The Long Version: Well the long version goes a little something like this. Sunday morning I recorded a podcast with Jane Espenson and Cheeks to help promote their new web series, Husbands. I won’t lie, that was a good day for me. Then Monday came along and I had no idea what I would do for a follow up. I mean, really, do I follow up such awesomeness with a Thundercats recap?
I knew I could spend hours, days even, trying to come up with a way to top that podcast. Then it struck me, unless Nathan Fillion calls me up and invites me out for beer and nachos, I’m probably not going to beat that interview, at least not right away. So I decided to side step the whole issue and go with something a little light hearted.
How does this connect to Netflix, you ask? In light of the fact that a certain movie studio is trying to bring “fishing expedition” copyright lawsuits to Canada, I thought I would see what legitimate alternatives there are for people who want television and movies delivered online without having to resort to bit torrent. The results of my investigation were not at all impressive. Sufficed to say the crux of this copyright issue can be distilled down to one simple idea: the content providers need to get their heads out of the 20th century and make their services more appealing and more convenient than piracy.
At any rate, ever since my “Netflix vs The AFI top 25” post, there’s been no short supply of people trying to convince me that Netflix has improved its service to Canadian users and I should be less of a grumpy cynical bastard therein. At the behest of all the Netflix boosters, I thought I would give the service an honest trial run.
After signing up and completing a survey that took longer than my last census report, I was immediately disappointed. I told Netflix’s survey that I never watch “Family Friendly” or “Children’s” programming. The very first thing in my “recommended” stream was Pingu.
Grumbling inaudibly, I typed “Star Trek” into the search bar expecting that Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan would be an easy hit. It was not.
As my vision has only just recovered from a case of acute lens flare blindness, I passed on the 2009 Trek reboot. Then, I came upon…it. Something so strange that you’re probably going to think I made it up. A search for Star Trek yielded Time Travel Through the Bible.
“”What the shit is this? Rebecca, you have to come here and see this,” were my exact words.
The connection between “Star Trek” as a search operator and Time Travel Through the Bible is one Jonathan Frakes of ST:TNG. Honestly though, how stupid is Netflix’s search engine that it would put those two things together? I mean Star Trek is clearly science fiction and Time Travel Through the Bible ought to be in fantasy.
Of course it didn’t end there. I tried another experiment. Hypothesis: If I search for The Manchurian Candidate it will give me Murder She Wrote because they both feature Angela Lansbury. Result: The Train, – another John Frankenheimer movie which does make some sense – the remake of The A-Team, and Jackass 3.
“Come on, how in the name of Zeus’ asshole does cold war intrigue connect with douche bag idiots being idiots?” I yelled at my computer screen.
It was the indefinite article “the” in the description of the latter two movies that joined them to Frank Sinatra and Lawrence Harvey. (Click the above picture to see what I mean) Netflix, I’m being totally honest with you when I say this, but my university library circa 2000 had a smarter search engine than yours does now. Consider these three words: powered by google.
I know, it seems like I’m just piss taking at Netflix’s expense, but I’m really trying to give it a chance. Yet time after time it disappoints me. It categorized the seminal 80s series Robotech as children’s programming rather than Anime. I asked for Cowboy Bebop and it offered me Cool as Ice, the much ignored 90s musical comedy featuring Vanilla Ice as a hip-hop motorcycle rebel. And yes, it was as painful for me to type that as it was for you to read it. The only saving grace I’ve seen so far is about fifty episodes of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 and the complete series of Farscape.
In the final assessment, I don’t think Netflix has improved. The search engine is as terrible as the selection is limited. Despite my best efforts otherwise, I can’t get over the fact that if I had a Netflix.com account rather than Netflix.ca I’d have ten times the library to choose from.
Next month, I try zip.ca. Shaftoe, out.
PS: Feel free to click here for my interview with Jane Espenson and Cheeks. It’s awesome.