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.
Netflix bringing Conan to streaming
ALSO: The new Chromecast. Everything you need to know.
Netflix is taking on Conan: The Barbarian
In a deal struck between Netflix and Conan Properties International, Netflix has the exclusive option to acquire rights to the Conan literary library and develop live-action and animated Conan movies and TV shows.
It’s a smart move and gives Netflix recognised IP to work with.
Additional rant-thought: What I don’t understand is why Netflix isn’t being more aggressive with properties not already owned by large corporations. Why hasn’t Netflix, for example, bought the King Features Syndicate characters and started work on shared universe movies and shows based off The Phantom, Mandrake The Magician, and Flash Gordon (the three were teamed up in both comics and the 80s Defenders of The Earth cartoon series). And then there’s also Popeye, Beetle Bailey, and Blondie among other beloved comic strips. Netflix literally have Netflix money - an investment like this would have long-term benefits as they compete against the likes of Disney and WarnerMedia.
Everything you need to know about the new Chromecast
A couple of hours ago Google officially unveiled the new Chromecast. Unlike the Chromecast of old, this also has a remote control and an interface that you can scroll with apps you have installed.
Another way of thinking about it: Google has dusted off the Google TV brand, released it to compete against the Apple TV, Fire TV, and Roku, and you can still also Chromecast TV shows and movies to it from your phone if you’re into that.
Like the Chromecast, this is a dongle that you plug into the back of your TV. If you’re familiar with Android TV (which is pre-installed on a lot of TV’s nowadays, such as the Sony line of smart TVs), the look and feel of the interface is very similar to that.
The tech: Video - 1080p, 4K, Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HDR10+. Sound - DTS, Dolby Digital+, Dolby Audio and Dolby Atmos. Network - Wi-Fi 2.4 and 5GHz and Bluetooth. Hardware - Amlogic S905D3 chip and 2GB of RAM. 4GB of storage available with around 1GB already used by preinstalled services.
The price: US - $49.99 | Netflix bundle - $89 Australia - $99 | Netflix bundle - $139.99 UK - £59.99
Release date: It is on US shelves now. In Australia the Google online store is promising delivery on 21-22 Oct. So presumably it’ll be in stores on the 21 Oct.
What is the Netflix bundle? Apparently you can buy it with a 6-month Netflix subscription. It costs more to buy, but it essentially halves the cost of your Netflix for six months. The packaged deal is the 2-screen HD plan.
You might want to check out this solid review over at The Verge.
Here’s a picture of it - it comes in three colours. I’m a Sky man, m’self.
A close-up of the remote:
Here’s a promotional video about it:
And here are some of my initial thoughts about it:
I’ve never liked not having an interface with the Chromecast and making my viewing decisions on the phone/tablet/laptop. A proper Google TV interface with a remote is a huge win.
There isn’t anything here that makes the device a must-buy if you already have an Apple TV, Fire TV, or Roku (in Australia it’s branded as Telstra TV). But if you are looking to upgrade to get 4k, or you need a new device for whatever reason, this looks like something worth checking out.
A big question I have is whether the device is locked to Google’s DNS or if that can be changed. Important for those of us who do some international TV travelling. The Chromecast and other Google products are hard-coded to the Google DNS, so I presume this will be the same.
The remote looks great. My only real frustration with the Apple TV is that the remote is very easy to lose in the couch.
Search and the interface all look similar to what is already available via Siri and Alexa on competing devices. I’d like to use it though before declaring it nothing special.
It all looks tidy and polished, but there’s no wow factor to any of this. There’s no one function that stands out ahead of what competitors are doing. But… this also does look tidy and polished. It may not wow, but it also isn’t disappointing.
With the announcement of new streaming service Paramount+, there was mention of an original series that would explore the behind the scenes making of The Godfather. In a situation that reminds me of the great A Bugs Life / Antz release of the mid 90s, there are now two productions racing to get on screens about the making of the classic American film.
In addition to the Paramount+ series is news today of a film made by the great Barry Levinson. It sounds great. Oscar Isaac will play director Francis Ford Coppola, while Jake Gyllenhaal will play former Paramount studio head Robert Evans.
Already I’m seeing sequels to this with Isaac’s Coppola heading into the jungle to make Apocalypse Now. And then the third film in the series focused on Francis Ford Coppola’s greatest triumph - the Robin Williams comedy Jack.