Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe

The streaming service called DC Universe is up and running. Sort of. If you’re looking to discover why Robin angrily said “Fuck Batman!” you’re going to have to wait about a month, or fly to New York City, sneak into the New York Comic-Con (by all means, do not give those bastards your money), stand at the back of a cramped overstuffed under-air conditioned room and watch Titans about a week early.

Wow. I actually digressed in the lead paragraph. I’ll get back to my intended rant now.

The world of “television” changes every day, and where it’s heading right now seems to be an environment where you are getting a lot more entertainment and a lot more choice of where you want to get it. You also have a lot more hassle, signing up for Crom-knows how many streaming services. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Sling, HBO Now, DirecTV Now, Showtime When, Playstation Vue, Acorn, WatchTV, CBS All Access, ESPN+, Cinephiles, YouTube TV, NuMedia, Mubi, Fandor, Sundance, and now DC Universe… I’m sure I missed a few. Hell, before I did my research I hadn’t even heard of six of them. But even if you have, do not relax: there are plenty more coming your way, including Disney, which may or may not include Marvel and/or Star Wars and/or Pixar and/or Fox.

Each of these services run between about $5 to $50 a month and while there is some overlap, you’ve got to join – and pay for – each one separately. I’ll bet dollars to donuts that we’ll see mergers and washouts and aggregating services to lighten the load. But it’s unlikely there will be a service that lets you triple your available viewing time.

OK. “It’s a brave new world, yadda yadda yadda.” Every day it’s a goddamned brave new world. No wonder our attention spans have been reduced to that of kittens. 

Having said all that, DC Universe is pretty cool – assuming, of course, that you’re a DC fan and that their still unseen brand-new shows are sufficiently worthy. It’s got a ton of DC-related movies, animated shows, and live action shows. Right now, they do not have any of the currently broadcasting shows, and – surprisingly – they do not have the 1960s Batman show. They’ve also got a bit of stuff that you might not have seen, including the 1940s Superman serials (Atom Man vs. Superman is fairly enjoyable; of course, you could put their entire budget on a deadbeat’s ATM card).

They’ve got news, including a daily show that won’t keep the Entertainment Tonight folks up nights. I’m sure it’ll get better if they can find enough real news and content. Kevin Smith is a much better DC director than he is a DC host, but he’ll improve as well. They’ve got a community site and I’m taking bets on when they piss off Comicsgate.

They’ve got a pretty decent encyclopedia that details many of their characters, although not necessarily their creators. Certainly not all characters; there’s only so much bandwidth available on this planet. It will replace your heavily dog-eared Who’s Who collection, but can it be updated in a timely fashion to stay current with each and every reboot?

They’ve got an interesting comic book reader where you can read, online, lots and lots of non-current DC titles dating back to about 1938. They’ll add more. I know a thing or two about these devices, and as a first release it’s not bad. I usually read comics (and everything else) on my 13” iPad – your vision is likely to be better than mine, so you might be able to get away with a smaller screen. But if you want to watch DC Universe on your smartphone, you better enjoy squinting. I also like reading them on my 27”-screened iMac, and if you’re deploying a “family” television set, it’ll work a whole lot better if you’ve got one of the higher resolution models.

But… really, it all comes down to the quality of their original programming. It’s not like you need DC Universe to watch a bunch of new superhero shows, even new DC superhero shows. So, in a sense, they’ll be competing with themselves.

Is it worth the money? Well, if you’re Donald Trump, sure, why not. If you’re Paul Manafort, probably not. But on an “entertainment per second over dollars per second” basis, DC Universe is a lot less expensive than DC comics.

I’ve got a better question. “Is DC Universe fun?”

Assuming the original stuff is worthy, I’d give the rest of it a 6 out of 10. But I have great faith that with great time comes great improvement.

Yeah, I know. Wrong company.

One thought on “Brainiac On Banjo #012: Streaming The Universe

  1. I saw a video promoting the DC Universe on Facebook and was really annoyed. I didn’t know any of them except for Kevin Smith’s daughter. The whole group was enthusiastic about everything that was said and they acted like they were surprised by the information when obviously everything they said was rehearsed. The whole thing looked like an amateur junior-high production.