John Hamm joins Curb. ALSO: The madness of ranking every movie of the past decade.

Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett who refuses to count past 10. Just generally...

What is more insane: That Vulture compiled a ranking of all of the movies from the past decade - that’s 5,279 movies apparently? Or that Avatar wasn’t in the top 10? Madness…

Read the list here: Vulture


Jan 19. That is when we will see the new season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. Now with added Jon Hamm. Sounds like Santa got my list.


And speaking of trailers… the new DC live action show Stargirl. It is expected in early 2020.


Jan 26. That’s when US politics-focused weekly docu-series The Circus returns for another season - just in time for the start of the first Democratic caucus and primary voting kicks off.

Source: Deadline


Marvel Television, which is a different division to the Marvel movies, is having its operations absorbed into the larger Marvel Entertainment company. This means lay-offs.

So, when you’re getting excited about a new Ant Man TV show debuting on Disney+, just remember that accountant John Johnson lost his job, could no longer provide for his family, went through a divorce, and was subsequently found in the garage of his brothers town house (which he moved into after no longer being able to pay his mortgage).

Was that too dark? I’m sure John will be fine….

Source: Deadline

Image result for stock photo accountant

When you think about the ‘streaming awards’, rarely does the hardware we use to watch these services come to mind. But, just as there is a battle between Netflix and Disney+ and Apple TV+, etc etc, there is also competing hardware companies trying to get you to use their devices.

The quiet achiever in this is Roku. It is the highest selling streaming product in the US. In other places around the world (including Australia), Roku has its hardware rebadged and sold as the streaming hardware for Internet service providers and cable companies. Here in Australia it is known as the Telstra TV.

Roku doesn’t make a profit on the hardware it sells, but rather controlling the platform offers opportunities for paid promotion. For example…

Nearly every inch of real estate on Roku is for rent. For $1 million, a streaming service can take over the home screen to advertise a show. When Hulu got the rights to stream Seinfeld, it paid Roku to transform a portion of the screen into an image of Jerry’s apartment instead of the default purple backdrop. Hulu, Netflix, Showtime, and YouTube have paid Roku to build brand-specific buttons on its remote controls; these lead users straight to those services. At $1 per customer for each button, the cost can quickly add up to millions of dollars in monthly fees.

Source: Bloomberg


And finally…

The indie film Uncut Gems, which features a dramatic turn by Adam Sandler which has gotten Oscar buzz, is due to hit Netflix on Jan 31.

Source: Dark Horizons

Not everyone is happy about so many high profile art-house films bypassing the art house and heading straight to Netflix.

Kavalier & Clay now a TV series. ALSO: The Baby Yoda emoji petition.

Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett who thinks everything has gone too far.

Husband and wife team Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman will produce a series based on Chabon’s book The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay. The Pulitzer-award winning book is a fictionalised account of two Jewish comic book writers in the late 30s-40s. It was very loosely inspired by Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The show will be for Showtime, part of an overall deal Chabon has signed with CBS.

Source: Deadline


Have you signed the petition to make Baby Yoda an emoji?

Source: Change.org


And on the subject of saddo Internet fandom….

There was this (since-deleted) post from Reddit:

Image may contain: 2 people

Israeli reality show 2025 has been cancelled. The show saw a group of people from all walks of life living in a purpose-built mini-city manned by robots and, obviously, filled with cameras. Contestants competed by completing various tasks, being popular, and spending thiftily. Viewers complained the format was too complicated.

I’d assume the cancellation is a big disappointment as they would probably have liked to have sold the format internationally to make use of the purpose-built facility constructed for the show (often reality shows will send contestants internationally to shoot on big budget sets as it is cheaper than reproducing them in each country).

I couldn’t find a clip of the show directly, but here is a French TV show talking about the Israeli show. I speak neither Hebrew nor French.

Source: Variety


Post-merger, ViacomCBS is out to beef up its content library - both for titles to put on its streaming services and channels as well as with known-IP that can be exploited for remakes. First up is an equity stake in the Miramax library.

For an example of how that might benefit ViacomCBS: Right now Paramount is working with the library on creating a TV adaptation of Sliding Doors.

Source: Deadline


As per Netflix, 26.4 million accounts watched 70% or more of The Irishman. Would that many people have seen the movie in the cinema? Definitely not.

