Digital Antenna Delivers Broadcast Television To Roku

Dave Zatz —  January 13, 2013 — 40 Comments

roku-terk-antenna

With a show as ginormous as CES, it’s safe to say lesser staffed outlets (such as yours truly) will overlook a number of interesting technologies. Fortunately, our readers have us covered and Jeff G. turned us onto the VOXX Digital Antenna with Roku. Wha?! While we did encounter Roku a number of times Vegas, all third party Roku Streaming Stick integration was HDTV-based. Whereas this off-the-wall antenna “will allow consumers to receive over-the-air local HD broadcast and streaming entertainment from the Roku platform which features hundreds of” over-the-top apps.

My first reaction was one of enthusiasm as the holy grail of home entertainment is seamlessly merging OTA and OTT content onto a single platform. Yet I suspect the MHL-equipped digital antenna, scheduled to ship Q4 under the Terk and RCA names, may run more than the actual Roku devices that start an economical 50 bucks. Not to mention all modern HDTVs ship with ATSC tuners and there’s no mention here of incoming DVR capabilities to augment live television viewing. So if your goal is access to both over-the-air network programming and streaming apps like Netflix via Input 1, a more practical solution would be the $100 Vizio Costar… with HDMI pass-thu and current availability. But we give VOXX credit for thinking well beyond the box.

40 responses to Digital Antenna Delivers Broadcast Television To Roku

  1. Hm, so my idea to use the Costar for OTA wouldn’t work since it’d require a set-top box to pipe video through that HDMI pass-thru. The better solution would be a “smart” TV or Boxee TV – although, Boxee is still something of a beta product and may require good bandwidth with no or high caps (if using the cloud DVR capabilities). Bottom line is there’s still no perfect box.

  2. The real issue I have with the way it’s presented is that it seems to be more “an antenna that also accepts the roku stick” but not the “brings OTA to your Roku experience” that the press release subtly suggests it is. unless I’m wrong, it’s not putting an OTA tv app in your Roku menu.

  3. That’d be crazy if it’s just an antenna with a MLH slot and some power. Would they really bother with such a thing? Hm. As I said on Twitter, I bet the odds are low this even ships. So we may never know.

  4. OTA is great, when you are in an area that can pull a signal. Many areas of the country you need an outdoor antenna to get any sort of reception. I live in the SF Bay Area but because of the hills (and mtns) we can pull some stations and not others and I am less than 30 miles from Sutro Tower and Walnut Grove (Sacramento). This antenna looks to be an indoor antenna so that means a lot of us could never use it to pull a signal.

  5. This would never work for me in southern california ,because i live 90 miles from the towers,or maybe it will, we have a tv transltor 30 miles from where i live but i dont know if they ever did the digital upgrade thing.

  6. Yeah, I’m starting to realize an indoor antenna would only be a partial solution for me as well. Since the HD channels moved from UHF to VHF, I’ve lost most of them via indoor antennas. Sucks.

  7. Rob – I am only 20 miles from the Empire State Bldg and of 7 0-13 OTA channels, I can only pull in two of them with an internal antenna. And only if I balance the antenna against a the wall by propping it up with a book.

    That’s when I remembered why everyone switched to cable.

  8. How is it we’re still unclear how the Boxee TV works? I trolled around just now looking for any commentary on bandwidth usage and the only thing I found was a review on the Walmart site:

    http://www.walmart.com/catalog/allReviews.do?product_id=21984297

    by somebody with access to the cloud DVR capabilities and he says it simply doesn’t work–constant buffering, lots and lots of uploading (80GB in 2 days) etc. No data to back up any of this (maybe he’s just got a crappy ISP?). But doesn’t sound encouraging. Odd that nobody has done an analysis of how much down/up the thing is doing so we can speculate on how it works…

  9. I spoke to CEO Avner briefly at CES and it works pretty much as they describe – it is bandwidth intensive and it’s ability to encode and upload in high quality is dependent on that upstream connection given a limited local buffer. He says they’re continuing to work on performance. I have one here but can’t do much with it given limited OTA as I haven’t yet been motivated to stick an antenna in the attic.

