Missed Your Favorite Shows? How To (Legally) Catch Up

      Did you miss last week's episode of Bones because your husband insisted on watching the Big Game? Have you ever really wanted to watch something, but didn't get the network it was on? Is there an ongoing series you'd like to watch from the beginning? Is there a show from the past you'd like to see again? I think we can all answer 'yes' to at least one of these questions. In the past, the response would be 'too bad, so sad', but the internet age has changed that for the better. Between online videos and internet streaming, you can find pretty much anything you want to watch. Many networks put the latest episodes of their shows online, but there are several other internet-based services that will show 'back episodes' and other features. Here are a few ways you can catch up on your favorite shows, or begin a new 'love affair' with a series. Many are free, and the paid ones are worth the cost.
      One of the most popular internet-based television services is Hulu.com. It's a free service that allows you to stream various TV shows-past or present-through the internet to watch on your computer. While it's better for television series than it is for movies, it does feature full-length films. The only drawback is that it can only show a limited amount of episodes at a time, but that has more to do with the original networks granting Hulu the rights than with the service itself. There is a premium version called HuluPlus that shows more episodes and that you can watch on mobile devices. Overall, it's worth looking at.
      If you can't find what you want on Hulu, you can still watch your favorite shows for free by going to 'gateway sites'. I'm calling them that because, while they do not actually host videos themselves, they have a database that allows you to find many links to free episodes in one place. Some of the more popular ones are CastTV, TvDuck, Sidereel and Surfthechannel. The only possible drawback is that they are supported by ads, which some people find annoying.
      While many people only think of it in terms of movies, Netflix is also an excellent way to watch a TV series from the beginning. For instance, my husband had always been interested in the show Lost, but missed the premier episode. If you're at all familiar with the series, you know it's one of those shows that you have to watch from the very beginning to be able to understand what is going on. Since our Playstation 3 came with a discounted subscription to Netflix, we were able to stream all six seasons of the series. Believe me, I'm glad we did! I've also managed to find shows like Dead Like Me that were on premium channels I don't get, as well as documentaries and movies I'd never gotten to see otherwise. While we're now paying 'regular price', the $8/month price tag is well worth it! There is also a Netflix app for iPod/iPhone that allows you to watch on mobile devices. For feature films, Amazon.com has a Video-On-Demand service that allows you to buy or rent movies around the same time they are released on DVD. If you have iTunes, you can also buy or rent movies through that service.
      As you can see, the digital age has provided us with many internet-based ways to catch up on our favorite TV shows. While they are not all free-of-charge, you can easily get enough use out of them to justify the cost. I know I do! Happy watching!

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