Source: Deadline


And finally…

From the Further Clarity Department (formerly known as the Corrections Dept)…

Yesterday I mentioned an HBO doco about Mel Brooks debuting this week. It was odd to me that I hadn’t heard about HBO making a doco about Brooks (usually this kind of thing gets a lot of attention when commissioned and then leading into its airing), but I was in a rush and took it at face value.

It’s actually a rebadged episode of BBC arts show Imagine. Mel Brooks Unwrapped aired in Feb 2018. Thanks to ABW reader Michael Grant who clarified that one for me.

If you ever do want to send me an email, just reply to an ABW newsletter. Or email me at dan@alwaysbewatching.com

Who is really under The Mandalorian's mask? ALSO: RIP Silicon Valley & Mrs Fletcher.

Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett who is not under Mando's mask.

Who is The Mandalorian? Pedro Pascal may voice the guy, but under the suit has been a number of stunt performers.

As per Bryce Dallas Howard:

“He was in rehearsals for King Lear on Broadway. And so, while we were doing my episode, I wasn’t working with Pedro,” she told Vulture about the making of “Sanctuary,” her TV directing debut.

So, who is The Mandalorian? Brendan Wayne, grandson of John Wayne, is one of the performers.

Source: Vulture


Yesterday was a big day for HBO - the final episode of Silicon Valley, the (likely) final episode of Mrs Fletcher, and Watchmen aired its penultimate episode.

That last episode of Silicon Valley… it was okay. One of the strengths of Silicon Valley is that it has always been a mildly brainy hang-out show with no stakes of any real consequence. Ending the series with the characters effectively saving the world should have been more fun than it was - what kind of killed the final episode was the framing device of a documentary that looked back on that fateful day where everything changed for them.

The AV Club has a very good write-up on the finale:

Silicon Valley has never tried to be anything other than it is, fully formed from minute one and installing upgrades since then. It’s a show about the hubris and incompetence of the tech industry, a vehicle for some of the most creatively profane jokes on television, and a showcase for a terrific comedic ensemble. If it hasn’t aimed as high as its stablemates, it’s because it never wanted to do that, comfortable in its role as class clown instead of an overachiever. And in six years, it’s scored far more hits than misses, able to pick up on the changes in a rapidly changing industry and find the humor at their expense.

Source: The AV Club

Image result for silicon valley

The Mrs Fletcher finale was an interesting case study in giving the audience next to nothing. I mostly liked the finale, which played well into the thematic idea of the series - the show has always been about characters opening themselves up to a new way to look at the world and their place in it. With that rationale, it was fitting to see the show conclude with the very open ending.

It may not have felt entirely satisfying, but it was probably the right way to end it.

Ben Travers at Indiewire has a look at the season finale and floats the idea of seeing the series continue on. I kind of hope it doesn’t, but I’m absolutely there for more episodes if that comes to pass.

Read: Indiewire

Mrs. Fletcher Kathryn Hahn HBO

Watchmen actor Yahya Abdul-Mateen II was outed in last week’s episode as actually playing an unexpected character. He had this to say in a great short and tidy interview with EW’s James Hibberd.

“People have been really moved. I didn’t see that coming. I was just playing the guy who happens to be the vessel but I’ve been noticing how important that is to people — to the see the possibility of a ‘god’ living in a black man. Especially in a world where the antagonists are a white supremacist organization. It’s really powerful imagery we’re putting forth and I’m proud to be part of that imagery of representation.”

Source: EW


New HBO comedy Avenue 5 has released a full trailer.


Star Trek: DS9 / Benson / Boston Legal actor Rene Auberjonois passed away at the age of 79.

Source: Dark Horizons

R I P Rene Auberjonois

The trailer for the new Ghostbusters: Afterlife has been released and I have on my skeptical face. I’m a huge fan of the original Ghostbusters. I can’t really say if the recent reboot was worse than the terrible Ghostbusters 2, but neither were particularly good. The thing with Ghostbusters is that the premise is purposefully dumb and not really why people loved the first one - it was always just a vehicle for a specific comedic tone (it fit into the very 80s genre of wise-ass guys sticking it to the man). Replicating that years later when comedic tastes have changed has proven foolhardy.

