Monday, January 18, 2016

5 Things I Learned from the Showtime Free Weekend

When I was younger, premium movie channels would occasionally have a free weekend. It was so exciting, you wanted to cancel all your plans and watch every movie they showed before the free weekend was gone forever. It was the 1990s version of binge watching!



This weekend Hulu Plus brought back those old memories with a weekend of free Showtime. Which seemed like it would be a weekend of this:



Only one look at the Showtime lineup and I knew it would be a weekend of this:


The last thing I wanted was to get caught up in a "Showtime-only" TV series I'd never be able to watch again, so I headed straight for the movies section. Which is when I learned a few essential things about Hulu's Free Showtime Weekend.

1. Showtime's movies suck.





No offense to Showtime. We have HBO, though, and the selection of recent movies that I've actually heard of is much greater. Showtime was a selection of, "What's that?" and "Why have I never heard of any of these movies?"

2. I trust actors' judgment.



Meryl Streep would never choose a bad movie. Neither would Julia Roberts. So a Meryl Streep-Julia Roberts movie has to be a win. Only August: Osage County was not only depressing, but it was pointless and blah.

3. Sometimes it pays to stay with a movie until the end.



Okay, I was going to give up on this one at several points...but the ending made it worth it. The ending of a movie (or a book) can make a so-so movie phenomenal. Interesting how that works.

4. Sometimes it doesn't.

Just as I'll toss a book aside if it isn't catching my interest, I'll exit out of a movie if it's headed for nowheresville. How do I know it's headed that way? Wikipedia will give you a summary of most plots. If you're thinking about parachuting out of a movie, you can just read ahead a little and see if anything interesting starts happening soon.


5. TV shows are better than movies.



Okay, I know this is a blanket statement...but unless you're into dark independent films or films based on comic books, often TV shows are better. They have better writing and they're attracting some of the most talented actors. The only problem is--if you want to watch a Showtime/HBO/Netflix original, you have to pay an individual subscription. And none of those outlets specializes in one type of series. My only request would be that each network pick a demographic. Showtime could have the middle-aged women while HBO could take the young guys who like all that superhero-actiony stuff. I'm not going to pay $8-10 to 15 different networks to access two TV series I like on each.

Are you a binge watcher?

63 comments:

  1. I think the only good thing I've ever watched from Showtime was THE TUDORS :)
    I don't binge watch since one needs time for that and time is what Dezzy has not :) but I do spend about two and a half hours on Sunday evenings watching KOSEM SULTANA Turkish show because them Ottomans like their shows to last for hours per episode :)

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    1. I did see several epic sagas like the ones you write about on your blog, Dezmond. I'm not really into historicals unless they only go back to the last half of the 1900s. I loved Mad Men but I didn't watch it until it was on Netflix.

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  2. I have a friend that prefers to binge watch television shows because they have better character development and plots than movies.
    We dumped all of our premium channels years ago. NetFlix, Hulu, Amazon - who needs them?

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    1. I agree! When we moved, we got HBO free and canceling involves calling Comcast, which is about as much fun as poking yourself in the eye with a stick for four hours. I probably should figure out how to do it online. I think my husband watches it now, though--"that's how they get you!"

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  3. I am not a movie fan but my husband watches TV shows or the Astro.

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    1. I mostly stream online while working.

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  4. Lmao. Showtime isn't very good! We have it! It's just bleh. All those channels suck. I'd rather just have Netflix and Amazon Prime only. And yes I binge watch everything. Most recently-Don't Trust The B in Apt 23 (hilarious!!) and we are working on Longmire (great show!).

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    1. I started on Don't Trust the B and never made it through because the whole season wasn't available at that time. I always drift away when I'm watching episodes one week at a time!

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    2. Omg it's all available now! Chloe is my spirit animal from about 10-12 years ago...hahahaha. :)

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  5. I remember getting free previews of Showtime, HBO, The Movie Channel, Cinemax, Encore and Disney (when it was still a premium channel) starting in 1989. I went crazy taping movies on the VCR including "Willow" and "The Great Outdoors." In May 1990, they gave us HBO free for the "Comic Relief" special, though I didn't watch it.

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    1. I remember trying to tape as many as I could on those free weekends! It was such a great opportunity to get movies on tape that you could watch over and over again.

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  6. I've really only binged watched one show, and that's Game of Thrones. I could finish a whole season in just two days

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    1. I've gotten a little spoiled with streaming services--now I don't even want to watch a show until the whole season is out there.

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  7. I'm a junkie really!!!!
    But really missing and hoping something new comes along.

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    1. I binge watched Medium a couple of years ago and toward the end, I was thinking, "There has to be another show I'll enjoy this much." Hasn't happened since.

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    2. Ghost Whisperer, but I still enjoyed Medium more.

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  8. I'm a total binge watcher, and I was super excited for the Showtime free weekend, too...then I flipped through the listings. Disappointing to say the least. I did record The Imitation Game to watch later, though. I haven't seen it yet. Thanks, Showtime...

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    1. So it was on regular TV, too? I was surprised that Hulu offered it. I didn't even know Showtime was available as an add-on, but it looks like that's the ONLY add-on they have, so far.

