our pick for best streaming tv and movies sites… with links… but you must read on…
When I was growing up, unless by accident, emergency or there were no other options, we never bought anything made in China, Taiwan, etc. My father had his rules, and besides not getting our ears pierced for fear of getting kicked out of the house, we were smart not to break them (mom, sis and I broke the ear piercing one so he couldn’t kick us all out…). But you know, the righteous, moral, core value rules…at least we tried as a family to adhere to those. He wasn’t racist, it was that fascist regimes, dictatorships, child labor, slave labor, sweat shops, and the destruction of the entire American manufacturing industry were important issues to consider before making a purchase. By buying these products, you were supporting: the government that allowed such practices, the businessmen who profited at other’s expense, the lose of people’s jobs, the suffering of many…. It was considerably different than walking into Wal*Mart and filling up a basket. We had to check every label – meaning there would have been next to nothing we could have been able to buy at most of those corporate chains.
But right now, I have to admit, I’m totally addicted to something from China. Surely it’s less of a moral issue, than boycotting the Beijing Olympics because of Sudan or Tibet (my heart is with you). I’m simply clicking on a web site… no money is exchanging hands… is that so wrong?
Okay, maybe it’s a little more than that, I am in love. And look, I don’t throw the term around willy-nilly (well, only so much as a school-girl does). And I didn’t realize my love until two days ago when I couldn’t connect with…him. He was out, at the doctors, getting maintenance I suppose, but I was on the Season Two finale of “Life On Mars” and jonesing! I had to cheat on him with TV-Okay. But he’s back now, and he excused my dalliances. I don’t understand his foreign tongue, the strange symbols. I have to pretend I can read Chinese, so we can communicate. Daddy, you’ll like him, his name is TUDOU.
First I’ll mention, I have never had cable in my life. Okay, wait, think we had Showtime for one year when I was a kid. Back then, ehem, you purchased each cable station individually, and there were only a few. But since then, every cable show I have watched is because I was visiting someone and they had the TV on, or later when I would housesit or petsit for someone with a television. I gave up on TV, or at least having one in my home, after becoming obsessed with Twin Peaks when I was young. I realized it controlled me, having to be home to watch, a certain day, certain hour (no Tivo back then, just fuzzy VHS recordings). Sure, it didn’t stop us from doing our 90210 one-off The I Hate Brenda Newsletter and on occasion I’d borrow a TV for specific reasons (LA riots, sanity, business purposes, or to watch network shows my friends created or wrote for or appeared on…).
But me and TV’s – they don’t seem to allow one to accomplish as much when they are perpetually playing in the background, as they seem to end up, brainwashing with low-IQ information and vibes. I prefer a player with no regular television source attached, or better yet something that could play whatever my heart desired, on demand, whether it be movie, tv show, anime…. My multi-tasking-self likes viewing it on my Mac, ’cause I can do some of the more mundane research, writing, design work, emailing while it’s playing in a box in the corner. On top of that — American commercials suck! And you always end up watching repeats. Or god-forbid a sitcom (though Christina Applegate’s new one is cute!). Waiting ’til next week cliffhangers are a bore – when you can watch the whole season in a row! I don’t wanna deal with picking up or dropping off at the post office my Netflix. Or the dregs of downloading off Limewire (unless it’s to watch later when one is no longer online – though with most streaming sites you can let the stream load, keep the window open, and watch later without using up precious hard drive space). Considering these scenarios, it’s just sooo easy to get addicted to free streaming video – the immediate satisfaction kine love I’m talking about!
It’s been hard though, as the crack down on streaming sites has been intense. Just as you get comfortable, just as the relationship seems secure, its suddenly taken away from you; love shut down in its prime. They must start these up in various parts of the world with hacky pros creating complicated maneuvers to keep the powers-that-be from discovering the source. But Tudou, it’s from China… they seem to be able to get away with… just about anything!
Never heard of Tudou? Or perhaps you’ve stumbled upon it in your searches? Well, the scoop:
Tudou, Romanized Chinese for the word “Potato” – guess as in “couch”, was started in 2005. It’s the largest video sharing website in China. Take YouTube and then x’s it by 5 and that’s how many billions of minutes of video are up there (Tudou came out just before YouTube did). There aren’t the same length restrictions either. Also, the videos are streamed quickly; if your connection is good you are watching without waiting – not DivX quality but fine.
You need to play around with it in order to find your show, the searches work for shows in English because they maintain the English title, but from there you gotta get logical about the buttons you click. I’ll help get you started. (As far as technical requirements, it plays on my MacBook without any downloads…but check the wiki if you are having problems with your PC).
