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.
SNL returns this weekend. Somehow.
ALSO: Quibi has a problem. AND: RIP Mort Drucker.
Just like Jesus, there will be celebrations this weekend that SNL has risen again. This Saturday night a new episode of SNL will go to air. There aren’t many details on exactly what the show will be doing (my guess is a new monologue, re-airing some classic sketches, and Paul Simon live-streaming a song), but it will be interesting to see what they do. It’s a difficult comedy show to reconceptualise with its cast socially distant.
I’ve spent the past few days watching content on new streaming service Quibi and, I have to admit, I’m actually rather liking it more and more. But… I’m also seeing the biggest problem that Quibi will face: There’s actually too much content being released every day.
The streaming service offers a whole bunch of TV shows (and movies chopped up into chapters) that are released every day. If a subscriber doesn’t watch the service for one day, they then have two episodes they need to catch up on the next day. If they go two days without watching, that’s three episodes to catch up on. If that viewer is watching 3-4 Quibi shows on a daily basis, that is suddenly 12 episodes needing to be watched to catch up.
At what point does it become too difficult and people just stop?
Remember back to when All My Children and One Life To Live were cancelled. These were broadcast TV soaps that lasted for decades in the US, but when network ABC opted not to renew them, both shows made the move to streaming. But this is where it had a problem: daytime TV soaps are made so that if a viewer missed an episode, it was no big deal to just watch any episode later in the week and quickly re-enter the world. On streaming, it is a library of episodes and people go to watch the next episode - they don’t skip to the newest episode. Episodes banked up for viewers and they started dropping off.
Speaking of Quibi… it has a new movie serial launching next week. Veena Sud (The Killing US) has her new show The Stranger.
RIP Mort Drucker. The iconic Mad Magazine cartoonist created its TV/movie parody format and worked on them for decades. It began with a Perry Mason parody… that’s how long ago he started doing it.
“No one saw Drucker’s talent,” Mr. Hendrix wrote, until he illustrated “The Night That Perry Masonmint Lost a Case,” a takeoff on the television courtroom drama “Perry Mason,” in 1959. It was then, Mr. Hendrix maintained, that “the basic movie parody format for the next 44 years was born.”
From the early 1960s on, nearly every issue of Mad included a movie parody, and before Mr. Ducker retired he had illustrated 238, more than half of them. The last one, “The Chronic-Ills of Yawnia: Prince Thespian,” appeared in 2008.
The Good Fight returned today with a wonderfully odd season opener - the episode is a fantasy that has series lead character Diane Lockhart waking up in a world where Hilary Clinton won the 2016 election. The episode is a commentary on just how wild and unexpected the last three years have been in recontextualising American culture and life.
If you’re looking for a top quality film to watch this weekend, The New York Times has a suggestion of a favourite here at ABW HQ - 1992’s Sneakers. If you don’t know the film, here’s Gilbert Cruz selling it:
This is a movie in which the climactic set piece requires Redford’s character to walk across a room at two inches per second. Which is to say that it’s playful and pretty low stress. During a party held in the company’s very large San Francisco loft (pre-tech boom rents), everyone dances to Aretha Franklin’s “Chain of Fools,” and River Phoenix does this:
The short film Maggie’s Playdate With Destiny debuts on Disney+ later today. It originally aired in cinemas with Pixar movie Onward (which didn’t get a cinema release in Australia due to the virus shutdown). Onward drops on Disney+ on April 24.
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