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.
Falcon & The Winter Soldier
ALSO: Game of Thrones readies more spin-offs. AND: Aussie TV concerns.
Over the weekend I found myself genuinely blown away by the first episode of The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. The Marvel movies generally have been a mixed bag and even the best of them don’t translate amazingly well to the small screen - they’re made to be big screen spectacle. As made-for-television properties, however, these Marvel series are really able to soar. They’re given room to experiment and breathe in a way that the movies simply cannot.
WandaVision was an interesting project at first - embracing the form and history of television as part of the series’ narrative provided a unique entry point to the series, even if the promise of that made for a far more interesting show than WandaVision ultimately became.
The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, is something else entirely again. This is not ambitious in an artistic way. But it is doing something unique: it is a big, dumb, Hollywood movie stretched out over six hours - serialised for television. And to my surprise, it works really well. Or at least, so far it has the promise that it will. We’ve only seen one episode.
What the episode gave us was one elaborate set piece (a fun sky battle with Falcon taking on plane hijackers), followed by 30-ish minutes of what was almost entirely character development. What would Lethal Weapon or Bad Boys be like if they take time to let the characters breathe and interact more with the world as regular people? That genre of movie generally gave us 1-2 scenes with the characters sitting on a boat in a driveway for a quiet moment of character work before plot concerns became a priority. Here, we’re getting more of a chance to live in the world of a mismatched buddy comedy action film.
Did you watch it? Did you enjoy it as much as I did? Leave comments below.
HBO readies more Game of Thrones spin-offs
HBO is taking is time launching new Game of Thrones spin-offs, but that might be a good thing - give people a bit of time to miss the property before you inundate them with franchise extenders.
Just a few mins after I hit publish on the last ABW newsletter of the week, reports came of three new spin-offs in development: 9 Voyages aka Sea Snake, Flea Bottom, and 10,000 Ships. This joins House of The Dragon, which is about to start filming, Dunk & Egg, and a rumoured animated series.
Joshua Rivera at Polygon has a look at the Marvel-isation of the world of Westeros:
It’s worth noting that all the projects publicly known about — whether they’re canned, in development, or on the way — are prequels. On one level, this makes sense; that’s where all the unadapted material about Westeros lies. But it’s hard to build momentum with prequels. Anticipation is what fuels Marvel’s successes and papers over its weaknesses. And outside of that, a strong sense of identity and the developing stories of familiar characters keep fans invested. If none of those things are on the table, what’s left to make a good Game of Thrones show?
A list of six under-the-radar shows streaming. Read: Polygon
Replay - the novel that started time-loop storytelling. Read: Quillette
Among AMC’s digital shorts announced is Slippin’ Jimmy, an animated spin-off from Better Call Saul. Read: Variety
Tenet will debut on HBO Max on May 1. That’s HBO Max, the streaming service Tenet director Christopher Nolan termed “the worst streaming service.“ FYI, I really quite liked Tenet. And I also think HBO Max is a really good service. Read: The Verge
Oh, and speaking of Tenet, apparently it is possible to watch the movie on Game Boy Advance, as Christopher Nolan had no doubt intended for it to be seen…
Aussie! Aussie! Aussie!
There’s a bunch of big stories impacting Australian TV that I think are important to pay attention to:
The anti-siphoning list, which protects major sports from being placed behind pay walls was set to expire on April 1. That expiry date has now been pushed back two years. Read: SMH
With broadcaster Nine signing a new contract with WIN to provide access to regional areas, it’ll broadcast its multi-channel services 9Go, 9GEM, and 9Life. This means there isn’t enough spectrum to keep broadcasting Murdoch’s right wing opinion-news outlet Sky News, thereby saving democracy. Read: The Guardian
Fetch TV is fighting to keep CNN International ahead of an exclusivity deal which would have Foxtel as the sole-CNN broadcaster in Australia from April 22. Fetch is calling the move anti-competitive. Read: SMH
Sony unveil PSVR2 controllers
Details about Sony’s upcoming PSVR2 virtual reality gaming add-on for the Playstation 5 are starting to emerge. Among them is a photo of the very cool controllers that will replace the current dorky Move controllers.
Sophie Gilbert from The Atlantic criticises the new HBO documentary Q: Into The Storm, suggesting that it doesn’t take its duty of reporting seriously enough:
Which is maybe why Into the Storm feels interactive rather than analytical. It’s less a measured interrogation of a phenomenon that has upended contemporary politics, devastated countless families, and helped provoke a fatal attack on the U.S. Capitol than a jaunty promenade down gonzo lines of inquiry. Hoback’s mission is to determine who’s behind “Q,” the figure who spawned an improbably influential conspiracy theory via an anything-goes website otherwise infamous for hosting white-supremacist memes and diaper porn. After six hours, you might wonder, Does it matter? The project could have worked to counter or explore the damage QAnon has done to the wobbling facade of American democracy, but instead it’s a rollicking game that could arguably make things worse.
Yet another release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League is on the way
Last week fans finally got to watch Zack Snyder’s Justice League, with the film restored to how Snyder envisioned the film. Soon fans can watch the other way that Zack Snyder envisioned his Justice League movie: in black and white.
The film will be re-released for a third time as: Justice is Gray.
What’s next? Tomorrow.
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