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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.
Kids TV takes on 2020
ALSO: Steve Kornacki. AND: More Steve Kornacki
The slow TV news week barrels on with election coverage swamping everything. A few interesting tidbits here. Just know that I did A LOT of digging for these.
Won’t somebody think of the children?
2020 has been a challenging year. It’s hard to make sense of it as an adult, let alone being a kid growing up and being confronted with all of this as the way the world simply is.
Kids TV shows are attempting to rise to the challenge.
In a short episode of “Arthur” released this summer, the bespectacled aardvark and his friend Buster call each other on Zoom to talk about a troubling video they watched.
“I can’t believe someone would be hurt like that, just because they’re Black,” says Buster, a bunny. No further details are required, but none are necessary. They call Mrs. MacGrady, the school lunch lady and a former civil rights activist, for guidance. “Racism is like a disease,” she tells them. “If you don’t treat it, it will get worse.”
These are shows that are also getting considerable input from professionals on the best language to use and the best way to frame a subject for an audience.
Head of content for PBS Kids Linda Simensky:
“Everyone at PBS Kids is thinking, ‘What can we do to be helpful?’ There will be people who disagree with this approach and disagree that this is an appropriate topic for kids. And my advice to those people is, ‘Don’t watch it.’ And that’s the beauty of television. You can turn it off.”
It’s not a great time in the UK right now. There’s another COVID flare-up. But maybe more devastating is that Neighbours has once again fallen behind the new episodes from Australia.
Channel 5 in the UK started airing just two of the five weekly episodes each week in an effort to bank up episodes to carry them through the COVID production shutdown. But Neighbours wasn’t down for long and there’s now a three-week backlog.
The MVP for US election coverage is MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki who reads out the results from ‘the big board’, the news channels interactive screen that showcases election results. The guy is an absolute machine. I watched him presenting since 6pm New York time (10am here in Sydney) and was still watching him on screen during the breakfast show (I think he was still there when I went to bed at 11:30pm).
Probably the most incredible fact in this profile is that Steve Kornacki doesn’t eat breakfast.
Steve Kornacki isn’t the only TV guy using a big touch screen to deliver results - Variety has a piece about all the presenters using these screens during election coverage. Read: Variety
How did TV anchors react to Trump claiming he’d won? They called him on it. Read: NYT
Acorn TV has acquired the UK rights to Aussie series Operation Buffalo. Read: TV Wise
Castle Rock has been cancelled after two seasons. Source: TV Line
Eurosport will soon leave Fetch TV in Australia. Read: TV Tonight
Canadian Govt seeks law to force streaming companies to produce Canadian content. Read: THR
Avatar Project delayed
A video game based on the very popular Avatar has been delayed. The game, still untitled but referred to as The Avatar Project, will see its release aligned with the launch of the second Avatar movie in 2022.