Did Netflix Just Price Me Out Of Impulse Watching?
by A Real Person on July 14, 2011
Tuesday morning, I (and probably many of you) got the email from Netflix we’ve been mildly dreading for some time now: They’re splitting the streaming and DVD service into two plans. No more free Instant along with my $9.99 one-DVD-at-a-time plan; now, for a combined $15.98, I can keep both. (What’s a difference of $5.99, you say? In this economy? Every dollar counts, bruv. Not to mention the principle of nearly doubling a monthly charge.)
I have to say, though, I’ve become quite spoiled with my Netflix Instant – despite the limited selection, despite the stuff that goes “poof” on a whim because of wonky rights issues (Bye, Bond films, you were fun while you lasted!) Not to mention I keep hearing Hulu Plus’s screen resolution beats the pants off Netflix. But Netflix does often stream films which are not available on DVD at all. And the number one reason why I’m so reticent to get rid of it is something I probably shouldn’t be willing to admit to in public, but hey… at the moment, I’m blaming it on lightheadedess due to muggy weather and scrambling to get my Comic-Con plans in order.
It’s the lure of the impulse watch – that TV show or film that, either out of nostalgia or curiosity or just plain masochism, you are compelled to stream because it’s not costing you anymore (well, at least it hasn’t up to now) and… it’s there. Not to say that I haven’t spent worthwhile time on Instant – from long-unseen and beloved vintage SNL episodes to edgy classics like The Parallax View – but, hey, I’m only human. To wit, the five most incriminating impulse watches on my Instant record over the past few months:
Corvette Summer: It’s been a long time in the making, my re-watch of that eye-rollingly bad Mark Hamill headliner he made betwixt Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back, which I had only seen once on afternoon TV when I was about eleven. Revelation!: It’s actually worse in its uncut version. And no one comes off well, not even Annie Potts who is sexy and adorable yet saddled with some of the worst ham-fistedly written dialogue for a lady that’s clearly written by a man ever. And I didn’t realize Danny Bonaduce and Wendie Jo Sperber and Dick Miller and Brion James were in it. And because I have a soft spot for vintage location shoots, the Hollywood Blvd. and Las Vegas strip footage was actually worth the look. (Never again, though.)
Moment By Moment: Admittedly, I didn’t get any further than 20-30 minutes into this because I couldn’t handle it. I’d read such legendarily horrified accounts of shock and awe, one very recently, about how bad this Robert Stigwood-produced, cougar-meets-boy toy romance starring Lily Tomlin and John Travolta (yes, really) is, and they weren’t wrong. How bad could it be? Sweet Jesus, you have to see it. Or see as much as you can stomach before you start shrieking and jabbing the “stop” button like a miniature low-rent game of Whack-A-Mole. No two stars have ever had less chemistry, which makes sense if you realize – as many writers before me have, astutely – that Tomlin is a dead ringer for Travolta’s sister, Ellen. Ewwww. A brilliant example of why the added-value aspect of Instant was so great; I don’t feel like I’m wasting money if I just turn it off, for the love of all that is good and pure. I’M SORRY.
Solarbabies: I point the finger of blame squarely at io9 for this one, making me realize this was one of those legendary 80’s duds I’d actually never gotten around to seeing. Oh, that I could retroactively purge my curiosity. And I did make it the whole way through, though I’m not sure if it was because Richard Jordan’s particular brand of ham is so greasy and delicious; or out of cockeyed nostalgia for Jami Gertz’s six-inch-high ratted up bangs, which I hadn’t seen since the girl bullies in my seventh grade class; or because jailbait!Adrian Pasdar in braids kinda made my head spin. It wouldn’t have been awaiting an explanation for what Bodai the weather-controlling sphere of light actually is, or what the hell it has to do with anything. I figured out early on I’d get no explanation for that.
Voltron Vol. 6: Yeah, you heard me… Vehicle Voltron. I willingly sat down to watch an episode of Voltron – several in fact – that was not the sainted Lion Voltron. What of it? Come at me, bro! Okay, I will admit in so much as both English dubbings were pale comparisons of the original anime, the big metal cats on planet Ares did have a stronger adaptation. I don’t know, though, maybe it’s my inherent love of shows with sprawling casts and murky relationships (Is Jeff in love with Lisa, or is he doing the Air Team mambo with Ginger? That shit still bugs me!), but I always had a soft spot for the populous Dairugger crew. No matter how ridiculous the voice-overs. (Why is Cric apparently Indian, but none of the other blue aliens have an accent? Oh, forget it.)
ABBA: The Movie: Let’s just cut to the chase on this one: I fucking love ABBA, so there. Admittedly, my love doesn’t always extend to all things ABBA related (I do like Chess quite a bit, but was never in love with Mamma Mia!), but I love them almost as much as the swag green foliage slipcover for my IKEA loveseat. (And in the case of “SOS,” probably more.) Years ago I saw a bad, bad print of this movie – an oddball early entry on Lasse Hallstrom’s CV, incorporating concert footage with a fictional yarn about an Aussie reporter’s hapless attempts to get an interview with the band – with my friend and fellow ABBA nerd Wendy Gilmartin at the Egyptian, and for days we couldn’t stop laughing at the dream sequence set to “The Name of the Game” where the reporter fantasizes about not only getting his ABBA interview but like, totally being their best friend and shit. (Well, at least he’s best buddies with Bjorn and Benny; Frida and Agnetha clearly wanna get in his pants as fast as possible.) How could I possibly give up the Instant opportunity to fast-forward straight to this scene and watch it three times in a row until my sides hurt from laughing so much? I COULD NOT. Amazing.
Conclusion: I feel better for having admitted all of that. And I’m nowhere closer to deciding if I’m going to keep Instant or not. Bugger. Suggestions, Nerdists?
UPDATE: Yeah, our first round of commenters are probably right: Keep Instant, dump DVDs is probably the way to go. Two years from now, Netflix may not even be in the disc business anymore…