open
MMA Fight Weekly
New Pollution
Ninja Warrior
Notre Dame
Speed X
Strikeforce on NBC
The 808
The Captain and Casey Show
The Finish Line
The Great Ride Open
The Matty Blake Show
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 2007
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl 2008
TRCP's Life in the Open
WCL Turf Wars
WWE Classics
WWE Extras
WWE Monday Night Raw
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Today's Most Popular Clip

What's the most popular clip of the day? Of the week? Of the month? And yes, of ALL TIME?!?!?

The answer is an unlikely underdog: Cable PSA, a skit from Talkshow with Spike Feresten.

Eight out of the ten most popular clips are from SNL, which benefits from a relatively enormous tv presence. So this little engine that could has certainly earned my respect.

I won't spoil the premise, just ask you to enjoy:

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Hulu Down and Up!

This evening, Hulu went down for about an hour, and you have to hand it to them-- they posted a full explanation on their site to let us all know what happened. Here's the skinny:

"Around 6:45pm, we accidentally deployed an incorrect DNS record and this change was cached out to public DNS servers causing all * domains (including our email server, SVN depot, the whole kitchen sink) to resolve into the ether.

With the help of our guardian angel (thanks Phil!), we fixed the DNS change but then had to wait helplessly for it to fully propagate which took a bit of time..."

What I'm Watching: MSNBC Decision 08

Ahhhhhh...Election News. Nothing like a big cup of Talking Head to tell me what's going on in the world of electoral politics.

Of course, these guys have the same amount of time to fill whether there are big developments or small developments, and that's why a little gaffe gets just as much coverage as a global economic meltdown.

I confess to getting way more interested in politics once every four years. Something about the horse race aspect of a presidential election appeals to me. The fluctuating polls, the slips of tongue, that big colorful electoral map identifying the delightfully named "battleground states," the massive amounts of money on display, the head-to-head debates, and the promises-- Oh, the promises! Promises of universal health care, of alternative energy, of a cessation to war. Every four years, a little bit of me believes that there's a candidate on the table that will deliver on their promise of a brighter tomorrow.

It's like Christmas, but with two Santa Clauses instead of one.

MSNBC is new to me this election cycle, but it has all the bells and whistles I need to shamelessly indulge in the theater of politics.

Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow ruthlessly jump on every failing by McCain and Palin. They're a little smarmy, sure, but I find them to be infinitely more digestible than blowhard Bill O'Reilly over at Fox. McCain doesn't know how to use a computer? Palin has strong ties to a secessionist group in Alaska? I love it.

Then, when I've had my fun, Chris Matthews comes in with his Hardball segment. Before this election season, I knew Chris Matthews only from parodies of him on SNL, which are spot on. Still, Chris is not only objective and fun to watch, he does his best to knock his partisan guests off of their talking points, sometimes to great effect. The best thing about him is that when a guest feeds him a party line, he makes no effort to conceal his disgust, which rarely fails to make the guest look a little aChris Matthews at presidential debate in Dearb...shamed.

Next up? Analyst Chuck Todd with his magic electoral map. Remember that movie "Minority Report," where Tom Cruise shuffles through computer files by interacting with 3D holographic images? Todd's display is like that, and I find myself mesmerized as his magic fingers zoom us into the latest electoral hotspot.

There are also some straight-up news segments and interviews to round things out, but they're a little more generic.
Chuck Todd, writer for National Journal and ed...
The funny thing is, as much as I immerse myself in the minutiae of the campaigns, at the end of the day, I'm not any smarter. Even on the most superficial level-- the issues being debated-- I receive almost no substantive education from these sources. Exciting? Yes. Thoughtful? No, not really.

And on a deeper level, I know that the only candidate radical enough to speak all truth, all the time, isn't on the stage at all. Ralph Nader's the person I'm thinking of, but you could say the same for any number of fringe candidates who don't have a prayer of winning.

The smartest people in the world are discussing things in terms that make the differences between Democrats and Republicans seem small. Radically overhauling society by implementing programs that actually make holistic sense from a philosophical perspective-- well, it sounds like a pipe dream, doesn't it?

It's a strange world we live in when those who devote their lives to learning wind up with beliefs that are so far-fetched and impractical.

The best politicians are those who straddle these two worlds. They can operate within the silly rules of the game of politics, but they are also smart enough to keep their eyes on the prize-- moving society towards a more enlightened future in the best possible way.

