Remember when MTV first came out and suddenly cable TV didn’t seem so trivial? Well, a similar scenario is unfolding on the Web right now, with Warner Bros. finally unveiling its much-anticipated Entertaindom (www.entertaindom.com), which combines movie-music-TV news with a stable of online-only shows that take Net entertainment way beyond gaming, chats, and MP3s. No waiting for broadband: This site delivers the goods using existing technologies (like animation plug-in Shockwave Flash), fatter pipelines (though it works with everything from 28.8 to T1), and the company’s unique mix of brands new and old (this is the only place you’ll find streaming Looney Tunes).
Full-disclosure time: Warner Bros. is, of course, owned by Time Warner, the parent company of Entertainment Weekly, and content from this magazine and its website is all over Entertaindom’s news sections. That said, the site’s original programming still marks a bold (and possibly premature) move into uncharted territory. With 10 ”channels” (a.k.a. Feature Attractions), Entertaindom is a breeding ground not just for Web content but potentially for TV and film, too. Here’s a look at which shows could become South Park and which will likely just go south.
The God & Devil Show Entertaindom’s most impressive program is easily this weekly animated talk show in which our immortal hosts interview celebs — dead or alive — and have viewers decide their fate (heaven or hell). The show’s first guest: Rolling Stone Keith Richards, responding to such questions from God as ”Why are you still alive?” (Answer: ”Maybe it’s a bloody miracle.”) God only knows what questions lie in store for upcoming guests Mahatma Gandhi and John Wayne. A
Pulse Comix The animated Dr. Science stares out at viewers and answers brief, quasi-academic questions with amusingly misguided answers. (Sample: Why don’t we see baby pigeons? Because pigeons are really the bastard offspring of parakeets and rats and seclude themselves out of shame.) The jokes are hit-or-miss, the concept is bound to get tired, and viewing the show requires downloading a free Pulse Player — too much set-up for too little payoff. B
Entertaindom hosts streaming versions of music videos, film clips and trailers, and of course, old cartoons. But it’s easy to lose track of what’s where, since several channels host video clips—and each has a distinct update schedule. Specifically, Cartoon Cinema’s Looney Tunes are updated Mondays to Saturdays, short films on the Cine Minis channel on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and JukeBox’s videos from the likes of Perry Farrell and Busta Rhymes on Mondays. Luckily, all can be watched via both Windows Media and RealPlayer viewers. B
Superman Somewhere between original programming and repurposed existing brands are Entertaindom’s Webisodes, including this dynamic 3-D version of the deathless superhero. Alas, you’ll have to download yet another plug-in — a Digital Projector Player — but the results are worth it: Characters are videogamelike in appearance and action, camera angles are dramatic, and users control not only playback (with rewind and fast-forward) but also effects like ”Disco Lights” that distort action in real time. A-