I Want My Shakespeare TV

The good people over at PlayShakespeare.com (the definitive Shakespeare app) just sent out an email announcing ShakespeareTV for AppleTV.

The only problem is, I don’t have an AppleTV ;).  We’ve got Roku boxes in the house, and generally more Android devices than Apple.  But I expect I know exactly what the app is – a “video jukebox” of Shakespeare content.

I actually have a Plex server in my basement, and a good amount of Shakespeare content that I can watch at any time.  So I’m not really sure what this app would give me that I don’t already have, expect perhaps the surprise that comes with incoming content, because the only new content that I get right now is whatever I go out and discover for myself.  I’ve already got more than I will ever watch.

You know what I’d really like, though?  I’d like an actual Shakespeare channel, like something that would show up in the tv guide.  I’d like to see that at 2pm, the 1999 Midsummer Night’s Dream with Kevin Kline is coming on.  And after that, the 1934 version.  Just a steady stream of Shakespeare content that I could turn on at random.  Maybe I look ahead and “bookmark” something to save it, DVR style.  (When I first thought of this idea 10 years ago it seemed silly. Why have your computer running constantly, playing video that no one is watching?  I don’t think you’d have to do that — just have a list of movies and a timer, and whenever you flip on that stream, jump to the current video and timer and nobody is the wiser.)

That sounds backwards – isn’t the trend all about on demand “binge” watching?  True, but I think there’s a weakness there.  “I can watch it any time” means it goes in the pile with everything else that I can watch at any time, and now there’s competition over what I want to watch.  Most of the time I don’t get the television to myself until maybe 10pm.  So is that the best time to start in on Paul Scofield’s King Lear?  I’ll fall asleep before Cordelia is banished.  I speak from experience :).

I don’t watch anything live anymore if I can help it. A dude jumped out of an airplane without a parachute the other night and I still recorded it (mostly because you know perfectly well that for an hour long special they’re just going to talk for the first 45 minutes – fast forward!)  I think that one of the reasons is just commercials. If you can skip them, why wouldn’t you?  So if I had a steady stream of video without commercials, that would be very tempting indeed.

I’d also like to see something that mixes in interviews and documentary bits and such.  Even the most hardcore fans can’t forever sit through nothing but 3 hour tragedies.  There’s value in short form content.  Hey, now that I think about it, I wonder if somebody could pull off a multi-episodic tv version of a play, maybe doing a single scene per episode?

What would you like to see in a Shakespeare TV channel?

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