Welcome back to FlixWorthy, your guide to Netflix streaming...and more. Because while Netflix is still a major player in the streaming content market, the company has some serious competition these days. To help you navigate the new and notable streaming releases, each new installment of FlixWorthy will highlight new and/or notable releases on Netflix, but also from two other competitors who offer premium memberships to huge catalogues of content: Hulu (Hulu Plus) and Amazon Instant Video (Amazon Prime). We'll also include an a la carte pick from Amazon, iTunes, or elsewhere, for those of you who prefer to buy your shows by the episode/season instead of paying a membership fee.
In this new incarnation FlixWorthy will be focusing specifically on TV content. To keep track of what's going on in the world of streaming movies, check in with Kristy's biweekly Now Streaming column. Here's what's FlixWorthy this week, kids.
Netflix Pick of the Week: Louie
Even if you've never seen an episode, you've almost certainly heard people raving about FX's Louie. Thankfully, Louie is a show that earns every bit of hyperbole, even that one I just made. Created by comedian Louis C.K., the show is very much his baby, with C.K. writing, directing, producing, and starring in the series...he's probably even handling craft services. The result is the sort of show you'd simply never see on network television: a mixture of highbrow and low, funny and insightful, crude and charming. Netflix has just added the complete second season to its streaming catalogue, leaving you plenty of time to burn through the 13 episodes before the show returns for its third season on June 28th. Louie takes the same sort of "mundane-life-as-drama" approach as Seinfeld, but takes things to much more surreal, and often extremely dark, extremes. So what should you expect from season 2? An unforgettable run-in with Joan Rivers. The N word. A duckling and a USO trip. And a confrontation with comedian Dane Cook that is single-handedly one of the most amazing things I've ever seen on television. What are you waiting for?
Also on Netflix:
Hulu Pick of the Week: Longmire
A&E recently jumped feet-first into the game of quality scripted drama with Longmire, a modern Western in the same vein as Justified. And while Longmire hasn't soared to anywhere near the heights of that excellent FX drama in the three episodes aired so far, it is proving a solid and entertaining show with enough unique character to it to set it apart from the array of other procedurals on TV. Based on a series of novels by Craig Johnson, Longmire centers on Wyoming sheriff Walt Longmire, played by Robert Taylor. As the head of law enforcement in the fictional Absaroka County, Walt has to deal with local crimes, a deputy jockeying for his position, friction with the local Native American reservation, and a painful past that hasn't fully been revealed yet. Longmire isn't reinventing the wheel, but Taylor is great as the crusty and terse Longmire, and it's wonderful to see Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff back in series television as Deputy Victoria Moretti. Smallville fans will also recognize Cassidy Freeman ("Tess Mercer") as Walt's daughter. Hulu currently has the first three episodes of the show up, but they're listed as expiring on Sunday, so hurry up and watch if you don't get A&E!
Also on Hulu:
Amazon Prime Pick of the Week: Dead Like Me
Bryan Fuller has had one of the most fascinating and frustrating TV careers I can think of. He's served up some of the most unique and charming TV around: Wonderfalls, Pushing Daisies, the Amazing Screw-On Head movie he did for Syfy. And, of course, Dead Like Me. Unfortunately, his creativity also makes for shows that are, well, odd, that don't fit into the norms of series television, which means they usually don't last very long. Case in point: Dead Like Me, in which a girl named George is killed by a toilet seat reentering the atmosphere from the Mir space station, after which she finds herself recruited to become a grim reaper. There are no cloaks or scythes, however, just a group of dead people who are just as eccentric and unhappy as they were when they were alive. The afterlife as just another 9-to-5 job: is there any more depressing thought? Thankfully Dead Like Me puts a consistently funny spin on the subject matter, serving up uncomfortable laughs at the sheer indignity of death, and all the myriad, ridiculous ways it can claim us. You may have heard Fuller's name recently in connection to the Munsters sort-of reboot, Mockingbird Lane. If you want to know why I'm excited by a project that on the face of it sounds godawful, check out Fuller's previous shows. Dead Like Me is a perfect place to dive in. (Dead Like Me is free to Prime members, but is also available for purchase at $1.99 per episode.)
Also on Amazon:
A La Carte Pick of the Week: Stephen Hawking's Grand Design
Borrowing its name from the book Hawking co-wrote with physicist Leonard Mlodinow back in 2010, Discovery's Grand Design examines the Big Questions. The two episodes available so far are entitled "The Meaning of Life" and "The Keys to the Cosmos," so you clearly can't fault the series for a lack of ambition. The show tackles these conundrums through the medium of science, seeking answers to questions such as whether our existence has a purpose or is purely random, and why the universe exists in the first place. I'm not holding my breath for the show to put to rest arguments that have been going on as long as there have been people, but I do expect to be challenged, inspired, and thoroughly entertained. It looks like Grand Design was intended the consist solely of these two hour-long specials, so you can pick up the full "season" for a mere $4.99, or $2.99 for each episode individually if you only want one of them or are bad at math.
Also on iTunes: