Elvis is back! Marcel the monkey is back! But... some shows won't be back!

Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett, who, like a shark, only moves forward.

Over the weekend I had a great time at the recording of the podcast Eyes On Gilead. It is a weekly recap podcast about The Handmaid’s Tale produced by a team at SBS. I have a personal stake in seeing the podcast do well as it was my initial idea and I put the podcast together and produced it through its first season.

At the event, there were about 300 fans of the podcast to turn up and celebrate in conversation around the show. What I thought was magnificent about it is that the show is an incredibly tough watch most week, dealing with difficult themes. But, it’s also not a superhero or sci-fi show (even if it does have a grounded fantasy alternate-reality concept driving its narrative). I’m used to seeing big crowds turn up for nerd content (I use the term with love), but seeing 300 people turn up to watch a panel chat about a literary adaption. Well, that’s something.

On the panel, from left to right (as pictured below): Haidee Ireland, Sana Qadar, Natalie Hambly, and Fiona Williams. Fiona is also the host of the show. Not pictured is the show’s audio wiz Jeremy Wilmot.

And speaking of SBS, as revealed during the Eyes On Gilead podcast recording, SBS has acquired the local rights to the outstanding BBC/HBO drama Years and Years. It will air on the network in November.

One of the great comic book series of the 00s was a comic called Y: The Last Man. It’s about a guy and his (male) pet monkey who find out that they’re the last guys on the planet after a mystery event kills the rest of them off. The series becomes a road trip story with the exploration of what a world run by women would look like - framed through a society that has experienced a mass genocide event. It’s a very good read with memorable characters.

One of those memorable characters is the monkey companion, Ampersand. With Y: The Last Man being turned into a TV series right now, it was always going to be interesting to see how they would handle having a monkey on screen so regularly. Would they cast an actual monkey? Or computer animate it? The monkey was a core aspect of the story, so it needs to be in it.

This weekend, the casting was announced: Katie, the capuchin monkey who played Marcel in Friends and was also the outbreak monkey in the film Outbreak was cast in the pilot.

Source: Hollywood Reporter

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You maniacs - you blew it up…. again! Krypton, the TV series based on Superman’s home planet which was famously blown up everytime it was shown in a movie or TV show, has been cancelled before being able to depict the planet being blown up.

It will not proceed beyond its second season. Nor will a Lobo spin-off series ever see the light of day.

This is all good news.

Source: Variety

Krypton Syfy

The Alan Cumming series Instinct has been cancelled after two seasons. Hopefully this opens up the actor to doing a stint on The Good Fight.

His series co-star:

And finally…

It’s good to be the king. Elvis Presley is returning to TV as the star of a new Netflix animated series which has him working as a spy.

“Elvis Presley trades in his white jumpsuit for a jet pack when he is covertly inducted into a secret government spy program to help battle the dark forces that threaten the country he loves — all while holding down his day job as the King Of Rock And Roll,” 

Source: Variety

Elvis Presley Agent King

What you'll be watching this weekend: 16-18 August 2019

Always Be Watching is written by the late Dan Barrett. Not dead. Just late.

What a bonkers good week for television this past week. And I have watched almost none of it.

With the Quentin Tarantino film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood out in cinemas this week in Australia, I chose to spend much of my week watching through most of his films. I remain firm in my belief that his best film is Jackie Brown.

I did catch the season 2 return of Succession, which had the show returning in fine form. After a slow start to the series, the show has become must-watch TV. Ignore most of the chatter about the show and how wild/funny the characters are - the show isn’t that at all and it seems like some culture writers are desperately working to make the show into something it isn’t. Succession is a dark character drama about a family who are tenuously held together not by love, but rather by a deep desire by every family member to run the family business - an international media conglomerate. It is about the corruption of personal relationships in the face of immense power and wealth. But, it’s also a bit funny with great turns of phrase.

The BIG show of the week, tho, is Mindhunter. Given practically zero publicity by Netflix, Mindhunter is a serial killer procedural drama by David Fincher. The show is an exploration into the mind of killers and the impact it has on the psyche of those who seek to understand them. If you have ever enjoyed a David Fincher film (Fight Club, Zodiac, The Game), you will love this just as much - it’s dark drama with a commercial approachability.

Image result for mindhunter season 2

Also flying under the radar is the debut of Why Women Kill, a new dark comedy from Marc Cherry (Desperate Housewives, The Golden Girls). It is firmly on my list of things to watch this weekend.


