Watching YouTube on TV

Our Nintendo Wii has had a YouTube app available for it for a while now. We installed it when it first came out and it was dreadful enough that we never used it: videos took forever to buffer, the UI was weak, and there was no integration with other ways in which we interact with YouTube.

Slowly but surely the app has improved: it’s not up to Netflix-level “play as soon as I click play” yet, but it’s much better, and once videos start playing they rarely re-buffer. The UI is much improved, and it’s now possible to pair the Wii app with a portable device like an iPhone or iPad so that you can use the device as a sort of “visual remote” for what’s showing on TV.

The end result of all this is that we’re starting to “watch YouTube” almost as much as we watch Netflix and are uncovering some great stuff in the process. Here’s a sampling of things we’ve enjoyed recently:

  • Pogey Beach — the “show within a show” of Jeremy Larter’s Just Passing Through (also worth watching; also on YouTube). Thanks to brother Johnny for the pointer.
  • Make Me a German — a British family relocates to Nuremberg for a month to try to simulate life as a “typical German family.” An interesting look into some of the minutiae of everyday life in Germany.
  • Jack Conte at XOXO — Conte is one half of Pomplamoose and founder of Patreon and his talk at the XOXO conference is an interesting “behind the scenes” look at both.
  • Engineering Connections on Burj Al Arab — It’s not quite Connections in the James Burke mold, but it’s still interesting. Hosted by Richard Hammond (Top Gear), each episode takes a modern engineering marvel and traces back bits of tech to their engineering origins.
  • The Secret Life of the National Grid — perhaps only truly interesting to electricity grid geeks like me.
  • Frosty the SnowmanOliver’s stop-motion animation project. On TV!
  • Around the World in 20 Years — Michael Palin revisits his “Around the World in 80 Days” project from 20 years ago, and tracks down the crew of the dhow that took him from Dubai to India.
  • Amazon’s Truth Behind the Click — a BBC Panorama documentary that sends an undercover worked into an warehouse and reveals a lot about how Amazon runs its business at that level.
  • Mechanical Marvels — a BBC documentary about automatons; there’s some amazing old tech covered.
  • Tonight You Belong to Me — One cannot live on serious BBC documentaries along: this is a silly little video of a father and daughter singing a duet; it brings joy to my heart.
  • Dogs Teaching Chemistry — I learned about ions, and so can you.
  • WKRP, Venus Explains the Atom — Everything I know about protons, electrons and neutrons I learned from Gordon Simms.
  • CBC Land and Sea on Charlottetown Farmer’s Market — I loved this documentary so much that when I aired on the CBC I screen grabbed it and posted it on YouTube where 550 people have watched it. If you love the Market, this is a good look back.

If you’re casting about on YouTube looking for something to watch, a keyword search for “BBC documentary” will almost never steer you wrong.


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