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.
Speculation before the Apple TV launch! Game of Thrones sneakers! The best show no one is watching! And more!
Always Be Watching is by Dan Barrett who is based on a true story.
The best TV show on right now that no one is really talking about: Hulu’s The Act. It is like watching a slow motion car crash as a weekly TV show. Just try not watching it with your hands over your eyes and teeth gritted.
Based on a true story, The Act is about a mother and daughter, Hurricane Katrina survivors, who move state to a suburban neighbourhood where a charity house has been built for them. The daughter has all manner of physical ailments that has her confined to a wheelchair. Except… she’s actually healthy.
The mother has been lying to the daughter for her entire life and now, as a 15 year-old, she’s starting to figure it out as she moves beyond her mothers co-dependency mind-games to achieve independence. We know, as viewers, that within 7 years the daughter will brutally murder the mother.
It. Is. Great.
Todd VanDerWerff takes a look at it at Vox:
The series The Act most reminds me of is The Handmaid’s Tale, not just because both series are on Hulu but because both series have ultra-intimate focuses that all but dare you to sit and watch them in a marathon session. How much misery in Gilead can you put up with? For me, a couple of hours at a time, but I know people who binged the entire series so far over a long, horrifying weekend. The Act may prove a similar endurance challenge.
Perry Mason has been greenlit to go to series at HBO. Matthew Rhys will star.
The series will be set in 1932 Los Angeles. Based on characters created by Erle Stanley Gardner, this limited series follows the origins of American fiction’s most legendary criminal defense lawyer (Matthew Rhys). When a child kidnapping case breaks down his door, Mason’s relentless pursuit of the truth reveals a fractured city and just maybe, a pathway to redemption for himself.
Rhys’ Perry Mason is described as being at a time in his life when he is living check-to-check as a low-rent private investigator. He is haunted by his wartime experiences in France and is suffering the effects of a broken marriage.
Within 24 hours, we’re going to know (and likely be underwhelmed by) Apple’s TV announcement. We know the tech company has been producing a slate of new TV shows, but what we don’t know is what the business model is and how viewers will be able to see the shows.
Peter Kafka, who is a pretty smart guy about all things Tech Media (his Recode Media podcast is a must-listen every week), believes that the TV shows are being used as a lure to their platform where they will sell everyone else’s services and take a cut off the top:
Instead, Apple’s main focus — at least for now — will be helping other people sell streaming video subscriptions and taking a cut of the transaction. Apple may also sell its own shows, at least as part of a bundle of other services. But for now, Apple’s original shows and movies should be considered very expensive giveaways, not the core product.
Meanwhile Joe Adalian at Vulture, who is a pretty smart guy about all things TV, is leaning in to the idea that Apple are using it more as part of its effort to launch its own dedicated subscription services alongside its expected Apple News service (also set to be announced at the same event).
Per multiple reports, Apple will unveil a supercharged version of Texture, likely rebranded Apple News, featuring newspaper and magazine content for a monthly fee. The TV play offers a similar opportunity to keep money flowing to Cupertino by making sure Apple earns money off your iPhones and iPads long after you purchase them.
My assumption is that neither are quite on the money. Kafka’s assumption makes sense in a very US-centric way, but take that service outside the US and it starts to get really clunky with Apple striking deals with every country’s leading SVOD providers - very few of the SVOD’s are global-enough yet to make this work easily. One would have to think that if Apple are spending this much money on a service, it is part of a global play.
The question(s) I would want to see answered by Apple tomorrow, that I’m not sure will be, is this:
Why does Apple believe people want to see it’s programming? And how will it be so compelling that audiences will see the launch of these shows as a more significant event than the almost weekly huge launches happening on Netflix, HBO, and Showtime?
FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK
I’m actually stepping away from Always Be Watching HQ for the next month as I wander around Japan for a bit. Expect the daily newsletter and weekly podcast to continue as usual. It might just mean that the newsletter arrives a few hours later (due to the time difference). I’ll also update you with thoughts on weird and wild Japanese TV.
It also means that I’m on a plane while the Apple TV announcement happens. Which is exceptionally frustrating.
Supernatural is finishing up after 15 seasons. The AV Club summed it up best with this headline:
Aussie soap Neighbours will introduce its first transgender character, with the character set to debut in June.
The 10 soap will introduce its first ever transgender character after Georgie Stone contacted producers.
19 year old Stone has previously been recognised as the 2018 Victorian Young Australian of the Year, recipient of the 2017 Young People’s Human Rights Medal, and Hero of the Year at the 2019 LGBTI Awards.
Netflix is boosting its advertising efforts. It has already had some success with product placement and you can expect a whole lot more to come.
Product placement is one of the oldest forms of television advertising. As questions over the brand safety and effectiveness of ads on digital platforms loom, buying a guaranteed placement inside “safe” content might be worth the premium. Its previous brand placements have included Dunkin’ Donuts in “House of Cards” and KFC in “Stranger Things.” Lyft was featured in the latest season of “Orange is the New Black,” while the latest season of “Queer Eye” featured trips to West Elm stores. However, the company is taking special effort to make sure the products make sense with the storyline, a source noted.