Eight Shows Criminally Absent from Netflix
When the actor Dennis Farina died this week, it bugged me to no end that multiple obituaries mentioned him most prominently for his short-lived work on Law & Order. That was a minor gig, as far as I was concerned: Farina—a former cop before he went into show business—sprung to my attention in the late 1980s as the lead cop in Crime Story, a Cold War noir detective series. Farina always wore a hat:
And after that, every time I saw Farina over the next two decades, he always seemed naked to me: He almost never wore a hat.
Farina’s death made me wistful. It’d been years since I’d seen Crime Story, and had a few fond memories of it. Too bad it wasn’t streaming, I decided.
But it is! Just drop a few bucks a month for the Hulu Plus service, and you’ll get pretty much the entire run of Crime Story: The good, the bad, and the seemingly misplaced synthesizer soundtrack. I expect I’ll be consuming plenty of it soon.
My brief misperception, though, got me wondering: What good shows are out there that haven’t made it onto a streaming service like Hulu or Netflix or Amazon Prime yet? I decided to list the ones I’d like to see most—with some obvious nominees like “Every Classic Show HBO Ever Aired” omitted because, well, HBO doesn’t put its old shows on cheap streaming services like the ones I mentioned.
This isn’t actually an easy task. Lots of shows from TV history are available for free or through Netflix-type services. I went looking for The Maxx, an MTV cartoon staple from the mid-1990s, and found the entire series on the MTV site. Kids: You seriously have no idea how easy it is to be entertained these days. In my day, we’d occasionally have to pick up a book or do homework.
Still. There are some great shows out there that aren’t immediately and easily (and legally) available online. Here are six I want to see, but can’t find despite my best efforts.
• HOMICIDE: LIFE ON THE STREETS
Before The Wire became the most important television show in history, its creative team made this show during the 1990s—another Baltimore crime story, by all accounts gritty, realistic, low-rated, and full of tour-de-force moments like the one above.
Used to be the only serialized storytelling you saw on primetime TV came on soap operas like Dallas or Dynasty. This “serious” crime drama came along and changed everything. It gave us Kevin Spacey, yes, but it might’ve also given us The Sopranos.
• GET A LIFE
Comedy nerds hold this Chris Elliot show—he played an aging bachelor who lived with his parents and still had a paper route—in high esteem, but it seemed mostly too weird for words when it appeared on the then-fledgling Fox Network back in 1990. (Watch Elliot’s classic-but-weird movie Cabin Boy for a taste of his sensibility.) It came on on DVD last year, but still no streaming.
Maybe you had to be there.
• THE EQUALIZER
THE CITIES ARE HORRIBLE PLACES THAT WILL VICTIMIZE YOU! Oh, Reagan-era vigilante fantasies, I love you so.
• LIFE ON MARS (British version)
Maybe you saw the pretty-boy American remake of this on ABC a few years back—that single season is on Netflix, but the original UK story of a 21st century detective who inexplicably finds himself transported to 1973 is, well, better.
• LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE
Anyway, you can find a good chunk the series on YouTube, but I don’t think that’s official, and you know what can happen to videos posted by somebody other than the copyright holder.
• SPACE ABOVE AND BEYOND
The intro pretty much explains it. Kind of like Starship Troopers, but without the overweening irony. Like Little House, you can find this on YouTube. But for quality’s sake—if nothing else—I always prefer official services.