Day: December 6, 2012

Freak Out! A Day with Cal Schenkel by Pauline Butcher

Via uploader paulineharrisonbird (née, presumably, Butcher):

Cal Schenkel, artist/designer of early Frank Zappa albums, Freak Out, Absolutely Free, We're Only In It for the Money, and others is seen here hanging out with Pauline Butcher, secretary to Frank Zappa and author of Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa; Squidget, Gail Zappa's younger brother (not Midget as annotated) and Casey, caretaker to Frank and Gail Zappa. 'Anything' was written and is sung by Ray Collins (from Ruben & the Jets).

Ms. Butcher Bird is the author of the book Freak Out! My Life with Frank Zappa. I expect I'll be getting back to her at some point...

(And yes it's a little past midnight and I'm cheating on the timestamp again. Ran late with that Who post. And here I didn't know what I was going to post about today...)

Netflix Does Something Stupid and Annoying

So I just went to fire up some old Doctor Who, only to find that every single Doctor Who serial had been purged from my Netflix queue.

So I thought, What the hell? Has Doctor Who been removed completely from Netflix Streaming?

It turns out that no, it hasn't, they've just decided to make it way more difficult to find and navigate!

See, now instead of having the old Doctor Who serials split up by title -- Horror of Fang Rock, Caves of Androzani, and so forth -- they've combined them all under a single heading, Classic Doctor Who.

Which may sound like a good idea -- and it would be, if it were put together by someone with a basic understanding of how human beings locate things! -- but sadly, it was put together by complete goddamned morons.

See, instead of being sorted by serial titles, the series is split up into 18 "collections". Numbered. 1-18. And you have to click on the number of the collection to see what serial's actually in it.

Which might make some sort of sense if they had the complete series split up into seasons. Or had at least one serial from every season. Or, I don't know, even put them in the right damn order. But they don't. Here's the order (Edit 2013-01-01: The order has been changed since this original posting; go to the end of the post for the current order):

  1. The Carnival of Monsters [sic] (1973)
  2. Horror of Fang Rock (1977)
  3. Pyramids of Mars (1975)
  4. Spearhead from Space (1970)
  5. The Androids of Tara (1978)
  6. The Ark in Space (1975)
  7. The Aztecs (1964)
  8. The Caves of Androzani (1984)
  9. The City of Death [sic] (1979)
  10. The Curse of Fenric (1989)
  11. The Green Death (1973)
  12. The Leisure Hive (1980)
  13. The Mind Robber (1968)
  14. The Pirate Planet (1978)
  15. The Power of Kroll (1978)
  16. The Ribos Operation (1978)
  17. The Three Doctors (1972)
  18. The Visitation (1982)

And it took me actually listing them all out where I can see them all at once, but now at least I understand how they're sorted: they're alphabetical, sort of. Except nobody bothered to add the convention of dropping articles from the sort, so serials beginning with "The" (which is nearly all of them) appear under "T".

(Except The Carnival of Monsters -- probably because that is not actually the title of the episode; it's just called Carnival of Monsters, which does fit the sort. Which indicates that maybe the database has both a display title and an indexing title for each episode -- but who the hell even knows. Especially since City of Death isn't actually called The City of Death, either.)

So, want to see if Netflix has a given Doctor Who serial, out of the 128 extant serials that make up the original series? All you have to do is poke around half-blindly through 18 not-quite-alphabetically-sorted collections and see if it's there! That is, if you know they're sort-of-alphabetical -- which you probably won't even notice, looking at them one-by-one. (Actually, I'm going to go add a review to the page right now that explains that, with the full order -- hopefully it'll help somebody.) If you don't notice, well, just click on all 18!

Amazon, meanwhile? If you type in "Doctor Who: The Caves of Androzani", the first match is Doctor Who (Classic) Season 21, which does in fact have a streaming video of The Caves of Androzani. They don't have as many episodes available for streaming as Netflix does, and some of them cost money to watch even if you have a Prime account. But they're sure the hell organized way better.

Of course, the easiest way to find any of these episodes, without worrying about availability, nonsensical navigation, or the possibility that you'll just find them all removed from your queue one day without notice, is just to torrent the damn things.

Kinda makes you feel like a chump for paying good money for Netflix and Amazon Prime, don't it?

Edit 2013-01-01: The order has been changed; they're now in chronological episode order:

  1. The Aztecs (1964)
  2. The Mind Robber (1968)
  3. Spearhead from Space (1970)
  4. The Three Doctors (1972)
  5. The Carnival of Monsters [sic] (1973)
  6. The Green Death (1973)
  7. The Ark in Space (1975)
  8. Pyramids of Mars (1975)
  9. Horror of Fang Rock (1977)
  10. The Ribos Operation (1978)
  11. The Pirate Planet (1978)
  12. The Androids of Tara (1978)
  13. The Power of Kroll (1978)
  14. The City of Death [sic] (1979)
  15. The Leisure Hive (1980)
  16. The Visitation (1982)
  17. The Caves of Androzani (1984)
  18. The Curse of Fenric (1989)

So at least, if you were to for some reason want to watch a small selection of 25 years' worth of Doctor Who in chronological order, you could do that now. But it's still a legitimate hassle to find episodes by title, like a normal person.