Thomas gets some work done

When Thomas & Friends returns for seasons 25 and 26 it will be with a brand new look: 2D animation. The new seasons comprise of 104 11-minute episodes and 2 hour-long specials.

Nelvana (the production company) president Pam Westman:

With stunning animation and fresh new stories, the 2D series allows us to play up the humour in the show while honouring the legacy of the world’s most adored blue tank engine.

I don’t know if I am more shocked that the show has gone 2D or that it is still in production.

Source: C21

HBO blasts off with Elon Musk series

A new 6-part TV show based on the book Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future by Ashlee Vance has been commissioned by HBO. It document;s Musk hiring engineers to work on a remote Pacific Island to build and launch the first SpaceX rocket into orbit. The series will be called SpaceX.

Musk is not involved with the show.

Source: Variety

Dr Death lands a new Dr

Peacock limited series Dr Death has a new Dr to lead the show with Jamie Dornan re-cast with Joshua Jackson.

Dornan and director Stephen Frears both exited the show before filming commenced due to COVID production issues.

The show has Jackson as Christopher Duntsch - a rising star in the Dallas medical community building a flourishing neurosurgery practice. However patients entering his operating room for complex but routine spinal surgeries are left permanently maimed or dead.

As victims piled up, two fellow physicians, neurosurgeon Robert Henderson (Alec Baldwin) and vascular surgeon Randall Kirby (Christian Slater), set out to stop him.

Source: THR

Keira Knightley leaves Apple TV series due to COVID issues

New series The Essex Serpent is now on hiatus six weeks ahead of the start of production following the need for series star Keira Knightley needing to return to the UK for “family reasons”.

The second wave of coronavirus is now upon the U.K. and the actor’s rep told the outlet that “there wasn’t a comfortable scenario for Keira that could be put in place for an extended period of childcare required for the four-and-a-half-month production.”

Source: Variety

Keira Knightley photgraphed for Variety by

US game show films down under

You may recall a few weeks back when the Australian version of Holy Moley went into production that it was mentioned that the plan was for the Australian set to be used for other international productions. After all, due to COVID security, it is safer (and presumably more cost-effective) to produce TV in Australia than it is in the US right now.

Holy Moley production company Eureka Productions has a new US game show in production. It is about music and it is about to start filming in Australia. I know what you’re asking: Won’t it be weird having a game show made for the US featuring contestants with Aussie accents? All the contestants are Americans who are living in Australia.

Source: TV Tonight

And just as an aside: On THR’s podcast TV’s Top 5 this past weekend was an interview with Star Trek chief Alex Kurtzman who was discussing the extra costs involved in filming TV in this day and age of COVID. It is obviously more expensive due to the extra time it takes to film with fewer people allowed on the set at once and other related issues. But he also talked about the cost of PPE:

"It really depends on the show itself but I'm going to give you a rough number and say it's between $300,000 and $500,000 additional per episode for PPE."
Star Trek Energize Face Mask

The rest of 2020 in movies

So yesterday after hitting the publish button I saw a tweet from US-based film writer David Poland. I believe he is a reader of this newsletter (which thrills me as I’ve been a longtime reader of his), but also there may just be a second David Poland (And if so - hello).

Anyway, he tweeted this a few minutes after I hit publish on yesterday’s newsletter which included a story about Disney film Soul vacating cinemas, leaving all eyes on “tentpole” Wonder Woman 1984.

Not sure if he was referencing me or not. But I was certainly guilty of following this line of thinking blindly.

Free Guy, a movie starring Ryan Reynolds, would certainly fall into the category of “tentpole movie”. I don’t know that I agree about Coming 2 America as necessarily being a tentpole film. But also, a “tentpole film” is kind of a nebulous term anyway.

Regardless of terminology, Poland is right that Wonder Woman 1984 isn’t the last biggish film of note on the calendar.

Sizable films of note that are still expected to debut in Australian cinemas this year:

  • Peter Rabbit 2
  • Free Guy
  • Coming 2 America
  • The Croods: A New Age
  • The Craft: Legacy
  • Rams
  • Freaky

So, to follow Poland’s line of thinking: it’s not like film distributors have given up entirely on 2020.

That said, while cinema is still kinda functional and I’m still planning to get along to see movies most weekends, the films I’m more excited about at the end of the year are all Netflix joints - Trial of The Chicago 7, Mank, and Hillbilly Elegy.

Trial of The Chicago 7 is playing in Australian cinemas now ahead of its debut on the streamer this coming Friday. (It’ll still be in cinemas then too). I saw the film playing at the Ritz in Sydney and thought it was a great old school grown-up crowd-pleaser. It plays great on the big screen.

Mank has an Australian cinema release in late November. No word yet on Ron Howard’s Hillbilly Elegy.

Trailer Park

The Watch is a new BBC America series based on one of Terry Pratchett’s DiscWorld books.

Pennyworth returns for its second season in December.

I was captivated by this trailer for an upcoming feature film. Nine Days debuts in (US) cinemas in Jan next year. Not sure about a local release date, but it looks like one of those special films that leaves me feeling less dead inside.

What’s next?