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.
Ellen sets an end for her talk show
Ellen isn't exactly going out on top. But she's still huge and heading out on her own terms.
Sorry dance fans, but in news that isn't an entirely huge surprise considering the last year plus of controversy surrounding the show, Ellen DeGeneres has opted to bring her daytime talk show to an end. The show has been running for 19 years and has been one of the most-watched shows in daytime for almost the entirety of that run.
What next? Well, it won't be a sitcom. Maybe a movie. Or maybe she'll just head off and be an exceptionally rich person for a while - hang out with her wife, donate some time/money to charity causes, and yell at the staff.
Watch Barry Jenkin's short film The Gaze
Debuting this weekend is Barry Jenkin's first TV series The Underground Railroad. During production he stopped everything and filmed a short film called The Gaze. It's not considered a part of the series, but it does sit adjacent to the series.
I don’t remember when we began making the piece you see here. Which is not and should not be considered an episode of ‘The Underground Railroad.’ It exists apart from that, outside it. Early in production, there was a moment where I looked across the set and what I saw settled me: our background actors, in working with folks like Ms. Wendy and Mr. and Mrs. King – styled and dressed and made up by Caroline, by Lawrence and Donnie – I looked across the set and realized I was looking at my ancestors, a group of people whose images have been largely lost to the historical record. Without thinking, we paused production on the ‘The Underground Railroad’ and instead harnessed our tools to capture portraits of… them.”
The film runs 52 minutes and you can watch it here:
RIP This Is Us
After six seasons This Is Us is set to wind up on its own terms. The show was always intended to be a six-season show and creator Dan Fogelman has always said he wanted it to run for six seasons. So this isn't a huge surprise. But the conclusion of the series was confirmed, so today it is 'news'.
The season five finale airs in just a few weeks
The Marvel method
There's an interesting article on THR today with some writers expressing some concern that there doesn't seem to be a role for a Showrunner in Marvel TV shows - instead, Marvel is treating it's serialized TV shows like how movies are made: the director is the ultimate author of the finished product.
That's all interesting enough, but what resonated for me is that this isn't entirely dissimilar to the method for writing comics that Stan Lee pioneered back in the day. He'd come up with stories and plot them out, but they weren't full-script. Rather, in what came to be known as The Marvel Method, the scripts would leave a lot of the dialogue and action entirely up to the artists. It was done to keep the books more visually exciting as the artist was fully in control of the readers experience.
(Also, Stan used to write a bunch of books each month, so less-detailed scripts made it much easier to keep up with the output).
Is it time to ditch award shows entirely?
With the implosion of the Golden Globes and ratings declining across the board, The Washington Post'sAlyssa Rosenberg asks whether it's time to stop broadcasting these shows:
For a long time now, these organizations have been able to sustain the self-delusion that their awards dinners are really for the fans. This year, that fantasy finally proved untenable.
Remember a year or so ago when there was a big deal about The Venture Bros coming to an end due to what were seemingly business reasons? Well, it lives on. It'll return as a feature film along with films for other Adult Swim cartoons Metalocalypse and Aqua Teen Hunger Force.
All three films are to be made by HBO Max. They'll be available to buy on disc and digitally, but 90 days later the films will move to HBO Max.
Apple TV+ is believed to have passed 40 million subscribers. Something I don't get is that industry reports always focus on the many free subscriptions Apple gives away to its customers - isn't that a big part of the business model? Using a new subscription as a lure to upgrade devices? How is it different from Amazon Prime Video? Read: The Streamable
ABC iView is making logins mandatory to use the free Aussie pubcaster streamer. There are complaints, obviously. Technologically, a login delivers a better user experience. Anyone concerned should maybe just think about setting up a second email account to handle commercial logins. Read: TV Tonight
Movies at the movies?
Something strange is happening at the cinema this weekend - there are two biggish releases debuting. There's the latest installment in the hugely successful Saw franchise - Spiral, this time with Chris Rock in the lead role. And then there's the new Angelina Jolie action(-ish) film Those Who Wish Me Dead.
I've seen both - expect reviews on this week's Screen Watching podcast. The big question is whether either will be able to pass the $10 million box office mark in the US as the cinema exhibition industry crawls to recovery. I kinda think Spiral might defy expectations and draw viewers out. Even if Those Who Wish Me Dead is a much better film. Box office for that may be hampered somewhat in the US by a day and date release on HBO Max.
Also opening in the US for a promotional run is the Zack Snyder Netflix film Army of The Dead. That could possibly eat into the box office for both of the other films. It launches on Netflix next weekend. And no, there doesn't appear to be an Aussie cinema release for the film.
So, really, that's three notable commercial films opening this weekend. Quite the shift from the past year...
Panic debuts May 28 on Amazon Prime Video.
Blindspotting debuts on Starz June 13.
Xtreme debuts on Netflix on June 4.
Trying returns May 21 on Apple TV+.
Wish Dragon debuts on Netflix June 11.
What's next? Tomorrow.
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