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.
I'm not even going to tell you what's in the ABW newsletter today.
Always Be Watching is curated by the same guy that sends this every day.
It’s been a big day for Apple. First it murdered iTunes dead. Then it dropped its first Apple TV+ series trailer.
For All Mankind is created by former Star Trek, former Battlestar Galactica writer-producer Ronald D Moore and explores what would have happened if the global space race never ended. In the series, NASA astronauts, engineers, and their families find themselves in the center of extraordinary events as the United States and Russia remain locked in competition over conquering space.
Joel Kinnaman stars.
Last night I watched the first episode of The Handmaid’s Tale season 3. It debuts on Hulu (and in Australia, on SBS On Demand) later this week.
As the show enters its third season, it actually finds itself in a storytelling dilemma that is fairly unique to the show. In order to maintain the shows relevance to the current era, it needs to continue to linger on themes of women stripped of power and agency. But being that it is in its third season for a show that feels like it’s not likely to run more than 4-5 seasons, it also needs to progress the storyline and give its protagonist greater wins as she plays a role in toppling the power structures Gilead. The more wins that it gives June, the less timely the show feels.
The question I ask: Should the show continue to feel the need to be timely and of the moment. It certainly propelled the show into the zeitgeist, but to continue to hold onto that would also be to diminish the potential of a show to embrace a narrative about reclaiming power. Of embarking upon revolution. Also, I’d argue that real-world comparisons to The Handmaid’s Tale diminishes the horror of real world events - couching it in an easily to digest fictional narrative that makes it easier to dismiss.
And speaking of The Handmaid’s Tale, if you’re going to read one article today, make it this one…
One of my favourite writers about TV and screen culture has been Todd VanDerWerff (also the host of the very good Primetime podcast). Inspired by the show last year, Todd began to understand more about himself and began hormone replacement therapy to transition to become a woman.
Todd, now going by the name Emily Todd VanDerWerff, came out publicly today via an incredibly compelling article penned for Vox (where Emily is a staff writer).
The close-ups have since lost their punch, but in season three, The Handmaid’s Tale tends to favor shots that track through the sterile environments of its theocratic wilderness. They serve to connectthe women in the show’s universe in ways that have perhaps flattened them into their gender in exactly the same fashion that Gilead does, but that have also caused them to see and acknowledge one another with a fierceness unrecognized by the men around them.
The effect is a kind of dawning consciousness of what it means to be a woman, of being seen as just that — “a woman” — and nothing more. Even the women who persecute other women on this show are signal flares for a community not yet realized but understood.
I think this is why I so responded to The Handmaid’s Tale when it debuted, and even more after I came out to myself, to my therapist, to friends, and now to the public. I have received those same looks of acknowledgment from the women I have told about my deepest self, felt the way they expand the community to draw me in.
The Spanish Princess has been greenlit for a second season, which will bring the limited series to an end.
Carnival Row debuts Aug 30 on Amazon Prime and it’s an interesting one:
Starring Orlando Bloom and Cara Delevingne, the show is set in the city of Burgue, mythical creatures fleeing their war-torn homeland have gathered in the city and tensions are simmering between citizens and the growing supernatural immigrant population.
Collectable card game Magic: The Gathering is being adapted for the screen via a new animated Netflix series that will be produced by the Russo Brothers.
"We have been huge fans and players of Magic: The Gathering for as long as it has been around, so being able to help bring these stories to life through animation is a true passion project for us," the Russos said in a press release for the upcoming Netflixseries.
James Holzhauer has been kicking butt on the show Jeopardy, closing in on the record prize money winnings of previous champion Ken Jennings. On Monday James was set to pass Jennings record - a huge event for the show and one which would have had viewers on the edge of their chairs to find out if he was successful.
ABW won’t say whether he won or lost the episode, but there’s a great write-up at NYT about Holzhauer’s run on Jeopardy and the records set along the way in the lead-up to the potential Jennings-as-champion ouster.
I was incredibly frustrated with myself yesterday for missing out a specific TV show on the new ABW weekly TV calendar. It’s one of my big TV events for the year: Netflix’s Tales of The City revival series.
It debuts this weekend.
If you don’t know Tales of The City, this was a series of 9 books by Armistead Maupin about the lives and loves of a community of people living in an apartment complex in San Francisco. Being that it is San Fran and the series starting in the mid 70s, the show is incredibly queer-friendly featuring a wealth of gay and lesbian characters.
In 1993, it was adapted into a TV mini-series starring Laura Linney. The Tales of The City mini was followed in 1998 and 2001 with More Tales of The City and Further Tales of The City.
When my parents first brought the magic of cable TV into my world in 1997 with a Foxtel installation, I discovered the original mini-series playing on regular rotation and was immediately very taken with the world of the show. Laura Linney may have played a key role in my interest, I’ll admit.
I’m actually not sure if I have seen the subsequent mini-series or not. Regardless, I’m very happy to see this show revived for Netflix. The new version is showrun by Orange Is The New Black writer Lauren Morelli who explains her own interest in the series in this 4 minute video over at The AV Club.
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