  10. What’s the big deal with changing the input source on the TV?

  11. To Glenn’s point though, too many articles I’ve seen lump Boxee in with Roku and Apple TV and that’s just not what it does.

    Also – tried the rabbit ears in my office, which is just blocks from the Empire State Building and features big windows overlooking the street.

    It pulled in 4 of the 7 VHF OTA stations. The picture is beautiful, but CBS, NBC and FOX don’t come in, so…

  12. Speaking of bad reception and Roku, what’s the deal with HBO Go?

    I’ve got a FiOS wire, so my WAN connection is solid. I’ve got my Roku hooked up to my router via wired ethernet. And the Roku channels served by Amazon-based stream-fulfillment, aka – Netflix and Amazon, give me reliable HD streams on the Roku.

    So, I think I’ve correctly eliminated all conceivable problems downstream of HBO Go.

    But HBO Go reliability on the Roku is abysmal. I can get an “HD” steam on a minority of days. And on about half the days, I have trouble even maintaining a ’3 dot’ steam, with PQ somewhere between SD and “HD”, without excessive buffering delays that render playback unviable. (Hell, I’ve even witnessed a couple of multiple day issues where no HBO steams will playback.)

    So, again, what’s the deal with HBO Go reliability? I guess I need to reload my HBO content onto my NAS that I unloaded to archive when I got the Roku. And given that at least half the reason I got the Roku in the first place was for HBO Go, it’s a bit of a disappointment, even if Roku isn’t at fault here.

    You’d think HBO would find stream-fulfillment a topic worth addressing, but what do I know?

  13. How does it compare to HBO GO on your iPad? And which Roku do you have – is it a 2 variant or earlier? Hm.

  14. “And which Roku do you have – is it a 2 variant or earlier?”

    2

    “How does it compare to HBO GO on your iPad?”

    I don’t have the slightest desire to ever watch video on mobile platforms beyond sixty second tests. So I couldn’t really tell you.

    But I wouldn’t be surprised if HBO wasn’t as concerned with adequately provisioning streams for the higher bit-rate of lean-back quality. It is called HBO Go, after all. But still, if they’re going to authorize a Roku channel, you’d think they could either spend a few bucks to let the pros from Dover at Amazon adequately handle fulfillment, or else roll their own adequate fulfillment solution. As is, hurts the brand quality, IMHO.

  15. Dave,

    So, if reports on teh twits are correct, you are an HBO subscriber again. Can you replicate my consistently bad experience with HBO Go on Roku?

    —–

    Also, DIAL is damn interesting, and perhaps worth a blog post.

    If I could launch content on my Roku via Netflix, Amazon, and HBO Go apps via a single click on my mobile device, it’d go a long way to making my Roku as convenient to use as Plex on my Mac Mini…

    (I’ve always thought AirPlay was mistakenly thought out in acting as a transmitter, rather than acting as a launcher in the way DIAL is designed to work.)

  16. I did get, but my Roku is currently on the upstairs 720p TV. Tell me what you’re seeing and I’ll try to confirm.

    Good call on Dial – we need an agnostic protocol to easily link mobile/tv. Will check it out.

  17. “Tell me what you’re seeing and I’ll try to confirm.”

    As stated upthread:

    I can get an “HD” steam on a minority of days. And on about half the days, I have trouble even maintaining a ’3 dot’ steam, with PQ somewhere between SD and “HD”, without excessive buffering delays that render playback unviable. (Hell, I’ve even witnessed a couple of multiple day issues where no HBO steams will playback.)

    The upshot is that about half the time, I can’t watch HBO Go, even at lower than “HD” quality, without repetitive buffering delays that disrupts the viewing experience to the degree that I stop trying.

