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.
Taika Waititi is remaking Time Bandits. For TV! Plus: Internal pressure at NRATV. And more!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who knows he has timed his upcoming holiday poorly.
In what is probably the most important news of 2019: There is a Time Bandits TV show in development at Apple, rebooting the Terry Gilliam movie premise. Better news is that Taika Waititi is the guy doing it. The Thor: Ragnarok director is expected to co-write and direct on the series.
Aja Romano at Vox has a review of the HBO doco The Case Against Adnan Syed. Aja argues that the doco has a strong pro-Syed basis and offers nothing new.
ButThe Case Against Adnan Syed has scant new ground to cover, and very little apparent interest in taking an objective view of the case or of Syed himself. According to Chaudry, her book about Syed’s case was optioned to create the documentary, which seems to have a very clear, very similar agenda: to argue unequivocally for Syed’s innocence. The result is a look at the case that arguably provides a public disservice by essentially taking Syed and his presentation of himself at face value — which effectively makes it an unreliable narrator.
March 25 is the date Apple will be announcing its upcoming TV service. There was already word that an event would be held then to highlight Apple’s various subscription services, but the invitations have now gone out and TV is very much the focus of the event.
HBO has a new 5-part drama series Chernobyl. When I first heard about this, I just assumed it was a documentary. Not the case.
Jared Harris stars as Valery Legasov, a real-life individual who was tasked with determining the causes of the incident in its immediate aftermath. Among the rest of the ensemble are Stellan Skarsgård, Emily Watson, Paul Ritter, Jessie Buckley, and Adrian Rawlins, each playing people wrestling with the physical and psychological toll that tending to the survivors and grappling with the truth took on all involved.
US gun lobby organisation The NRA run a propaganda-fueled online streaming channel - NRATV. There’s an interesting New York Times article today detailing concerns within the organisation about the value of NRATV.
“Since the founding of NRATV, some, including myself and other board members, have questioned the value of it,” Marion Hammer, the group’s most formidable lobbyist and a key adviser to its chief executive, Wayne LaPierre, said in a statement. “Wayne has told me and others that NRATV is being constantly evaluated — to make sure it works in the best interest of the organization and provides an appropriate return on investment.”
The reassessment underscores a debate within the N.R.A. over how broad its activism should be. And it comes as the organization faces a storm of challenges, including a series of mass shootings that has created a new generation of gun-control activists.
Memberships are falling and there are internal questions about the cost vs return of what is an expensive service to run.
It’s a shame because they’re doing really important work:
This Oregon Blockbuster store is now the final Blockbuster video store on the planet. It’s strange how much many of us are watching the decline of video stores with almost a sense of glee. It’s not like video stores ever held the same sort of romance as a record store (I suspect that the ephemeral nature of a rental vs ownership of an album has something to do with it), but the further we are moving away from physical media the more we are happy to be shedding this last vestige of the physical act of engaging with it.
At its prime in the early 2000s, Blockbuster boasted more than 9,000 stores across the nation.
Popular among movie watchers and video game renters, people flocked to Blockbuster to find flicks or games to unwind with. But the company's business model soon became stale when Netflix and Redbox started providing on-demand digital services.
In 2010, Blockbuster declared bankruptcy and was bought by Dish Network. Soon after, Blockbuster began closing its doors, though some franchise locations tried to stick it out.
By April 2017, only 10 Blockbuster stores remained in the US.
Against all odds, the location in the small town of Bend has persevered.
Funny Or Die is producing its first ever daytime talk show. Titled JerryO, the show will be hosted by Sliders star Jerry O’Çonnell. It’ll have a three-week test run on US Fox Channels. Great news for fans of Tomcats.
Silicon Valley hasn’t been cancelled, but it is expected to be nearing the end of its run. Series creator Mike Judge has just signed a deal for a further two live-action shows with HBO:
The first project is titled “QualityLand,” based on the novel of the same name by Marc Uwe-King. The official description reads: “QualityLand is the very near future. It’s everything we have now, and more so. It’s the story of humanity’s struggle against the tyranny of convenience. But funny.”
The other project is a limited series titled “A5.” It is centered on a bioengineer who discovers the gene that makes a person an a–hole and attempts to answer the questions nagging at all of us: Why do a–holes exist? Why have they come to dominate our culture? And can they be cured?
Ben Folds has an interesting project. Via Patreon he is setting up a service for fans of his music. A monthly subscription will get them 4 previously unreleased mp3 recordings as well as access to a monthly livestream in which Folds will play his favourite records while sipping a scotch. Look, this news isn’t for everyone, but Folds has a strong, personal relationship with his fans - for those dedicated enough to pay ten bucks a month, this is a really smart use of video streaming to further enhance a fandom.