A daily newsletter guide to what is happening on your screens - TV, streaming, movies, games, VR, AR
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 Little House on The Prairie returns
ALSO: LA Law also set to return. AND: Mando thoughts.
Today’s Always Be Watching newsletter is coming to you from the temporary home office of Brisbane, Australia.
On Friday night Disney+ released the season finale of The Mandalorian. I’ll avoid talking about what happened at the end of the show exactly (it was cool - but I think we can all agree that the technology isn’t quite there for that thing they tried to pull off).
What is worth talking about is the sequence that aired after the closing credits. It revealed what seems to be an entirely new, previously unannounced TV show. A couple of thoughts on that:
In this day and age of advance marketing, it is impressive that this show has managed to completely surprise its audience on several occasions now. Even more impressive is that this new show was announced just a week after Disney announced what it said would be all 15 Star Wars projects currently in the works.
Is The Mandalorian finished? It would make sense for that character to now just be part of the cast of the announced Rangers of The New Republic show. But it would be disappointing to have seen the final episode of the show without knowing. Regardless, it does seem that the story of the show has concluded.
I’d be happy to say goodbye to the little green guy. That puppet was starting to look and feel increasingly more ridiculous the more it factored into action scenes away from his space pram.
LA Law is back on the docket
Sometimes a show idea is just so unique that it lingers in the culture for decades to follow, just begging to be revived.
But then there’s also LA Law.
The US ABC network is developing an LA Law revival that will bring back original series star Blair Underwood.
In this new take on “L.A. Law,” McKenzie, Brackman, Chaney and Kuzak, the West Coast-based law firm at the heart of the original, is reinventing itself as a litigation firm specializing only in high profile, boundary pushing and incendiary cases. Sources say that Underwood’s character has changed from an idealistic figure to a more conservative one in the intervening years since the original. The sequel will see him clash with a millennial character named J.J. Freeman over the best path forward for the firm in effecting political and legal change.
A Little House on The Prairie is coming back - dark and gritty reboot?
The original version of A Little House on The Prairie is in development from Anonymous content and Paramount Television Studios.
Frankly, I’m surprised this hasn’t happened sooner. Unlike the aforementioned LA Law, this is unique IP and has long lingered in the memories of viewers. I feel that we’re on the cusp of viewers actively seeking television that is less demanding and just generally a lot more friendly.
Wonder Woman will debut on PVOD (premium video on demand) in the UK after an initial four-week cinema run. It launched in cinemas on 16 Dec, but only one quarter of cinemas are open. Source: Deadline
The Flight Attendant will be back for a second season. Source: Dark Horizons
Netflix’s Virgin River has been renewed for a third season. Source: Variety
If you’re keen on reading Charlie Kaufman’s script to I’m Thinking of Ending Things, it is available HERE. Source: Variety
I never know where to start with anime. Polygon has a good primer with its list of 2020’s best anime series. Read: Polygon
For US$180 you can sign up to the video platform that offers voice training lessons from Bart Simpson herself Nancy Cartwright. Read: Variety
A Sun gets some heat
Have you seen Mandarin-language film A Sun, currently streaming on Netflix? If the answer is no, you’re not alone. It’s a film that got past a lot of critics too. But there’s been an end-of-year push to raise awareness of the film that some are seeing as Oscar-worthy. Read: Indiewire
“A Sun” now has its place, but this is more than a single film slipping through the cracks. Theatrical distribution used to be the all-powerful curatorial tool, but it’s now mired in existential crisis as we edge toward a streaming-first world. That leaves everyone — critics as well as the audience — faced with the tyranny of thumbnails: Hundreds of thousands of key-art rectangles representing choices that stretch into infinity. Who’s got the marketing moxie to cope with that?
In a healthier world, Netflix has theaters in New York and Los Angeles where it could showcase awards-favorite titles. Even so, this one might not clear the mark; it’s an acquisition, not an original, and it’s Taiwan’s submission for the 2021 International Oscar competition.
Always be watching, Barack Obama
These days the value of an end of year best-of list isn’t to marvel at critics amazing taste. But rather to highlight shows or movies you may have missed that are worth checking out. One of my favorite list writers is Barack Obama who publishes an annual list of his favorite movies, TV, and music.
Here’s 2020’s solid list:
He may not be President anymore, but it does seem that he gets early access to a lot of films. I wish I had Obama’s level of screener access.
Super Nintendo World
The other week we saw some short snippets of video from a press event at the new Super Nintendo World theme park in Japan. Now Nintendo has released much more detailed footage. You can watch it below from the 29:40 mark.
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