  18. I gave it a try for about 10 or 15 minutes last night. Had a lot of trouble buffering at the beginning and was super annoying with long, long delays I haven’t seen since I was getting DSL speeds at my temporary housing… whereas now I’m FiOS fast. So it’s definitely HBO’s stream and/or how they deliver it via their Roku app. The PQ wasn’t that great when it was working – think I was 3 dots. But here’s what’s weird. I pulled up the same content on my Kindle Fire HD and also had trouble buffering, which I usually don’t on mobile – so maybe they had a bad night? Also, it’s hard to do an apples to apples comparison on pq given the very different screen sizes, but I enjoyed the look much better on the smaller device.

  19. “So it’s definitely HBO’s stream and/or how they deliver it via their Roku app.”

    I was pretty damn sure it wasn’t just me. But it’s good to have confirmation, and I thank you for that.

    I’ve already moved my HBO archive back onto my NAS for Plex viewing, since HBO Go really doesn’t work.

    I still love HBO, but between the CCI byte change, and the essential non-usability of HBO Go on Roku as a replacement for archiving stuff off the TiVo, I no longer think it’s the tremendous bargain I used to think it was. I’ll still subscribe, but I used to think it was worth much more than I was paying, since I could watch the back catalog. But with no more back catalog available to me, much less value.

    “But here’s what’s weird. I pulled up the same content on my Kindle Fire HD and also had trouble buffering, which I usually don’t on mobile – so maybe they had a bad night?”

    Like I say, those ‘bad nights’ are happening more than 50% of the time in my experience, and not just at night. Either they don’t want to spend on having Amazon fulfilling the streams, or else they deliberately don’t want HBO Go to allow folks to graze the back catalog. Who knows?

    All I know is that if I want to watch an hour or two of HBO Go, it’s more likely to not happen than it is to happen. Utter fail.

    “The PQ wasn’t that great when it was working – think I was 3 dots.”

    Yup. It only rarely delivers “HD”.

    And the 3 dot is somewhere very slightly above DVD (aka SD) quality.

    (And as an aside, what the hell is up with you repeatedly confusing non-HD with “stretched”? No one doing OTT delivers SD as 4:3 stretched. They just dramatically slash the bit-rate. All you’re paying for with HD is the PQ. Even back in the days of the execrable StarzPlay on Netflix, that ultra-crappy PQ stuff was delivered at non-stretched 16:9.)

    “Also, it’s hard to do an apples to apples comparison on pq given the very different screen sizes, but I enjoyed the look much better on the smaller device.”

    Dude, as always, lousy bit-rate video is not a big issue on mobile devices. It’s only a big issue in the lean-back. Do I need to write up a basic PQ FAQ from 2009 for you? Given your beat, things like this and the ‘stretched’ issue are basic things you should have gotten a vague grasp on a few years ago, no? But regardless, it’s never too late…

    (And all this means that if you are planning to watch an episode of Justified on your phone or Fire, rent the SD version and save a buck. If you are planning to watch in the lean-back, rent the HD version. Grok the reasoning behind this, and you will be on the path to True Wisdom.)

  20. No one doing OTT delivers SD as 4:3 stretched. They just dramatically slash the bit-rate. All you’re paying for with HD is the PQ.

    Either I repeatedly forget or I just don’t think about it too often as I always opt for the $2.99 HD version but Paul got me thinking maybe I should save that buck. I do feel like I watched something recently that was 4:3 – maybe it was one of those Prime Instant freebies? Maybe it was older? Hm. Anyway, I agree with you leanback deserves higher quality and will be appreciated. Given the crappy Roku experience I may just cancel HBO (and use my Mom’s Comcast version solely on mobile). Will launch again this weekend to verify.

  21. “Given the crappy Roku experience I may just cancel HBO”

    They’ve still got the best Original Programming studio of all the premium channels by a country mile or ten. (Not to mention that they don’t ‘badge’ their movies the way every other premium channel does.) With a 2TB drive in your TiVo, you’d be better off subscribing and just keeping everything they run for a year. It’s pretty much all worth a viewing on your own schedule once you run out of other stuff to watch.

