Over the weekend the entire planet came together as one community as Seinfeld arrived on Netflix. No longer was the show fractured and appearing on a variety of different streaming services - it is now all in the one place for everyone to watch. And people did watch. And then they complained.
Were the complaints about Kramer's adventures with a cigar store Indian? No. But that conversation will be coming, I'm sure.
Viewers have the same problem with Seinfeld as they did when The Simpsons landed on Disney+. The conversion from a traditional TV 4:3 ratio to the widescreen 16:9 has cropped out some of the visual jokes. And jokes are important - some people change religions for the jokes.
The humor of Seinfeld comes largely from dialogue, but there were a few episodes towards the end of the run that relied heavily on sight gags. Impacted by the conversion is an episode where George loses a set of keys in a pothole that has been filled. Change the aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9 and the pothole vanishes from frame:
You'll remember that when fans complained about this to Disney+ about The Simpsons, a few months later Disney offered a function in-app to switch between the two aspect ratios. It'd be cool if Netflix offered the same.
The new Seinfeld aspect ratio wasn't done for Netflix. Anyone who has watched Seinfeld in repeats on TV in the last couple of years or has seen the show on other streaming services will have seen the new cropped version. Back when the show was released in the new format there was some discussion about how the cropping made the show now NSFW with a certain scene set in the Hamptons.
The Sopranos movie tanks at the box office
The Many Saints of Newark, a prequel to The Sopranos, crashed and burned at the US box office over the weekend making $5 million across over 3,000 screens. This placed it #4 on a weekend dominated by Venom 2, which made $90 million - a pandemic record.
Why did Saints crash so badly? Some will look to the same day release on HBO Max. But the reality is that the poor box office reflects on the film itself. The trailers didn't generate much buzz with even fan response fairly tepid. And reviews didn't do much to stimulate interest either with a lot of mixed-to-negative opinions on it. Audiences who saw the film gave it a C+ Cinemascore.
Having seen the film myself over the weekend, all of that is fair. The film, which has no major star power outside of a supporting role played by Ray Liotta (not exactly an audience magnet), plays like a rather good TV movie. Sopranos creator David Chase co-wrote this film and has spoken of his lifelong disappointment at never being able to transition his career towards making movies, fails to give the film any strong movie moments. There are no major set pieces or heightened moments of drama. This wasn't a theatrical experience and it is little wonder why audiences didn't flock to it.
On a quieter weekend, the film may have performed okay. But, there's also the delta variant to consider, which is keeping a lot of older viewers away from the cinemas.
Meanwhile, the aforementioned David Chase is set to make more TV for HBO, signing a five-year deal.
- Joel McHale will join the cast of Stargirl full-time for its third season. Read: TV Line
- Disney+ is set to overtake Netflix in global subscribers by 2026. Read: Media Post
- A TV series based on Cruel Intentions is in the works for IMDb TV. Read: Variety
- Could we soon see a Trainspotting TV series? Read: NME
- Scrubs has marked the 20th anniversary since it debuted. So, naturally, there's an oral history. I ask: Did this show cease to exist after we moved on from DVD? Read: The Independent
- There are reportedly plans afoot for a Peacock relaunch in the coming months. Read: The Streamable
- NBCU and YouTube came to an agreement over carriage at the last minute last week. TV was saved. Read: The Verge
- Bongo Comics may have stopped publishing The Simpsons comics back in 2012, but fan publishers are now making their own Simpsons comics. Read: Polygon
- Apple TV+ has cancelled the Joseph Gordon-Levitt dramedy Mr Corman after just one season. Read: THR
The Aussie TV landscape
As US content holders take their services direct to consumer, the days of third party content deals are drying up. A couple of interesting articles over the weekend.
First, a sign of the times: All of the CBS procedural dramas airing on the ViacomCBS-owned 10 in Australia are now debuting on streaming service Paramount+ ahead of broadcast. Shows where the priorities are for the company moving forward...
But more interestingly...
Miranda Ward at the AFR had an article about Foxtel's march towards an IPO and referenced throughout it the land grab by Disney as it pulls back content deals to bulk up Disney+. There's choppy times ahead as the mouse brings its brands in-house:
In July, Foxtel’s output deal with FX will end, with Disney to reclaim that content, such as The Americans, to boost the content offering of its own direct-to-consumer streaming platform, Disney+. The following December, the Foxtel Group will lose Fox animation content such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and Futurama and a year later, December 2023, the crucial HBO contract is due to end.
Can you even imagine a Foxtel without The Simpsons? It is part of the company's DNA and has been since the launch of the subscription TV service in the 90s. Here's a 1997 Foxtel promo including the catchphrase that dominated most of Foxtel's advertising at that time. Bart Simpson declaring "I want my Foxtel".
And before you argue that these deals are too lucrative to just run everything through Disney+, some considerations for you:
- Disney hasn't been afraid to cut off channel sales in order to prop up Disney+ - consider their closure of The Disney Channel in a number of markets (including Australia) ahead of the D+ launch.
- Right now Disney is involved in a global land grab. It wants to be the dominant player in streaming. Being the biggest player in streaming means it has even greater success with all the other facets of its business: theme parks, merchandise, etc. And it's not like Disney+ isn't a solid money earner in itself.
And then there's the Disney-owned ESPN.
There is also industry chatter that Disney may consider bringing ESPN content into the Disney+ stable in Australia, ending a relationship with providers like Foxtel.
While ESPN’s direct-to-consumer streaming product in the US, ESPN+, is marketed as an add-on to the ESPN core cable TV services, it has been speculated that Disney, which owns 80 per cent of ESPN, may want to bring content it on-sells in international markets into Disney+ as part of its one streaming brand international strategy.
A new Jeopardy GOAT?
Jeopardy! contestant Matt Amodio is on an impressive streak on the show right now.
He just won for the 33rd night, bringing his winnings up to $1,267,801. This makes him the #2 all-time longest-run on the show, replacing James Holzhauer in that slot. But don't feel too bad for Holzhauer - he walked away with a $2,462,216 total when he was defeated on night 32.
But can he now beat the Jeopardy! GOAT Ken Jennings who had a whopping 74-night winning streak back in 2004. It is worth noting that Jennings will be back on air guest-hosting the show in November, so if Amodio is able to defeat Jennings, it may well be while Jennings is hosting.
Chucky debuts on USA Network and Syfy Oct 12. (In Australia, I believe this one will land on 9Now sometime in 2022)
What's next? Tomorrow.