Sites like Hulu are cool in that they give you access to watch TV shows online – such as recent episodes of your favorite shows. This is great way to catch up on episodes you missed on TV, or even to watch TV shows online on your own time without having to purchase or build a DVR. (My Boxee setup arranges content from such sites so well I’ve no desire whatsoever for a DVR.)
But some TV shows are available online to a much greater extent than a few recent episodes. A few shows have opted to put the entirety of their catalog onto the web for all to see, for free.
Sadly some of these only work in the United States, but that’s nothing you can’t get around with a good proxy. Check out Aibek’s article on watching Hulu from abroad and you’ll have the tools to watch these TV shows online as well, because the same process should work for all these shows.
Star Trek: The Original Series
This show really needs no introduction. What started as a quirky 1960s TV show would become a worldwide phenomenon, including 5 different TV series, a dozen movies (if you include the upcoming sequel to the original remake) and countless books. Of all these movies and shows, however, it’s the original series that’s found a good home online.
The Twilight Zone
No, this one’s not about whining teenage vampires. It is, in fact, some of the most influential TV science fiction in history. It’s also online, care of CBS.
The Twilight Zone isn’t a TV show in the traditional sense: there’s no consistent characters from episode to episode, nor is there a wider story arc. Rather, this show gives its viewers a complete story focused on the surreal. I really can’t explain better than that, so you might as well check this show out at CBS.
While you’re there, check out the other TV classics as well.
The Daily Show
That’s right: you can access any of the clips that kept you sane during Bush’s administration online for free. The Daily Show is America’s premier satire broadcast, but for many it’s more than that: Jon Stewart, the show’s host, was recently voted the most trusted newsman amongst 20-somethings.
That the Internet generation’s most trusted journalist is, in fact, a comedian tells you a great deal about the mistrust journalists have created by not cutting through the crap and getting to the point.
Come to think of it, I’m missing my point here. Watch any clip from the Daily Show’s history at thedailyshow.com
The Colbert Report
This is the Daily Show’s evil twin. Whereas The Daily Show mocks the news, The Colbert Report twists it into a bizarre sort of sitcom. A parody of the altogether too-common personality-based news broadcasts such as The O’Reily Factor or The Glenn Beck Show, Colbert needs to be seen to understand (but rest assured: it’s brilliant).
Watch any clip from The Colbert Report’s history at colbertnation.com.
It makes sense that South Park would end up online in its entirety, because in many ways South Park was the first viral video. Commissioned to make a video Christmas card for Brian Graden (then an executive at Fox), animators Matt Stone and Trey Parker made a short video that was quickly passed from person to person via old-fashioned video tape. The short eventually made it’s way online, and spread quite far despite the limited bandwidth at the time. Since then every South Park episode’s been widely available online via pirated streaming sites, so the South Park team figured they may as well put every episode online legally.
Today you can watch the 200 episodes of South Park at SouthParkStudios. Even better, South Park Studios is working out deals with a number of international partners, so you might even be able to watch this in your country without using a proxy. Head over to the site to find out!
Honourable Mention: Firefly
When Hulu launched it hosted the entirety of Firefly, the single greatest science fiction show in history. It is to gritty, dystopian science fiction what Star Trek is to the hopeful, utopian side of the genre, and it achieves this by borrowing a great deal from American history in general and the settling of the west in particular. Sadly the show was cancelled before its first season ended, but fan loyalty was so fierce that a movie featuring the characters came out just a few years later.
You can’t get every episode of Firefly on Hulu anymore, however; now they rotate episodes there instead. To me, this feels like Fox cancelling Firefly on me all over again.This is salt in an already festering wound, because it’s almost been 10 years and I still think I’ll never forgive Fox for cancelling Firefly.
And Arrested Development.
You know what? I hate Fox.
It’s cool to find the latest episodes of shows online, but to me there’s nothing like finding an entire series. This allows you to watch TV shows online in order of episode and really get a feel for the show’s history. Plus, it just plain means you can watch more of the show.
Well guys, did I miss any shows online in their entirety? Share them! Are you angry that these links don’t work in your country? Complain below, or share your favorite method of bypassing the restrictions. We’re all in this together!