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Dan Barrett is an industry commentator & TV critic. He does radio - 4BC & ABC GC and co-hosts the Screen Watching podcast. He's a former Mediaweek deputy editor and content creator for SBS.
A HUGE weekend for TV (and its future): Veronica Mars, Marvel, and The Orville
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who loves comics, but shaves his neck-beard.
It was a big weekend for announcements with the San Diego Comic Con taking place over the past few days. In the last decade, film & TV marketers have used the convention as the launching pad for trailers and announcements - when you have a room packed full of fanboys, you will never receive a reaction that isn’t thunderous applause.
First of all, there were the trailers:
Watchmen This is the trailer that had me the most excited. I quite like the comic it was originally based on. The feature film adaptation was… fine. I guess. But what really has me interested here is series creator Damon Lindelof who returns to TV with this, his third series. It just happens that his first two series Lost and The Leftovers are top 10 shows as far as I’m concerned (If you’re one of the many who let The Leftovers get past you, swing back and take a look at it).
The challenge for HBO with this show: Getting the word out that audiences don’t need to have read the comic or seen/remember the movie to watch this.
Star Trek: Picard This was the trailer that won the weekend, turning general fan enthusiasm to rabid enthusiasm following two carefully revealed co-stars in the show: Brent Spiner returning as Data, but more surprisingly Jeri Ryan as Seven of Nine. Both are characters that have had robotics play a role in their lives, so it’d be interesting to see what the show does (if anything) to lean into that - it’s a particularly prescient issue right now with the rise of sophisticated robotics and AI. The show may be more timely than we initially considered.
Harley Quinn The trailer makes PHENOMENAL use of a beloved classic TV show theme revised for 2019.
The Walking Dead movie The first of a series of planned Walking Dead movies that will feature the return of Andrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes. AMC announced that the films would be released to cinemas.
And then some announcements:
DC Universe announced the return of Titans, Doom Patrol, and Young Justice for new seasons. Interestingly, Doom Patrol was announced as also being available on HBO Max. Not surprisingly as it is the only show so far on DC Universe that has gotten much traction - it seems like one of the few shows that might break free of the nerd/genre audience and cross-over to a bigger potential viewership. Source: AV Club
Veronica Mars, which was due to be released later this week, was dropped all at once on Hulu on Saturday (and, in turn, in Australia on Stan on Saturday night). I’ve seen the first half of the season so far and it was much better than I expected, but the shows weakest aspects are really on display here. Most notably the black hole presence of Jason Dohring as Logan. He’s an energy vampire, that guy. Review: NYT
The Orville is moving from the TV network Fox to Hulu. Creator and star Seth MacFarlane issued a statement about not being able to deliver episodes in time to make Fox’s mid-season premiere date. Which is feasible, but it seems odd to me that Fox, which is not owned by Disney, would be happy to see one of its titles be stolen by Disney-owned competitor Hulu. There’s more to this story (which likely involves some sort of back-room sweetheart deal). Source: Variety
But mostly it was all about Marvel
The story of this years San Diego Comic Con, as far as I’m concerned, is about TV taking its first significant step towards fully embracing the bleed that now exists between TV and film. There’s the previously mentioned Walking Dead spin-off going to cinemas.
But consider the future of Marvel and Disney+. The movies and shows are both being made by the same creative teams out of the same studio now. Stories will feed back and forth between TV and films, with both now streaming from the one place. This means that for fans, not only will there be the expectation of watching 2-3 Marvel films each year in the cinema, but there’ll be just as many multi-chapter TV series that needs to be watched to take part in the full Marvel experience.
The one to watch is WandaVision, which will likely have very strong connective tissue between the show and the Doctor Strange movie. I’d expect this as a test to see just how interwoven Marvel can get away with its content being.
This is the Marvel product coming out in 2020/21. Disney+ TV shows are in bold.
Black Widow – May 1, 2020
The Falcon and the Winter Soldier (Disney+) – Fall 2020
The Eternals – November 6, 2020
Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – February 12, 2021
WandaVision (Disney+) – Spring 2021
Loki (Disney+) – Spring 2021
Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness – May 7, 2021
What If…? (Disney+) – Summer 2021
Hawkeye (Disney+) – Fall 2021
Thor: Love and Thunder – November 5, 2021
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