Starting a new occasional and intermittent series, Streaming Services Power Rankings. If I’m paying for all of these services, here’s my take on which are the best use of time and money. This a point in time evaluation and may be updated from time to time:
1. Hulu – Between FX and Hulu originals, Hulu is on a roll, with The Bear, Only Murders in the Building, Reservation Dogs, and What We Do in the Shadows airing now.
2. AppleTV+ is the smallest and most curated major streamer. While it doesn’t have much catalog content, they have some of the best-made shows streaming today. Even when they don’t really work, like Foundation, they still look amazing. Most importantly, they just wrapped the third season of For All Mankind. While it took a lot of suspension of disbelief to see Karen, Ed, and Margo as anywhere near the character’s actual age (rather than their actors), space travel keeps many of them in danger at all times. And maybe they’ll even get baseball right.
3. HBO Max – On the one hand, the WB/Discovery merger is likely to keep making a mess of the best brand in television. But, despite that, HBO continues to make great television. And even where it isn’t great, it’s usually spectacular, like House of the Dragon. After one episode, House of the Dragon isn’t Game of Thrones at its best or Succession with dragons (which is what it should be.) Also, The Rehearsal!
4. Netflix – We’re still working through the two-hour episodes of Stranger Things season 4. You know what would be great? If this was a TV show with TV length episodes. Make a TV show or make a movie. Super-long episodes with a normal epidote’s amount of plot and character development is not a good use of anyone’s time. Let’s get the Duffers an editor. Netflix, despite all of their troubles, will continue to rank highly, because Netflix continues to be the best at running a streaming service and having a usable application on every platform.
5. Linear TV – No, it’s not technically a streaming service, but since I still pay FIOS for TV service, it’s part of the budget, and rand the final season of Better Call Saul! I guess the January 6 Committee comes back next month?
6. Disney Plus – Disney owns some of the best worlds for storytelling. But Star Wars is much less special when there’s too much of it. Nothing that’s followed The Mandalorian has been that good or had anything as cute as a Baby Yoda. Two promising series are likely to raise the Mouse’s position here: She-Hulk and Light and Magic (the in-house documentary about ILM).
7. Amazon Prime — Prime is a mix of top-tier genre shows (The Boys, The Expanse), but thoroughly competent adaptations of popular airport bookstore series (Bosch, Jack Reacher, Jack Ryan). We’ll see if spending the Bezos Bucks on Middle Earth pays off. The parts of the world that Tolkien didn’t write might be compelling, or it might just be unremarkable fantasy borrowing the trappings of the Lord of the Rings. If it works, expect this
8. Paramount Plus – Strange New Worlds and Lower Decks are among the best Star Trek shows, not because they break any new ground, but because they do the Star Trek adventure of the week format very well. While I’d prefer more original story-telling within the universe, like Lower Decks, the retread of Strange New Worlds works because the cast is so good.
9. Peacock – Coming down from a month of extra-relevance due to being the home of the Tour de France and Tour De France Femmes, Peacock gets a little love from cycling super-fans for the last grand tour of the year, but most of us can unsubscribe and go back to ignoring Love Island and Office reruns until the next season of Girls5eva or the next Olympics.
10. Showtime – With Desus and Mero breaking up, is there any reason to subscribe to Showtime until Billions or Yelllowjackets are back?