The Justice League Prognosis: Too Big Not to Fail


We have six more months of waiting to see DC’s Man of Steel, and another two years (at least?) until the Justice League movie becomes an actual thing.  There is undoubtedly a lot of anticipation for this movie; the biggest question being whether DC/Warner Bros can pull off a team-up movie that is anywhere near as successful as Marvel/Disney’s The Avengers.  Honestly, at this point, I don’t really see how Justice League can work.

There have been three rumors in the past month or so that have all given cause for mixed alarm and hope: the GL 2 script, JGL, and Darkseid.  The first two were debunked pretty quickly, while the third is unconfirmed yet still worrisome (does this big purple megalomaniacal alien look a bit like another big purple evil megalomaniacal alien?).  While none of these are out-and-out poison pills, none of them are exactly encouraging to the success of the JL movie, which already has enough hurdles to clear.

Look at how Marvel built up to The Avengers: Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk came out in 2008, Iron Man 2 in 2010, and Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger in 2011.  Beginning with the first Iron Man, Marvel was weaving in elements (Agent Coulson, Nick Fury, and the “Avengers Initiative”) to establish a “combined mythos”; creating a world where all of these heroes could co-exist in a believable way.  Nolan’s Batman trilogy was no doubt a huge success, and has in many ways set a certain standard to which comic book adaptations are now held; one of the things it did very well was to establish a world where Batman could exist believably.  The problem with a world where Nolan’s Batman could believably exist is that it is completely UNBELIEVABLE that a Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, or basically any other Justice League caliber of superhero, could exist.  Justice League works in the comics because it was created more than 50 years ago, debuting in 1960 (although essentially a reiteration of the Justice Society of America), when comics were still in their early adolescence.   This was a few years before Stan Lee had revolutionized Marvel Comics by creating Spider-Man, the Incredible Hulk, the Fantastic Four, the X-Men, and first assembling the Avengers.

More importantly, this was when comics were innocuously family-friendly, cartoonish and frankly, bland.  The plots of these books were bloodless and inconsequential.  This was when the Joker had been transformed from a maniac to a harmless prankster, and Lex Luthor wanted revenge for a fire that had taken his precious hair from him! (Later, of course (1978), he stole cakes!) This was a time when death and violence had basically been removed from comics; when each issue had an Inspector Gadget ending: “I’ll get you next time, (insert superhero’s name)!!!”  Moreover, it was a time when a team made up of several super-powered individuals teamed up with a vigilante with gadgets and a guy who talked to fish made perfect sense.

I’m not saying that the Justice League can’t work; I’m just saying that DC/Warner hasn’t properly laid the groundwork.  How can the gritty, flawed, and aged Batman from the Christopher Nolan-verse coexist with a team of super-powered archetypes?  The logistics of the movie alone are daunting.  By the time Justice League comes out, likely only three of the 7 original JL members will have been introduced (Batman, Superman, and Green Lantern) in films.  While it’s likely that Henry Cavill will return as Superman, the rest of the cast is up in the air at this point; a Green Lantern sequel (with or without Ryan Reynolds), while long rumored to be coming, is uncertain, and Batman may be completely rebooted.

Consider this: in one 2-to-3 hour movie, Justice League will have to introduce 3-4 new characters (Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman, and possibly Martian Manhunter, Hawkman/Hawkgirl, or less likely, Cyborg) while possibly re-introducing Batman and/or Green Lantern, produce a threat large enough to justify the need for a team of superheroes, provide a mechanism for the assembling of the Justice League, and then deal with the threat.  That’s shoving a lot of exposition into what should be more of an action-driven movie, so much so that it almost makes The Dark Knight Rises seem streamlined.

Overall, the most prominent feeling is one of trepidation.  The Avengers wasn’t perfect, but Marvel/Disney did a lot to make sure the movie had a chance to be as good as it was.  DC/Warner shouldn’t try to make Justice League ASAP just to try to repeat the success that Disney has had with the Marvel movies, because to do so would be to kill the potential franchise for the sake of a short term windfall.

Looking Ahead: Ten Movies That Might Be Worth Seeing In 2013

Disclaimer: I am not clairvoyant, and this list is by no means comprehensive.  Based on what little information I have gleaned at this time (made up mostly of press releases, rumors, and IMDB entries), these ten movies are the ones that I am currently aware of which, in my mind, hold the most hope of being worth watching.  Undoubtedly, there are a lot of future great movies that I am currently unaware of; many of these movies are independent, small-budget, and have not been marketed enough to appear on my radar.  So here is my Christmas wishlist: Santa, please make these movies not suck.


