“Honey, what did she type?” The quest to read text messages on TV shows
Michael Hogan at The Guardian complains that it is hard to read text messages on screens for shows like The Bear and Starstruck.
My partner and I were bingeing the new season of Rose Matafeo’s BBC romcom Starstruck – a solid four stars from us – but on-off lovers Jessie and Tom would insist on playing out their situationship via text. We kept having to rewind, freeze-frame and approach the screen to read them. OK, we are “of a certain age”, but I shudder to imagine how the properly elderly or vision-impaired coped.
It’s not just a Starstruck issue. Texts between Carmy and Sydney in The Bear were often blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em. Viewers complained about unreadable texts during BBC divorce drama The Split and ITV police procedural The Bay. It has become a regular grumble with soaps, as viewers get a couple of seconds to decipher some tiny letters on a pixellated screen.
I’d counter and suggest that big screen insert shots and floating on-screen text messages detract from the fact text messages are an intimate communication method. Plus, the average TV size being sold these days are about 65 inches, so for most at-home experiences, it’s actually not that much of an issue.
There is, of course, mobile viewing:
The smaller the screen you’re watching on, the harder they become to read. Watching on your mobile, trying to decipher what it says on a phone-within-a-phone, is nigh-on impossible, and precisely nil fun. Current BBC One conman caper The Following Events Are Based on a Pack of Lies gets around this by having its texts in a laughably large font, as does Amazon’s upcoming Neighbours reboot.
It’s an increasingly common storytelling dilemma. As our lives become ever more digital, how can that be compellingly represented on screen? If it’s any consolation, Hollywood movies haven’t cracked it either. Recent griefcom Love Again’s pivotal texts littered the screen in cheap-looking turquoise speech bubbles, making its Céline Dion appearance seem subtle by comparison.
I’d argue again and say this comes down to TV producers knowing their audience. The Bear and Starstruck are youth-orientated TV comedies - broadly-speaking, younger people are going to be watching more via mobile and not having an issue. But a show like the aforementioned Neighbours does skew older and a larger font is crucial there.
Read more: The Guardian
They make movies better
In Sept 2021, Nicole Kidman became the face of celebrating the cinema experience with a dopey promotional video of her sitting alone in a theatre watching a movie. Apparently it airs before films in AMC theatres in the US. Of course, since then she has appeared in 3 TV series and just one movie. Half of her upcoming work is TV-focused as well. She just loves movies.
Hilarious shenaniganery with this parody video released to promote the upcoming tenth instalment in the Saw film series. Bravo.
The Green Room is back
Standup comedian Paul Provenza has revived his Green Room TV show format as a new show filmed in someone’s backyard. The show was originally made for Showtime, which never did much with it. But the format and production was always pretty good - what I like about it is it is a really open and interesting panel conversation show, but the audience are all crammed in right on top of the guests speaking. It makes the whole experience more visually interesting and removes the trappings of a TV studio.
Filming it in a backyard is weirdly the most logical step for the show.
Following the decision to bring her TV show back amid strike action, Drew Barrymore has been dumped as host of the US National Book Awards. It is a shame losing a host so synonymous with books and the reading experience. Read: BBC
The AV Club is generating its listicles by AI and sourced from the IMDB. Read: Futurism
Slayers: A Buffyverse Story is an Audible audio drama that brings back a bunch of Buffy cast members. Read: TV Line
The Australian government has delayed its local content streaming quota legislation to 2024. Read: SMH
Online payment platform Stripe (which handles payments for Always Be Watching supporters - think about becoming one) refuses to allow sex workers to use its service, but apparently has no problem with AI-generated non-consensual porn images using very famous people who aren’t known for porn doing, uh, porny stuff. Read: 404 Media
The Great British Bake Off returns Tues 26th September on Channel 4. Read: Radio Times
Playstation Remote Play is now available for the latest Chromecast. Read: Polygon
RIP Bread star Jean Boht. Read: Deadline
RIP TV writing great Edward Hume, responsible for creating The Streets of San Francisco and Barnaby Jones. He was also Emmy nominated for his work on the iconic mini-series The Day After. Read: Deadline
Prime Video has now been added to Android Auto. Read: The Verge
Charlie Brooker has been added to the SXSW Sydney lineup. Incredible to hear a name that’s actually a bit interesting. Read: iF
Eureka Productions and John De Mol’s Talpa have teamed to sell De Mol’s latest TV format: The Quiz Show With Balls. This isn’t a The Man Show take on a quiz show - it has actual balls. Read: Deadline
A mid-season Ahsoka trailer has been released for Disney+.
Do Not Disturb debuts Sept 29 on Netflix.
A middle-aged man emerges from a pandemic slump with a new job at a quiet hotel, until some eccentric guests turn his first night into a wild adventure.
Once Upon a Star debuts Oct 11 on Netflix.
In 1970, a cinema projection troupe faces roadblocks as they journey across Thailand to entertain eager audiences by live-dubbing beloved films.
Pact of Silence debuts on Netflix Oct 11.
A big-time social media influencer plunges headfirst into the lives of four women fueled by a thirst for the truth about her birth - and revenge.
For All Mankind returns Nov 10 on Apple TV+.
Shining Vale returns Oct 13 on Starz for season 2.
That’s the newsletter for today. More tomorrow.