So anyway, watch MSNBC's election coverage. It won't make you smart, but it's very entertaining theater!
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Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Hulu Up!

Hulu is back online, just a little while after the absence.

Hulu Down!

Someone must have dropped the Hulu server on the floor or something, because the site seems to be down at the moment.

I will let you know as soon as I notice it's back up.

Happy Huluween!

Hot damn, it's Huluween!

If you haven't noticed the enormous banner on Hulu's front page, they've been pimping some "creepy content" for the month of October.

This week, the main new offering is the classic horror comedy "The Toxic Avenger."

What makes it a classic horror comedy? To me, the answer is simple: At the tender age of 11, I personally saw it for a buck fifty at my local independent movie theater, and I thought it was AWESOME. Scenes from this movie stuck with me through the decades. It was funny, disturbing, alluring and thought-provoking. Then, I saw the movie again as an adult and I thought it was HORRIBLE! And it is.

It's campy, and silly, and dumb. Real schlock entertainment. But it will always have a place in my heart. It has a certain kind of B-movie, unabashed charm. If you don't know the plot, it involves nerdy high schooler Melvin getting tricked by the mean kids in school. They wind up accidentally burning him with toxic waste, which gives him enormous strength even as it disfigures him beyond belief. With a mop as his weapon of choice, Melvin becomes a do-good, vengeance-bent hellion.

I hope you take the time to check it out, even if it's just for the giggles.
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Hulu hosting SNL's golden era

There's been a media blitz surrounding the "Tina Fey as Sarah Palin" skits on SNL, and I suspect that story reached its climax on Saturday, when Fey appeared alongside Palin in the show opener.

Hulu has been right there to bask in the glow of this hot story, by hosting those SNL clips just hours after they've aired on live television.

But forget all that-- the Palin skits came in the middle of a stellar SNL episode. In a show that's known for hit-or-miss, there was a slew of classic hits all in a single show.

The most popular clip doesn't even involve Palin. It's a great follow-up to a hilarious skit from the previous week.

Here they are, ranked in order of popularity on Hulu:

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Hulu In the News

Hulu has been getting beaten up the last couple weeks, with competitors springing up like weeds and YouTube teaming up with major network CBS .

Happily, Hulu came roaring back this week with a slew of good news on various fronts. Enjoy: comes to Boxee and AppleTV

Boxee has announced that thanks to their latest version, users of boxee can now watch and share TV shows and movies from and on both their computer and their Apple TV.

According to boxee, they have specially adapted the flash player for both sites and embedded it into the boxee interface.

Watercooler Teams Up With Hulu to Broadcast Top TV Shows on TVLoop
Known for bringing us the “Addicted to the [TV Show Name]” applications on sites like Facebook, Watercooler is branching out in its partnership with Hulu to bring us our favorite television shows via TVLoop.

This partnership will enable you to view 40 top shows with Hulu’s standard full-screen, high quality viewing experience. It also uses the social aspects of TVLoop to connect users who watch the same shows. Social television – what could be better?

RWW Predictions: YouTube's New Monetization VS Hulu
In an effort to monetize YouTube, the video giant will start experimenting with full-length TV shows that include embedded ads. Upcoming video service Hulu offers similar content on its site and is giving Youtube stiff competition. Help us in predicting the following: with this new offering from YouTube, what will Hulu's traffic growth be for November 2008 according to Compete?
Current to Run RooftopComedy Programming

Cable network Current has inked a deal with RooftopComedy to carry the Internet comedy site’s sketches on Current and

Under the deal RooftopComedy will provide Current TV with a weekly program of stand-up comedy from venues around the U.S., Europe and Asia.

Rooftop already syndicates its comedy programming to Nokia, Motorola, iTunes, Sprint, YouTube, Hulu, DailyMotion, Buzzwire and others.

Monday, October 20, 2008


Last Call With Carson Daly and The Shield

I've noticed two more shows that have left Hulu for the great cyber-hereafter, at least for now.

"Last Call With Carson Daly" must have been yanked by NBC for some reason, although I'm not sure what that might be. The half hour late night talk show seems to be a natural fit for Hulu, which features all sorts of similar shows. I didn't watch this one myself, so you fans are going to have to jump start the letter-writing campaign yourselves.

"The Shield" is a little more understandable. The show page never had much on it- maybe one or two episodes and/or clips. It seemed more like the page was a placeholder in case they decided to make it available. With scads of awards and 7 successful seasons going for it, it seems like this might have more profit potential as a DVD set than an online offering.