Zero Dark Thirty – January 11 (Wide Release)

Going in, I am fully expecting this movie to be The Hurt Locker 2, and following the rule of sequels, I expect that it will not be as good as the original.  I acknowledge that Zero Dark Thirty is not actually a sequel, although it retains the same screenwriter (Mark Boal) and director (Kathryn Bigelow) and looks to follow a similar U.S.-troops-fighting-a-modern-unconventional-war trope.  That said, going into a theatre with moderate expectations has paid off for me before (I’m looking at you, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World).


Sound City – February (Sundance)

Usually when these types of “most anticipated” lists are made, they are dominated by big-budget blockbusters.  While this list will have its share of those (see below), special effects and explosions can only get you so far.  I love a good documentary (some recent ones: Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop, Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Restrepo, and Exit Through the Gift Shop), and Sound City is the one I am most looking forward to.  Ever wanted to know where some of the greatest music of all time came from?  Then you might want to check it out.


42 – April 12

So, this is my sports movie that isn’t really about sports.  If you don’t know already the “42” refers to the number worn by Jackie Robinson, the first player to break Major League Baseball’s color barrier.  So think more “social history of racism” than “watch people play sports”.  Race in sports is a topic which has been tackled before (Remember the Titans, Glory Road, The Great White Hope), but it is about time that Jackie Robinson got the big-screen treatment.


Iron Man 3 – May 3

I think we can all pretty much agree: Iron Man – great, Iron Man 2 – not as great.  Not that the second film was bad, it just had a lot to live up to, and a lot of jammed-in Avengers preparatory elements that muddled the story a bit.  With all the Avengers build-up out of the way, Iron Man 3 will have a better chance of standing of existing to itself and standing on its own merit.  Ben Kingsley as the villain probably won’t hurt either.


Star Trek Into Darkness – May 17

J.J. Abrams successfully breathed new life into the Star Trek franchise with his successful 2009 reboot.  The question, as with all sequels, is whether the next film can live up to the expectations from the first.  Abrams originally cast Benicio Del Toro as the villain; after Del Toro dropped out, Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock himself, was brought in.  It will be interesting to see how Cumberbatch performs as an antagonist, and what kind of screen chemistry he has with Kirk/Spock etc.


Man of Steel – June 14

DC’s hopes for a Justice League movie and all the assorted film properties (Wonder Woman, Flash, more Green Lantern?) hinge on this film’s success.  Man of Steel doesn’t necessarily have to perform on the level of Dark Knight, but a Batman Begins-type reception would be a step in the right direction.  What it truly needs to do is wash the bad taste from filmgoers’ mouths that was left by Superman Returns and Green Lantern.


This is the End – June 14

A.K.A. The Apatow Crowd.  So, Seth Rogen is hanging out with pretty much everyone who he ever worked with.  And then the world ends.  It sounds like somewhat of a self-indulgent meta film-making model, but I’m hoping that the comedic talent (Paul Rudd, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari) will win out.


Pacific Rim – July 12

Guillermo Del Toro?  Check.  Ron Perlman?  Check.  Robots and monsters?  Check.  Another Hellboy movie?  Nope, not this time.  Throw in Perlman’s “Sons of Anarchy” co-star Charlie Hunham, Prometheus/Thor/“Luther” star Idris Elba, and “It’s Always Sunny” scene-stealer Charlie Day, and make those robots and monsters GIGANTIC, and you’ve got yourself a movie worth seeing.


Elysium – August 9

Elysium is Neill Blomkamp’s second feature film, as well as the much-anticipated follow-up to 2009’s District 9, one of the best sci-fi movies of the past decade.  District 9 was a huge step in the right direction for modern sci-fi, as films like it and Moon sought to balance out the terrible, bloated, story-and-heart-less spectacles produced by Michael Bay & Co.  Elysium boasts the talents of Matt Damon, Jodie Foster, William Fichtner, Diego Luna, and District-veteran Sharlto Copley.


The World’s End – October 25

Not to be confused with the aforementioned This is the End.  This film is the final chapter of the Edgar Wright/Simon Pegg “The Blood and Ice Cream Trilogy”, begun in Shaun of the Dead and continued in Hot Fuzz.  The film brings back mainstay Nick Frost, along with Martin Freeman, Paddy Considine, and Rosamund Pike.  If this film is anything like the previous Wright/Pegg endeavors, then you may as well buy a 2013 calendar, flip to October, grab a Sharpie, and mark the 25th as BUSY.