The Terror (s2), Succession (s2), Lodge 49 (s2), Mindhunter (s2)


Our Boys - HBO (US)

Stars: Ronit Elkabez, Michael Aloni, Lior Askenazi

On June 12, 2014, the disappearance of three Jewish boys in Israel sends shockwaves across the nation. Simon, a terrorism agent at the Jewish Division of Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and his team search for answers. Arab teen Mohammed lands in a dangerous environment while Jewish teen Avishai finds himself at a crossroads.

Watch Now - HBO ]

Why Women Kill - CBS All Access (US)

Creator: Marc Cherry
Lucy LiuGinnifer GoodwinKirby Howell-Baptiste 

Three women living in three different decades: a housewife in the '60s, a socialite in the '80s and a lawyer in 2018, deal with infidelity in their marriages.

Watch Now - CBS All Access ]
[ Watch Now - 10 All Access ]

Help me Obi-Wan! Also: Leah Remini takes on Danny Masterson. Also: More of a beloved Netflix rom-com!

Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett who is usually better understood subtitled.

With Disney fan hype event D23 taking place next week, a rumour that Ewan McGregor may have signed on for an Obi-Wan Disney+ TV series has been gaining steam. I wouldn’t put too much stock in it, but with a Star Wars film dropping in December this year and a live action Star Wars series expected to drop before the films release, don’t be too surprised if we are awash in Star Wars news next week.

Source: Heroic Hollywood

Netflix rom-com To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before has its sequel dropping in February. Along with a launch date, Netflix has today announced a third film in the series is also coming.

I hope you can focus on work today after hearing that news.

Leah Remini’s investigative show Scientology and The Aftermath will finish with a two-hour special that will investigate Danny Masterson and accusations of rape leveled at the That 70s Show star.

Source: The AV Club

Abby Quinn from the movie Landline will be appearing as Mabel in the new Mad About You revival coming to Spectrum Originals.

Things I don’t know anything about from this:

  • Who is Abby Quinn?

  • What was Landline?

  • Spectrum Originals?

As I’m sure you don’t need to be reminded, Mabel is actually an acronym for Mothers Always Bring Extra Love.

Source: Deadline

Fat Pizza is moving on from SBS to 7Mate. Okay.

Source: TV Tonight

And finally…

Why is the default on foreign language Netflix series set to an English dub? It’s simple: That’s how people watch it. They may say they prefer the subtitles, but Netflix metrics show that viewership increases with English language dubs.

And with all of the second screening that people do these days while watching TV, that makes a lot of sense to me.

The company's research has shown that dubbed versions of hit shows are more popular than their subtitled equivalents. "People say they prefer the original, but our figures show they watch the dubbed version," noted Kelly Luegenbiehl, vp international originals for Europe, Turkey and Africa, at a talk in Berlin earlier this year. Netflix's investment in dubbing has been growing, on average, between 25 percent and 35 percent per year for the past few years, and the consumption of dubbed content on the platform is scaling even faster, up on average more than 120 percent annually, say company sources. Netflix works with more than 125 facilities worldwide to meet the demand and, under the guidance of Debra Chinn, a veteran studio executive who joined Netflix as director of international dubbing two years ago, the growth has been exponential.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

The man with a TV on his head who left TV gifts for neighbours. Also: Other, less weird TV news stories.

Always Be Watching is written by Dan Barrett who always publishes this newsletter with a TV on his noggin.

It’s weird how few relationship dramas there is on US broadcast TV these days. You’d think that networks would have leaned into that more after the success of This Is Us. Coming soon to NBC will be a TV series based on 80s relationship drama St Elmo’s Fire.

It’s only a script commitment at this stage.

Source: Deadline

With Olivia Colman about to take over as Queen Elizabeth on The Crown, conversation is already brewing about which actress will take over for her after she regenerates. Smart money is on Helen Mirren who portrayed The Queen in the film The Queen. Both that film and The Crown were written by Peter Morgan.

On the subject:

“She loves the show,” said Morgan, who also serves as showrunner on the hit royal drama. “She thought there was nothing left to say, and I think she’s really surprised.”

Source: Indiewire

Helen Mirren arrives at the Oscars, at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles90th Academy Awards - Arrivals, Los Angeles, USA - 04 Mar 2018

Actor Bella Thorne (you may have seen her in HBO’s Big Love of Disney’s Shake It Up) is making her directorial debut… on a film produced for PornHub Premium, the streaming services subscription service.

