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.
Bird Box viewer numbers! Louis CK! Dan's interests in 2019!
ABW is by Dan Barrett who is now a man of the future.
It is now 2019, so I am kicking off the email with the things I am most looking forward to in the year to come.
I’m very keen to see what Damon Lindeloff is going to do with HBO’s Watchmen series.
The final season of Mr Robot (though, admittedly, I still need to watch most of season 3).
The return of Netflix’s Mindhunter.
Secret City season 2 on Foxtel (Netflix outside of Australia).
The launch of Disney+ - this is such a large-scale launch for a streaming service, the likes of which we haven’t seen before. It’s going to be intensely fascinating from a media business perspective, but will also generate a lot of interest from regular viewers.
Similarly the launch of Apple’s TV content will be incredibly interesting - this is a large-scale TV network building without an easily-accessible platform or with any beloved IP - Apple are betting on star power and that doesn’t necessarily drive TV viewership.
The audience response to the final season of Game of Thrones.
A spokesperson for Netflix tells The Verge that the company only counts an account as having watched Bird Box “once a view surpasses 70 percent of the total running time (including credits).” Furthermore, “each ‘account’ may include multiple views and viewers but is only counted once,” the spokesperson added.
Two things to keep in mind with this:
We only have Netflix’s word that this is true -,there’s no third party measurement to work off here.
It’s not as if Netflix is the only company to be the sole source of reported metrics. Entertainment journos take the word of HBO and other ad-free cable networks when they make viewership claims. Is Game of Thrones really as big as HBO claim?
The critics may have loved the BBC adaptation of Les Miserables that debuted over the weekend, but it left audiences asking: “Where are the songs?”
I usually finish off this email with a breezy, often silly article. But, I’m ending today with some thoughts on Louie CK.
Sorry. I wasn’t really going to do it - what more is there that can be said? Well, I do have one thing…
I woke up this morning to find a really smart thread on Twitter by Andy Richter talking about Louie CK. Read the full thread. It starts here. But there were a couple of tweets in this that I wanted to focus on specifically.
This was probably the most resonant part of the thread, only because Richter summed up what sucks about this Louis CK business so much - the comedian used to skate along some very edgy material, but it always had a much greater point to be made that was worth considering. That comedy was never easy.
I’ve seen a lot of people suggest that CK was never funny. Really not true. I suspect that in the coming years, a lot of his comedy will feel dated. But it should - comedy is a response to the world surrounding it.
But here’s where my mind is at this morning…
What are we really achieving with this large scale pile-up on CK? It is no wonder that his material isn’t as smart as it had been - with so much negative attention on him, I don’t see how anyone can have enough clarity of mind to get perspective. (That’s not a defense of his current output - one doesn’t have to take to the stage with ALL of the lousy material one is trying to work through).
My entire Twitter stream is packed with thoughts on CK, all largely condemning him and his material. And I get that… it’s pop culture and something easy enough to form a strong opinion around. But something seems a little bit off about this warranting so much attention.
Last night over dinner on New Years Eve in a crowded Indian restaurant, my friends and I got to talking about some of the big news stories of the last few years before focusing conversation on the Panama Papers leaks and the murder of Jamal Khashoggi. (We also spent a lot of the evening talking about Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse). And it got me thinking as my phone was lighting up with CK hot takes.
Both Khashoggi and the European banking scandal stories received significant attention, but nowhere near the scale of people interested in Louis CK telling off-colour jokes. These were disgusting, horrendous scandals with significant impact on our lives (indirectly, but still with significant ramifications), but I know that *I* barely said a thing about either when they were in the news. And I suspect that you were also probably pretty quiet about both.
So, as I start 2019, I’m planning to make more of an effort to put things into more perspective. Stories like CK shouldn’t be ignored, but I’m also going to make more of an effort to focus on the bigger things.
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.