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  9. I just can't sit in front of the TV for any length of time anymore. I must be cured. lol. Not a bad thing...
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. I have it streaming on my laptop while I work. Two windows--my work is on the left and the show I'm streaming is on the right. I often find myself having to rewind because I got so caught up in what I was doing, I missed the last 10 minutes!

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  10. We found one good movie to watch on Showtime's free weekend - The 100 Foot Journey. Just beautiful. We just dumped Netflix for the second time.

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    1. I dumped Netflix when they were having technical difficulties with their web version. I haven't had a problem recently but there isn't much to watch on there anymore, sadly. I'm watching Wonder Years...that's about it. There's SO much more to watch on Hulu Plus, TV series-wise. Netflix's strength seems to be its original series and documentaries and most of their original shows aren't my thing. I did like The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt. That was cute. And the first season of Orange Is the New Black, when it was mostly about a normal girl going into prison. When it started being about a bunch of women in prison in season 2, I lost interest.

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  11. I too was disappointed in August, Osage County. I do love movies more than TV shows only because I don't have to commit myself every week- but - I see what you're saying about the writing. The only shows that I feel had a very strong effect on me were FRIENDS and Sex and the City, sometimes Grey's Anatomy.

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    1. To be fair, I didn't watch that August movie all the way through. I watched til the dad died. It was just SO dark and icky. Meryl Streep is always fun to watch but this time her character was getting on my last nerve. Nothing against her acting--she was doing a fantastic job. The character was just about as annoying as a character can be. I looked up the plot on Wikipedia and it sounded like it was just two hours of ick. I watched all the shows you mentioned all the way through--except Grey's Anatomy. I made it until they started bringing in a bunch of young actors and I couldn't quite bond. The show was very addictive in its early years, though, especially when you're streaming it. You can't stop watching!

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  12. I've been watching Hulu and find it's good for TV series, but not so much for new movies. When I watched Showtime and HBO, I seemed to be seeing the same movies on that were showing five or six years ago. I've wondered if Netflix or Amazon Prime do better showing newer movies.

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    1. I can't speak for Amazon but Netflix's movie selection sucks rocks. Seriously. You'll find one or two new movies that you've actually heard of, mixed with a bunch of independent films and about 80,000 movies that are several years old. So far HBO has been best for movies but for the most part, I'd recommend just saving the money and renting something on demand when you're ready to watch a movie.

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  13. Good to know there's no point in getting Showtime!

    Perhaps unrelated (perhaps not), my Kindle Fire has been advertising the Showtime original series Penny Dreadful every time I turn it on, claiming it's available for free to Amazon Prime members.

    I'm a Prime member, and I'm looking for stuff to watch while I'm laid up with a broken foot, so I checked it out.

    Guess what? It's not free. I can watch the TRAILER for free, but not the show. Who's responsible for the false advertising, do you think? Amazon or Showtime?

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    1. I noticed that about Amazon Prime with another show, so I think it's Amazon. They kept having "Watch Now" on a show that implied you'd get the whole series when it was really just the first show. Bait and switch.

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  14. Showtime & HBO come with our cable package, but if I had to pay separately, I probably wouldn't. I think the only thing we watch on them right now is "Master of Sex" and I THINK that's on Showtime (I did enjoy "Dexter" and "True Blood" when they were on, though). It would be cheaper to buy the series on DVDs (or even get them from the library), than pay for the channel. But we like our sports too much (and our DVR) to even quit the cable.

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    1. You're probably right about it being cheaper to get the DVDs, but I don't think our DVD player is even hooked up...and I don't have a DVD drive on my laptop. Oddly, I haven't even thought about watching a DVD for at least a year or two!

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  15. LOL! Ironically, I was a Customer Service Manager at a cable company when Showtime used to not be on for a full 24 hours,and ON Demand was brand spanking new. I watched it evolve over 20+ years. Like you, I looked to see which movies were coming on for FREE and only got into the Championship Boxing Match which was pretty good. If they get any subscribers from this preview, I would be seriously surprised. (lol) Love this post! Hugs...

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    1. The only way would be those who started watching one of their TV shows and wanted to finish after the weekend...but that only gets them one month. With Hulu, it would be easy to just cancel. If you sign up through the cable company, it would require a call to cancel, which is more complicated--but then again, signing up is more complicated than it is through Hulu, too...

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  16. I'm not a binge watcher at all. We love Netflix and Amazon Prime. That's where we watch our shows. We prefer the television shows to movies as well. So we've watched Criminal Minds, Grey's Anatomy, Black List and so forth. Most entertaining for us.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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    1. Yes, I got on the Criminal Minds train last year...watched all of it at once. That was a LOT of crime! I'm not sure what Black List is, but I'm going to have to check it out! Sounds like we have similar TV show tastes.

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  17. you make some good points! I can be a binge watcher mostly HGTV episodes like flip or flop, fixer upper. So saying we don't have Hulu in Canada.

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    1. I tried to watch your Big Brother but they've made it to where you have to list your cable provider this year. Suckiness. I don't know why they won't let America watch yours when you guys have been watching ours for years. BB fans here in America have been watching it using that Hola extension until they blocked it.

