Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Best of Original Internet Programming

Who needs television any more? It is way too expensive and the commercials are insufferable, even if you can skip past them. There is a lot of great original programming available for free online! These are all videos made either by private individuals for the sheer pleasure of doing it or are part of a small group of like minded nerds. 


Escape to the Movies & The Big Picture

Over at The Escapist, MovieBob has two different video segments done with his signature fast-paced delivery and barely repressed Boston accent. Although I have at times angrily disagreed with him (a caveat I could [but won't] put on every reviewer here), overall I think he is extremely insightful and clever.

Escape to the Movies is his weekly movie review show (spoiler sensitive) while The Big Picture features a broad variety of pop culture topics framed in a larger context.

Movie Defense Force

Contrary to the goals of most reviewers in this category, the Movie Defense Force does exactly what their name suggests. When a film is given a bad reputation, they step up to defend them. In some cases, this can be appalling (i.e. Batman & Robin and The Phantom Menace), but in other cases, like the one below, they clearly stand on the side of cinematic history... if not box office receipts.


Mr. Plinkett Reviews

While I hate to pick a favorite, there is only one that I can watch over and over, laughing my ass off the entire time. "Mr. Plinkett" is the fictional alter ego of Red Letter Media's Mike Stoklasa. He is a fat, old, disgusting, sociopath who just happens to watch a lot of movies and has surprisingly insightful things to say, although he occasionally lapses into bouts of insanity, rage, misogyny, kidnapping, and of course, murder. These are qualities that might be off putting to some viewers, so it may help to keep in mind that Mr. Plinkett is a character from Red Letter Media's previous short films which fall under the horror/comedy category.

These reviews became famous following Mr. Plinkett's review of Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace which clocks in at almost an hour and ten minutes long, but never seems boring due to the eccentric character and comedic editing. However, Plinkett had previously produced reviews of all four Star Trek: The Next Generation films and subsequently the remaining Star Wars prequels, Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skulls, J.J. Abram's 2009 Star Trek reboot, and even children's films Baby's Day Out and Cop Dog.

Also featured on the site, audio commentary tracks for Star Wars: Episode 4 (the new cut) and Star Trek 5. While you might think that simple audio tracks would lack the comedy and production value of the edited videos, you would be wrong.

Half in the Bag

Red Letter Media also produces a semi-regular review show featuring recent theatrical releases. Half in the Bag is hosted by Mike Stoklasa and Jay Bauman, but like the Mr. Plinkett Reviews, they have a fictional framing device. They are both VCR repair men who frequently take advantage of the senile Mr. Plinkett in a series of vignettes in the style of a '70s sitcom. In these videos, Plinkett is played by the third part of RLM's principle trio, Rich Evans, who occasionally steps into a different character to join in their discussions... usually when the featured movie is a superhero or sci-fi film.

Best of the Worst

The third series regularly produced by Red Letter Media, this one reviews predominantly (but not exclusively) B-movies. Their goal is to find three terrible movies and find the Best of the Worst. Usually, all three movies are just awful, but occasionally they will find a diamond in the rough, whether they are laughing with it or at it. However, the worst of the worst will be destroyed in new and creative ways.

Best of the Worst also features a segment entitled the Wheel of the Worst where they review movies that pretty much no one would watch unless they had to: safety videos, home workout videos, pet enthusiast videos, and much much more. While they always look painful to watch, hearing them talk about them is always hilarious.

Nostalgia Critic

One of the longest running, most popular, and most well-produced film reviews on the internet, the Nostalgia Critic (as his name implies) specializes in reviewing films from his childhood... and since we are roughly the same age, these are also the films of my childhood. To date, the Nostalgia Critic has produced over a hundred reviews on everything from The Wizard and Patch Adams to Face/Off and Batman & Robin. Like Mr. Plinkett, the Nostalgia Critic is a comedic angry man, although considerably less sociopathic.

In addition to reviews, the Nostalgia Critic has produced numerous Top 11 lists, a television review segment called Raiders of the Lost Storyarc, a remake/reboot review segment called Old Versus New, numerous editorials, and overviews on the history of Disney animation, Pixar, Dreamworks, and Nickelodeon. Additionally, the Nostalgia Critic has gathered other amateur reviewers under a banner called Channel Awesome. These reviewers frequently appear in his reviews as guests in an effort to cross-promote each other.

Although there are many reviews that could demonstrate the humor and production value of a Nostalgia Critic review, my personal favorite was the recent review of Man of Steel.

