Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Classic Movies and Television on Peacock TV

This month, NBCUniversal launched a new streaming service called Peacock TV. It offers two tiers: a limited version that's free and a more robust one that costs $4.99 monthly (though it may be free with your cable service). Both tiers include commercials; it costs $9.99 to go commercial-free. We spent the last two months watching Peacock TV on Comcast Xfinity cable--which equates to the $4.99 monthly tier with commercials. Here's our review!

Let's start with the big question: With all the streaming services available, is Peacock TV a worthwhile investment for the classic film and TV fan? The answer is "maybe." 

Peter Falk as Lieutenant Columbo.
If you're hoping for a plethora of classic TV shows, you'll be disappointed. Most of the television series are either new ones developed for Peacock or recent shows that aired on NBC or the USA network. The most notable exceptions are ColumboAlfred Hitchcock PresentsThe Alfred Hitchcock Hour, The Rockford Files, The Munsters, and Murder, She Wrote. Granted, you can currently watch some of these for free (e.g., The Alfred Hitchcock Hour on MeTV), but Peacock lets you binge the shows at your own speed. My wife and I recently finished season one of AHP (which I reviewed here earlier).

Peacock TV offers "hundreds of movies," which is substantially fewer than the big streaming services like Amazon Prime and Netflix. Yet, while its quantity is limited, its quality is pretty impressive in terms of classic movies. There are a lot of Hitchcock films, including Saboteur, Shadow of a DoubtRope, Rear Window, and every film he made from The Trouble With Harry (1955) to Family Plot (1976). 

If you're a fan of Universal's classic horror movies, then you'll love exploring Peacock's collection of Frankenstein, Dracula, Mummy, and Invisible Man movies. Even the Abbott and Costello comedies featuring the Universal monsters are included (though I was disappointed that Abbott and Costello Meet the Killer was missing). 

Sophia Loren in Arabesque.
There are a few notable pre-1950s films, such as Beau Geste (Gary Cooper), Shanghai Express, Death Takes a Holiday (Fredric March), Horse Feathers, The Lady Eve, and Double Indemnity. However, Peacock fares better with an impressive sample of movies from the 1950s through the 1970s. There are Hitchcock imitations (Charade, Arabesque, Midnight Lace), Doris Day comedies (The Thrill of It All, Pillow Talk, Lover Come Back), Westerns (Bend of the River, The Far Country), science fiction (It Came From Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man), Douglas Sirk soaps (All That Heaven Allows, Imitation of Life), and thrillers (The Day of the Jackal).

The movies I watched included about three minutes of commercials upfront and then were shown without any interruptions. The TV shows, though, seem to have one to three commercials, though the breaks are usually pretty brief. 

It remains to be seen how often Peacock plans to freshen its classic film and TV content. If the movies and shows change on a regular basis, then the Peacock TV $4.99 tier might be a worthwhile investment. Of course, that assumes you don't already own a lot of these classics on DVD and don't want to wait for them to pop up on TCM.

Here's a current sample of classic films (note that these titles are subject to change at any time):

All that Heavens Allows
Beau Geste (1939 and 1966 versions)
A Foreign Affair
Bend of the River
Black Horse Canyon
Blonde Venus
Border River
Bride of Frankenstein 
Cape Fear
The Curse of the Werewolf
The Day of the Jackal
Death Takes a Holiday
Death of a Gunfighter
Destry Rides Again
Double Indemnity
Dracula (1931)
Duck Soup
The Eiger Sanction
The Far Country
For Whom the Bell Tolls
Frankenstein (1931)
Going My Way
The Great Impostor
Horse Feathers
Imitation of Life (both versions)
The Incredible Shrinking Man
It Came From Outer Space
King King (1933)
Lady Godiva
Lady On a Train
Lover Come Back
The Major and the Minor
Man of a Thousand Faces
McHale’s Navy
Midnight Lace
My Favorite Blonde
No Man of Her Own
Pillow Talk
Play Misty for Me
Rear Window
Remember the Night
Road to Morocco (and Utopia and Zanzibar)
Shadow of a Doubt
Shanghai Express
Tammy Tell Me True
Tammy and the Doctor
Texas Across the River
The Sting
Three Smart Girls
The Trouble with Harry


Sue Clark said...

I wish they included the TV series "Ironside", since it was on NBC, but they don't. As far as the movies, I would probably get a DVD at a library and watch it for free.

Silver Screenings said...

A pretty lengthy list of classic films, which is surprising. Good to see.

18 Cinema Lane said...

What a thorough article! I just watched 'Marnie' through Peacock TV, which I will review for the 4th Alfred Hitchcock Blogathon. I'm surprised 'Little House on the Prairie' and 'Highway to Heaven' wouldn't be included on the service, as both shows were well-liked. Then again, maybe they will be included in the future. By the way, I nominated you for the Blogger Recognition Award! Here's the link:

The Metzinger Sisters said...

Thanks for sharing the news about this, Rick. I was trying to hunt down episodes of The Alfred Hitchcock Hour so I think its worth the subscription just to watch that series.