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.
Always Be Streaming - 18 December 2020
Your weekly guide to the new and returning shows ready to stream... right... now...
Aside from the second season finale of The Mandalorian, there’s two big titles in release this week. The most immediately recognisable is the new CBS All Access adaptation of Stephen King’s The Stand.
I’m keen to check out The Stand, but there’s some two major red flags surrounding the release of it:
Why were critics under embargo to hold off on publishing reviews? Reviews were given the green-light just a few days before the show debuted. Never a positive sign. Variety called the show “uneven”.
Why did CBS All Access release the costly, well-known IP on the streaming service just a matter of 2-3 months before it is rebooted as Paramount+? If this was any good, they’d be using it as an enticing launch title.
As far as I’m aware, The Stand is only available this week in the US on CBS All Access.
By default, this positions Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as the Must Watch event of this week. A filmed adaptation of an August Wilson play, it stars Chadwick Boseman in his final filmed performance. Also starring is the ever-good Viola Davis.
It is on Netflix, so everyone can give this one a look.
Currently it’s standing at 99% on Rotten Tomatoes. Critics are uniformly positive, but many had the same criticism of the film: it’s too rooted in the stage. Here’s Indiewire’s Eric Kohn:
Outside of a clever introductory passage that brings old photographs to life, the movie rarely ventures beyond its “filmed play” conceit, and some of the loudest monologues can sound awfully strained when the voices aren’t echoing off the walls in a packed house.
Pennyworth (s2), The Expanse (s5), Home For Christmas (s2), Hilda (s2), Song Exploder (s2)
Stars: Chadwick Boseman, Viola Davis, Colman Domingo Chicago, 1927. A recording session. Tensions rise between Ma Rainey, her ambitious horn player and the white management determined to control the uncontrollable "Mother of the Blues". Based on Pulitzer Prize winner August Wilson's play.
Stars: Shaun Benson, Brennan Clost, Barton Cowperthwaite Follows the world of an elite ballet academy, and charts the rise and fall of young adults who live far from their homes, each standing on the verge of greatness or ruin.
Stars: David Spade The Netflix Afterparty is a first-of-its-kind weekly comedy panel show where comedians, casts, and creators come to chat about the streaming giant's buzziest shows and films. Each episode will be dedicated to one of the latest Netflix movies or TV shows to hit the cultural zeitgeist, with the stars of that title participating in interviews, pop culture discussions, sketches and segments. Each week, the co-hosts will be joined by a different Netflix comedian to round out the panel.