The trick I found to finding many shows -and then playing the whole season in order- is by finding registered users who upload things I enjoy watching. So if I do a search for a certain show, instead of just clicking the link, I look at who is supplying it, check their home page, and snoop out some of their other offerings. The best will give you the whole series in order in a scrollbar format and they play one after the other. So you can watch from season one, episode one through the last show of the season (sometimes two seasons), in a continuous playback. (Two tips: If you’re in the middle of streaming a show, don’t disconnect until the whole thing has streamed to your machine; otherwise you’ll have to start from the beginning the next time, and sometimes after you’ve streamed it part way it won’t let you reload from the same source).
Best of video (movie/TV) streaming sites to check out:
UPDATE: One of my new fave sites is SIDEREEL
– they include sweet selection of available links (note the link tab once you click on the show or movie’s main page in order to access) and are well organized and updated regularly; often new episodes posted the morning after they air. Check ’em out.
Will update as they come and go, so if you have any to add, let us know! Note: some link to different source sites [often Tudou or Youku -which is also from China], stating that they don’t “host any videos” to avoid legalities; a few require players; some show 5 minute previews so check the number of play minutes and avoid! Might also want to avoid the sexy-time links. Certain sites require you to register – but I tried not to list many of those. Also note, most “just released” flicks are likely video’d in the theater!
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To get you started on Tudou, my fave uploader’s home pages:
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Sometimes it’s easiest to go to the source – certain channels have their own players where they’ll show you the last few episodes – or for shows like “Lost” complete seasons. Only ABC’s player is any good (though it’s been crashing Firefox lately) but it seems the others have tried to make improvements. (Actually, now that I mentioned it, almost all players run better with Firefox, so you’ll want to access through that web browser.)
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And, just cause I luv U too, a few faves to catch up on – with easy direct links:
Life On Mars: My absolutely new favorite (okay, it’s a couple years old; 1/2006 – 4/2007) Time travel / mental breakdown / coma hallucination cop show. It’s so brilliant that I hate David Kelly for even thinking about remaking the dumbed-down American version. Just let it be!!!! Thankfully the British stars declined to participate! (Though a movie version is a possibility… I wouldn’t mind that. But what would it do to the ambiguous ending?!?). I love the actors/characters, dynamic relationships, the intensity, the spit-quick dialogue, the questioned reality. Makes you realize how brain activity is more mainstream for the populous elsewhere in the world. I like morphed analogies, but, hmm, Barney Miller plus Trainspotting plus Fight Club mixed with some ’70s English glam rock…. or not. Friggin’ hot soundtrack! (p.s. just read on wiki a Spanish TV bought the rights for it and will remake the show and base the first season five year later in 1978 post-Franco Spain….huh? • Oh, and Ashes to Ashes… you decide if the sequel should have been done. Personally, I dislike the repeated “wink wink” jokes referencing LOM – and hard to keep up the pace and freshness of the original – but there are a few moments. Main factor for it being done at all, and in this I assume we can agree, is we all want to keep on watching Glenister.
Mad Men: As in “ad men” (as in advertising) based in the ’60s. This show irritated me at first, hard to watch what women had to go through in this weird not-that-long-ago world…. This is the email review I wrote my friend who recommended Mad Men to me, if I can be so ridiculous as to quote myself: “Reminds me of the cavemen that live here. Shows so well male species teetering on the edge of control and the facade required to maintain it. Despite the things I love and hate about it… absolutely brilliant.” (Created in 2000 by Sopranos writer Matthew Weiner -before he worked on Sopranos, but pitching it was how he landed the gig- first aired July 2007. Season 2 coming Summer 2008). Season two streaming link here!
Nip/Tuck: I think it was my sister or my friend Pyne who said every other season of this show is good. Whatever it is, Season 5 sucked and I’d recommend avoiding it because it pulled what was an overall five star rating down a star. I avoided watching this show for so long, because of misconceived notions and avoidance of visual gore (for the sake of)… but got easily addicted and watched through all five seasons in two weeks (caution: you start dreaming theme music when you do this – also loved ones may be annoyed with your obsession.).
Hustle: British comedy started in 2004 – by third season AMC had a major stake in it. Exciting long-con plottings, fun characters, twisting stories, etc. (Conceived by Life On Mars writers; couple of the same actors make appearances and Glenister’s bro has a leading role).
Other shows to catch up on: Men In Trees (sorry, I’m a woman, this sappy shit [ha, sappy!] is in the genes — better than what Sex and the City devotees are expected to move on to… Lipstick Jungle [not quite Candace!] and Cashmere Mafia – don’t thInk sooo [tho Ms. Lucy Lu, u always rock!]), Freaks and Geeks (classic, good for repeats), the Tudors, Rescue Me, The Closer, Damages, Weeds, Rome…..
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