Are you a fan of UK comedy show Taskmaster? This is a series that has a group of comedians gathered to compete over multiple episodes in completing all manner of ridiculous tasks set for them. In addition to comedy ensuing, a fandom surrounding the show has ensued. It is popular enough that a new globally accessible streaming service (Yet Another Streaming Service) has launched. Taskmaster SuperMax+. Great name.
At a cost of $5.99 per month (I assume that is in US dollars), you can now stream the first three seasons of the show. Season 4 gets added at the end of the week, with subsequent seasons to follow.
This isn't the first show to launch a streaming service. Australia's quite terrible variety show Hey Hey It's Saturday has one. There were attempts to launch one streaming nothing but Stargate shows a few years back. And I'm sure there are others. But this is a lovely, niche audience show that is making a go at it thanks to the potential for a global niche audience to find their way to it.
A Hulu state of the nation
US streaming service Hulu has had a noisy couple of days.
First off, you have co-owner of Hulu NBCUniversal announcing it will pull all of the shows it used to stream on Hulu the day after broadcast. Those shows will instead be available on the NBCU-owned Peacock. It goes into effect this September when the new US broadcast TV season starts.
This isn't exactly news, however. This move has been in the works since a deal was signed back in 2019.
But Hulu won't be short of content soon - this brings us to the other big Hulu news of the weekend.
As per 20th Century Studios President Steve Asbell (this is the former 20th Century Fox studio, re-branded following the Disney acquisition of the company), the company from now on is firmly in the Hulu feature film business. 20th Century will continue to release films into cinemas, but only 2-3 per year. It will, however make an additional 10 films each year for streamer Hulu.
A louder statement on where the film industry is going you will not hear...
Also, good news. In that interview with Asbell, he does mention Avatar 2 is on track for release at the end of the year.
It’s going to blow people away. You’re not ready for what Jim [Cameron] is doing.
Quietly hinting at the quiet part quietly
I'm not Russian. I don't live in Russia. I have never lived under an oppressive regime that tries to suppress freedom of public expression. (This is the part where I could make a joke about my wife, but no, I won't be doing that. She's lovely).
So when it comes to understanding the Russian people and their understanding of what is happening in Ukraine right now, I just assumed that there were a lot of people there who simply didn't know that Russia was responsible for anything of consequence. After all, there is a media blackout there on the war with it simply referred to as a special operation.
Of course, there is the Internet and people do talk (often in hushed tones).
But what I never really appreciated was the quiet public displays that signal to the Russian people that not all is as they are told. Here's an example of how that works:
Russian independent (ie not State TV) broadcaster Dohzd, which translates to TV Rain, announced on Thursday that it would suspend operations. It had received a threat of closure from the authorities for non-compliance. The entire staff of the station resigned live on air, signing off with a final statement: "No to war".
That is saying the quiet part out loud. But their final act of defiance was saying something very quietly that was received with great noise. They played Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake. Throughout the 80s, as a means to signify events were taking place before they were permitted to report them, Swan Lake would be broadcast. One such broadcast was in 1991 during an attempted coup that signalled the beginning of the end of the USSR.
Australian floods telethon
Australian broadcast TV networks Ten, Nine, and Seven will simulcast a telethon this coming Saturday to raise money for the floods that have destroyed homes and taken lives across Queensland and New South Wales.
Australia Unites: Red Cross Flood Appeal will air on Saturday, March 12, from 7.30pm. While I think this is great and exactly what TV broadcasters using public spectrum should be doing, I think it is a shame that this seems restricted to broadcast TV - TV skews older and there will now be a large cohort of viewers who:
a) Won't see this and, thus, won't be inspired to donate money; and/or
b) Won't even know this Telethon exists.
It would be great if digital partners could be brought on to help support this. YouTube, Twitch, and other live streaming sites should be part of the event. Heck, considering the Paramount-owned Network 10 is involved, why not also make the stream available on Paramount+ through the US, UK, and other territories across the globe. Everyday Australians have routinely opened their wallets to disasters throughout the US - it'd be nice to see that returned in kind.
Giller, Letterman. Letterman, Giller.
You know David Letterman. But you probably don't know who Don Giller is. But the two men are inextricably linked throughout their lives. While Dave was at work hosting Late Night with David Letterman and then The Late Show with David Letterman, Don Giller was at home recording it. Throughout the years, Don Giller recorded the show and then started making his archive available on YouTube. He has been hard at it since 2009.
But then Don Giller's YouTube account went silent. The archive is still there. It hasn't been removed. There's just no new clips being added. But there's a reason for it and, thankfully, it's a good news story.
Giller has been friendly with the team at Letterman's Worldwide Pants production company, helping them with info and clips over the years. Now, with the launch of an official David Letterman YouTube channel (which surfaces curated clips from the decades of material of Letterman's TV work), Giller has been officially hired as a consultant.
- RIP Mitchell Ryan. The actor, best known playing Dharma's father in Dharma & Greg and the villain in the first Lethal Weapon film, died at age 88. Read: Deadline
- RIP Tim Considine. He was best known for starring as oldest son Mike in My Three Sons. Read: Variety
- Disney+ will offer a cheaper ad-supported plan later this year. Read: Polygon
- Ordinary Joe has been cancelled by NBC after one season. Read: Deadline
- The Big Leap has been cancelled by Fox after one season. Read: THR
- Acapulco has been renewed for a second season by Apple TV+. Read: Variety
- I thought the new Quantum Leap series was gender-flipped? Regardless, Quantum Leap 2022 has cast its new lead - it is Asian American actor Raymond Lee. Read: Deadline
The Bubble debuts April 1 on Netflix.
Atlanta returns March 24 on FX for its third season. Season 2 of the show aired back in March 2018. So, it has been a while...
Minx debuts March 18 on HBO Max.
The Ultimatum debuts April 6 on Netflix.
The Last Bus debuts April 1 on Netflix.
What's next? Tomorrow. Stay safe, folks.