    But, as stated, it’s far less of a bargain than it was when you could harvest the old stuff off the TiVo onto NAS, or when you could (theoretically) watch even a subset of the old stuff via OTT.

    If you don’t subscribe to any premium channels, I can understand dropping HBO. But de gustibus non est disputandum aside, (which can never really be placed aside), I can’t understand subscribing to something like Showtime in its place…

  22. I turn ‘em on, I turn ‘em off. It’s what I do. But you’re probably right, HBO is worth keeping around, especially now given my more capacious 2GB XL4. But I will not apologize for preferring SHO’s originally programming more these days. Let me know when Deadwood and The Wire return to HBO.

  23. “But I will not apologize for preferring SHO’s originally programming more these days.”

    De gustibus non est disputandum.

    But I’d consider just buying seasons from Amazon, were there a limited number of SHO shows I wanted. At $30 to $35 a pop, it’d take a bunch of series I wanted there to make subscribing a better value to me, in part because there’s added value in owning ‘Amazon rights’ than just having the bits sitting on your TiVo. (Though I guess if I thought Homeland or some other SHO show was necessary ‘water cooler material’ in some form, I’d feel differently.)

    “Let me know when Deadwood and The Wire return to HBO.”

    Well, out of the current:

    Boardwalk Empire, Enlightened, and Curb Your Enthusiasm are absolutely superb.

    Game of Thrones and Girls are immensely watchable.

    We could stop there, and that’s more than enough value for me. But, wait, there’s more!

    Much like Alan Ball’s previous series, Six Feet Under, I happily watched the first two seasons of True Blood before getting bored of it, and will likely watch the rest some day.

    Unlike everyone else on the planet, I actually liked The Newsroom. Very cheap thrills, but perfectly executed.

    I wasn’t crazy about Veep, but I suspect part of that has to do with having been addicted to pure Armando Iannucci heroin of The Thick of It and In the Loop, so I thought it was too watered down.

    I haven’t gotten around to it, but I bet the entire run of Treme can be happily slurped down some day.

    And I mourn Luck, which was worth two watchings, and may be worth a third some day. Al Swearengen went into Boardwalk Empire, but all the horses from Deadwood squared went into Luck.

    They’ve got a pipeline. They gave the guys who made Deadwood and The Wire big new canvases to play with. It’s one of many reasons why they’re so good.

    Plus, a large percentage of the original miniseries are highly worth a viewing. And a smaller, but still substantial percentage of the original movies are worth a viewing.

  24. Having read the first three books of Game of Thrones (after it started airing on HBO), I can’t watch anymore. Everyone dies and the author doesn’t seem to have an end game. Or is ten years away from it if he makes it.

    I do plan to watch all of Boardwalk Empire. At the gym.

    Watched the early seasons of True Blood as well, then moved on. And I’m caught up on Girls though already bored with the schtick. The only thing that might keep me coming back is the ex boyfriend. Will have to check out Enlightened.

  25. “I do plan to watch all of Boardwalk Empire. At the gym.”

    Good god, man. Let me help you save your immortal soul from a lowly rebirth after you enter the bardo.

    Watch Curb Your Enthusiasm at the gym. Watch Dexter at the gym. Watch Justified at the gym. Watch pretty much anything on Hulu+ at the gym.

    The HBO big-budget period visual spectacular series and miniseries are not meant to be watched on a tiny screen at the gym. They are meant to be watched on the biggest lean-back screen you’ve got.

    A large majority of TV, even on premium cable, is still done on the long-standing model of traditional broadcast TV – aka radio with pictures. That stuff works absolutely great at the gym.

