CBS puts its classic shows on the internet FOR FREE!
A few months before our daughter was born, my wife and I turned off our cable. We like to talk and do fun activities together, so we weren't happy about the fact that so much of our time was spent staring blankly at a television screen. It was hard to say goodbye to the mindless entertainment of the tube, but I had a friend who regularly recorded episodes of My Name Is Earl, The Office, and Gilmore Girls, which meant that we wouldn't have to go completely cold-turkey. Over a couple of months, between my VCR-wielding buddy and my Netflix account, my wife and I slowly rid ourselves of the TV monkey on our backs. It was like a methadone clinic for sitcom addicts.
A couple of years later, we found ourselves talking more, vegging less, and generally pretty happy with our lives. We used Netflix to keep abreast of the coolest shows, watched movies one or two nights a week, and generally reveled in our freedom from the tube. Then Hulu came along.
By offering free television shows, the demon Hulu sucked us back in. While I'm not as addicted as I used to be, I must admit that I find myself regularly checking back to see if they've put up a new Chuck episode or if Saturday Night Live has done something funny or even just killed Andy Samberg. Luckily, though, most of the networks providing material to Hulu only put up the last couple of episodes, which made it easier for me to avoid getting sucked in. Better yet, the majority of their material consists of current programs, which I'm not really all that excited about. I was skating the edge of addiction, but I was still on relatively firm ice.
Then CBS took the next step. A couple of days ago, the network announced that it was going to begin putting its television library online. Rather than go the Hulu route, they're putting their shows on hundreds of sites, including AOL, Comcast, Microsoft, Joost, and many, many others. Unwilling to wait a second for my horrifying descent into total moral degradation, I buzzed over to the CBS site, hoping to catch a glimpse of some Archie Bunker or maybe catch a little Twilight Zone action. Luckily, I was never a huge CBS fan, so I hoped that I'd be able to retain a little of my dignity.
Then I discovered CBS's next cruel taunt.
Rather than simply put up their own shows, CBS has also posted some of the other networks' programs. Right now, their site contains episodes from Family Ties, Hawaii 5-0, The Love Boat, Twin Peaks, Perry Mason, Star Trek, Beverly Hills 90210, Melrose Place, MacGuyver, Perry Mason, and the Twilight Zone. Presumably, even more classic programs will follow.
Unable to resist, I checked out the "Summer of '82" episode from Family Ties. I was always a huge fan of Alex Keaton, and I couldn't resist a peek (at least, that's what I'm telling my "Sitcoms Anonymous" sponsor). While the viewing interface seemed rougher than Hulu's and the show had more commercials, it was still miles better than most of the dreck that's currently passing for entertainment on television these days. I can't wait to check out Hawaii 5-0. I wonder if Jack Lord really used as much hairspray as I remember.
I am totally hosed.
Bruce Watson is a freelance writer, blogger, and all-around cheapskate. Really, he is totally hosed.