Dancing (the hulu) with the stars

Carly at the Movies column by Carl Larsen

tv-clipart.jpgNo Cineplex for me, this week. No seven-dollar bag of popcorn or four-dollar sody pop. Nossir. I’m staying home to watch movies. On my computer. For free. You see, my friends, I am learning to dance the hulu.

There’s a new website out there that’s just made for us fans of movies and TV (guess that about covers everybody, right?), and it’s there for your inspection at www.hulu.com.

Please check it out just once. After you read this column, of course.

This brand-new website, launched March 12, is a joint venture between NBC Universal and News Corp., and even though it’s still expanding, there’s a good selection of old and new TV shows and clips along with movies (more added all the time). There are limited commercials – but really limited. I mean, you can choose to watch a Coming Attractions just like at the movies or put up with mini-commercials throughout the TV show. I watched a brief pitch for “Mama Mia,” then sat back at my monitor and enjoyed a full-screen screening of something I’ve had a Jones for for some time: the pilot episode of “Picket Fences” from back in 1992.

They have the whole first season of “Picket Fences” (22 episodes) available so far, and the quirky, sophisticated small town comedy/drama hasn’t lost a step thanks to the brilliant scripts by David E. Kelley.

Browsing about the site, just in the TV section, I discovered 15 episodes of my very favorite sitcom of all time, “Barney Miller,” plus the first two seasons of that early 1970s hit, “The Bob Newhart Show.”

There’s plenty of stuff for fans of more recent TV, too. They offer hunks of “The Office,” “Saturday Night Live,” “30 Rock,” “The Simpsons” and plenty of others, including “New Amsterdam.” And – all for free – you can click on whatever you fancy, and it’s gathered in a queue so’s next time you can go directly to what you want to see.

One hidden gem, for me anyway, is their offering of clips from the Onion News Network, a dry, spoofy fake news service offering straight-faced and totally ludicrous stories from that fabled cable newspaper, The Onion. Can’t get that on regular cable or even satellite where I’m located.

And movies? I hit it just right. I’ve wanted to see the old Tyrone Power classic “Captain from Castile” for months, and it’s now on hulu.com – complete, full-length. Along with others like “Ice Age,” “Quest for Fire,” “Sideways,” “The Usual Suspects,” and Kirosawa’s classic “Kagemusha.” Those are quality films, folks. And they’ve got many more modern ones for the young’uns, too.

Just browsing through their offerings is as much fun as browsing Netflix, except there’s no charge. And the quality of the picture depends on the quality of your computer screen, but I found everything I’ve watched to be superior.

Hulu is so new there’s bound to be a few glitches, and I was slightly annoyed at the “buffering,” which occasionally paused the on-screen action. I’m not sure what buffering is, but it vaguely seems to have something to do with headaches. However it’s not a big deal, and believe me, the price is right.

I could go on and on, but my queue is already jam-packed with goodies, so I think I’ll just waltz off, tune into hulu.com, and dance with the stars.

Carl Larsen is a regular contributor to The Augusta Free Press. Look for his At the Movies column on Mondays.

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