Sony has opened its video-streaming portal Crackle to the UK, which is fantastic news for fans of awful films and butchered Yank sitcoms.
Regional variation means the choice of films and TV on Crackle could be charitably described as 'thin'. The pick of the films includes Kris Kristofferson and Gene Hackman in Cisco Pike, Jackie Chan in Drunken Master and a giant nuclear mutant moth in Mothra.
Most of the TV consists of 'minisodes' -- normal episodes hacked down to 5 minutes -- of American classics such as Bewitched, Barney Miller, Charlie's Angels, Diff'rent Strokes, Starsky and Hutch, My Two Dads, TJ Hooker and Fantasy Island ("The plane, boss, the plane!"), along with painfully sawn-off versions of newer shows Breaking Bad and Rescue Me. Comic book fans may be interested in full-length episodes of Spider-Man, Astro Boy, Frank Miller's Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot and the live action version of The Tick.
Every video includes facts about 'why it crackles' -- for instance, did you know that Forever Knight, about 13th-century vampire Nick Knight fighting crime in modern-day Toronto, once ranked number 23 in TV Guide's "25 Top Cult Shows Ever"?
The original content consists of assorted webisodes, short episodes made for the Internet including short comedies Gaytown, All-Stars and The Writers Room. The Esquire Digital Man follows Men in Black director Barry Sonnenfeld reviewing the gadgets he owns, for some reason. American Dreamers is a series of documentary shorts about American eccentrics like the godmother of burlesque, the owner of the world's largest kazoo collection and the guy who's hand-built a 1,500-tonne, 160ft-tall castle in the desert. Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show is... well we don't know what Gorgeous Tiny Chicken Machine Show is exactly.
Crackle Player videos are also hosted across the Web on sites including AOL, Bebo, DailyMotion and YouTube. Sony Bravia televisions access the portal too. One thing you won't see on Crackle is Penn Jillette's daily rantisodes, as he's just left the portal for Revision3.
Here's one of Crackle's Minisodes -- for anyone who's always wanted to watch TJ Hooker but just didn't have the time, here's Kirk and Spock at their peak in just 5 minutes!