Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hulu? You do!

It is lucky that Huxtabled's Diana Fisher and I live less than a mile from each other and can arm wrestle periodically, because the line between television and movies continues to blur. If I watch Slap Shot on a television through free On Demand, per Diana's recommendation, am I watching TV? A movie? Both? Has this question taken on the dimensions of a Zen koen at this point?

The internet has further complicated things. My daughter watches both Enchanted and the Mary Tyler Moore Show on my laptop and doesn't quite grasp why we old folks call one a movie, and the other a TV show.

All of this is merely an attempt to prevent a beat down from Diana for discussing how thrilled I am that the Dick Van Dyke Show is available for free on Hulu (which I first heard about from G. Xavier Robillard, but let's not bring him into this).

I love the Dick Van Dyke Show. No, that's not strong enough. I have been obsessed with the Dick Van Dyke Show to varying degrees for years. By all rights, I should have a Doctorate in the Dick Van Dyke Show at this point. My entire thesis could be written about the episode "My Mother Can Beat Up My Father" in which Laura uses Judo to defend Rob, who's been knocked out cold. When Rob says it's not that he wants to beat up his wife, it's that he wants to know that he could, he brilliantly encapsulated the gender anxieties of his times, of all times. This is neither the time nor the place, but one day I will write out my theory that Mad Men is the Dick Van Dyke Show as drama.

At the moment, Hulu only has season 1 online, so you can't see this episode, or the racial-barrier breaking That's My Boy?? [UPDATE: BOTH EPISODES NOW ONLINE AT HULU!!! - 12/15/2010] (the first middle-class black people on television, drinking coffee with Rob and Laura in their home, sitting on their couch!). But you get the amazing Punch Thy Neighbor, Sally is a Girl, and the first episode with flashbacks to the army camp where they met, Oh How We Met the Night That We Danced. And, of course, there's the classic episode about parental guilt: The Sick Boy and the Sitter.

You also get the all-time classic Where Did I Come From? in which Dick Van Dyke gets to really work his brilliant physical comedy technique. The business with the hat is hilarious.

And what is Hulu? With a very simple web 2.0 format, Hulu gives you access to a bunch of TV shows and movies for free with "limited commercial interruption". The library is small but satisfying. Besides the Dick Van Dyke Show, they have Bob Newhart, Saturday Night Live sketches, Kojak, and lots of other comfort fare, along with a wide swath of current network shows. It's fantastic. Just last night, I watched the Bob Newhart episode A Love Story, in which Howard falls in love with Karen Finley's mother. Bill Daily was a genius.

What will you do on Hulu?

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