Wearing Out Albums

I own an unhealthy amount of music.  That is the most basic way I can describe the relationship I have with audio media.  I haven’t spent the necessary thousands of dollars on stereo equipment and $500 dollar headphones to be considered an audiophile, and the term “music nerd”, while admittedly accurate, seems to me to be too ambiguous to actually state anything concretely.  So, I own an unhealthy amount of music.

Without going to the trouble of counting, let’s just say that I own 400+ albums, which I believe would qualify as unhealthy.  Considering that I could listen to an album a day for a year and still not listen to every album, would perhaps put me in the category of owning more albums than is physically good for me.  Let me also at this point state that all of these albums were paid for, were purchased in their PHYSICAL STATE, and currently occupy a good chunk of wall space.

Now the saddest part about owning all these albums is that the frequency of play varies wildly throughout.  Some albums only get listened to a handful of times, while other albums enter the rotation for a period before being put out to pasture.  And then there are the albums that you listen to again and again, that never seem to lose their appeal even after listening to for the fiftieth time.

In the interest of internet over-sharing, here are my most-played albums.  It wasn’t that difficult to choose; my hands seemed to pluck the CDs from the media stand automatically and of their own accord.  I then just pared the mountainous stack down to a convenient and obligatory ten, and list them here in the order in which they were purchased.


1. Pixies – Doolittle (1989)

Remember that line in Empire Records where there’s a discussion that ends with the conclusion that the Pixies have better bass lines than Primus?  One hundred percent true.  The Pixies were one of the bands that influenced Kurt Cobain’s twisted pop sensibility, and it shows.  Doolittle is full of great, catchy songs that worm their way into the warmer parts of your brain to lay their eggs.


2. The Clash – London Calling (1979)

If you only ever own one classic punk album, it should be this one.  The Stooges gave birth to punk, the Ramones injected it with pop sensibility, and the Sex Pistols had no talent whatsoever; but the Clash were the first to elevate punk, expanding the musical form by combining it with other genres (ska/reggae/funk etc.) and infusing it with political and social activism.  If the album sounds familiar, it is probably because it has been reproduced countless times, ranging from bands heavily influenced by it (Green Day, Rancid, U2), to those who sample (Cypress Hill, M.I.A., Red Hot Chili Peppers) and steal (One Direction).


3. Foo Fighters – There is Nothing Left to Lose (1999)

This won by a nose over The Colour and the Shape.  Made during the brief period after the departures of Pat Smear and Franz Stahl where the band was a power trio, the album shows the band stretching their musical wings, moving further away from being “the guy from Nirvana’s band”.  Recorded in Dave Grohl’s basement in Virginia, There is Nothing Left to Lose showcases the evolution of Grohl’s songwriting along with the increased input from bassist Nate Mendel and drummer Taylor Hawkins.  This is an album best experienced through a decent set of headphones or speakers; if you’re using earbuds, you’re doing it wrong.


4. Alkaline Trio – Goddamnit (1998)

This was my introduction to Midwest-Coast Punk.  The Alkaline Trio was part of a late-‘90s resurgence of punk in the Chicago area, which included the rise of bands like The Lawrence Arms and Rise Against.  What the Trio did on Goddamnit was bridge the gap between ‘80s hardcore punk and the early ‘90s emo-punk of bands like Braid and Jawbreaker.  The album is a raw study in balance, opening with the kick-to-the-chest “Cringe”, and closing with the lamentation of “Sorry About That”; likewise, the vocals play against each other, with bassist Dan Andriano’s croon acts as a counterpoint to guitarist Matt Skiba’s rasp.  Note: not for the khaki-slacks-wearing crowd.


5. Against Me! – As The Eternal Cowboy (2003)

If Bob Dylan and Paul Westerberg had a child, who was then raised by anarchists, the result may very well have been Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel), the heart and mind of Against Me!, a band so DIY that they were labeled “sell-outs” for the second time when signing to indie label Fat Wreck Chords to release their second full-length (the first time was when signing to ultra-indie No Idea Records to release their debut Reinventing Axl Rose).  Against Me! is pure energy, and this album is the distillation of that energy; if Reinventing Axl Rose was the chaos of the riot, then As The Eternal Cowboy is the coalescing of the movement.


