Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Supergirl Season 2 - the ShowCase.ca website and #DigiCanCon

I wish I had something relevant to contribute on the International Day of the Girl, but I don't.  The closest thing was that today was the first day I could watch the first episode of season 2 of Supergirl.

There is a stretch of a link.  This show is full of powerful women that women and young girls can be inspired by, and I don't mean the alien from Krypton with the super powers that is the title character of the show. Other than a few cringe-worthy references it is well done and integrated into the story (the US president being a woman is great, the suggestion in season 1 that it might be Hillary not so much.  And I have a beef with the Margaret Atwood reference in S1E6. I know I'd have something to talk with her about ...). Supergirl's human adoptive sister and the other women at the D.E.O demonstrate the ways in which a woman can do these jobs as good as (and in some important ways better) than their male counterparts. Kara Danvers' (Supergirls alter ego) boss Cat Grant ends up being inspirational as the character grows on you, and not the high-strung personality you are superficially introduced to in the first episodes of the first season.

I'm loving the series, and proud that the second season is filmed in Vancouver, like many of my other favorite SF/fantasy shows.  The studio work for Arrow, Flash and Legends of Tomorrow is also done in Vancouver, with some other locations used for some non-studio work.

But my opinion on the art isn't what people expect of me, and not likely interesting for anyone to read.

Watching season 1 was convenient, and I was kept in the story.  My major problem was that it was extremely late, having only being released on August 9.  I purchased the DVD of the season, ripped it, and copied the episodes to my tablet.  I watched episodes on my travel to and from Fredericton last week as well as watching in my hotel room (brought a USB cable to watch on larger TV hotel provided).

Season 2 so far is not so great.  The only place I can find it legally available to stream to Canadians at this time is the Showcase.ca website.  Unlike the CTV.ca website and the CTV GO app I watch the other series of the Arrowverse with the Showcase website doesn't support Chromecast and there is no app I can use to assist with streaming.

I haven't seen a television streaming website handle commercials this badly in a long time.   The episode is moving forward and you see the break where the commercial would be.  The show starts up again and then in mid-sentence the show is paused and you see a few images of one commercial before another flips in.  The sound volume is erratic with some commercials being at a similar level to the episodes while others are at a much higher volume. Most of the commercials (and it is the same few advertisers over and over again) have blocky low resolution video that jumps as frames can't be displayed to keep up with the sound.  Sometimes one commercial starts and then mid-sentence another one cuts in.  After that disaster and it manages to count down 6 attempts at commercials you are finally jarred back into the episode to figure out what the rest of the sentence was the actors were saying.  It is distracting, and greatly reduces the ability to follow and enjoy the story.

I participated a bit on twitter today on #DigiCanCon as there was an event in Halifax.  I found it frustrating and wrote about how some not-so-creative "creators" were again claiming that Canadians don't want to pay for content and that respecting copyright is important.

I have to ask that question again: Where is this magical cash register they keep claiming exists?

I would be *VERY* interested to pay money for a good streaming service -- technologically comparable to Netflix -- to access the programming I want in a timely manner (not after the DVD release like CraveTV -- or whatever the soon-to-be-closed Shomi was doing).  You know, the stuff the Canadian broadcasters have exclusive rights for and are blocking Canadians from accessing elsewhere.

Instead I keep hearing about people wanting to tax Netflix, rather than recognizing that Netflix is what is saving television from the broadcasters. These content creators should be thankful and maybe even subsidizing Netflix.

Maybe we should condition any Canadian taxpayer subsidies (including tax credits) for content creation on the results of that funding being available to Canadians in reasonable ways (and saying sit down, shut up, and get a Cable package isn't reasonable).  I'm all for taxpayer money being used to incentivise Canadian production, but it should not be seen as another form of a welfare handout for creators but as something that returns real value to taxpayers: which is primarily the audience.

I would love there to be a competitor to Netflix accessible to Canadians, possibly even a Canadian one, but until the broadcasters and BDUs get out of the way I don't expect that to happen.  Even though cable is a different market, the BDUs see streaming as competition and thus are highly unlikely to ever offer a comparable service to Netflix.

Then again, compared to the horrible streaming website that Showcase is offering, even CraveTV looks good.

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