Category Archives: Hulu

One Game, One Show, One Movie: Halloween Edition

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I love love LOVE Halloween. It’s one of my top two favorite holidays next to Christmas, and I think Halloween has the edge because the only real fallout is a hangover and temporary makeup-induced skin irritation, as opposed to soul crushing post-consumerism depression.

Because Halloween is such a dynamic holiday, it’s very hard to choose how to approach it. On the one hand, you’ve got kids dressed in sheets and skeleton masks plodding around with bags of candy. On the other hand, you’ve got pyschos with chainsaws. How do you cover all the bases? My answer is to chose one Halloween-themed item from the entertainment categories of Video Game, Television Show (with Halloween episodes), and Movie, each one hopefully appealing to a different group. Don’t be surprised if this kind of uber-post becomes traditional for holidays–there’s a lot of Christmas entertainment out there too.

Video Game: Costume Quest

Photo courtesy of Double Fine Entertainment Inc.


Game Type: Adventure/RPG (3D)
Synopsis: It’s Halloween and you and your twin sibling are about to go trick-or-treating when your sibling is kidnapped by evil aliens trying to steal all the Halloween candy on earth. Travel from your suburban neighborhood to the local mall to the haunted carnival collecting costumes and using their powers to fight the monsters and save Halloween.
Modes: Single Player
Play time: approximately 10 hours
Cost: about $11
Available on Playstation Network, Xbox Live Arcade, Steam

 

 

 

 

As I’ve stated before, I prefer the cutesy, kidsy side of Halloween, and this game gives me to opportunity to relive the innocence of being a kid on Halloween. The art style is adorable, and combined with the music they managed to capture the magical potential of Halloween I always felt when I put on my costume for the first time. It’s certainly not a difficult game, but it’s rewarding nonetheless, especially when you get a new costume and get to try out it’s powers in combat. I like to play this a week or two before Halloween, to get me in the mood for the holiday.

Television Show: Psych

This Episode Sucks (...maybe. I don't know that's just the name of the latest Halloween episode). Photo courtesy of USA Networks.

Format: 1-hour television show
Category: Fictional Detective Comedy
Premise: Hyper-observant slacker Shawn Spencer convinces the local police department he is psychic and can use his gift to solve crimes. He and his partner Burton Guster go on the show up the police at every turn, solving crimes while still managing to get into every wacky hijink imaginable.
Original Broadcast Channel: USA
Off the Wire Location: Netflix (Seasons 1-5), Hulu.com and Hulu Plus (Seasons 1-4, partial season 5 and new episodes).

 

Generally speaking, this show is very entertaining, standing the test of time by still being funny and captivating after 6 seasons. Because it has been on for so long, it now has five Halloween episodes, covering Halloween-esque material ranging from Scooby Doo to Friday the 13th, all the while maintaining the signature goofy humor and good nature that has made the show so successful. These episodes are a good option for the person who is looking for something more mature than It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown but not as gorey as a proper horror film. You should be aware, however, that the most recent Halloween episode (on the slightly-past-its-peak topic of vampires) won’t be available for a few weeks yet as all new episodes are only available 30 days after the original air date. It’s an unfortunate reality, but you still have the four episodes from seasons past to keep you busy.

Movie: The Midnight Meat Train (2008)

Photo courtesy of Lionsgate Studios.

Director: Ryhei Kitamura (Versus, Azumi)
Writer: Clive Barker (Candyman, Hellraiser)
Starring: Bradley Cooper and Vinnie Jones

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There can only be one thing that comes to mind when you hear this title, but I assure you this is NOT PORN. Bradley Cooper plays a photographer in New York who stumbles on to a serial killer (Vinnie Jones) that is luring people into the subway in the middle of the night, hacking them up, hanging them in the subway car and riding the train to the end of the line, and before morning the bodies are gone. OOoooOOO, right?

What I like best about this film, besides Vinnie Jones being super creepy and the awesomely gut wrenching twist ending, is seeing how the story, written by an English horror icon, comes to life through the eyes of a Japanese director. The western film industry has been co-opting and remaking Eastern horror films for years now, but this is my first experience with a Western story being interpreted by a Japanese director with American and British actors. It’s a really interesting combination and, most importantly, it creates a really, REALLY scary story. This movie is definitely not for the kids. Then again if you seriously think  showing your 8-year-old a movie called The Midnight Meat Train is a good idea, then I worry about you. And your 8-year-old. Sadly, I couldn’t find this film on Netflix or Hulu, but it is available on a site called iwannawatch.net and potentially in a couple of other places. I haven’t obtained any of those copies though so I can’t vouch for their quality or safety, so view with caution. Think of it as an additional level of suspense–it is Halloween after all.

Happy Halloween everybody!

CBS Isn’t Evil?

It’s a rare and beatiful thing to realize that you were wrong in a way that makes you life better.

