Sometimes Netflix Streaming Just Doesn’t Cut It

Well damn! I just finished watching the season finale (or “series finale” as the Brits call it) of the third season/series of ‘Doctor Who’. Which, by the way, if you haven’t watched, you should. It’s nice to see some sci-fi that doesn’t mind being fun.

It was great. I had a nice HD stream all the way through the three-part episode, and I couldn’t have asked for much more in terms of video quality. In true ‘Doctor Who’ fashion, it all ended with a bit of a cliffhanger that leads up to the traditional between-series special. That wouldn’t be so bad if I could watch the special. But I can’t. Not for another three days, anyway. Unlike the rest of the episodes included in Season Four, the special ‘Voyage of the Damned’ is available on disc only.

That’s where the greatness of streaming all falls apart. If I wanted, I could crank through the first three seasons of the show without interruption. The specials are all included and there’s no need to leave the streaming environment. But when Season Three ends, the one great thing about streaming video comes to a halt. I’ve got to pack up my ‘Crank 2’ Blu-ray (Yes, ‘Crank 2’ – it’s amazing, trust me) and send it off to exchange for a DVD containing a mere 72 minutes worth of television. After that, I’m free to watch all of Season Four streaming in high definition.

‘Dead Like Me’ had the same problem for a while. I got most of the way through Season One of the show before realizing that the last two episodes were only available on disc. This was somehow even worse with ‘Dead Like Me,’ since those two episodes were on the same disc as the two episodes preceding them. In other words, Netflix only put half of a DVD up to stream.

I’m less of an HD snob than a lot of folks. I’m sure much of that has to do with my less-than-impressive 32″ television. So I don’t mind getting my content in less than Blu-ray quality. If it’s something special, like ‘Watchmen’ or ‘Sin City,’ then it’s Blu-ray or nothing. But TV shows, comedies, and less visually important films are just fine for me in a Netflix HD stream.

I’m also not too worried about 5.1 channel audio at this point, since I’m without a nice 5.1 system at the moment. It’s coming to Netflix soon enough, probably around the same time that I’ll finally shell out for some nice speakers. In the meantime, the stereo isn’t bothering me too much. Again, certain movies require better sound, certain movies don’t.

The audio and video quality is never going to steer me away from Netflix, since it’s not a huge issue for me. The lack of streaming content is a bit more annoying, but I understand. However, when I can only stream one part of a season and not the other, it gets to me. For the price and the convenience, there just isn’t another option. But once someone else – maybe RedBox, maybe Amazon, maybe even Apple – takes the subscription route, Netflix will really have to start getting its act together.

3 comments

  1. Lee

    Love Doctor Who! Don’t see how you could of watched anything before the specials in HD though because it wasn’t until then the series was shot in HD.

    Anyway, anyone who hasn’t seen the series really should give it a go. It’s an incredible show.
    Great blog post.

  2. Art

    Delighted to hear that Netfilx will be transitioning to 5.1! I am fortunate enough to have a good sound system and its just not the same watching the stream without it. I’m hoping you’ve read or heard something,rather than this being soley conjecture.

  3. besch64

    I used to unconditionally worship Netflix. I thought any company that would send me any DVD I wanted for less than $10 a month with return postage paid had to be the greatest company ever created. But I have slowly but surely become disillusioned with them.

    -First, I rented In the Realm of the Senses from them. Which was censored. Considering that sexuality is the primary focus of the movie, editing the sex scenes just seemed like a crime. I had to go track down the unedited version elsewhere, which means I wasted a whole five days of my subscription on a movie I had to re-watch later anyway.

    -Second, their copies of Olympia are a clusterfuck. For some reason, there are two listings of it under slightly different titles. One of them only contains the first part of the film, and the other one contains some weird edited version of the two parts together. Or something. I could never really figure it out. I’ve had to find the full version somewhere else. Luckily, my library had it in the electronic database.

    -Third, they only have Léon the Professional DVDs in fullscreen. Honestly, Netflix, I’m paying you for this shit. Get your act together.

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