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.
Why short TV rules! Check out the new Bacon! And Pauley tweets!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who has a public holiday day of TV ahead of him.
Currently streaming (on Showtime in the US, Stan in Australia) is a preview of the first episode of new gritty period cop drama City On a Hill.
The show stars Kevin Bacon and Aldis Hodge as a corrupt FBI agent and a pure-hearted Assistant DA working together.
First of all, know that the show is actually quite good. The showrunner is Tom Fontana of Homicide: Life on The Street / Oz fame, and he has longtime collaborators from those shows involved here. That said, while I liked the first episode, I had two thoughts:
The show feels a little bit like an easier-to-penetrate The Wire, but that likely comes from Fontana being more of a network-TV kind of guy and is largely responsible for giving David Simon his start in TV.
At a full hour, the first episode just felt too darn long. There is something to be said for a network-style 40 minute episode.
If you like darker cop shows, this one is worth a look. I don’t think this first episode is outstanding, but it has the makings of a really decent show.
And speaking of shows that go too long, worth a read is Sophie Gilbert making the case for the best TV shows having short episode counts and short-duration episodes.
…the best TV shows of recent months are the ones embracing restraint. Netflix’s Russian Doll; Amazon’s Fleabag,Homecoming, and Catastrophe; Hulu’s PEN15 and Shrill; IFC’s Documentary Now!; and FX’s Better Things all craft entire seasons that can be watched in less than six hours. The stories they tell are not only ambitious and evocative, but also concisely rendered.
While I agree with her 100%, there is also a counterpoint: There’s something great about the US network-style 22 episode season. Those shows don’t translate well to streaming (the idea of a 22 episode commitment is painful), but we are losing the watchability of episodic, churn-and-burn style TV. It might not be cool, but when done well, these shows also resonate with all of us. It’s just a shame that US networks are producing so few good ones anymore.
As much as I love The Good Fight, for example, there was something great about watching those same creators scramble to fill an additional 12 episodes each year. It often led to creative, out-of-the-box episodes and character/narrative discoveries that don’t exist in a tight fully-planned 8-13 episode season.
Ampere Analysis has released the findings of research conducted which has found that 22% of US households are likely to subscribe to the Disney+ service. Interesting to note:
The two groups of households likely to subscribe are 18-24 year-olds and households with kids. This isn’t hugely surprising, but to layer in extra context, households with children almost double the 18-24 year-old group.
A further 20% of respondents said they are on the fence about a Disney+ subscription. This represents potential strong market growth.
Marvel was ranked as the most important content to have as part of Disney+ for those 18 to 24.
Those aged 35+ are more likely to value Star Wars compared to younger audiences where it underperforms. The franchise will be key to attracting older audiences to the service who are less passionate about Disney’s animated films or Marvel.
It looks like the Fox X-Men movie franchise has reached its end with Dark Phoenix, released this week, expected to lose $100 million for Fox-Disney. This is what happens when you release a sequel that nobody was clamoring for following another box office dud that audiences and critics hated (X-Men: Apocalypse).
It’ll be interesting to see what Keven Feige and the Marvel team do with the X-Men now that they’ll be able to get their hands on the characters.
Last week the DC Universe show Swamp Thing was cancelled after just one episode. In the confusion about why they cut out the legs from under it came word that it was actually the result of an issue related to tax credits.
This looks very cool. It is coming to Amazon Prime Video later this year and is from Bojack Horseman’sRaphael Bob-Waksberg.
This is the tweet that would have ruined the weekend of a whole bunch of CBS PR staff and lawyers.
Over the next few days, expect to hear the full story on this start to emerge. The general consensus seems to be that Mark Harmon hasn’t done anything here (outside of a weird incident involving an on-set dog bite), but let’s see how this one plays out…
Join the newsletter to receive the latest updates in your inbox.