What kind of works in Afterlife’s favour is that it doesn’t seem to be trying to overtly be a comedy. It’s light in tone, but based on this trailer, is doing something else.


Twin Peaks VR is coming. It will initially be available on HTC Vive, Oculus Rift and Valve Index headsets. Oculus Valve and Playstation VR is planned.


And finally…

It’s been a big day for trailers. Here’s the new HBO doco Mel Brooks: Unwrapped, which debuts at the end of this week:

RIP Carol Spinney. PLUS: How many people actually watched The Irishman?

Always Be Watching is put together by Dan Barrett and his puppeteer.

The heart and soul of Big Bird and Oscar The Grouch has died. Puppeteer Carol Spinney had worked on Sesame Street since week one and brought several of the world’s most beloved characters to life through his work. Spinney was 85 at the time of his passing.

His Big Bird had a childlike innocence, sometimes goofy, sometimes subdued, outgoing or shy, like most children a creature of habit and mood. His themes were simple: that it was good to speak up, O.K. to make a mistake, all right to be sad sometimes. At Jim Henson’s memorial service in 1990 at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York, Big Bird sang a heart-rending farewell, “It’s Not Easy Being Green.”

As for Oscar the Grouch, Mr. Henson had wanted to model the gruff character on a “magnificently rude” restaurant waiter. But Mr. Spinney found another inspiration: the belligerent New York cabdriver he encountered on the way to his first day on the show. “Where to, Mac?” the cabby demanded, and without prompting launched into a tirade against the city’s liberal mayor, John V. Lindsay.

Source: New York Times

Mr. Spinney as Big Bird in the early 1970s.

Short-form streaming service Quibi continues to sign up big names and known properties ahead of its launch in 2020. This week: a revival of cult comedy Reno 911.

Source: Dark Horizons


Go behind the scenes of the ET revival video/commercial:


It’s official - Watchmen is the most-watched new series on HBO in 2019.

Source: Dark Horizons


I spent a good portion of my weekend watching The Marvelous Mrs Maisel season 3. I As much as I adore the show, I think there’s a very fair argument to be made about the fact the show is hollow and isn’t really saying anything. Something I’ve realised this year is that each season of the show is taking time to explore a different type of performance venue - season one was about playing small vaudeville clubs, season two took us to the Catskills, while season three has us on the road playing large venues. One presumes season four will give Midge a TV show to work on. The thing is that the show is obviously interested in exploring each of these styles of performance spaces, but it has said next to nothing about the experience of any of them.

Sonya Saraiya from Vanity Fair lays in the boot over its lack of depth:

Set pieces alone do not make a show. Nostalgic wish fulfillment carries the show further than it has any right to—but it’s not enough to make eight episodes cohere into a season, or for three seasons to cohere into a story. When Maisel runs out of nostalgia, it doesn’t have a lot else to offer the audience. What it does offer comes straight from the Sherman-Palladino bag of tricks (i.e., Gilmore Girls)—fast-talking banter, commotion as comedy, and intrusive, demanding parents. The show can be very funny, but its punch lines and gags are frequently belabored to death. Maisel seems to be happiest existing in a space of droll near-comedy, where nothing can be taken seriously but also nothing is exactly funny, either.

Rachel Brosnahan in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

The Washington Post has a look at the way that the show leans into and rejects various Jewish stereotypes:

The show may be a recent phenomenon, but the lead character attempts to navigate two caricatures of Jewish women that date back to 19th-century France. The “Beautiful Jewess” originally emerged to help calm fears and ease Jewish integration into French politics and society. Jewish women in ballets and operas were portrayed as being attractive but wholesome, the paradigm of family values. Over time, however, as France became less tolerant of religious minorities, and social Darwinism coalesced with scientific racism, this stereotyped portrayal moved into far more negative territory. Excessive sexuality came to characterize the “Beautiful Jewess,” symbolizing both 19th-century decadence and attendant fears of moral dissolution and corruption, and Jews’ increasing marginalization and persecution in politics and society.

Rachel Brosnahan as Midge Maisel in “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.”  (Nicole Rivelli/Amazon Studios)

The Boys season 2 is due in 2020.


