Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Still working out the kinks

The lesser of two Australian streaming services we subscribe to is called Presto, and it's a bit of an odd duck.

Oh, it walks like a streaming service and it quacks like a streaming service, but around the edges that duck is a bit ... daffy.

One example: When you are done watching a particular piece of content, it doesn't offer you up any additional suggestions, or as in the case of Netflix, actually start playing you the next thing it thinks you're most interested in watching.

Instead, it offers the following option:

In case you can't read what that says, it's "Replay."

We thought it was weird enough when we were watching episodes of Mr. Robot, the availability of which was the reason we subscribed to Presto in the first place. (Too bad we didn't end up liking the show very much.) I mean, who would come to the end of a television program and then decide they're just going to watch the same program all over again, immediately?

But it's even weirder with feature length content, such as Black Dynamite, which I watched last night. I could see watching the same TV show twice in a row if you think you missed a nuance or something. The time commitment would be comparatively minimal. But the same movie twice in a row? I can only think of two times in my whole life that I've done that, and they were unusual circumstances.

Still, I suppose Black Dynamite is fun enough that I might have watched it twice in a row. Unlike most parodies, it doesn't wink. This is a loving lampoon of blaxploitation films that doesn't only look like a genuine film from the 1970s, but its absurdities are all within the realm of what a cheap blaxploitation film might actually contain. There are no Zucker-Abrahams style cutaways or instances of breaking the fourth wall. It's just an awesomely bad and incredibly fun movie with bad acting and bad dialogue that are intentional, but so subtly intentional that you really could mistake it for the genuine article. Knowing that it isn't just makes you admire the skill that went into it all the more.

I plucked Black Dynamite out of a kind of mind-boggling array of films that Presto has on offer. It's a lot more films than Netflix has these days, and possibly even more than the generous quantity on Stan. So I kind of hope Presto does work out the kinks in its presentation in time to really compete with those services, because right now, it's running a very distant third in Australia. And services that run a distant third either reimagine themselves as a niche product with lower overhead, or just cease to exist altogether.

It may not matter whether Presto gets its act together or not because my wife and I have already decided to cancel it. In fact, only because of Mr. Robot and one or two other shows my wife has now almost finished watching did we even add a third streaming service in the first place. Two is more than enough, and we don't want to just be throwing money away. In fact, the experience of subscribing to Presto has really been little more than a very expensive way to slowly wade through Mr. Robot. It took us like two months to finally watch the finale.

Suffice it to say that we definitely didn't care to replay any of those episodes.

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