Nk and I have been rewatching X-files since late 2021. It’s a blast. It’s a fun show with relevance today, just as it was in the 1990s. Last week, we reached the end of season 5, which means it was time to watch the first X-files movie.
I wanted to rent the movie through Google TV as I’ve been doing so far, but I learned that unlike the show I couldn’t get the movie from Google TV: I had to use YouTube. I’ve been a YouTube Premium subscriber since I got grandfathered in through Google Music years ago, so the fact that I needed to give YouTube even more money rubbed me the wrong way, but what doesn’t rub anyone the wrong way about Google these days?
With the movie in the X-files in my “movies & TV” in the YouTube app, I casted the movie to my old Samsung TV’s screen, but then I was greeted with a message I’ve never seen before: “Something went wrong,” it read, “This video is unavailable with Restricted Mode enabled. To view this video, you will need to disable Restricted Mode.”
Huh? What restricted mode? I didn’t know anything about a restriction or a mode. The error message had a button with “Settings” on it, as if I could click it with a mouse, but how? My phone was showing the YouTube app with nothing of the sort, and my Samsung TV is about ten years old, with a remote that doesn’t have any “smartness” built in.
My frustration grew when I looked for answers online. Different answers in different places directed me toward different solutions, all in vain. One said to go to my Chromecast’s options and then into a specific tile that wasn’t there. Another said the issue was with my YouTube account, which had a restriction mode but was already set to “off.” Yet another place said to look in my Google account and to make sure I gave Google my very adult birthday. Zilch. I was still blocked from seeing the movie I just paid for.
Even worse, the same happened when NK tried to play one of their videos through their YouTube app, even for a short cute nature documentary starring crabs. We even tried clips from the Muppets. But Google insisted to protect the kids I don’t have from the Muppets.
This weekend, when we tried again, I noticed something odd when we casted YouTube to the TV, but didn’t choose something specific yet to watch. It looked like what the home screen of a YouTube app would look like if I only had a YouTube app, say on Ruko or a Firestick or something similar. But this is a “dumb” ten-year-old TV connected with an old Chromecast, so there couldn’t be any app… right?
There was a menu, complete with settings and an option to sign in - with no one signed in. It seems the Chromecast somehow included some primitive YouTube app. When did this happen, and why? I have no idea. I’m perfectly fine with casting whatever I want to watch directly from my phone, but Google knows what’s best for me and the kids, so it got me a YouTube app that I don’t need on an old TV that doesn’t support it if to judge from how the menus were pushed outside of the frame because my TV’s resolution couldn’t handle it.
OK, so this was some app, but how the hell am I supposed to control it? Only after I gave up and was about to disconnect the phone from the Chromecast did I figure it out. In the option to cast to the TV, there was an option to use my phone as a remote. This option was there before, but I ignored it. Who needs a make-shift-app touch-screen remote on your phone to deal with a menu you don’t know is there on a TV that doesn’t have any apps installed?
Not only did I have to use my phone to painfully navigate the app’s menu which didn’t work appropriately (every menu item opened another pop-up window with instructions that dragged both the screen out of the frame and the focus away from the selection), but I also had to find the “restitched mode option” there, on that app Google created for me, which for some reason was set to “on” by default. I thought that maybe if I could sign into this crappy app with my YouTube account, it would work, but half-baked solutions by Google struck again: The Chromecast did not display a binding QR code as it was supposed to do per the instructions I finally found, because my Chromecast was too old. So… let me get this straight, Google. My Chromecast is too old to work with your YouTube app, so you force it onto it anyway? Yes, yes, I know, the kids, think of the kids. Thanks.
Do you know what works perfectly well? in less than a minute? Connecting my laptop to the TV with an HDMI cable. Primitive, but it’s been working perfectly fine for more than a decade, and I can use a fully-featured media player.
By the way, My Chromecast used to work fine, but now it freezes every time we switch from YouTube to HBO Max or Disney Plus on our phones to stream something else. I know we live in the age of the smart TV, and we stopped buying movies and just rent them, with copyright laws that don’t benefit any of the original creators of the shows anymore, but that’s a different story. The point is that Google’s pushing me to buy a new Chromecast. I expressed my opinion on that with my third finger and looked into getting a Ruko.