6. Kid Dynamite – Kid Dynamite (1998)

This is the album that proved that melodic hardcore was actually a thing (sorry, Lifetime).  Nineteen songs, 27 minutes.  To paraphrase their second album: short, fast, and loud.  What’s not to like?  Kid Dynamite’s self-titled album has a supernova quality much like the band itself: bright, explosive, and affecting.  You remember the “yacht rock” from the early ‘80s?  This is pretty much the opposite of that.


7. Interpol – Turn on the Bright Lights (2002)

It’s fair to say that Interpol is basically the reincarnation of Joy Division.  They came out of the late ‘90s post-punk revival with bands like The Strokes, The White Stripes, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.  Turn on the Bright Lights is a dark, moody album that manages to maintain an air of intensity throughout, keeping it from devolving into a funeral dirge.  This is an album that is at its best when listened to at night: driving through a light rain, sitting in a dimly lit room, or walking under autumn streetlights.


8. A Wilhelm Scream – Ruiner (2005)

AWS is the greatest non-whale-related product to ever come out of New Bedford, Massachusetts.  Coming on the heels of their sophomore effort, Ruiner takes the sound established on Mute Print and channels it into an album which flows from one song to the next deftly, songs building on each other to form an album that preserves a thematic wholeness.  Ruiner is a 36-minute opera shouted over a cacophonous, melodious din.


9. Tom Waits – Mule Variations (1999)

Waits has long been an artist who isn’t afraid to do whatever he wants.  He can get loud (“Big in Japan”), he can get mellow (“Georgia Lee”), and he can get downright strange (“What’s He Building?”).  The amazing thing is that he does them with equal ability and aplomb.  When it comes to Waits, there are a slew of great albums to choose from (Rain Dogs, Swordfishtrombones, and Bone Machine come to mind), but in this case Mule Variations will stand as a representation of the breadth and quality of the Waits catalog.


10. Bear vs. Shark – Terrorhawk (2005)

Sometimes the best part of listening to music is when you stumble upon great music seemingly by accident.  Such was the case with this album.  I couldn’t tell you how I stumbled upon this record, but my ears are thankful.  Of course, by the time I had listened to it, the band was already defunct, having broken up just a few months after the album’s release.  For me, this has always been a winter album; there’s a certain cold, Midwestern bleakness showcased in songs like “Baraga Embankment” and “What a Horrible Night for a Curse”, which is lightened by the killer closer “Rich People Say Fuck Yeah Hey Hey”.

Nerd Mainstreaming Vol. 1: Fantasy Football

Remember when nerds were nerds?  When anyone who was overweight, bespectacled, or understood trigonometry was insulted, beaten mercilessly, and shoved into a trash can?  Can you recall those days when a fondness for art/books/comics/computers/fantasy/games/movies/music/sci-fi/tech was what set us apart from “mainstream” society?

Yeah, well, that shit’s over.

Nerd culture has been co-opted by the masses: hipsters are wearing glasses and suspenders, your grandmother has an iPhone, and the jocks you went to high school with are fat and play fantasy games based on statistical analysis and prediction.  Yes, I speak of…

ralphwizard football


Fantasy football is D&D for jocks.  It’s a stock-market type betting system, with Matt Forte and RG3 replacing Bank of America and IBM.  It connects fans of football to the NFL in the same way that your weekly game in a friend’s basement connected you to the works of (insert favorite fantasy writer).  The creative aspects of character building and plot development have been replaced with trash-talking and pun-laden team naming, and both games tend to spawn their own set of homebrew rules.  There’s even a Wizards of the Coast-esque overlord agency: the Fantasy Sports Trade Agency.  Fantasy football and dice-based RPGs vary in one central aspect, however:

Fantasy Football is endemic.

Estimates for 2012: 35 million players creating a billion-dollar industry.  According to the Huffington Post, fantasy football will cost employers $6.5 billion in lost work-hours this year.  Of course, this is based on their assumption that each fantasy football-playing employee will only cost them only one work-hour per week; trust me, this is a low estimate.  Any truly committed fantasy football player with a desk job probably spends an hour EVERY DAY on fantasy football.  Why?  Because no one actually wants to do work at work.  Still, how can someone spend so much time on fantasy football?

