As the DVD market contracts (though it may do OK this month; a TV season is a relatively inexpensive Christmas gift), one of the few outlets for old TV episodes will be the internet. Studios are experimenting with ways of putting their TV library online, but very cautiously; Hulu is still not available in Canada, doesn’t have many complete series runs, and has all the same music-clearance issues as DVD. But it’s a start.
Warner Brothers experimented with putting up episodes from their TV catalogue on AOL’s IN2TV; but again, copyright issues prevent them from playing in Canada. A few episodes from the WB catalogue have also been “officially” uploaded to DailyMotion, and while most of those don’t play in Canada either, a few of them — the ones uploaded in the last week or so — are available here, at least for now. But some of them have suspiciously short running times, suggesting syndication versions.
U.S. readers are invited to share their thoughts on these services and the quality of the uploads, how well they play, whether the episodes are complete, and so on. I’ve been able to watch some of the Hulu and In2TV episodes, but not very systematically. It strikes me as a much better way of watching a rare TV episode than a YouTube upload — the quality of the print is usually better than a VHS copy transferred to YouTube, and the sound is usually better — but the lack of complete seasons or complete runs makes them less useful than they might be. Hulu at least usually tries to put up all the episodes of a given season at a time, but they rarely seem to follow through on the rest of the run; it’s a lot like DVD, where you’re often not able to see beyond the first couple of seasons.
As for an example of an officially WB-uploaded episode that was a) available in Canada and b) complete, I had a choice between Growing Pains and Head of the Class. I picked Head of the Class because I just like the name “Arvid.” It’s fun to say. “Arvid.”