The Bunny Perspective

As far as I know, this is the only film review show featuring a puppet. The Bunny Perspective features a cute pot-smoking bunny rabbit who offers his perspective on what just so happens to be some of my favorite things of all time including Boston Legal, The Maxx, and Six-String Samurai.

It also features a regular review called Runken Drecaps in which a volunteer agrees to drink excessively while watching a movie they have never seen before. They then try to explain the movie in front of a camera. Unfortunately, this one does not update nearly as often as the others.

Cinema Sins (AKA Everything Wrong With)

A very popular segment on YouTube, Cinema Sins features a quick count of every "sin" they can find in a film. These sins may include continuity errors, factually incorrect statements, or simply poor decisions on the part of the producers. Naturally, these sins are very subjective, but like any good reviewer, occasionally they will point out things that become obvious in retrospect and therein lies the humor. The recently started a second segment called What's The Damage? featuring a cost analysis of the damage featured in various films.

How It Should Have Ended

These short animated segments, as the name suggests, offer a "better" ending to popular movies. Usually these endings expose the kind of gaping plot holes that are typical of a Hollywood ending. How It Should Have Ended pretty much says all it needs to.

Honest Trailers

Honest Trailers produces authentically designed trailers with their own booming narrator who suggests a more honest (and far less marketable) way to advertise popular films. These videos are not only great at making fun of the movies themselves, but also the bombastic style in which film trailers are made. They have recently began a segment called Honest Action in which a doctor is asked to estimate the damage taken by leading characters in a popular action film.


Angry Video Game Nerd

Now, by all accounts, it seems that the forerunner of this entire movement is James Rolfe. Beginning in 2004, James Rolfe began reviewing original Nintendo games under the alias of the Angry Nintendo Nerd. As he began to expand into reviewing other consoles, he became the Angry Video Game Nerd. He continues to publish these reviews and more under the Cinemassacre banner, which is currently at work on the Angry Video Game Movie. His iconic look consists of a flat top, glasses, and white shirt with pocket protector. He inspired probably everyone on this list, either directly or indirectly, and his videos are insightful, funny, and completely over the top. I would recommend this to any old school gamer. Just look up any game that drove you crazy as a child and you will find some reassurance here that your feelings were shared.

This show has actually been made into several video games which he has recently reviewed.

Zero Punctuation

Another reviewer from The Escapist, Yahtzee is a fast-talking Australian with a horrible, yet insightful mind. His brutally honest assessment cuts to the heart of the problems in gaming which always make his a wonderful exception to the often shallow world of video game reviews. Yet I think his greatest gift is his ability to find bizarre, yet perfectly relateable similes for common problems in the video game design.

Zero Punctuation reviews current games, so find one that you have played so that you can get a full appreciation of what he's talking about.

Table Top

An exception to the other reviews on this list, Table Top (naturally) reviews table top games and is hosted by Wil Wheaton who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The show features celebrity guests (usually from the world of internet video or television) who have been invited by Wil to play a game of his choice. It starts with a brief explanation, but the fun is in watching them play the game and learning along with them. This is a great show if you are looking for a game to buy or simply for watching funny, interesting people enjoy themselves.


One of the biggest names in internet video programming is Felicia Day who has appeared in such Joss Whedon projects as Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and Dollhouse. She also runs the programming company Geek & Sundry which includes the previously mentioned Table Top. However, the program of hers that I most enjoy is Co-Optitude where she plays an old school video game with her brother, Ryon. However, since they didn't grow up with proper video games, they are terrible and half the fun is watching exactly how terrible they are.

Extra Credits

However, if you are serious about video games and you want to understand how the relationship between the gamer, the game, and the game designer, you should absolutely check out Extra Credits.  This is a show for the thinking gamer and it is a must for anyone interested in game designer. Admittedly, this can go a bit too in-depth for the casual gamer, but they are the kind of insightful gamers that you wish were running the industry.

Hey Ash, Whatchu Playin'?

Now, if you want dark non-sensical comedy about some of your favorite video games, you owe it to yourself to check out Hey Ash, Whatchu Playin'? This series features Ash, a carefree and often cruel young woman, who is completely ruled by her ID. As Ash plays the latest video games, her world blends with their world in often weird and creative ways. Professional quality humor and production in short doses.

And there you have it! Plenty of quality programming out there and no TV necessary! Hope you found something you like!