    But the detailed, intricate, and incredible visuals on the stuff like Boardwalk Empire really demands a viewing experience where you can luxuriate into the visuals and get transported. The visuals are at least as important as the plotline in HBO’s period stuff. Between the big-budget sets and stars of the first two seasons of Boardwalk Empire, plus the incredible special effect of Paz de la Huerta, it’s just not small-screen gym material…

  26. “@Gartenberg @palmsolo Yep, HBO GO is stellar. All episodes of all original series, available 24/7.”

    Considering that the Cupertino news involves HBO Go in the lean-back, isn’t this time to be raising the issue of the severe stream fulfillment impairments that the service has?

    I mean, as a lean-back customer, if I could get reliable streams, especially in HD, I really would think HBO Go is stellar. The catalog is f*cking great.

    But considering that it’s essentially unwatchable in the lean-back at the moment, the only stellar phenomenon I would associate with it is ‘brown dwarf’…

    —–

    I assume Cupertino is just backing off the 30% tax for this one special case, either to keep Roku from establishing a beachhead, or, more likely, in an Eddy Cue effort to create some goodwill among video content companies for the super-premium flat-panel.

    (I also assume HBO will want to fix their issues before this rolls out, assuming the Cupertino rumor is true. They’d get nasty press if it’s like this when it launches on mighty Apple. Also, if I were them, I’d do better authentication to keep folks like you from using HBO Go in the lean-back via your mom’s account, while still being relaxed about mobile. Lean-back is just worth more.)

  27. So here’s some more data. I watched two episode of Enlightenment (eh) one morning, maybe 7AMish, when the morning news was worthless (as it must always be). And the Roku stream popped right in and in HD. So I’m wondering if they have a capacity problem? Also who knows if Apple TV is easier/harder to stream to than Roku for HBO. I assume the experience would be more like the iPad/iPhone where it starts right up and then X seconds later, as the buffer builds in the background, it snaps into a higher quality stream.

  28. “So here’s some more data. I watched two episode of Enlightenment (eh) one morning, maybe 7AMish, when the morning news was worthless (as it must always be). And the Roku stream popped right in and in HD.”

    Perhaps 7am really is different.

    Never watched HBO Go with my morning coffee, so it could be that extreme off-hours are usually fine. But in my afternoon and evening viewing attempts, I have occasionally gotten smooth HD streams for an hour or two. It’s just a very rare occurrence.

    But more data is always good in trying to put together the picture.

    “Also who knows if Apple TV is easier/harder to stream to than Roku for HBO. I assume the experience would be more like the iPad/iPhone where it starts right up and then X seconds later, as the buffer builds in the background, it snaps into a higher quality stream.”

    Well, two points:

    - Both Netflix and Amazon have zero problems in reliably streaming “HD” via Roku, so it’s definitely possible to fulfill the bits to the demand via Roku.

    - The extreme difficulty I see with HBO Go on Roku, where it often can’t even maintain a ’3 dot’ quality stream for very long without lengthy re-buffering, seems to indicate to me that no amount of buffer would solve the problem, unless you had a TiVo-like scheme and started xfer-ing the program long before you wanted to watch it, which the Apple TV obviously isn’t going to do. Best I can tell, HBO Go just doesn’t have the ability or willingness to send the demanded bits at this point in the time, and Apple TV won’t change that unless HBO Go fixes its back-end.

  29. Perusing the forums this AM from a Starbucks on the beach. And it looks like HBO GO’s Roku issues are specific to HBO on Roku. In addition to capacity, I assume they have other technical issues related to their Roku-specific stream/integration to overcome.

    http://forums.roku.com/viewtopic.php?f=28&t=53977

  30. “As much as I want Comcast to offer HBO GO on Roku, HBO’s got work to do in providing a more efficient & reliable HD stream for the platform.”

    There ya’ go. That wasn’t too hard, was it?

    HBO Go in the lean-back is still vaporware at this point in time. Hard to tell if it’s intentional (and I can come up with a couple of reasons for it to be intentional), or just incompetence.

