Hell or High Water, a low-profile film that became a critical darling after its 2016 release is being turned into a TV series. But there's an unexpected twist on this one. Hear that headline and you may immediately think that the film's writer Taylor Sheridan is bringing this to Paramount+ under his exclusive deal with them.
But no - this is Fox being canny by recognising that maybe audiences are after Sheridan's brand of middle American rustbelt drama and finding a way to bring it to the screen. With the success of Sheridan's Yellowstone, it seems that US networks are waking up to the idea that there are audiences between the coasts that are under-served by most TV dramas.
A Hell or High Water TV show - that's smart. The revised concept for the series: Not so much.
In the series version, when a ruthless oil tycoon attempts to plunder a West Texas ranching community, two local brothers dodge a zealous Texas Ranger and fight to keep what’s theirs, one bank robbery at a time, come hell or high water.
The original film worked because it was about brothers robbing banks to pay for their mortgage. That was relatable and a highly zeitgeist-y idea. The series sounds like The Dukes of Hazard by way of Taylor Sheridan.
Hopefully the execution of the show plays out better than it sounds. Writer Jessica Mecklenburg, who is coming off Hulu/Star series Dopesick, is on board to write this.
If you haven't seen the movie Hell or High Water, you should do that: it's a really good, earthy, crime caper film.
Perception vs the bloody reality
Jump on Twitter and you'll have learned in recent months that HBO's Succession is the biggest TV show in the world and that the biggest show right now is Showtime's Yellowjackets. After all, if there is so much conversation about each, they must be huge.
Meanwhile Yellowstone garners almost no attention on Twitter, despite being the biggest show on US subscription TV, and Dexter: New Blood is the most watched series in Showtime history. On average, 8 million weekly viewers tuned in to watch the Dexter revival show.
Does this negate the value of Twitter and social media more broadly? Heavens no. But it is always worth keeping in mind that social conversation doesn't reflect real world action or beliefs. Think of social more as an enthusiasm index.
Turn on your TV and you may see the occasional person wearing a mask. But for all intents and purposes, the pandemic is either a thing of the past or may simply never have happened at all.
It may surprise you to know that these dramatised stories, these fictions and fantasies aren't as interested in depicting the WFH life as you may have expected.
There's nothing new here, but James Poniewozik has a piece for the New York Times that offers a nice summary of where TV is at in terms of dealing with the damned virus.
For programs that simply try to show how people live daily life, the pandemic’s challenges are both subtler and more pervasive than those presented by past catastrophes. After 9/11, there was no need for homeland-security alerts to impinge on “Friends,” and the subsequent fixation on terrorism was even a natural driver of plot for action thrillers.
The pandemic, on the other hand, quelled action. Covid touched every aspect of mundane life. Masks limited facial expression. Real-life distancing practices meant that the basic engine of sitcoms — people in a room or a bar or an office, talking — was now fraught with angst.
- The Offer, which is a Paramount+ series about the making of The Godfather, has set its release date: April 28. It debuts with three episodes and then goes weekly. Read: The Wrap
- Aubrey Plaza is the latest to join the cast of The White Lotus season 2. Read: THR
- Aziz Ansari has a new Netflix special, his fourth. Nightclub Comedian debuts on the streamer Jan 25. Read: Variety
- The Great has been renewed for a third season by Hulu. Read: THR
- The Oscars will be held March 27 with Glenn Weiss again directing. Unlike previous years, the show will do the right thing and put in place a host. 70+ years of TV experience and these fools have only just realised that a live variety show needs a host. Read: Deadline
- Ethan Hawke and Martin Scorsese’s documentary The Last Movie Stars about couple Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman has been acquired by CNN+. It will later land on HBO Max. Read: TBI Vision
- Dana Carvey and David Spade are launching a weekly talk show podcast about Saturday Night Live. Read: Deadline
- An American remake of The Raid is still happening, for some reason. It will be directed by the director of action classic The Expendables 3 and will be produced by Michael Bay. Yep. It will be on Netflix. Read: Deadline
- BBC3 returns to airwaves Feb 1. Read: Radio Times
- With over 50 COVID cases, Star Trek: Picard has been shut down. Read: THR
Uma Thurman stars in new Apple TV+ series Suspicion, debuting Feb 4.
KIMI, a new film from Steven Soderbergh, is coming Feb 10 to HBO Max.
Docu-film The Tinder Swindler debuts on Netflix Feb 2.
Docu-series Neymar: The perfect Chaos debuts on Netflix Jan 25.
That's it for today - the newsletter will be back in your inbox tomorrow. Stay safe.