Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!

The Great Hulu Plus Experiment

I’ve long been a Netflix user, especially where the Instant Streaming service is concerned. I’ve used Netflix Instant Streaming almost every day for the past three years. I stream it on my computer, TV, PlayStation 3, iPad, iPhone, and even my PlayStation Vita device. I even linked the account to the Roku player at my parents’ home so I can watch Netflix on the big screen over there. I’ve never been big on the disc-based service (though it has its place), but the streaming has been aces as far as I’m concerned. I’ve long found Hulu Plus, another, albeit different, streaming service, to be not quite as useful as Netflix. The good thing about Hulu Plus, however, is that it has many recent television shows available for streaming, and wanting to re-watch some of last season’s shows, I broke down and sprung for a month of Hulu Plus.

My television set is internet capable, and I initially used it to stream Hulu onto. The software included in my tv is, however, pretty sub-par. My 2009 Sony Bravia is a fantastic piece of machinery, but technology moves so fast that I can’t help imagining the newer models have better software on them. I had some trouble with the search function, and I found the interface overall to be less than desirable. The shows took a bit to load, and some crapped out on me as well. I’ve used the Hulu Plus app on my iPad a few times, and have found that it works fairly seamlessly. The best Hulu app by far though is the PlayStation 3 app, which went public back in the fall of 2010. Hulu Plus is near flawless on the PS3, which commercials blending in seamlessly and not cutting off the show (which I found happened somewhat often on my television). The search for shows is also much easier on the PS3 app.

Hulu Plus is not without its faults, however. Shows like 30 Rock and The Outer Limits, two shows I subscribed to the Plus service to watch, are unavailable except through computer, something that I could not figure out until I downloaded the PS3 app. While this was disappointing (the rights to this kind of stuff can be muddled and complicated), I can’t complain too much because I can always watch them at my computer if I want to (but I greatly prefer to stream to a big screen so I can watch from the couch). I mentioned having issues with commercials earlier, and that is perhaps the greatest weakness of Hulu Plus. The commercials can interrupt shows irregularly when streamed through my tv set (this didn’t really happen on my PS3 or iPad), disturbing viewing. I’ve long thought that the service shouldn’t have commercials at all for paying customers (Netflix does not), but I understand the economics of this kind of service. Many of the shows on Hulu are first-run shows, so the ad revenue helps off-set the cost of streaming. It’s understandable, but still disappointing.

I don’t think I’ll hold on to Hulu Plus for much longer than my initial investment of $7.99 for one month. I was able to catch up on many of the shows I wanted to see, and others are available through the computer without the need of the Plus service. It is a pretty nice luxury that so many shows are available to watch without the need of a DVR, but I don’t think the service is worth a sustained subscription cost the way Netflix is. It was a nice change of pace, but I don’t think I’ll be re-upping my Hulu Plus subscription until the end of the 2012-13 season. Oh, and maybe by then CBS and possibly HBO will have added their shows the service (probably not, but it’s worth a shot!).

As an added bonus, here are some of the shows I watched on Hulu Plus:

The Office

I missed quite a few of the episodes from the most recent season of The Office, so catching up on this show was my first priority. I caught the Tallahassee arc in its entirety, and found it to be the strongest story arc of the season and a nice change of pace from typical episodes of the show. The Office is not nearly as good without Steve Carrell, and Ed Helms does his best to anchor the cast but works much better as a second lead than a main character. The two new important characters to the season, played by James Spader and Catherine Tate, are both lousy additions to the show. Spader, who is not returning, won’t be missed much. Tate, who is, may just drive me away from the show for good.

Parks and Recreation

I missed many episodes of the latest season of Parks and Recreation as well, and rediscovering the most recent episodes didn’t bring me as much joy as I’d hoped they would. The relationship between Aziz Ansari and Rashida Jones seems incredibly shoe-horned in. The strongest part of the season, Amy Poehler’s run for local office, is incredibly funny and touching, however. This is another show where I don’t know if I’ll come back, but watching it in its entirety on Hulu Plus is a fantastic option to have.

American Dad

The past season of American Dad started incredibly strongly and ended somewhat weakly. I re-watched what I consider to be the best episode of the season, Hot Water, and still found it hilarious and incredibly well-done, especially the musical numbers, which have always been a strong-suit from the Seth MacFarlane crew.

Modern Family

I can’t believe how good this show used to be and how far it has fallen. While I still enjoy aspects of it (the relationship between Phil and his son Luke is always a joy), much of the show has just become so cliche and same-y. I’m almost entirely out on this show, and will probably only catch it sporadically now, especially so now since Don’t Trust the B—- in Apt. 23 is being moved to another night.

Outsourced

This show is not from the 2011-12 season, and was in fact canceled at the end of the 2010-11 season, well over a year ago. I started thinking about Outsourced for some reason the other day, and rediscovering it has been a joy. This show took a lot of flak from television critics, but I always found it irreverent and charming, especially Parveesh Cheena as lovable oaf Gupta. The season’s ultimate episodes, centering around a traditional Indian wedding, were done considerably well, and I had high hopes for a second season that never came.

-Z-

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2 responses to “The Great Hulu Plus Experiment

  1. Nick! August 1, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    Yeah, The Office this year was a completely mixed bag. Tate is awful!
    I gave up on Modern Family during season two. I felt like it was the same thing again and again.
    I really liked Outsourced when it was on. Solid cast of characters.

  2. Pingback: Trek Tuesday: Series 6 | Zack & Nick's Culture Cast

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