TV shows migrate from cable, satellite to online

Glenn Close (center) stars in "Damages," which you can watch only on DirecTV.
Glenn Close (center) stars in "Damages," which you can watch only on DirecTV.
Posted: July 18, 2012

YOU CAN'T always get what you want.

One-stop shopping for TV had pretty much gone the way of the three-network universe of baby boomers' childhoods even before the Dish Network's recent falling-out with AMC and Viacom's standoff with DirecTV became the latest obstacles to come between viewers and the shows they pay to see.

Sure, if you're a cable subscriber, you probably haven't yet been prevented from seeing AMC's "Breaking Bad." Or even MTV's "Jersey Shore."

But what about "Damages"?

The fifth and final season of the critically acclaimed series starring Glenn Close as a ruthless lawyer named Patty Hewes returned a week ago and presents its second episode at 9 p.m. Wednesday. But only on DirecTV, which two years ago bought rights to the series that had run for three low-rated seasons on FX before pulling up stakes for more exclusive pastures.

Unlike the deal that saved the final seasons of "Friday Night Lights," in which NBC retained the rights to a second run, the acquisition of "Damages" meant fans really had to have DirecTV — or the patience, perhaps, to wait for the DVD.

I've seen the first two episodes of the new season but missed most of the last one. (DirecTV provides an online link to critics, but I never got around to clicking on it.) What I've seen of Season 5, though, looked good enough that it reminded me to check back in on Season 4. It's out on DVD, but I was happy to find it not just for sale on iTunes and Amazon.com but available for streaming free to Amazon Prime customers (a service I signed up for, honestly, more for the free shipping than the video).

But none of that's going to help, at least for now, if you'd like to see Chloe Sevigny ("Big Love") play a transgendered contract killer trying to raise a family in the British drama "Hit & Miss," another exclusive-to-DirecTV series that's running Wednesdays right after "Damages."

Created by Paul Abbott ("Shameless"), it's not quite like anything on American TV right now, except perhaps the Showtime version of "Shameless," which it somewhat resembles (or would, if Emmy Rossum's Fiona had a secret life as a hit woman and a penis she kept under wraps). Sevigny is terrific in it, and though it's not for everyone, it's also not going to get the chance to be.

You say money's no object (ha!), and you're willing to shell out for both satellite and cable subscriptions so you'll never miss anything?

Then don't forget a subscription to Netflix. Not content with distributing other people's content, it's gotten into the original series business, starting earlier this year with "Lilyhammer," a Norwegian dramedy starring Steve Van Zandt ("The Sopranos") as a mobster in witness protection in Lillehammer, Norway.

Reportedly in the Netflix pipeline for 2013: the long-awaited return of "Arrested Development," the drama "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black," a women-in-prison comedy from "Weeds" creator Jenji Kohan.

Hulu's making TV, too. So is Yahoo! On Tuesday it released the first 10 four- to seven-minute episodes of the Tom Hanks-created "Electric City," an animated sci-fi series whose voice actors include Hanks, Holland Taylor ("Two and a Half Men") and Sevigny's "Big Love" sister wives, Jeanne Tripplehorn and Ginnifer Goodwin.

And just mentioning these projects will trigger an avalanche of email from other Web producers, complaining I left out their shows.

Maybe, with enough money and organization, you can track all this stuff down and bring it to a screen near you.

But how will you ever find the time to watch it?

Contact Ellen Gray at 215-854-5950 or graye@phillynews.com or follow on Twitter @elgray. Read her blog at EllenGray.tv.

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