Mimsy Were the Borogoves

Movie and DVD Reviews: The best and not-so-best movies available on DVD, and whatever else catches my eye.

Apple TV: Movie Streaming Overload

Jerry Stratton, December 27, 2017

Classix (King Solomon’s Mines)

Classix is probably the best-curated and easiest to use of the public domain streaming services.

My original plan on buying the Apple TV, since I don’t have time to watch several streaming services, was to subscribe to one per month, switching back and forth between Netflix, Hulu, maybe even The Great Courses, and whatever else became available later.

With the addition of the Tablo 2-Tuner, I’m not sure I’ll be doing that; I seem to have reached a tipping point where I will never be able to watch what I have queued up, so why pay to queue up more?

The Tablo 2-Tuner provides access to over-the-air broadcasts almost as if they were a streaming service. I have to pay attention to the TV Guide and schedule a recording, but once recorded it’s just like any other streaming service on the Apple TV box.

Vudu even lets me watch a lot of my DVDs through the Apple TV instead of through the DVD player. But I’m not buying nearly as many DVDs as I used to, because the Apple Movie App has a $5.00 bargain bin just like the box stores where I used to buy DVDs. It also has a 99-cent rental bin, where I finally saw My Cousin Vinnie. And the Amazon Prime app isn’t just for Amazon Prime members: if you have purchased any streaming movies on Amazon (or acquired any through giveaways, as I did) you can watch those on the Prime app without joining Prime.

Kung Fu Panda (Amazon Prime)

The Amazon Prime app isn’t just for Prime members: if you’ve acquired any movies on Amazon, you should be able to watch them using this app.

Not only that, but with the addition of MoviesAnywhere I can watch most Vudu and Amazon movies in the Apple Movie app. MoviesAnywhere allows your streaming accounts to share what you’re allowed to watch, so that you can watch them in the app of any service that has that movie. At the moment I’m writing this, MoviesAnywhere is having a giveaway: sign up with two services (such as Vudu and iTunes) and they’ll give you Ice Age, Big Hero 6, The Lego Movie, Jason Bourne, and Ghostbusters1. Of those, I’ve only seen Jason Bourne, so this adds another three or four movies to my queue…

TubiTV queue

While Shout Factory is the streaming service most known for its weirdly cool selections, TubiTV is not far behind. This is my Tubi queue. That’s Melanie Griffith in Cherry 2000 and Jennifer Aniston in Leprechaun.

Among the major channels, NBC and Fox both offer some of their shows without having to subscribe to cable; in my case, both The Blacklist and The Orville are available in those apps for a limited time after airing if I wish to watch them there.2 It’s likely that other major channels, such as the CW, also offer recent programming for free.

And this doesn’t count the free movie apps. Vudu has a free movie section. TubiTV, Crackle, Pluto TV, and Shout Factory TV all provide movies and television shows free, with ads. I’ve watched Father Ted on TubiTV, I Dream of Jeannie on Crackle, and Sapphire and Steel on Shout Factory, among others.

Shout Factory

Sapphire and Steel, on Shout Factory, is worth bingeing.

If I want to be tied to a schedule, there is also the Pluto TV app and the Comet app. Comet TV airs a lot of old Vincent Price movies. I’ve also recently watched Alice Cooper’s Monster Dog on it, which was a blast of a bad movie.3 You do have to pay attention to their schedule, since the app is just a copy of their broadcast signal.

Further, there are a ton of movies in the public domain, and lots of apps to make them available on your Apple TV. I’m fond of Classix, which does a good job of making them available and searchable. It integrates with the main Apple TV Search, so that if a movie you want to watch is available, it will display Classix along with the other paid options. I also find TVTimeWarp a guilty pleasure: it emulates an old wood-grain television console and plays back Internet Archive videos according to which channel you choose—the channel number is the last two digits of the year in which the video played. If you want more traditional access to Internet Archive movies, use Rewinder.

TVTimeWarp Date with the Angels

Channel 57 on TVTimeWarp transports you back to 1957 and Date With the Angels.

And that’s not even counting the mess of amateur videos on YouTube. My dad’s main use of his Apple TV appears to be “show me icy road videos on YouTube”.4 But YouTube has a lot more than accident videos. They have a bunch of old shows so long forgotten that even public domain apps don’t include them, such as the various Mighty Heroes shorts and a lot of convention and conference talks. YouTube has a Watch Later feature, so you can queue up interviews and whatever for later viewing on the Apple TV. I currently have a Ray Bradbury writing interview, a Peter Cushing movie, and a Thomas Sowell economics interview queued up. I’m also subscribed to far too many channels, including The Hoover Institution, Bill Whittle, my local city’s channel, MacRumors, Mark Steyn, NASA5, PragerU, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, The Daily Signal, and Yep Roc Records.

Rewinder

Rewinder makes the Internet Archive’s selection of old shorts, movies, documentaries, and so forth available on the Apple TV.

With all of these options, the only time I’ll be adding a subscription-fee service is when I specifically want to watch a show that’s only available on one, for example, The Venture Bros on Hulu. Up until this month I had planned on joining Amazon Prime as soon as it came out for the Apple TV, because the combination of fast delivery and their streaming selection made it worth it; now that I’m stuffed to bursting with movies and television episodes in my queue, I’m not so sure I’ll be doing that.

  1. The 2016 version, unfortunately.

  2. I’ll probably be recording them now, though, so as to avoid the “limited time” running out.

  3. I usually look up the original aspect ratio before watching a movie on Comet, because they cut every movie to 4:3 for their app—ads often stay widescreen, but not movies. If the original ratio wasn’t 4:3 or 1.375:1, or maybe 1.66:1 if I really want to see the movie, I don’t add it to my calendar.

  4. There are a lot of icy road videos on YouTube. Most of them from Russia, where, because of police corruption, everybody has a dashcam.

  5. NASA has their own app, but it kinda sucks.

  1. <- Over-the-air DVR