How about this for a conundrum. There is a TV show I really want to watch, but I'm not going to. I've seen the first episode and it was pretty good, it was free to me - no Sky sub or Lightbox fee involved though I did have to sit through a bunch of awful advertisements - and I certainly do want to watch more of it, but I won't.
How can this be?
Well, I'll tell you: it's because it is available only on TVNZ's lousy On Demand service.
American Crime is pretty much what I look for in a drama.
It's well-cast and well-acted, its characters appear to inhabit a real world, it is - at least on the evidence of its first show - nicely and thoughtfully directed and compellingly told.
If it thinks a little too much of itself, if it's just a trifle too impressed with itself for talking about The Big Issues In America Today, well that's okay; plenty of shows, good shows, can be like that.
The Big Issues are race and class and crime and drugs in America. In the first episode the son (who may or may not be dealing drugs) of a middle-class couple was murdered in an apparent robbery and his wife raped and left for dead, possibly by a desperate drug addict who is doing his best to keep his girlfriend from falling back into prostitution. It is more nuanced than that. But it doesn't matter because I have decided not to care about how good American Crime might get. The experience of watching it on TVNZ On Demand was so unpleasant compared to watching it on HD TV that I can't bear to repeat it.
And I can't see it - legally at least - anywhere else. The show is part of a TVNZ move to screen some of the programmes it has rights to online only. Whereas in the past it might put American Crime online first and then screen it on TV One or TV2 later (and late at night), it is now screening such content online only.
Which might be fine if its On Demand service didn't suffer from a multitude of irritants. First among them is that it has bugs. For example, despite being logged into the same account on three computers, the thing failed to remember where I was when I sat down to complete watching it on the Mac at home. This meant - as I tried to scroll to the right place in the show - I ended up watching around six advertisements more than I should have (and no, unlike MySky you can't fast forward through such rubbish) and I really hate watching ads.
Second, the show just doesn't look that great on On Demand. American Crime was shot in HD, but when streamed it doesn't have the extra crispness of sound and vision you'd have on HD TV, even streamed on an iPad Air 2, which has a pretty high-def screen. This isn't just TVNZ's problem of course; shows watched on TV3's On Demand service, TV3 Now, look a bit rubbish too compared to HD TV, and so too do those I've watched on Lightbox.
However the biggest problem I have with TVNZ On Demand (and TV3 Now for that matter) is with its iPad app. My question is this: why go to all the trouble of having an Apple app if it doesn't allow you to mirror (or, in Apple-speak, "Airplay") the programme from an iPad to your TV through your Apple TV box?
It's not like it's not possible: Lightbox allows me to do exactly that. However, TVNZ's On Demand help page says it can't be done due to "rights restrictions", whatever that means. I call that hopeless.
It's true that we're in the early days of streaming services, and it seems likely that TVNZ and the rest will continue to improve their clunky on-demand applications. But it won't be soon enough for me not to miss a show I'd really like to see.
What I'm watching
Fortitude (9.30pm, Mondays, SoHo)
I'm actually four episodes behind, so this weekend is catch-up time.
Te Araroa: Tales From The Trails (8.30pm, Fridays, Maori TV).
It's one of my dreams to walk the Te Araroa, the 3000km series of linked walks from the Cape to the Bluff. In the meantime, Pio Terei is walking parts of it for me.
Entourage (6.30pm, weeknights, SoHo).
I've seen it a million times. But with the feature film update due for release in cinemas here in June, I'm reacquainting myself with one of my favourite American sitcoms of the 2000s.
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