Does Disney+ Have A Good Thing Going?
So, I signed up for the much anticipated Disney+ streaming service, partially for research purposes, partially for personal interest. My first thoughts are it’s the first big contender against streaming behemoth Netflix. Does it punch out it’s formiddable contender? Read on.
First up, ease of access. I use a Roku streaming device, it’s my personal favorite having given a FireTV stick a chance for professional reasons, I favor Roku. I did not have the technical glitches many reported, registration was simple, although from a coding perspective I was disappointed to not find email extension presets for @yahoo, @hotmail, @gmail to select as other channels occasionally have, having to type in the final half of the email always comes off as belaboring. Do better Disney.
Moving on, they do give a 7 day free trial. As is typical, it required signing up first, then cancelling within 7 days if you chose. (Having worked in customer service for years for a web hosting company, this one gives me kicks. How is it not obvious the offer requires registering and cancelling prior, NOT signing up & waiting to get your credit card statement next month an angrily calling up saying they lied cause they said it was ‘Free’! Surprising, but they’re out there). After accepting the terms & conditions, upon button selection I was quickly taken to the home page. The interface, was basic, original, but not the next generation or pushing many boundaries of streaming channel interfaces. One thing I do like is in addition to catagories at the top for Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar & more, their Search page also offers further categories for Through The Decades (1920s onward), Mickey Mouse, Muppets and more to assist with browsing, or you can type in the search bar.Back to the Home page, as expected, they promote their higher anticipated programming via slider at the top. Included, is the one which intrigued me, Star Wars offshoot The Mandalorian, which, I’ll review at the bottom to prevent spoiling it for those who wish to read further (I promise in its review tho, #NoSpoilers, just general observation).
Now, content. It’s extensive, albeit, nothing shocking. First & Foremost, animation. If they’re not all on there, all the greats are. Snow White, Cinderella, Bambi. Oh come on, I haven’t seen Bambi since I was in elementary school, how can I not give it another viewing? And newer ones like Moana, Frozen, and the Dumbo remake. Cartoons too, TV show cartoons. Most seem to be from Disney Channel programming, or cartoons acquired via the numerous mergers they’ve had in recent times building up to this. Personally, The Simpson I’ve seen quite alot of from watching nearly every weekend in the 90s, as well as the 6 o’clock reruns on local affiliate Fox 29. Although, a very cool feature is they are chronologically arranged by season, with episode description, so you can hunt down a specific episode with a bit of memory & effort.
Movies run quite a bit of the gamut, although I find one thing missing to the channel, which I’ll reveal later. I’ll start with Marvel, and admit I’m not a Superhero movie person. I did intend on watching the Avengers finale, although I think I only saw the first one, get the sequel mixed up with if I saw the Iron Man sequel, so in time I should just watch all 4 films. 2019’s other blockbuster, Captain America, is another film I wanted to see, was likely going to Redbox it, so signing up saved me another $2.25 or whatever. In looking thru the titles, it seems if you take out Avengers, Iron Man, an Captain America, the remaining list gets quite short. In a world where it seems a dozen superhero movies are made every year anymore, I’m a bit shocked by this, maybe most others weren’t Marvel, or are withheld for now.
Next up, Star Wars, my dominant buying motive. It’s what I wanted. In an inverse relationship kindof way, I wanted to see the prequels. I wanted to see how good, or bad, they really are. A few years ago I looked for them in various forms, and aside from buying them in a movie store (Fandango) at roughly $20 each, or DVD, they generally weren’t available. Now, they are comfortably one button away (those words may come back to haunt me one night). The catalog currently ends with Rogue One, 2017’s The Last Jedi is currently not included. The awful A Star Wars Christmas Special/Wookie Christmas is also not included, as expected, although an interesting documentary from 2004 titled Empire Of Dreams is included, at 2 1/2 hours it seems interesting for Star Wars enthusiasts who hadn’t seen it previously.
Lastly, additional content. Consisting of a pretty thorough studio catalog, it has some old faves like Herbie, Muppets movies, Mary Poppins & The Sounds of Music, sci-fi films Tron, Tron Legacy and 1970s The Black Hole, and Avatar. Which, truth be told, I have never seen. It also has a National Geographic library, good for sci-fi buffs, with space episodes and Going To Mars shows, along with nature. Truth be told, it’s a fairly thin catalog that seems more an attempt to attract customers by using the NatGeo brand. A couple shows on space, a couple animal shows and push it out there. The remaining original programming doesn’t do much for me. Encore, a show where Kristen Bell revisits high school drama club friends to redo plays, could be interesting, too much ‘another reality TV show’ snoozer for me. Jeff Goldblum has a show where he looks at everyday objects in new, scientific light. Seems like something off the Discovery Channel or a mix of The Science Guy and those shows about how things are made. Personally, another reality TV show where the ‘scientists’ qualifications are the nerd guy with the laptop in Independence Day.
Ok, now time to be a complainer. Honestly, I can’t say I see too many. The price point, at $6.99 seems of value, a free trial to dip your feet and browse around, and a fairly simple interface. For me though, I was hoping for more ‘live actor’ programming, whether TV or film. Past Fox shows like Married… With Children (which was probably a stylistic/ethical decision to cut, maybe a contract/rights issue), but even short lived Parker Lewis Can’t Lose, or X-Files. I don’t know if the 70s/80s Muppets Show was another decision where in hindsight, maybe the content & skits didn’t age well, or if it was owned by a different studio. Would be cool to look back and see some of those lost episodes. Same thing with movies, while it does consist of the Pirates Of The Carribean franchise, it seems to lack many real-life films. With all the mergers and acquisitions, I was hoping for some from the Miramax or Dreamworks catalog, or at least some licensed from them. There really aren’t. And while I’m sure The Apple Dumpling Gang was a good film, it’ll be several months before I attempt to watch it. Notably missing, The Muppets Take Manhatten, I’m unsure why although I recall seeing that one in theaters as a teen.
I like it. I like it alot. I actually cut ties with Netflix, actually cancelled them about 2 weeks before they announced their rate increase back in January. So when I read about the price hike, it was further off my mind to sign back up, although I considered it on occasion throughout the year. If you have kids, or are a Marvel or Star Wars enthusiast, I think you’ll find the supplementary content & throwbacks worthwhile. If none of those 3 meet your criteria, you may not enjoy much out of it unless you are a Disney movie fan (then, obvi!).
The Mandalorian Review
Review time, this will be quick and observational, feel free to read with #NoSpoilers. It’s a great concept, as a whole, is a draw. Similar character Boba Fett, was always well received and carried a bit of mystique. The storyline, while admirable, flim-flams a bit on actual story, along with mixing in the talents and abilities of special effects (a case in point main character riding a rhinoceros sized trout-like creature for a lengthy period of time, not for much reason) Hovercrafts, or Landspeeders, are brought back & make a decent impact into the show and its plotline. Acting is adequate, like alot of Star Wars its the side characters who only appear for seconds who kinda make it, and most seem original and reasonably well done. Effects, aren’t out of this world, and don’t rival that of its box-office counterparts, it’s budget shows, on occasion green-screen and backdrops and graphics seem a bit of a reach. Maybe like a lesser or B-movie in theaters which didn’t do all that well, but it’s no Sharknado. One thing I do like, is Disney only released episode 1. A smart marketing decision, to leave breadcrumbs for people to stay onboard & not read about spoilers or if the show was a pass/fail right away. For it’s introductory episode, I expected it to be a bit better. However, that may not be a fair opinion to have as we’ve never seen a Star Wars episodic show with 8 episodes to create, let alone potentially multiple seasons. Even still, I’ll stay tuned, and it’s worth it