Hard to see the hoopla about Hulu

John Gushue
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Hard to see the hoopla about Hulu
It's not often that a site launches with the buzz that Hulu had last month. Then again, not many sites have as much to offer, particularly with such a quality edge.
Or so we're told. The problem is this: in Canada, we can't see what the hoopla is all about.
Hulu launched just four weeks ago, with a hefty promise: watch high-quality, full-length TV episodes and even movies. Forgot the off-air quality seen on YouTube. Hulu has made deals with the players, and rolls its stuff from masters.
Saturday Night Live, Battlestar Galactica, The Simpsons, The Office … the range of new material goes on and on, but what seems striking to me is the backroom of the library, and the possibility of catching up on age-old favourites, particularly ones that are hard to come across. (The first season of WKRP caught my eye. So did Kojak, but that's another story).
There's no cost, although you have to sit through some brief advertising. Reviews posted in the wake of the launch seemed to agree that this was a decent compromise.
The problem is that Hulu, a joint venture involving NBC and News Corp., does not have rights to stream its material outside the U.S. That may fly in the face of the borderless illusion that the Internet can create, but it's very much an issue in entertainment and media.
I learned this the hard way when I first tried to view a piece and got an error alert. This week, while checking out the site again, I was instantly greeted with a note that held some promise.
"Given the international background of the Hulu team, we have both a professional and personal interest in bringing Hulu to a global audience," the message said.
We'll see what success they have.
Elsewhere this week
• Horrible People
Speaking of watching TV online … here's a show that comes in nugget-sized servings and makes fun of TV at the same time. Making parodies of soap operas must surely date back to the first shows that featured overheated lovers and dialogue to match. For a genre that pretty much lives on the bubble of self-satire, soaps are way, way too easy to mock. Horrible People is made-for-the-web faux soap that appears every Monday on My Damn Channel. It features real actors with genuine production values, and chestnut lines like, "I don't love him less than I don't love you." A caution: the usual soap restrictions on dialogue and content are thrown right out the window here.
• Steam
Download games, safely and easily. The major drawing point of pirated downloads - they may be sinful, but they're free of charge - is not a factor here, but at least you can pick what you want, and actually get it, too.
• Napkin Folding Guide
Myself, I feel happy if I can fold a napkin into a tidy little rectangle, with creased corners and such. I would be stumped to turn a napkin into anything fancy … until I came across the step-by-step instructions that made it look all so easy. And, it probably is, although I have to confess that I was still stymied trying to pull off a couple of tricks.
• Who's Alive and Who's Dead
Perhaps you have at some point engaged in a morbid type of after dinner conversation: a debate about whether so-and-so from such-and-such TV show is alive or dead. I suspect it's a common type of conversation. Who's Alive and Who's Dead is updated regularly, and aims to determine whether celebrities from days gone by have passed or are still with us, but just out of sight.
John Gushue is a news writer for CBCNews.ca in St. John's. E-mail: surf@thetelegram.com. Read past Surf's Up columns and daily updates at his blog: johngushue.typepad.com.

Organizations: NBC and News

Geographic location: Canada, St. John's

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