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.
Spielberg vs Netflix! Plus: More Sandlot TV details, B99's niceness, and more!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who still needs to finish True Detective season 3.
It’s Monday morning and I am hoping to avoid anyone asking what I got up to over the weekend. Frankly, it’s not easy telling anyone that I watched about two and a half seasons worth of the slightly-better-than-average sitcom Superstore.
And on with today’s news…
That news over the weekend that there may be a streaming series continuation of The Sandlot? Well, it appears everyone is completely on board…. except nobody actually asked the actors.
The most recent episode of Brooklyn Nine Nine made an effort to discuss the experience of women with a very strong #metoo filter. The episode was solid in delivering a healthy set of laughs, while (very narrowly) avoiding coming across as preachy about the issue.
Vox’s Todd Van Der Werff has a really good write-up which articulates something I was thinking about, but was struggling to clarify in my mind when I started thinking about the episode in the context of the show at this later stage in its run. Todd smartly pointed out that the show is doing things different by actually being less mean than a lot of sitcoms get the older they get.
But the longer the series runs, the more it skews toward a kind of Hollywood-friendly social progressivism. It’s determined to dig into the reasons these sorts of stories are often told in certain ways, and to ask how they might be told better. It’s also committed to the idea that you can make a bunch of jokes about a broken penis and still find a way to circle back around to the idea that sexual assault is not just bad but pernicious, present in every aspect of our society.
Does Brooklyn Nine-Nine pull off everything it attempts? Nah. But it’s impressive to see the series grapple with the problem that all long-running sitcoms face — the longer you’re on the air, the harder it is to surprise viewers into laughing at your jokes — by constantly trying to introduce reasons you shouldn’t laugh at those jokes in the first place.
Buffy musical episode Once More With Feeling now has a vinyl soundtrack, complements of Mondo. Be quick in getting a copy when it goes on sale March 20.
Leaving Neverland is not a character assassination of Jackson. It gives you permission to like him, to like his music, even to love him, because Robson and Safechuck did, and so did their families. It does not demand your immediate sympathy for Robson and Safechuck, nor does it demand immediate condemnation of Jackson.
There’s a war breaking out in Hollywood over the old and newer forms of theatrical distribution. Leading the charge to keep things where they are in traditional cinemas is Steven Spielberg, who is campaigning hard to prevent Netflix from winning Oscars. He is arguing that a Best Picture release should have a more dedicated theatrical release. This, of course, is counter to the entire reason why Netflix want to produce movies.
And then there’s talent like Ava DuVernay who have hitched their wagon to Netflix that are fighting passionately against Spielberg’s anti-Netflix efforts.
I found it interesting listening to the most recent IndieWire ScreenTalk podcast that it was Spielberg leading the charge within Hollywood for a Green Book Oscar win. Now you have someone to blame.
There’s a perception in Hollywood that TV shows and movies featuring predominantly African American casts don’t travel as well internationally. And, honestly, I kind of get why: it’s mostly an issue of cultural specificity and a lack of familiarness with it. It’s only the shows that play it broader that tend to get much international pick-up.
Of course, if there were more African American shows and movies on screens internationally, more of the cultural nuance would be better understood. So, it’s a catch-22. That said, likely the reason why white Hollywood has become so pervasive globally is because the content is less specific and therefore allows audiences to project more of themselves onto it.
An aspect of African American culture that I never really understood was the relationship had with hair. It was only after seeing the Chris Rock documentary Good Hair that I understood it better. And now that I get it, I now see it everywhere in African American media.
The pressure many black women and girls feel to alter our natural hair and protective styles isn't imagined; it has real-world consequences that affect our education, finances, social standing and ability to function unrestricted as contributing members of society. This social pressure means, for some black women, that wearing natural hair, short or long, requires a level of public vulnerability they are willing neither to endure nor entertain. This is why Annalise wears a wig. It is her access key to the larger professional world as much as it is her protection against it.
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