    And give Enlightened a chance. Try watching at some time other than with breakfast. It’s not fast, or particularly plot-oriented, but it’s quite good. Gotta let yourself sink into it. It rewards the viewer.

    (And I’m starting to understand your preference for SHO over HBO. The SHO series are mega-plot-oriented, while many of the better HBO series are not.)

    —–

    Assuming the Cupertino / HBO Go rumors are true, the point that fascinates me is that this will be the first time ever that Cupertino has allowed anyone to really free-ride on its iOS hardware. That’s really big news. The unknowns of the rationale behind it, and what it may or may not imply for the future, are both fascinating.

  31. Maybe… neither of us has tested it on the Xbox 360?

    I watched maybe half the Enlightenment episodes of Season 1 and half of the first episode of Season 2 before pulling the plug.

    Regarding HBO GO on Apple TV, it may not be a free ride. Or maybe they’ll agree it’s good for both of them and no money need change hands.

    Speaking of original HBO programming, I was so confused on my flight yesterday. This guy seated in front of me looked shockingly similar to Peter Dinklage. But was probably my height.

  32. “Perusing the forums this AM from a Starbucks on the beach. And it looks like HBO GO’s Roku issues are specific to HBO on Roku. In addition to capacity, I assume they have other technical issues related to their Roku-specific stream/integration to overcome.”

    While I thank you for the link, I read that thread very differently than you.

    The dude who put his Roku into debug mode seemed to demonstrate that they just are sending a ridiculously thin bit-rate stream, for whatever reason.

    Again, Netflix and Amazon don’t seem to experience any issues whatsoever on the Roku, and although I haven’t used Vudu, I’d assume the same goes for them. HBO just ain’t sending the bits to the demand, for whatever reason.

    “Maybe… neither of us has tested it on the Xbox 360?”

    While this is true, and it’s risky to speculate without testing:

    The only way performance would be better on the Xbox is if HBO is sniffing the device, and delivering a fatter stream to the Xbox than to the Roku. And the only reason for HBO to do that is if Microsoft is heavily paying them to do so, which seems of very dubious probability.

    So absent testing, it’s possible, but seemingly very unlikely that the Xbox would provide a useable HBO Go experience at this point in time.

    ——

    “Regarding HBO GO on Apple TV, it may not be a free ride.”

    How could it not be a free-ride?

    Is there going to be an option to somehow sign up for HBO via your MSO on the Apple TV with Cupertino taking a 30% ongoing cut? I’d say that’s massively unlikely for a couple of reasons.

    Is Time-Warner simply going to pay Cupertino for the placement? Again, I’d say that’s massively unlikely.

    “Or maybe they’ll agree it’s good for both of them and no money need change hands.”

    I’m pretty damn sure that’s what is going on, but it is fascinating to me, as it represents a real shift in Cupertino’s thinking. The reason question to me is whether it’s just a one-off.

    But one-off or not, Cupertino humbling itself before Time-Warner is the unreported news here.

    —–

    “Speaking of original HBO programming, I was so confused on my flight yesterday. This guy seated in front of me looked shockingly similar to Peter Dinklage. But was probably my height.”

    I had no idea you were such a reprehensible heightist. All dwarfs look the same to you? Next, you’ll be trying to defend yourself by saying that some of your best friends are dwarfs.

    (And what the hell were you thinking in reading the books while the series was ongoing? Watching a film adaptation of a book in temporal proximity to reading the book is pretty much always a bad idea. If you keep ‘em separated by a few years, you can enjoy both. But otherwise, you ruin either one or both.)

  33. You are correct that House of Cards is indeed watchable, though not particularly good. Seems about on par with a notably worse-than-average HBO series, which still beats the average SHO series to my particular palate.

    The interesting part to me is just how much HBO talent Netflix poached to make the thing. Allen Coulter and Rick Cleveland, for starters. Not to mention hiring some quite good directors in James Foley and Carl Franklin. Not to mention the acting contingent. They put together a package of some real talent up there.