It’s easy: setting your roster, checking your player/team matchups, reading the weekly player rankings, scouring the injury report, hitting the waiver wire, sending out trade feelers, posting on the message boards, and silently lamenting the collapse of your once-great team.  But the entire week is nothing more than a preparation for game day, a ritualistic second-guessing process in which the fantasy football manager rethinks all previous decisions made throughout the season in the unforgiving light of hindsight.

Fantasy football is based upon foresight: the idea that you, the manager, are making decisions based upon a player’s predicted performance in a game.  This prediction can be based on any number of factors: the player’s performance in previous games, the quality of the defense that the player is going up against, the player’s value increasing/decreasing because of a perceived injury, the player receiving more “touches” and becoming more/less involved in the team’s offense.  The manager also has to take into account computer-based predictive models that forecast a player’s expected points, as well as weekly “rankings”, created by so-called fantasy football experts who list the players at each position based upon their qualified (?) opinion.

What it all boils down to is that fantasy football is a way to put an extremely excessive amount of time, thought, and energy into something that many people would find boring, confusing, or pointless.  It is a way to delve deeply into the statistical intricacies of a sport, where most barely scratch the surface.  It is a weekly grind that can culminate it exhilarating wins or crushing losses.  It is a campaign to destroy friends, co-workers, and total strangers on a fictitious battleground of hypothetical conflict, culminating with one warrior rising victorious from the ashes of the season, crowned as the champion of guessing-who-is-going-to-do-good-more-often-than-everyone-else.  And, most of all…

…It will be a damned shame if I don’t make the playoffs.

Unnecessary Product Review Vol. 2: PlayStation Plus

psplusbannerBeing an American, I decided to pay for something that I didn’t really need, about which I knew little, and for which I had little desire.  Here are the results of said experiment.

On a whim, I signed up for PlayStation Plus, three months for $18.  There are various perks, of basically three types: early access, discounts, and free stuff.  The early access seems to carry the least weight, as I have seen no offers yet of early access to betas, demos, or whatnot, and honestly could not imagine being pants-peeing-ly excited about obtaining a sample of something a few days ahead of everyone else.

Discounts are a bit more concrete, yet can only be obtained (here’s the catch) if you give PlayStation more money.  Most of the discounts available are for avatars and themes you can buy for your account, which are usually known by their street name: A Complete Waste of Your Money™.  The only current discount of note is a reduced price on Portal 2 ($13.99 down from $19.99).



Well, you get a few things that don’t really matter: one GB of online cloud save storage, automatic system/game updates, and one-hour full game trials.  The cloud storage basically backs up your saves, so if your hard drive crashes you can still go back and look at all the shit you collected in Fallout 3.  The automatic updates basically turns your PS3 on, installs your updates, and then turns it off.  Amazing?  No.  Helpful?  Maybe.  Did it keep turning itself back on one night for no apparent reason?  Yes.  As far as the one hour “Full Game Trial”, I have to say that the term is misleading, as it is inherently impossible to play the full game in one hour.  More appropriate names: “Extended Trailer”, “Slightly Longer Demo”, and “Get Halfway through the First Tutorial/Opening Cinematic”.  But there are a few actually free games, which I have categorized and describe thusly:

The Good:

–          Quantum Conundrum

This is a super-addictive story-driven puzzler.  Why you should play it: reality-altering devices, a teleporting cat, and John de Lancie.

–          Scott Pilgrim vs. the World: The Game

A retro-styled side-scrolling beat ‘em up game.  Good music, story, and characterization.

–          Outland

If Team Ico made Prince of Persia, the result would be something like Outland.  The result is a solid platformer with quality art reminiscent of Braid.

–          PAC-MAN Championship Edition DX

It.  Is.  Pac man.

–          LittleBigPlanet 2

If you like the first one, you already know this game is _______.  If you haven’t played LittleBigPlanet, it’s basically a Super Mario game where everything was made in a Hobby Lobby.

–          Ratchet & Clank: All 4 One

Cartoon Adventure!   Made for kids, but still an enjoyable game.

The Mediocre:

–          inFAMOUS 2

I’ve renamed it Parkour Championship II.  You climb buildings and shoot lightning.  It’s not terrible.

–          Resident Evil 5: Gold Edition

I’m just going to go ahead and assume that you’ve already heard the criticism about the game being racist.  I’m only about two hours into the game, so my main criticism thus far is that the first main skirmish is lifted directly from RE4.  Honestly, the game is kind of boring.  UPDATE: I played about two more hours and have since abandoned it.

