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.
First look at Picard! Also: All In The Family & The Jeffersons revivals were good!?!?!
Always Be Watching is curated by a tech-plagued Dan Barrett
The big story for today: There is now a trailer for the new CBS All Access show Picard.
Yesterday the US ABC network aired two live restaging of classic sitcom episodes. Through Jimmy Kimmel’s production deal with the network, viewers were treated to episodes of The Jeffersons and All In The Family. Original series producer Norman Lear, now 96, introduced both.
And today the reviews are in and it seems like people enjoyed it.
The experiment worked. With meticulous attention to set detail and wig shapes, ABC’s live staging of “Henry’s Farewell” (“All in the Family”) and “A Friend in Need” (“The Jeffersons”) managed to feel both like an artifact of a nostalgic past and the urgent present. Performing the episodes word for word meant that, for instance, Archie (Harrelson) retained his notoriously ugly streaks of sexism and racism. (It also meant that ABC, adhering to 2019 broadcast network standards, deployed startling, lengthy bleeps to blot out “Jeffersons” characters using the n-word.)
Live in Front of a Studio Audience was a different kind of experiment, and a worthy one to try. I wouldn’t have wanted to see the setting updated to the present, even if the fans in the bleachers didn’t get references to people like segregationist Georgia governor Lester Maddox. Nor did anyone need to rewrite the scripts from scratch. But it would have been nice if Harrelson, Foxx and some of the others had played their parts like they’d never seen the old shows. These are great actors! Seeing Woody Harrelson play Carroll O’Connor playing Archie Bunker was cute. Seeing his own direct take on Archie could have been a revelatory experience.
With just one season, US ABC drama Whiskey Cavalier was cancelled. But… maybe not. Word has it that ABC is taking another look at the series with a view to renewing it for a second season. Stay tuned Whiskey Cavalier fan.
I was stoked by this report that Sky News host David Speers is set to take over as host of ABC Australia’s Sunday morning political panel show Insiders when current host Barrie Cassidy steps down. It’s a huge hit to Sky News, which has long had Speers as the face of its responsible news reporting (as opposed to its Fox News-esque after dark shows). I’m now interested to see how ABC will use Speers across the network.
And that’s all from me this morning. Tech problems ate up most of my Always Be Watching time today. The Always Be Watching podcast will drop later in the day. And expect some TV suggestions in your email inbox this time tomorrow.
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