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  18. August:Osage County is not what I would refer to as a feel good movie. Julia Roberts reminded me of my brother's 2nd wife. I don't get any of these special channels but I do binge watch-DVD's that is

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    1. I get that Meryl Streep was playing a racist nutball, but if they could have made her at least lovably nutty like Shirley Maclaine is in...well, every movie she's in these days...it might have been more watchable.

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  19. I understand how you feel. TV shows are better than movies. I was excited, at first, about the Showtime free weekend. Then I looked at the TV lineup and there was nothing I wanted to watch. So I just went back to binge watching Asian dramas on Youtube.

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    1. Yeah, it all kinda sucked. On Hulu you could at least go back and stream entire seasons of episodes, but you wouldn't have time in just one weekend to do that--and then you'd get hooked and wouldn't be able to catch the next season when it aired!

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  20. I'm not a binge watcher, but I do stick with a Netflix series once I start it. That is if I enjoy the show. I'm always a year behind everyone, but I don't care. One thing I'm enjoying are the indie films that are coming out. Some are really good.

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    1. It does suck watching a show years after everyone else. I prefer to watch it all at once, but you miss out on being able to discuss it with people.

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  21. The play August: Osage County is phenomenal. The movie, bleh, I never could watch it until the end.
    I am not a big television fan. I do have a few shows I watch. I did watch the Sopranos long a year or two ago. I could see what all the fuss was about. It was great. However, == too much to see, too many choices. So I watch very little.

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    1. not "long" but "about".

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    2. Ahhh...that explains it. I didn't realize it was a play. It felt like a play, but you have to move it around a little for the screen, like they did with Steel Magnolias and Driving Miss Daisy.

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  22. Sometimes. I actually don't have cable, Pay Per View, Netflicks, or Apple TV and I often avoid watching shows that sound appealing because I'm afraid of getting sucked in.

    The last show I binge-watched was Paranormal Witness. I love it so much, I couldn't help myself. And since I write about scary things, I figure it's like doing research. ;)

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    1. I tried finding that...I ended up watching Psychic Investigators by accident! Psychic Investigators is good, too--but probably not the same. I somehow ended up marathoning Cold Justice on YouTube and was addicted. I watched all the episodes in just a few days.

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  23. I used to love the free premium channel weekends. The last few years we had Directv they blew total tushy. I am not really a binge watcher. Two or three episodes and I am done.

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  24. I do binge watch certain shows, but it is usually when I first discover them (Lost is one example). I saw that Streep/Roberts movie somehow and it was not what I was expecting.

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  25. I have binge watcher tendencies, but I lack the time to do so! I did watch 4 episodes of Orphan Black on Saturday night, though. I remember those free weekends, too, and how I used to love them. Now when the rare occasion comes along that the cable company does do them, they suck!

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  26. No, I watch very little TV. Don't have cable or anything except local channels which means few movies. If I want to watch a movie, I usually buy the DVD. I'd rather read. Or I do have a channel that shows old movies and enjoy watching them.

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  27. I can't binge watch anything. I lose my mind after two episodes. But I did DVR a couple movies from the Showtime free preview. I had heard Vampire Academy was bad. I didn't realize how awful it was.

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  28. I'm sooo out of my depth here, but I'll try to chime in. I've never watched much TV or movies, but there are a handful of shows over the years that caught my interest. I like a few British detective shows and they are sometimes on NetFlix. I end up being a few seasons behind the latest, but oh well. :)

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  29. We binge watch quite a few shows in our household, but we usually wait until there's a few seasons since I hate waiting for the next episode.

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  30. You made me smile remembering those free cable weekends back in the days before we even had a VCR. I tend to binge watch shows when a new season comes out. I have Netlfix streaming, but our town still has 2 video stores, one of which is in the same building as my job, so I get a lot there.

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  31. I am a binge watcher. But I prefer TV shows more than films. I'll even binge watch a show I haven't watched in years. With my Amazon Plus I started watching the earliest episodes of Cheers. I had some great fun watching these the first time around and having fun again because I used to miss a lot of these episodes. Ahhh, the days before DVR.
    As a rule, I don't generally subscribe to pay TV channels. But then again, I don't even have cable. LOL

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  32. Why yes I am. I found this site on the web years ago. You might like it too. http://thewatchseries.to I can access it in Canada, let's hope you can too. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  33. A few years ago, I saw an interview with the director of the first Iron Man movie at Comicon. He said all the major talent was heading towards television. That has certainly turned out to be true.

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  34. No binge watching over here. I did just sign up for Amazon Prime though so we've been checking out the free movies on there lately.

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  35. I never really was a fan of Showtime, I always preferred Starz. I really enjoy television series a whole lot more than movies, only because, like books, I want the characters and plot line to last forever :)

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  36. Having daughter home for her break means we are bingeing on movies and TV shows!

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  37. We don't subscribe to Showtime or HBO anymore and once in a while our cable company still does a free month or something -- and there is nothing I want to watch! You are so very right. Homeland and a few other series are great but the movies -- not so much.

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