–          King of Fighters XIII

It’s a fighting game.  You fight people.  That’s about it.  Played for fifteen minutes, confirmed that I still do not like fighting games.

The Ugly:

–          Payday The Heist

If you spend an inordinate amount of time fantasizing about killing cops, then this is the game for you.  Honestly, I could see what they were going for with this game, and building the game around co-op was a good idea, as well as necessary, because the computer AI is abysmal.  Any focus on strategy or stealth is pointless, as the game inevitably devolves into a bloodbath.  Oh, and do you like clown masks?  Because there are clown masks.  So if you wished you were a member of Slipknot with a penchant for murdering law enforcement personnel, wish granted.

–          BloodRayne: Betrayal

Here’s the plot: somebody who liked the Castlevania games watched Blade and thought something like: “Hey, what if it was a goth girl instead and she fought the Nazis or something?”  There’s not a whole lot to this game.  Step one: hack.  Step two: slash.  Step three: play something else.

–          Double Dragon Neon

An “update” of the classic side-scroller, it seems as if this game was designed by a group of 13-year-old boys.  I played this game for 10-15 minutes and actually laughed out loud at how tacky and terrible this game was.  It’s over-sexualized, one-dimensional, and ridiculous, but not in a good way.  This is a case where they could have just ported the original and it would have been ONE HUNDRED THOUSAND TIMES BETTER.

Unnecessary Product Conclusion: I got a handful of playable games for less than twenty bucks.  If you are not terribly particular about what you play, AND you’re just looking for games that are even somewhat enjoyable, AND you don’t have the games that PS Plus gives you for free, then I would recommend you give it a try.

Unnecessary Product Review Vol. 1: Amazon Prime

prime banner

Despite early reports of its future demise, Netflix is undoubtedly the behemoth of internet streaming services.  Over the past few years its use has spread, so much so that I think we are all beginning to assume that everyone uses it.  It is basically becoming the new cable TV, where the connotation is that anyone who doesn’t have Netflix is living in some remote, backwater wilderness, relying on farmer five, AM radio, and Western Union telegraph service.

Recently I decided to give one of Netflix’s main competitors in the streaming arena, Amazon Prime, a test run… because it was free.

prime graphic

Amazon Prime offers you a handful of perks: free two-day shipping on all Prime-eligible orders; free release-day delivery on eligible pre-orders; one free Kindle book per month; and unlimited streaming of Amazon Prime movies and TV shows.  The shipping perks are nice if you’re super impatient, and the Kindle books are great if you’re a person who doesn’t realize that libraries still exist.

Amazon Prime’s streaming is comparable to Netflix – in that the majority of Amazon Prime videos are available on Netflix streaming.  Amazon Prime does offer a handful of notable movies not available on Netflix Instant (Into the Wild, Being There, Near Dark, L.A. Confidential, Waiting for Guffman, and Pee Wee’s Big Adventure), as well as the complete run of TV’s West Wing.  One problem that Amazon Prime has is that the user interface is a bit wonky, especially when trying to browse their selection.  While the selections available are similar, Netflix clearly dwarfs prime in the volume of movie titles available.  When it comes to TV shows, the picture is a little murkier.  Looking at the top 60 metacritic-rated TV shows, 37 are available on neither Netflix nor Amazon Prime (most are HBO and Showtime).  Of the 23 shows available:

– 11 on both Prime & Netflix – Battlestar Galactica, Bleak House, Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Friday Night Lights, Lost, Sons of Anarchy, Better Off Ted, Rescue Me, Parks and Recreation, Luther

– 9 on Netflix – Breaking Bad, Louie, Mad Men, 24, Archer, The Office (U.S.), The Killing, 30 Rock, Walking Dead

– 3 on Amazon Prime – Ken Burns: Prohibition, Pushing Daisies, Absolutely Fabulous

Netflix has the edge, especially considering their stranglehold on AMC shows.

Unnecessary Product Conclusion: Amazon Prime comes in at $79/year, which is a bit cheaper than Netflix ($7.99/month = $96/year).  If you are eligible for a free one month trial, now would be the ideal time to capitalize on the free shipping.  While Netflix is undoubtedly the better streaming service, Amazon Prime’s fringe benefits make it an intriguing competitor.  But I’m still not paying for it.  Ultimately, Amazon Prime’s streaming and kindle book service are throw-ins; individually, they wouldn’t be viable services; and collectively, Amazon Prime acts as more of a one-time grab-bag than as an intriguing long-term product.