Remember when you were a kid and you got sick? Remember staying home all day, eating Campbell’s Chicken Noodle Soup and watching daytime TV in your pajamas? You were introduced to a whole new world, normally closed to you by the fact that everyone your age was trapped in school during daylight hours. Sure it was just a lot of “The Price is Right” and “Donahue” and “Days of Our Lives.” But it’s important to remember that TV was there for you in your time of need, comforting you with its soothing, lightweight entertainment. And now, in one of our greatest times of need, TV is here again.
Thanks to COVID-19, the government is asking us to stay home from our jobs, maintain proper “social distance” and avoid large gatherings. This leaves us with a lot of time on our hands and a lot of hours staring at the familiar walls of our homes. Once you’ve sanitized the bathroom and alphabetized your hoarded disaster supplies, what is there left to do? Watch a hell of a lot of TV, of course.
The entertainment industry has already responded to our plight, delivering goods like a USAID airdrop on a war-torn nation. For example, Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker was scheduled to hit streaming platforms on March 19. But Disney and Lucasfilm, the companies behind the hit movie, rushed it to digital early on Friday, March 13. This gave people stuck at home the opportunity to check it out over the long first weekend of our self-isolation.
Also, just as the Disney studio was shuttering production, the company’s streaming service Disney+ announced a gift to subscribers: The hit animated musical Frozen II—still showing in a little over 150 movie theaters—would be available starting Sunday, March 15. The early release was intended to provide families “some fun and joy during this challenging period.”
Virtually all professional sports have been canceled or had their seasons postponed. PBS, sensing people might be jonesing for some athletic action, announced plans to rerelease Ken Burns’ classic documentary series “Baseball” for free. “We’ve been through hugely difficult times before and we’ve come through because we helped one another,” said Burns in a statement. “And we’ve learned that the best way to triumph over hardship is to come together as a country. As many of us hunker down in the days ahead, it’s important that we find things that bring us together and show us our common humanity.” Burns’ 1994 series—all nine episodes—is now available for viewing on PBS.org and all PBS streaming platforms.
Looking for something even more cultural? The Metropolitan Opera in New York is offering “Nightly Met Opera Streams,” free HD presentations of award-winning opera telecasts. That launched on Monday, March 16 with a performance of Bizet’s Carmen. All Met Opera streams begin at 7:30pm EDT and are then available on the metopera.org homepage for 20 hours.
Of course, if you don’t currently have access to a streaming service, keep in mind that most offer free trial periods—many lasting long enough to wait out our current confinement. Amazon Prime Video, Hulu Basic and Netflix all offer free 30-day trials. Horror streaming service Shudder, in direct response to the pandemic, just upped its seven-day free trial to a whopping 30. Criteron (the specialist in foreign film) and Crunchyroll (home to countless anime series) both have free 14-day trials. CBS All Access, HBO Now, Showtime, Starz, DC Universe, BET Plus and British TV hub Acorn all offer free seven-day trials. Apple TV Plus has seven days free (or one year free if you buy a new Apple device). Disney+ is free for seven days (12 months if you are a new Verizon Fios customer). Now’s the perfect time to sign up for all of them and binge watch the good stuff! ... Also, sanitize your remote control.