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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.
RIP Carol Spinney. PLUS: How many people actually watched The Irishman?
Always Be Watching is put together by Dan Barrett and his puppeteer.
The heart and soul of Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch has died. Puppeteer Carol Spinney had worked on Sesame Street since week one and brought several of the world’s most beloved characters to life through his work. Spinney was 85 at the time of his passing.
His Big Bird had a childlike innocence, sometimes goofy, sometimes subdued, outgoing or shy, like most children a creature of habit and mood. His themes were simple: that it was good to speak up, O.K. to make a mistake, all right to be sad sometimes. At Jim Henson’s memorial service in 1990 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, Big Bird sang a heart-rending farewell, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”
As for Oscar the Grouch, Mr. Henson had wanted to model the gruff character on a “magnificently rude” restaurant waiter. But Mr. Spinney found another inspiration: the belligerent New York cabdriver he encountered on the way to his first day on the show. “Where to, Mac?” the cabby demanded, and without prompting launched into a tirade against the city’s liberal mayor, John V. Lindsay.
I spent a good portion of my weekend watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 3. I As much as I adore the show, I think there’s a very fair argument to be made about the fact the show is hollow and isn’t really saying anything. Something I’ve realised this year is that each season of the show is taking time to explore a different type of performance venue - season one was about playing small vaudeville clubs, season two took us to the Catskills, while season three has us on the road playing large venues. One presumes season four will give Midge a TV show to work on. The thing is that the show is obviously interested in exploring each of these styles of performance spaces, but it has said next to nothing about the experience of any of them.
Sonya Saraiya from Vanity Fair lays in the boot over its lack of depth:
Set pieces alone do not make a show. Nostalgic wish fulfillment carries the show further than it has any right to—but it’s not enough to make eight episodes cohere into a season, or for three seasons to cohere into a story. When Maisel runs out of nostalgia, it doesn’t have a lot else to offer the audience. What it does offer comes straight from the Sherman-Palladino bag of tricks (i.e., Gilmore Girls)—fast-talking banter, commotion as comedy, and intrusive, demanding parents. The show can be very funny, but its punch lines and gags are frequently belabored to death. Maisel seems to be happiest existing in a space of droll near-comedy, where nothing can be taken seriously but also nothing is exactly funny, either.
The Washington Post has a look at the way that the show leans into and rejects various Jewish stereotypes:
The show may be a recent phenomenon, but the lead character attempts to navigate two caricatures of Jewish women that date back to 19th-century France. The “Beautiful Jewess” originally emerged to help calm fears and ease Jewish integration into French politics and society. Jewish women in ballets and operas were portrayed as being attractive but wholesome, the paradigm of family values. Over time, however, as France became less tolerant of religious minorities, and social Darwinism coalesced with scientific racism, this stereotyped portrayal moved into far more negative territory. Excessive sexuality came to characterize the “Beautiful Jewess,” symbolizing both 19th-century decadence and attendant fears of moral dissolution and corruption, and Jews’ increasing marginalization and persecution in politics and society.
The Boys season 2 is due in 2020.
Consider the hype around Netflix’s The Irishman. It’s a film that has gone (more or less) direct to Netflix. It is directed by one of the all-time cinema greats. And stars three of the great American cinema stars.
But how many people are actually going to watch it?
Will this be the biggest film on Netflix this year? Or will people aspire to watch it, add it to their queue and instead watch an episode of Queer Eye?
Nielsen knows the answer. At least in terms of US viewers.
According to the audience measurement company:
13.2 million US viewers watched The Irishman
That’s more people than those who watched the Breaking Bad film El Camino
But fewer than the 16.9 million who watched Bird Box in 2018
18% of people who watched The Irishman watched it in full on the first day - this is on par with Bird Box, but more than those who watched El Camino.
The median age of viewers was 49 years old for The Irishman - the median age of a Netflix viewer is 31
All of those DC superhero shows have the big Crisis of Infinite Earths crossover kicking off this week. A lot of actors from superhero shows from years gone by will be making an appearance. Not appearing will be Nicholas Cage who was invited. Cage was cast in the never-made Tim BurtonSuperman movie from the early 90s. I mention this only as an excuse to publish this photo: