James Lee , 2010.
It's most definitely still December. That means two things for certain when it comes to pop culture: there isn't a whole>"/>
James Lee, 2010.
It's most definitely still December. That means two things for certain when it comes to pop culture: there isn't a whole lot to watch on television, and you've probably been reading a lot of yawn-worthy, boilerplate "Best of 2011" lists lately. After this week's dramatic finale to Boardwalk Empire dropped my jaw, blew my mind and kicked my gawking ass through a window, I simply couldn't bring myself to sit down and dredge my way through Person of Interest or I Hate My Teenage Daughter or whatever crap the networks forgot to turn off before they went on winter vacation. Therefore, this week's TV Dinner will switch things up just this once in order to take a long, pleased look at the forces for sloth that reigned most triumphant in our fair city this year and celebrate them the best way we know how -- while sitting in front of a computer.
1. The Rise of Eat24Hours
If you live in Seattle, love eating food but hate talking to human beings, 2011 was a really good year for you -- and it was probably thanks mostly to Eat24Hours. Although the website itself was founded back in 2008, the online food ordering liason's scope positively exploded within Seattle this year, adding local favorites like Mae Phim Thai, franchise players like Quizno's or convenience-heavy delis like Deli Shez to their growing stable of restaurants.
Eat24Hours started out the year as a novel eyesore, its design laboriously heavy with glaring red and broken frames that imposed a sinking feeling that the website was going to delete your hard drive and vanish off the face of the internet right after it got your credit card information. However, after a few redesigns and overhauls, the interface is much friendlier, making a cinch out of past hindrances like repeating orders or copy/pasting bothersome delivery-critical details about stuff like apartment callboxes and back doors. As of press time, Eat24Hours has gained a lot of traction as the premier website to use from your internet food ordering needs, shedding most of its reputation as a needlessly shady middle man to become a nifty tool you can feel safe bringing home to your thoroughly confused parents.
2. Hulu Plus Gains The Criterion Collection
When free internet television provider Hulu finally unveiled its pay contingent, Hulu Plus, a lot of people couldn't quite justify the extra eight bucks a week. After all, Hulu still offered plenty of television for gratis, and the shows that were restricted to paid members seemed to overlap with Netflix's catalog more often than not. A big gamechanger came in the form of Hulu acquiring exclusive rights to The Criterion Collection, the vigilantly curated film series that strives to restore and feature the absolute most important pieces of world cinema out there.
While Netflix offers a few of the more recent mainstream movies that have a presence in the a/v geek canon such as Robocop or Chasing Amy, indisputable film classics like Seven Samurai, The 400 Blows and Solaris are limited strictly to Hulu Plus users as of now. By the end of 2011, Hulu Plus is probably your best legal option for an on-demand film catalog with a high level of sophistication, variety and depth. In my opinion, it edges out Netflix Instant Watch, leapfrogs over the average B-movie-heavy Redbox and arguably even outclasses those old, gaudy Blockbuster things you used to have to drive to.
3. Grubhub's Nice Too!
Just think of Grubhub as Eat24Hours' hotter, but far more vapid online food delivery sibling. While Grubhub offers little more than a fraction of Eat24Hours' selection of restaurants that will come to you, it excels with a much prettier interface and the ability to pay via PayPal, an invaluable trait for those of you who are short on cash but don't want to throw your credit card information all over the internet. In addition to that, Grubhub also has an easy-to-use smartphone app, for those of you who simply refuse to get off the couch for absolutely any reason besides the physical delivery of food.
4. Amazon Prime Begins Offering Streaming Video For Some Reason
It was a move made so sudden and with such little fanfare that I, someone who had signed up for Amazon Prime the moment I heard it was an option, didn't even realize what had happened until things had already been running for a couple of weeks. Despite not possessing the most impressive catalog of titles and working under an interface so ugly and laborious you'd think you were downloading these videos illegally, Amazon Prime's streaming service has the unique benefit of really just being a solid perk for frequent Amazon shoppers who are mostly paying dues for the free expedited shipping.
For now, Prime is just a happy bonus, but Amazon seems to be expanding at a downright alarming rate as of late. With the bookstore giant dipping its toes into the tablet race and Netflix bleeding customers, it's safe to assume that this instant streaming venue is going to make some serious waves in 2012.
5. I Have Munchies Opens; Not Officially Closed Yet
Ballard-based delivery innovators I Have Munchies deserve some sort of merit badge for courting one of the brokest demographics imaginable, but more meaningful compensation for being the only place in the city that could deliver you furry handcuffs and chewing tobacco at 2 AM. Unfortunately, the service seems to be going through some particularly threatening sounding technical difficulties at the moment, but hopefully IHM can rebound and start 2012 strong.
6. Netflix Gets Star Trek. (Almost) All Of It.
Although this might not tickle everyone's fancy, if you take a look at all of Netflix's high-profile instant streaming gains this year, there's no argument against the fact that Star Trek at least comprises the most gargantuan block of content the internet video giant has acquired this year. From the first three seasons of the original series to the shortlived animated series to the sorta-well-received prequel series Enterprise, the sanctified sci-fi franchise has effectively brought over 550 hours of space politics and laser beams to your warm little corner of loner oblivion. The feature films might not be out for display yet (besides the most recent JJ Abrams installation), but it's hard to stay angry with the sheer volume of Star Trek's television presence at your beck and call, especially come sick days or invasive surgeries.