Consider the hype around Netflix’s The Irishman. It’s a film that has gone (more or less) direct to Netflix. It is directed by one of the all-time cinema greats. And stars three of the great American cinema stars.

But how many people are actually going to watch it?

Will this be the biggest film on Netflix this year? Or will people aspire to watch it, add it to their queue and instead watch an episode of Queer Eye?

Nielsen knows the answer. At least in terms of US viewers.

According to the audience measurement company:

  • 13.2 million US viewers watched The Irishman

  • That’s more people than those who watched the Breaking Bad film El Camino

  • But fewer than the 16.9 million who watched Bird Box in 2018

  • 18% of people who watched The Irishman watched it in full on the first day - this is on par with Bird Box, but more than those who watched El Camino.

  • The median age of viewers was 49 years old for The Irishman - the median age of a Netflix viewer is 31

Source: Bloomberg


And finally…

All of those DC superhero shows have the big Crisis of Infinite Earths crossover kicking off this week. A lot of actors from superhero shows from years gone by will be making an appearance. Not appearing will be Nicholas Cage who was invited. Cage was cast in the never-made Tim Burton Superman movie from the early 90s. I mention this only as an excuse to publish this photo:

Cage Was Invited To Play Superman In Crisis

Source: Dark Horizons

ABW TV Guide: All the new & returning TV to watch this weekend (6 - 8 Dec 2019)

Always Be Watching is put together by Dan Barrett

Yesterday from the Always Be Watching home office in Sydney, Australia it was gloomy. Bushfires have been raging up and down the coast of New South Wales and the haze that had surrounded Sydney yesterday turned very dark. The air was difficult to breathe, the sun completely disappeared, and I started to feel my mostly-dormant asthma kicking in.

This is legit how the world was looking yesterday afternoon. And it only got worse after that:

After a full day of dystopia, today the world feels kind of closer to normal here at HQ. It’s still a bit hazy, but I can again see the sky and I’m breathing. Having experienced a bit too much reality yesterday, it is an ABSOLUTE PLEASURE to be able to escape the world with what is set to be a very full weekend of great TV and movies to watch.

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel returns for a third season, which would be enough to make my weekend, but then there is the debut of a new Noah Baumbach movie - the critically lauded Marriage Story. The release of Marriage Story on Netflix is one of several big name releases for Netflix that they actually gave a cinema release to. Right now I can wander up the road to a local indie cinema and see Marriage Story on a big-ish screen, or I can also watch it from the comfort of my couch.

Apple TV+ also launches its new drama series Truth be Told. Starring Octavia Spencer, the show is a murder mystery based around a true crime podcaster. With the launch of the show, it means Apple TV+ concurrently has running: The Morning Show, See, For All Mankind, Servant, and now Truth be Told.

Oh, and there’s also an original film debuting on Apple TV+ today. Hala is a film that debuted at the Sundance Film Festival about a teenage Pakistani American girl who struggles to balance her own desires with that of her family and culture. Right now it has 89% on Rotten Romatoes.

Considering that one of the key complaints about Apple TV+ was that it launched with such little content, I think it is noteworthy that this weekend I’ll be watching at least 5 or so hours of TV from it.

returning: 

The Marvelous Mrs Maisel (s3), Tell Me a Story (s2), Project Runway ( s18), Vikings (s6), Making It (s2), Medici: Masters of Florence (s3), Midsomer Murders (s21)

new:

Marriage Story - Netflix (US)

Stars: Scarlett JohanssonAdam DriverMerritt Wever

Noah Baumbach's incisive and compassionate look at a marriage breaking up and a family staying together.

WatchNetflix


Hala - Apple TV+ (US)

Stars: Geraldine ViswanathanJack KilmerGabriel Luna

Muslim teenager Hala copes with the unraveling of her family as she comes into her own.

WatchApple TV+

Truth Be Told - Apple TV+ (US)

Stars: Octavia SpencerMichael BeachMonique CapeltaLizzy Caplan, Aaron Paul

A true-crime podcaster tries to solve the mystery surrounding a family patriarch's death.

WatchApple TV+

V Wars - Netflix (US)

Stars: Ian SomerhalderAdrian HolmesJacky Lai

A doctor is pitted against his best friend when an ancient disease turns people into vampires.

WatchNetflix

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