Farewell, Carson! Farewell, Shield!

The Weekend's New Shows

Presented from Worst to First

he Losers

Episodes: None
Clips: Five clips, about 3 min each
Studio: Taste
Rank: D- (Worst New Show)
This is just some more fashion show porn, in yet another packaging of fashion clips on Hulu. The clips all focus on a kilt-themed fashion event, so there are beautiful people of both sexes strutting their stuff in little plaid numbers. There's also a brief interview clip with comedian Paul Rodriguez, who was in attendance. I've derided this kind of programming in the past, but here I'll pick a new bone: assuming that you wanted to spotlight a fashion show catwalk, wouldn't you want some commentary that let you know what the hell you were looking at? Right now, the catwalks are all hooked up to crappy techno background music (in one, the quality is so bad that the model's faces are all washed out and high-contrasty). I think the least they could do would be to have someone telling us something specific about the outfits we're looking at. It's like they're not even selling the culture-- they just want us to look at the pretty people and shut up.

Late Night With Conan O'Brien...?
Episodes: One 42 minutes episode
Clips: None
Studio: NBC
Rank: na
Ok, this is weird. Hulu's been offering Conan shows and clips for a while, but now it's showing up as a recently added show, with all of the original content stripped away. I get that they're not actually billing it as a new show-- but will they repopulate it with all of that content they built up over the last few months? Hope so. I include it here to mark the event.

The Winners

Gimme My Reality Show
Episodes: Right now, just the 44 minute series premiere
Clips: None
Studio: Fox Reality
Rank: B-
Well, now that Kathy Griffin has defined the D-list, we're forced to go further. The 7 (G-list? P-list?) celebs compete to get their own reality show. They are AJ Benza (co-host of High Stakes Poker), former Baywatcher Traci Bingham, Gretchen (Mrs. Danny) Bonaduce, O.J. Simpson associate Kato Kaelin, Susan "Cindy Brady" Olsen, American Idol hottie Ryan Starr, and, last but not least, Bobby Trendy. I'm just kidding. He's totally least. He was Anna Nicole Smith's fashion designer or some such nonsense. My favorite thing about the show is how much these celebs care about the competition. None of them have solid careers, and so the prize, a potential hit reality show, is really, really valuable to them in a way that a charity donation isn't. The challenge in the opener was really genius-- they turned the celebs loose with production crews and an order to come up with a hit viral video in a few hours. The celebs mostly came up with interesting and funny videos, and were judged in part by how many hits their video generated. But the biggest failing? In 44 minutes of programming, they couldn't even show us the 90 second videos of 7 celebs. We only got excerpts and a plug to go to the network site, which is total bullshit. I mean, the videos were supposed to be the payoff. At any rate, the premise is interesting enough, and the prospect of semi-stars humiliating themselves for fame is always a draw, so I'll be subscribing to this, at least for the short term.

Episodes: The 2 hour (1:26 in Hulu-time) series premiere
Clips: Two short clips
Studio: NBC
Rank: B
This has had some clips up for a while, but I'm counting it as new since the first episode just hit Hulu. The biggest names in this classic novel adaptation are Sean Bean and Sam Neill, but both of them have relatively small roles (at least in the beginning). Everyone else, including Robinson Crusoe himself (Philip Winchester), is played by a relatively unknown actor.

Coincidentally, I just reread the Defoe novel last year, and I have to say that this adaptation is drastically unfaithful to the source material. Major storylines have been introduced, which I suppose is as it should be-- not enough happens in the book to sustain an ongoing tv series. In the novel, the most famous castaway in the world is all on his lonesome for about 30 years, killing cats and praising God, which isn't going to fly on the small screen.

The tv show premiere was pretty good, but I was a little turned off by the simplistic and heavy-handed anti-stereotypes. Friday has been transformed from a simple savage into the smartest man on the island, while the main female character, Olivia, has to be shown as the roughest, toughest pirate of them all, besting Crusoe in a swordfight in the first half hour. I don't want them to have her screaming at mice and making sandwiches for the other pirates; I just wish they could be a little more subtle. Anyhow, the show is very cinematic and also very modern-- the blueprint of several major story arcs that interweave over the course of a season gives it the feel of "Lost" or "The Sopranos," or something like that. I don't know if I'm going to be able to fit this into my crowded tv schedule, but it looks like it might be a winner. For now, it's the best new show of the weekend.


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