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.
Is Martin Scorsese making TV with The Irishman? Will Warners save its library with glass? And is Watchmen too darn confusing?
Always Be Watching is compiled every day by Dan Barrett who is today worried about the gmail spam filter.
If you’re a bit confused by the whole Apple TV+ thing (for example, you might have the question: Why is there an Apple TV+ service to begin with), Joe Adalian at Vulture has a solid lengthy write-up on what the tech company want to do with the platform.
Long story short: Apple want you using its TV app so that they can then get you to subscribe to other streaming services through Apple - the benefit for the customer is that they can then browse and playlist all the shows they want through the one app.
None of this is to suggest the Apple shows are beside the point, or that their creative success is irrelevant. But Apple saw an opening “to do video in a different way than others,” as Erlicht explains it. “There was also an opportunity in the user experience and user interface to fill a gap that was missing.” Erlicht says the TV landscape has “become a little bit of the Wild West,” with consumers forced to constantly switch between apps, retype passwords and credit card numbers, and scroll through endless menus just to find a particular program or movie. “We’re looking to simplify the viewing experience,” he says. Much the way Jobs wanted to do away with multiple remotes and tangled wires for physical TV sets, Apple wants its TV app, powered by the TV+ subscription service, to make streaming as simple as the old days of channel surfing.
The BBC’s The Media Show has an almost hour-long interview with Disney CEO Bob Iger. It’s a very entertaining interview that will give you a lot of insight into some of the big decisions made at Disney over Iger’s tenure.
There’s Star Wars chatter, a decent section on the roll-out of Disney+ and its timeline to roll-out to the UK), and a lot more.
This was hardly news, but yesterday Disney+ made a big deal about Avatar being an exclusive film on its service. Watch as Disney uses its marketing might to amp up a focus on Avatar in the lead-up to the sequels being released. Avatar has the potential to be a massive money-making franchise (which it will need to be, considering the money being spent on multiple sequels in production right now) if it is massaged correctly.
This is where Warner Bros keeps ALL of their movies and TV shows and video games. Even the content that is made for digital is backed up on film in this air-conditioned facility:
It’s a pretty big facility. But also, Warner Bros needs better redundancy protection for its archive. Very soon, in addition to saving it all on film, they’re going to be saving their content on glass.
Yes. Glass. And it looks like this:
It’s part of a partnership with Microsoft who developed the technology. And the flagship film they’re saving first:
1978’s Superman. Ironically, this is the film that first proved that kryptonians could be captured in glass:
Take a read about the archival process. I assure you it is fascinating and will be the most interesting thing you read all week.
It was while watching the third episode of HBO’s Watchmen last night, watching FBI agent Laurie Blake waving around a GIANT blue dildo that I realised: you need to have read the comic.
There was just enough information provided in the first two episodes that the average viewer could get by if they paid full attention. But, I’m not convinced as we move forward that an eagle eye is enough.
If you like the show and haven’t read the book - it is very easy to find (most everyday book stores likely carry it).. Watchmen is a great, literary read that is worth your time, effort, and the thirty bucks or whatever the book will cost you.
Things to read today:
The liner notes of the Watchmen soundtrack fill in backstory. Read: Polygon
Vulture explains why Blake is cracking so many jokes and has a giant blue dildo. Read: Vulture
Is Watchmen too confusing for its own good? Read: Vox
Remember how Martin Scorsese said that Marvel movies weren’t really cinema and were all movies? Then all the fanboys (and girls) had a cry online only for film people to say that Scorsese has more than deserved his right to decide what is and isn’t film based on his long and distinguished career?
Now these same film fans are getting upset that Brian Lowry, a screen culture writer who has had a long and distinguished career that gives him the right to offer thoughts on what is and isn’t television, has dared suggest that Scorsese’s newest film The Irishman isn’t exactly cinema and could be argued as being a prestige TV mini-series. His rationale is that it wasn’t produced for a theatrical experience - rather it fits at home on Netflix among other high-end TV mini-series.
I’ve seen The Irishman (in the cinema) and I actually think Lowry makes a pretty good point on this.
The definition of movies, or "cinema," is changing too. If that designation isn't broad enough to encompass comic-book-inspired movies, as Scorsese suggested, should it include movies that aren't watched primarily in theaters?
Emily Nussbaum has a great piece on one of my favourite shows of the moment: Evil.
The show lacks the mythic grandeur of ambitious horror movies such as “Us” and “Midsommar,” but, despite its humbler aesthetic and its basic (in both senses) pleasures, it, too, feels soaked in modern anxieties, full of coded politics, with a special interest in the difficulty of distinguishing madness from amorality. Robert King is a practicing Catholic and Michelle King is a secular Jew; in interviews, they’ve said that the show grew out of debates about the sources of evil, which they see as being on the rise.