by BEN KROMER & r & & r & Televison Online (whenever you want) & r & & r & & lt;span class= "dropcap " & M & lt;/span & y day job has me moving to a different hotel in a different state every few weeks. Inconsistent channel selection and my perpetual ignorance of time zones frequently cause me to miss my favorite shows. I solved this problem with tantrums until I found out I don't need an iPod to buy stuff from iTunes, and "stuff" includes TV shows now. The four majors, most basic cable networks and Showtime have episodes available for download at $1.99 apiece.
That's all swell, but I don't have two bucks to spare every time I forget when The Office is on. TV is supposed to be free and the big three networks are finally using their Websites for more than cast bios and schedules. Complete, free episodes are now available from ABC, CBS and NBC's respective dot coms in streaming video format. You don't pay for anything like you do on iTunes, which means you don't download anything. It also means the video feeds contain commercials, which freaked me out until I realized I was seeing fewer commercials than I would watching the same shows on TV, and I could open a different browser window to ignore them.
ABC has the last four episodes of Lost, Desperate Housewives and Gray's Anatomy, six episodes of Ugly Betty, some sitcoms, Dancing With the Stars going back to March, and more miscellany. NBC is the most complete -- most episodes of 30 Rock, The Apprentice, Friday Night Lights, Raines, Andy Barker P.I, and all 21 episodes of Heroes are available. They have the season finale of My Name is Earl if you missed it, Miss USA if you care, and three episodes of Medium. CBS is bringing up the rear with the last three episodes of every CSI and NCIS, all of Survivor: Fuji, Jericho, the last episode of The Unit and a lot more sitcoms and dramas that are hard to care about.
The benefits of streaming TV go beyond being able to fill in gaps in a series-long story arc [Lost, Heroes, Jericho, etc.] before the season finale. If a show you like gets cancelled you won't have hold out hope for a DVD collection as it will probably end up online, like the first and last seasons of Daybreak, October Road and The Black Donnellys. The future looks bright -- or at least cheap -- and has fewer commercials.
A long-running game show from the great but odd island-nation of Japan. The title, coupled with the fact that it's a game show from Japan, makes further description redundant, save perhaps for a modifier such as "on crack!" or "extra insane!" (Weeknights, 6:30 pm, G4)
Deal or No Deal
Maybe the most depressing game show ever. Contestants either fail miserably or quit early and find out how close they were to being filthy rich. The inherent sadness of watching is inflamed by Howie Mandel's terrible facial hair, then balmed slightly by the sexy briefcase women. (Monday, 8 pm; Sunday, 9 pm, NBC)
Knights of Prosperity
A sitcom about funny-looking losers banding together for petty crime, starring character actor Donal Logue. That's my kind of show, but I guess I'm in the minority since ABC is only showing Knights online at ABC.com. The show debuted in January and was quickly yanked. There were hopes that internet buzz would revive the show, but this was not to be. ABC officially canned it Tuesday, forcing fans of Donal Logue to watch The Ex. (Whenever you feel like it, ABC.com)