There’s a lot of news and rumors swirling around with regard to potential major changes for Hulu. I hope that the upshot will mean more access more often for web consumers and fans of TV, though I’m fearful that this will not be the case.
In any event, while Hulu is still with us in its present form, I recommend sifting through its archives for television programs that you missed out on the first time around. Netflx’ streaming service, Zune via Xbox 360, and iTunes are also good ways to do this, but the best part about Hulu – again in its present form, and outside of its Hulu Plus paid service – is that it’s free.
Last night I went on what I like to call a Hulu Treasure Hunt. I did this by heading to the Browse TV section to get started. The options in this area are pretty amazing. You can filter Hulu’s pretty vast holdings in a number of ways, such as by content type (which they call Channel) and then by “subchannel.” For example, select Comedy and then you can go further by parsing out Romantic, Satire, Sitcoms, Sketch, and Stand Up. I had some fun browsing by network shows, and eventually wound up looking at ABC shows that I may have missed during their original run. You can further break down what you’re hunting for by decade that the show aired and, importantly, shows in which episodes are available in full. I particularly like to look for intriguing shows in which I’m able to delve into a healthy archive of full length episodes should the show end up truly holding my interest.
In the past, I’ve had such Hulu Treasure Hunt “victories” as finding October Road, a show that sweetly blends drama and comedy (though at times a bit over earnestly) in its tale of a bestselling novelist who heads back to his picturesque hometown to face the friends and family whom he based his tale on. It’s a setup that could go horrifically wrong, but doesn’t based on a cast that has a rather magical chemistry. It’s fun to head back to shows like this one that never really got the recognition they deserved (October Road lasted two seasons over 2007-2008) and check out what the cast was up to before and after. Show lead Bryan Greenberg currently helms HBO’s How to Make It in America, for example. October Road also features Laura Prepon (of That ‘70s Show fame), Tom Berenger (of everything fame), and the very talented Jay Paulson, who makes a few brief appearances on Mad Men as Don Draper’s doomed brother Adam.
Before I go too deep into the world of October Road, check out the pilot in full (while you can!) along with the 19 episodes that comprise the show’s full run:
Now, last night I moved on to What About Brian?, another ABC show that dates from a very similar period (2006-2007) and lasted 24 episodes before being yanked. And like October Road, it’s one of those shows that I hear about in passing as being great though much of everything else was a plain mystery prior to getting my Treasure Hunt on. And even though I’m just two episodes in now (finally had to cut myself off in the early hours of the AM!) I can see that it has other similarities with October Road. In this case we have the story of a young man (the Sawyer-ish looking Barry Watson as Brian Davis) who is the “seventh wheel” amidst a tight circle of friends. In other words, there are three couples and he’s the single guy that everyone is focused on hooking up.
Again, this is a show where the concept is not fantastically original or even all that exciting on the surface. And to an extent, I’m starting to think that if I’m going to make it deep into this show’s run, it’s going to be on the strength on the cast and its chemistry (perhaps even more so than with October Road, where the writing often had a fun and quirky spirit to it). What About Brian? Is another show too where it’s fun to connect the cast to other projects they were involved in. Rosanna Arquette is well known of course (but interesting to note her ABC connection, with brother David co-executive producing Cougar Town along with Courtney Cox), but I soon also picked up on a Chuck connection, with two of the main cast having gone onto the still running NBC show: Sarah Lancaster, who plays Chuck’s sister currently, is Marjorie Seaver on Brian, the love-that-cannot-be at least in the show’s early going. And we have Rick Gomez, who plays the goofy best friend on Chuck, showing off some of his dramatic chops as Dave Greco on Brian. Dave’s wife Deena is played by Amanda Detmer, who I’ve loved since seeing her in Saving Silverman, one of my all time favorite low brow comedies (a screwball comedy featuring Jack Black, Amanda Peet, Kyle Gass, Jason Biggs, Steve Zahn, the dude who played the drill sergeant in Full Metal Jacket, Detmer, and Neil Diamond… what’s not to like?).
I’ll wrap up here as I’m in danger of going down the rabbit hole of asides and cross-connections. Here’s the What About Brian? pilot:
Please let us know what you’ve found in your own Hulu Treasure Hunts!
Update: A commenter has (rightly) pointed out that Chuck features Joshua Gomez as Morgan Grimes, who is the brother of Rick. I fact checked up to the five-yard line but did not quite punch it in for the score. I will certainly be reminded to always go for the six in the future!