For the longest time, I thought CBS was a big fat snobby hoarder of programming. None of their shows are available through any of my got-to “off the wire” outlets: Netflix, Hulu, etc. This was unfortunate because there are several shows on CBS that I really like, specifically The Big Bang Theory and Criminal Minds, with NCIS bringing up the rear (I only just started watching it when I went to visit my parents in September). When I lost cable, I thought all of this glorious programming would only be available in real time via satellite, and being that I work until 8:30 most nights, it essentially meant an embargo on most CBS viewing. This was a dark period of my life indeed.

 

 

Now, by performing a naively hopefuly Hulu search, I come to find that, though these series are not available through intermediaries, the current seasons ARE available at CBS.com, via a surprisingly coherent interface. It seems like most TV stations design their online viewing sites to confuse their audience and deter them from watching anything, but this site is pretty intuitive. Go to the CBS home page and look under the night of the week your favorite show airs, then click on the show picture and it will redirect you to the show’s page. They have only posted episodes from the seasons that are currently airing, whichI will concede is a fair compromise–they want to make money off the per season box sets, and now we all have something to ask for for Christmas. It’s also possible that they don’t post all of their shows online, but I did a quick skim to find my favorites and I didn’t see any glaring omissions, though you will have to look for yourself to know for sure.

 My only real complaint is that some of the commercials they insert into the online shows cause the playback to exit full screen mode. Yes, that means I have to actually get off my ASS and WALK over to the computer to switch it back by pressing BUTTONS! Uuughhhh.

Ok…I’m over it. Still beats paying for cable. And if you already have the remote keyboard/mouse thing going on, like I keep planning on doing, it’s really not that big of a deal.

So there you have it folks: I officially deem CBS “no longer evil.” Not only that, but they have managed to master the concept of actually making their content easy to access. Good work, CBS–you partially make up for the fact that TNT is such an a-hole.

Prolonged Televised Job Interview=Entertainment?

Whoever said “it’s more about the journey than the destination” must have been talking about reality television.

…ok that’s a bit unlikely since that saying is forever old and reality television has been around for only about twenty years, but you get my point.

Hell’s Kitchen
Format: 1-hour television show
Category: Reality
Premise: Michelin star chef Gordon Ramsey spends 12 episodes screaming at a dozen cooks of various backgrounds (from housewife to executive chef), eliminating them one by one based on skill challenges and service performance. The last remaining contestant generally wins an executive chef position in a fancy schmancy restaurant.
Original Broadcast Channel: FOX
Off the Wire Location: Hulu.com, Hulu Plus (Seasons 1-9)

 

 

I started watching Hell’s Kitchen in Season 2, when my favorite contestant ever, Heather, walked away with a restaurant at Red Rock resort in Las Vegas, and I’ve been hooked on this guilty pleasure ever since. As season 9 wraps up, I’m amazed at how I can keep watching this show and actually look forward to new episodes. It is essentially nine seasons of lying, cheating, bickering, and chef Ramsey crushing the spirits of earnest culinary hopefuls. How can I be so vicariously cruel?

Then again…how do they come on a cooking show and not know how to roast chicken? That’s their bad life choice, not mine.

Who looks at this and says, "Now THAT looks like the role for me!"

But…I suppose I should try to turn my smug satisfaction at other people’s failures into something helpful for future HK hopefuls. So, after much analysis, I have determined 4 easy steps to follow for certain success:

1) Have some cooking skills. Seriously. This should probably go without saying, but past performance makes me feel the need to mention it. Having some experience in a professional kitchen would also be a good idea. If you don’t meet one or both of these criteria, don’t even bother showing up.

2) Shut your mouth. The contestants that end up winning are generally less featured in the beginning of the show, and the reason for that is because they are not at the heart of any drama. Focus on the competition and your own performance. Don’t be so worried about standing out right away–being a solid cook will not go unnoticed and it will not get you kicked out.

3) Don’t backstab. In the beginning of the show, the chefs are split into 2 teams (Blue and Red) which are eventually culled down enough to be joined into one (Black). Every season, the members of the Blue and Red Teams vow THEY won’t be like the teams in the past, that THEY will work together no matter what until they all make it to Team Black. And EVERY season, that never works. So…make sure that YOU don’t screw it up. Be honest, be reliable, be a team player.

4) Backstab. Once you get to Team Black, do whatever it takes to win. Now’s your time to shine, so feel free to completely bludgeon the competition into submission. Plus, having an honest player do a 180 into a totally two-faced snake would be AWESOME television.

Season 9 winner Paul: wonder how long he will last?

Ironically, after watching this entire season, I don’t have much of an opinion about the winner, Paul. Don’t get me wrong–he is talented and passionate and worthy and blah blah blah. That’s not the issue. The problem is that, if you look up all the past Hell’s Kitchen winners (as I have), you will see a disturbing trend: almost none of them has lasted more than a year in their “prize.” First season winner Michael only lasted a few days, in fact.

Now, knowing the true final standing of the “winners,” it’s really hard to care about the outcome of the show. But I know I’ll keep watching it just the same, because in the end, the point of shows like Hell’s Kitchen isn’t who ends up winning–it’s how they get there and all the drama that goes along with it.