Do you ever read articles about cutting the cord and wonder what the big deal is with people wanting to get rid of their cable service? Perhaps you are perfectly comfortable with paying the exorbitant amount you are most likely charged every month in order to take advantage of the wonderful opportunity to watch “The Shawshank Redemption” one of the roughly 57 times per month that it seems to air on non-premium networks. Or maybe you just cannot see why anyone else would ever have reason to suggest that there is never anything good on television when in fact on any given day they have the freedom to tune in to marathons of such monumental creative achievements as “Duck Dynasty,” “Real Housewives of [Fill in the Blank]” or the 22 minutes of commercials presented in each half hour of reruns on TV Land.
Cut the cord? When you have access to all thousands of hours of programming on those hundreds of networks owned by those six media conglomerates? And the choice and diversity of programming is only getting better. First A&E expanded beyond programming that offered both art and entertainment like episodes of “Cracker” and “Sherlock Holmes” to shows that offered neither art nor entertainment like “Storage Wars” and “Storage Wars: Texas” and “Storage Wars: New York” and then, just for the sake being different, “Shipping Wars” and “Parking Wars.” Then you’ve got live action shows on Cartoon Network, eating shows on the Travel Channel, “Cajun Pawn Stars” on the History Channel and wrestling on SyFy. Heck, when you’ve got cable TV, you don’t even have to worry about the name of any network you happen to stop on while surfing through the channels. You might get the unexpected opportunity to watch “Star Trek: The Next Generation” on BBC America or “Law & Order” on the Sundance Film Channel. In the wonderful world of cable TV programming, anything is possible. Even finding a cable network that doesn’t consider reruns of “Law & Order” to have a viable connection to the programming mandate indicated by its name.
But if perchance you are not so fully committed to believing that cable TV programming is the valhalla of narrowcasted diversity as promised , then perhaps you would like a sampling of what is out there for you when you cut the cable and take some control of what you watch on television by virtue of subscribing to on-demand services from Netflix and Hulu to Pub-D-Hub and YouTube. Maybe you won’t find these possibilities for crawling out from under the stranglehold of a cable TV programming mentality that resulted in no less than nineteen different shows about buying and selling old junk airing on just five different networks in 2014 to be particularly enticing. But keep in mind that this is quite literally just the very top shiny part of a great big iceberg well worth checking out.
Let the Right One In
Oh sure, you can watch “Let the Right One In” on your basic cable channels. In fact, it will be airing on the night I write this. On the Chiller network. In a dubbed version. Which is no way to watch any foreign film, but especially one that is as dependent upon the nuance of character provided by hearing the original actors speaking in their native tongue as a movie like “Let the Right One In.” It’s a Swedish vampire movie. Actually, “Let the Right One In” is the greatest vampire movie I have ever seen and here is a link to an extended review . A gem of a treasure to me is one that you can watch again and again and come away new insights into the psychology or philosophy of a movie. The more I watch “Let the Right One In” the more I view it as not just the best vampire movie ever made, but one of the best movies of the past few decades. Wouldn’t you rather take a chance on something like that than watch men eating the most disgusting food on the planet and call it entertainment?
The League of Gentlemen
“Hello, Dave? Is Dave there?” Papa Lazarou. Geoff Tipps. Les McQueen. Pauline Campbell-Jones. Hilary Briss. Dr. Chinnery. These and dozens of other characters are all assayed by just three men. “The League of Gentlemen.” Wouldn’t it be really cool if BBC America were to offer you the opportunity to watch something you truly will never, ever seen made by Americans for presentation on an American broadcast network instead of reruns of “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” Or what if you could watch such incredible British shows like “Wire in the Blood” or “Single-Handed” on BBC America instead of the umpteenth airing of yet another episode of “Top Gear” hosted by that trio of British gentlemen who are as intensely annoying and unfunny as the guys on “The League of Gentlemen” are hilarious.
The Sound of Fury
Based on a true-life story, “The Sound of Fury” is an extraordinary hidden gem. This low-budget B-movie features the best performance of Lloyd Bridges’ career and the most harrowing mob riot scene I have ever witnessed in a movie. Bridges’ portrayal of a narcissistic psychopath is one of the greatest in Hollywood history and his influence over a sad sack just trying to get back on his feet leads inexorably to a prison scene so powerful you will find yourself watching the movie again. Heck, you’ve already seen the story taking place in that there Shawshank prison about 47 times and if you check the listings for AMC, I’m willing to place a cash wager that it’s airing again tonight or tomorrow, so why not cut the cord and get to know that there are a lot more movies with prison scenes out there than “The Shawshank Redemption.”
Okay, let’s get serious for a moment. Do you really and truly actually want to watch a bunch of backwoods rednecks spending an hour with hidden cameras looking for Bigfoot and offering up as evidence some blurry video image and the growl of an unseen animal or would you rather watch an actual documentary shot by actual filmmakers about actual animals that are actually more fascinating than either the mythical creature known as Bigfoot or the mythical creature known as entertaining rednecks? You don’t get to witness the world of beavers on a screen the size of a billboard, when you cut the cable cord and replace it with video streaming, but that’s okay. The hidden treasure trove inside “IMAX: Beavers” is not about the visual, but the auditory. Watching this movie is fascinating for a number of reasons, but there is one reason in particular that makes this movie a must. You get to hear what beavers in the wild sound like. And make no mistake about this: you will be utterly shocked to discover what that sound is. Here’s a hint: it’s more intelligent than any dialogue ever spoken on any show about hunting for Sasquatch.