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.
ET is back... on TV. ALSO: Cheap Hulu. AND: Duel of The Fates returns.
Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett with a tear in his eye.
What an amazing surprise to kick off the day - ET is back with what has been termed a ‘short film’ times for the US Thanksgiving holiday. It runs for four minutes and reunites ET with Elliot (played by a grown-up Henry Thomas), who introduces ET to his family.
What it actually is, is a commercial for internet service Xfinity. But, it’s done in a fairly unobtrusive way. This damn commercial hit me right in the feels.
Last year for the Black Friday sales, US streamer Hulu offered subscribers a deal to subscribe for a year at $0.99 a month. They’re bringing back the deal this weekend, but have hiked the cost up to $1.99. Still an amazing bargain - you’ve got until the end of the weekend to sign up before it reverts back to its regular price.
Michelle See-Tho at Kill Your Darlings has a look back at the DVD commentary. I actually miss the DVD commentary. Most DVD commentaries were considered obligations by directors, cast, and other production team members, but the commentaries delivered by people who actually gave a damn were always really insightful about the production process. With physical media not really a thing in the way it once was, the commentary has vanished. It’d be great if these were added as alternate audio tracks on streaming services. They’re generally wanting to increase the number of minutes viewers are watching - why not double dip on content that costs a considerable amount and ensure movies and shows are watched a second time by providing commentaries?
As for whether commentary will make an appearance on our streaming services, that remains to be seen. Netflix’s attempt to recreate this experience is a podcast series called Watching With…, the very title of which harks back to the companionship of watching film commentary. It features tracks for three of its original films. However, these don’t live on the Netflix platform itself – the viewer is required to time their podcast to the film. It’s more work for us (something that the entire streaming market tends to avoid).
For the most part, special features are a relic of the DVD era. Commentaries give audiences the chance to see films through the director’s eyes, but without viewer demand they have dwindled. The spread of streaming services has meant that the entire model of film consumption has changed – from purchasing and owning a film, thereby unlocking all of its additional goodies, to simply watching it once then forgetting about it.
In yesterday’s newsletter I published a story about weekend magazine-style shows being cancelled around the country.
Journo Stuart Layt has a QLD-focused take on the news - commenting on the job losses in Brisbane and the reduction in opportunities to get into TV.
Richard Fabb from Griffith’s film school:
"At Griffith we’ve seen an increase in the last few years of students wanting to work in television, in a time where you might think young people don’t care about television," he said.
"Queensland’s screen industry, if it wants to remain healthy, needs a strong TV sector, so it is sad to see these shows go."
The free to air TV sector also needs viewers. As audiences diminish, fringe productions like these weekend sponsor-driven productions are going to fall to the wayside.
Academic Jason Sternberg from QUT (and also one of my former lecturers) was more pragmatic:
"To be really honest, I saw that these shows were still on a few months ago and wondered how they’d managed to last that long in the current media landscape,"
"Queensland historically has been quite a parochial market," he said. "I don’t know the exact ratings for these shows – I imagine they wouldn’t be enormous – but they were obviously good enough to last for a while.
"So it is sad for Seven to lose that little block of programming because, apart from some locally produced news, it is the last of its kind."
I ordinarily wouldn’t share a TV ad like this promoting a movie, but a new TV spot for Star Wars: Rise of Skywalker has debuted with the Star Wars music “Duel of The Fates” playing behind the dialogue. On a slow news day, like today, why not take the opportunity to be reminded of the second most-iconic musical track from the Star Wars films.
Yub nub is a very close third.
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.