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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 Wonder Years is set for a remake!
ALSO: Are we entering peak comfort TV?
The big news today is that there’s a revival of 1988-93 series The Wonder Years. Here’s what you need to know about the new version:
The new version will again be set in the 60s, but this time will look at the era through the eyes of a young African American child and their family.
While there was never a location set in the original series (it was supposed to just be identified as generic American suburbia), the new version will be set in Montgomery, Alabama.
Original series star Fred Savage will be back as an Executive Producer and will direct episodes of the show. Savage was part of the initial team pitching this new version.
Saladin K. Patterson (The Big Bang Theory, Dave, The Last OG, Frasier, The Bernie Mac Show) will write the pilot with Lee Daniels executive producing through his production company Lee Daniels Entertainment. Original series co-creator Neal Marlens will be a consultant.
A few thoughts from me:
The cultural connection to the 60s is radically different now than it was when The Wonder Years initially went to air. There was just 20 years between the time of the show to the show being made. It would be like making a show about the turn of the millennium today. I’m not sure that the cultural connection is anywhere near as strong - if anything, a modern day Wonder Years probably makes more sense being set in the 80s or 90s.
Didn’t we already remake The Wonder Years in 1999 and call it Freaks & Geeks?
There’s something that’s charming about the idea of this. I’m on board, but fully expect it to launch to considerable interest and then just fade into the TV schedule as yet another irrelevant show.
A show ahead of its time was Problem Areas, cancelled last year by HBO. The show had host Wyatt Cenac (formerly of The Daily Show) investigating problems that need to be addressed. It explored issues like community policing, consent decrees, defunding, and abolition.
There’s a great feature in The New York Times that looks back at the show and explores why the show didn’t get any traction when it aired, considering that all of the issues it explored have been such hot button topics since.
Cenac said he hoped HBO would bolster its support for a show in need of viewership, but instead felt that the network backed away from his struggling series. When “Problem Areas” was canceled, he said, he was told by HBO executives that it might have been renewed if it had been nominated for more awards.
“In retrospect,” he said, “it was something I found odd as HBO is the one in charge of pushing their shows for award recognition.”
Former Fox News daytime news presenter Shep Smith left Fox last year. There was a lot of speculation at the time about where he’d land following his contractual no-compete gardening leave time. Now we know: he’ll host an afternoon/evening show (depending which coast you’re on) on finance news channel CNBC.
The News With Shepard Smith will air at 4pm/7pm. Expect it to have a broader news remit than the other more finance-orientated shows on the channel.
Are we entering peak comfort TV? Kathryn VanArendonk at Vulture argues yes.
The shows dominating the cultural conversation this spring and early summer have not been ones that fit within the narrow band of prestige television, like HBO’s grim-dark literary adaptation I Know This Much Is True or the slow-moving Damien Chazelle jazz drama The Eddy.
They have been the 15-year-old animated show Avatar: The Last Airbender, recently made available to stream on Netflix; the lurid, jaw-dropping docuseries Tiger King; the romantic reality show Love Is Blind; the comedy Insecure; and the Western family drama Yellowstone, which is peak comfort TV for straight white dads and had unbelievable viewership even before everyone had to stay home.
I know in my house this past week it has been nothing but comfort shows like Rosehaven, Crazy Delicious, and Floor Is Lava.
I’ve sorted out your next binge watch. Here’s all 59 episodes of SeaQuest DSV/SeaQuest 2032 to watch at the same time:
Aussie drama The Secrets She Keeps screened in April on 10, but made its UK debut on Monday. Screening on BBC1, the show pulled in an audience of 3.1 million.
Why is this noteworthy? It’s now the biggest new show to launch on a Monday night in the UK this year, beating out the buzziest show of 2020 Normal People (which pulled 2.2m viewers in April). The Secrets She Keeps (made by local production house Lingo Pictures) is BBC1’s 7th-highest drama series opener this year overall.
Not bad for a show that just came and went with barely a ripple when the show aired initially here on 10.
I’ll admit that this is a show that only barely blipped on my own radar when it aired. But if you’re keen to give it a look, all six episodes are streaming over at 10play.
Lucy Mangan over at The Guardian in the UK gave it a 3/5 star review suggesting that the mildly predictable nature of the thriller plot was half the fun of the show. Read: The Guardian
The Sims Spark’d is a new reality show based on computer game The Sims. It’ll air on US channel TBS
Players will have to take on challenges to make unique characters, stories, and worlds in The Sims 4. The show will be four episodes long and will air starting July 17 at 11 p.m. ET. The winning competitors will receive $100,000.
The Weakest Link is being revived. Jane Lynch will host this time. Source: Deadline
New space drama series Away debuts on Netflix September 4. It stars Hilary Swank as an astronaut leading a crew on the first manned mission to Mars. Like everyone else on the mission, she struggles with the decision to leave her family behind.
Skin: A History of Nudity in the Movies is a feature doco about, well, what the title suggests. Those interviewed include: Peter Bogdanovich, Shannon Elizabeth, Diane Franklin, Pam Grier, Amy Heckerling, Malcolm McDowell, Eric Roberts, Kevin Smith, Sean Young, and Mr Skin creatorJim McBride. It goes straight to VOD in the US on August 18.
Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys returns on Sept 4.
The One and Only Ivan debuts on Disney+ August 14.
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