    Problem lies in the show’s actual creator, who isn’t really David Fincher, who is put up there for marketing reasons, but instead is Beau Willimon, who wrote the also not particularly good Ides of March. Dude has enough insider politico knowledge to make things vaguely interesting, but doesn’t have the total package to pull off a truly interesting feature or long-arc TV series on politics.

    The show actually has a lot of similarities with The Newsroom. Journalists hated that show because of the “it’s not really like that” factor, and got a lot of print since they’re journalists. But if you know much about the Hill, House of Cards has the exact same “it’s not really like that” issues. (White Southern Democratic member of House Leadership? Deposing a House Majority Leader during a session? C’mon, now. And there are many, many more.) But Sorkin is a much better writer than Willimon, which is why his ‘insider’ show with severe plausibility issues was better than Willimon’s ‘insider’ show with severe plausibility issues.

    The one thing I do genuinely love about House of Cards is the intro sequence, which I suspect is the one bit of the show that is purely Fincher’s work. It’s a great minute that doesn’t even begin to get tired with 13 viewings.

  34. Ha, funny. I keep fast forwarding past the time lapse DC scenes finding it derivative. Been there, done that. Overall, it seems the acting and presentation have been a little inconsistant. But Robin Wright has been outstanding. Nice calves, too.

  35. “Ha, funny. I keep fast forwarding past the time lapse DC scenes finding it derivative. Been there, done that”

    Superb directing is to do a ‘been there, done that’ sequence in a way that’s interesting. Which is why I’m assuming that sequence is pure, unadulterated Fincher, since it’s a total cliche, yet I don’t get bored watching it. It tells a little story in pictures, which also happens to be the series’ story.

    (There is a longstanding inside thing among directors, when you have a character flying somewhere, of trying to do the massively cliched exterior ‘airplane taking-off’ or ‘airplane landing’ bit in an original and non-boring manner. Many directors spend much needless thought and effort in trying to do that one minor bit right, which nobody besides other directors will notice, even if they do get it right.)

    Generally, I also FF past intro sequences when I’m deep-diving into a long-arc series. Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire are a couple of the select few intros besides House of Cards that I don’t FF past…

  36. There can be only one… Raiders of the Lost Ark flight sequence.

  37. “We’ve completed House of Cards. Anything else to watch on Netflix before canceling?”

    I’ll second the UK version of House of Cards.

    Beats the hell out of the US version. Damn good stuff. Two notes:

    1) Now I understand the wild implausibilities of the US version. They just carbon-copied the UK script, without bothering with the minor fact that Parliamentary systems are pretty damn different than the US system.

    2) It’s a series from the early ’90′s, so it was shot in 4:3. But Netflix has it in genuine HD, since it was shot on film, and they were able to digitize from non-TV high quality masters. But weirdly, Netflix shows some of the episodes cropped to 16:9, (not stretched), but not all of the episodes are cropped. I’d prefer they’d stuck with the original 4:3, since that’s how I roll, but it’s just plain bizarre to me that they couldn’t decide on one or the other and mix ‘n’ match.

    (OTOH, if you are jumping with enthusiasm for season 2 of the US version, you might get some spoilers. But considering how superior the UK version is, that shouldn’t matter.)

  38. Does a story from the early 90s hold up? Hm. I’ll most likely be skipping Season 2 of the US version. S1 was OK, but I’m not committed and have no investment in these characters… other than the one redeeming individual who no longer matters.

  39. “Does a story from the early 90s hold up?”

    Depends on whether or not you find movies from the early ’90′s (or even earlier) to be palatable.

    But, like I say, I find the UK version to be damn good stuff. I can certainly understand why the folks who embarked on the watered-down US version were attracted to it.

  40. As an additional enticement, the UK series features a barely fictionalized Rupert Murdoch who’s even better than Montgomery Burns

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