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.
The final Veep! The wild Game of Thrones penultimate episode! RIP Doris Day!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett by the light of the silvery moon.
Last night HBO aired an incredible episode of television. No, it wasn’t the second-to-last episode of Game of Thrones. Though, that was amazing and we’ll get to that in a moment.
No, I’m talking about the series finale of Veep. It’s a show that has flown further under the radar than it ever deserved, really only being recognised at the Emmy Awards every year for Julia Louis-Dreyfus. And that’s a shame as it really just solidifies its image as a populist comedy - which in no way it is. It is an exceptionally dark, nasty, and wildly funny comedy with actual laugh-out-loud jokes.
Without giving away any spoilers for those yet to see the final episode: I thought the episode completely nailed the final trajectory for all of the characters. It was far from a happy ending for most, but a happier than deserved ending for many of these characters. The fact that some of them ended up in a hell of their own making is very much in keeping with the show.
If you have seen the finale, you’ll know that two characters have a major moment together which is maybe the darkest, most soul crushing thing I have ever seen on TV. Entertainment Weekly has a conversation with the two actors from that scene, which is a must-read.
And that’s as oblique as I can be.
Now, I’m going to talk openly about Game of Thrones here. I assume most people reading this likely watched the show last night. And conversation around the show is everywhere, so it seems redundant to not just talk about it.
There have been elements of Game of Thrones that have been incredible to watch on TV in this final season, but my mouth was agape for most of this week’s episode. It was incredible to see a TV series so visually ambitious at such a tremendous scale. The scenes with Arya running through a crumbling city, witnessing the human devastation surrounding her was hauntingly beautiful. And traumatic. And horrific. And pulse-pounding.
Quite a few viewers are distressed at the character shift in Dany, but, quite frankly, she has never seemed like the most stable character on the series. She’s been reckless and sadistic many times on the show in order to get her way. For her arc to wind down with the character losing her support systems and succumbing to dark, irrational impulses is very much in line with the character I’ve been watching on the show for the last few years.
Why didn’t Cersei use wildfire to protect herself? - TV Guide
Game of Thrones fans are convinced Arya has added another name to her kill list - Uproxx
Did Game of Thrones earn that turn or not? - The AV Club
Legendary actor Doris Day has died at age 97. She retired from acting in 1973 after five years on The Doris Day Show before going on to have a lengthy career as an animal rights activist.
Among the VHS classics that were rewatched regularly in my home as a kid were the films On Moonlight Bay and By The Light of The Silvery Moon. They were a pair of family comedies that followed the relationship of a young tomboy played by Day as she was being courted by a young man in the neighbourhood. Both films were witty and played around with form by breaking the fourth wall a bit. I’ll always remember Doris Day from those two films.
To my mind, she was old-time Hollywood and it’s incredibly sad to note her passing today.
George RR Martin has already written the 6th and 7th books in the series, but is waiting for the TV series to finish up before releasing them. So says actor Ian McElhinney, who played Barristan Selmy on Game of Thrones.
Speaking at fan convention EpicCon:
“George has already written Books 6 and 7, and as far as he’s concerned there only are seven books. But he struck an agreement with David and Dan, the showrunners on the series, that he would not publish the final two books until the series has completed. So if all goes well, in another month or two we might get Books 6 and 7, and I’m intrigued to know how Barristan, for instance, ends up going through those final two books. George, I talked to him during Season 1 and he did say to me that Barristan had a very interesting journey. But unfortunately I didn’t get to play all of that, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
Could the current skirmish between Hollywood TV writers and agents mark the end of the Hollywood TV agent? Longtime successful Agent Gavin Polone says yes. He argues that networking and technology now makes it very easy to replace the agent.
When I look at the list of projects on which I'm working now, I see only one where I was introduced to the writer by an agent. The rest were either people I already knew or were known to the network or studio from another project and the executive on the project suggested we hire them. In all likelihood, if I had an open assignment right now, I'd call one of six or seven writers I've gone to in the past. And if that didn't work, I'd probably talk to other producers and executives to get ideas and I'd scroll through IMDb to find those who wrote movies and shows that I liked. One thing I would not do is stop developing. Other producers won't either. Studios and networks will hire from the lists of people they've worked with before, or tried to work with before.
A lot of younger viewers will be very confused by the Netflix special Still Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate. It debuts on the streaming service today.
The original series, which ran from 1967 to 1973, is also responsible for making household names of stars like Goldie Hawn and Lily Tomlin, but today it’s applauded for tackling issues of the time that no one else talked about. Racism, gender politics, feminism and a republican president were just the beginning of what the show was willing to dive into. Despite that, Schlatter’s goal was never to make statements or drive opinion. The main goal was much simpler: to always make people feel good.
Fans of Star Trek were outraged at the idea they had to subscribe to CBS All Access to be able to watch new Star Trek series Star Trek: Discovery. Which is kind of funny given that if you asked Star Trek fans generally if they’d pay $5-10 a month for 4 episodes of a new Star Trek series, most of them would have said yes.
But people are just used to new shows appearing on their Netflix service, so expected to be able to watch it there. Internationally fans were getting it on Netflix, so there was zero outrage.
The new Star Trek series about Captain Picard will not be on Netflix. International viewers will be watching it via Amazon Prime Video. That’s going to annoy some people, but it is a huge win for Amazon as they chase subscribers to add to their Prime home delivery service.