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 The Simpsons had to dump Jackson ep! Was Picard the best Captain? And Turn Up Charlie spins out! Oh, and more!
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who has a brand new pair of rollerskates - do you have a brand new key?
I’d been keeping my eye on Turn Up Charlie, Idris Elba’s Netflix comedy series in which he stars as a DJ. I was curious about Elba in a comedy series - especially one that seems to have been custom-built around him (he’s had a side-hustle as a DJ for much of his life).
Alan Sepinwall has just dropped this review, which firmly has the show as missing the mark:
You can’t blame the great Elba for wanting to stretch himself and prove he’s more than just a devastatingly handsome guy who broods well on camera. But Turn Up Charlie feels so calculated, it’s a wonder math equations don’t float across the screen. The show’s vanity project aspirations frequently clash with some of its individual aims. It’s meant to show, for instance, that Elba works just as well in a family-friendly context as in the gritty adult fare that made him famous, but there’s a running gag where Sara and her manager Astrid (Angela Griffin) talk about how well-endowed Charlie is.
I’m sure that you’ve spent a lot of time considering which Star Trek Captain has the best managerial technique. I haven’t actually read this article from Vulture, but already know that the answer is Captain Picard.
Now, I have a sneaky suspicion that the list will land on Captain Janeway and I know there’s a strong argument for that. But, she has two huge strikes against her:
Got entire crew stranded on the other side of the galaxy in her first outing as Captain of the starship Voyager.
Almost ten times every season of the show they found a viable way to get home to Earth super quickly, but each time it fell apart. Once or twice, that’s bad luck. But… come on. Something stank at the management level.
If you think it was an overreaction by The Simpsons producers to pull the episode Stark Raving Dad from the series run in the wake of Leaving Neverland, put yourself in their shoes. It wasn’t just a half hour of TV that they really liked - they created it, spent time on it (and with Jackson) and put it to air.
Longtime series showrunner and credited writer on that episode Al Jean gave a great interview to the Daily Beast talking about The Simpsons broadly and its future with the upcoming Fox/Disney merger. It’s his comments on Leaving Neverland that caught my interest:
What saddens me is, if you watch that documentary—which I did, and several of us here did—and you watch that episode, honestly, it looks like the episode was used by Michael Jackson for something other than what we'd intended it. It wasn’t just a comedy to him, it was something that was used as a tool. And I strongly believe that. That, to me, is my belief, and it’s why I think removing it is appropriate. I lose a little bit of money financially, it’s not something that’s great personally to lose one of the most successful things I ever did, but I totally think it’s the right move. I don’t believe in going through and making judgments on every guest star and saying “this one was bad, that one was bad,” but the episode itself has a false purpose, and that’s what I object to about it now.
He then puts it bluntly:
I think it was part of what he used to groom boys. I really don’t know, and I should be very careful because this is not something I know personally, but as far as what I think, that’s what I think. And that makes me very, very sad.
Jonah Hill directed the new film clip by Vampire Weekend. It stars Jerry Seinfeld.
All of those talking heads on cable news channels - have you ever wondered how much they get paid? After all, they seem to turn up on TV a lot. Who has that much time/interest in being heard on TV?
The Hollywood Reporter has a break-down of Fox News contributors salaries and suddenly the lucrative world of talking head punditry will both make sense to you and cause you to throw up in your mouth a little.
One of my all-time favourite series Catastrophe came to an end in the UK last month. The final season is about to debut in the US and NYT’s Jamie Poniewozik has this stellar review:
It’s not a spoiler to say that they get through this; getting through is in a way the subject of “Catastrophe.” Rob and Sharon’s relationship is a love story, a war story and an alliance. They spar terrifically, with an absurd edge — “Do you know how hard I’d laugh if you killed me?” Rob says during one quarrel — they get it out of their systems, they move on to the next calamity.