The film debuts in September after it debuts at the Oldenburg Film Festival.

There’s a really good interview with showrunner Marc Cherry (The Golden Girls, Desperate Housewives) as he promotes his new show Why Women Kill.

He covers quite a bit of ground in it, such as the role of women’s sexuality in his shows:

Since I started on “The Golden Girls,” a show that was groundbreaking in its treatment of older women’s sexuality, I don’t even think twice about it. Once you’ve written some filthy jokes for Estelle Getty and Bea Arthur, everything else seems tame. To have a character use a four-letter [curse] word [on “Why Women Kill”], it’s like, “Oh, O.K., good, I get to play in a more adult sandbox.” With “Desperate Housewives,” gosh, we were on the cover of Newsweek and the headline was, “Has [pop culture] gone too far?”

But the highlight for me was when the reporter asked a question about Felicity Huffman and her role in the college admissions scandal:

[Cherry’s publicist: “I’m sorry to jump in here, but we have to just stick with questions on ‘Why Women Kill.’ We’re not going to be able to address Felicity’s particular situation.”]

You know what, I’m going to answer this one question, and very respectfully: It’s a punch to the gut to find out that someone you love is involved in any kind of scandal. If it seems like all of Hollywood is rooting for Felicity, it’s because she spent her entire career being kind and professional, and I am part of the community that adores her and prays for this whole time in her life to be over.

Source: NYT

Animated show Star Wars: Resistance will end with its second season, bringing hunky Star Wars bad boy Kylo Ren into the show.

And finally…

All the details on the HUGE ViacomCBS deal. Also: The Banana Splits screamfest! Plus: No more Inbetweeners.

Always Be Watching is written by the R-rated Dan Barrett

The Banana Splits movie was released digitally this week and will air on SyFy in the US in October. The New York Times took a look at the film that recontextualises the 70s kids show as an R-rated horror.

Executives at Blue Ribbon, who conceived the movie idea before commissioning the script and hiring a director, saw an opportunity in the original show’s ultra-mod design to draw upon the chic, lurid stylings of 1960s and ’70s Italian horror films from directors like Dario Argento and Mario Bava, said Girardi.

“Their films, and the saccharine, candy nature of kids’ television at the time, were garishly lit, with oversaturated colors on incredible sets,” he said. “There’s a corollary there, and that’s something we wanted to explore.”

Source: NYT

From left, Bingo, Drooper, Snorky and Fleegle (all voiced by Eric Bauza) in the new “Banana Splits Movie,” before things get heavy.

The Viacom/CBS merger is now official with the new company taking on the name… wait for it…. ViacomCBS Inc. It’s a branding triumph.

CBS will acquire Viacom with an all-stock deal valued at $11.7 billion. Viacom CEO Bob Bakish will be the head of the combined organisation. Shari Redstone will be its Chairman.

Why the merger?

It is simple: It’s all about scale. Netflix changed the game by launching a global TV service with the volume of content that it has. Traditional media now need to match that scale to maintain viewers.

Fox couldn’t scale up to the required level easily, so Disney purchased the company which then took it to Netflix’s content scale. WarnerMedia is consolidating all of its content to work at Netflix scale with its soon to launch streaming service HBOMax.

But, is the newly-formed ViacomCBS large enough to take on Netflix? Not quite. Expect the new company to acquire another large content company sooner than later. Think: Discovery/Scripps, AMC Networks, Sony’s entertainment business, and Starz/Lionsgate.

What sort of scale are we talking about?

  • CBS and Viacom together have some 140,000 episodes of TV series and 3,600 film titles.

  • ViacomCBS asserted that its combined platforms account for 22% of all television viewing in the U.S., ahead of Comcast (18%) and Disney (14%).

  • ViacomCBS companies together have 750 TV series ordered to production.

  • The companies spent $13 billion during the past 12 months on content across CBS’ local and national platforms, Showtime, Viacom’s cable and international channels and Paramount Pictures.

  • Both companies have sought to expand their focus beyond the U.S. in recent years with Viacom’s acquisition of the U.K.’s Channel 5 and Argentina’s Telefe and CBS’ acquisition of Australia’s Network 10.

What next?

Recent moves into digital by CBS and Viacom individually actually gives the combined company a good foundation to work from. CBS has CBS All Access, while Viacom has Pluto TV. Through CBS All Access, the company can build it up as a premium content destination, with the depth of TV shows and movies from across the combined library.

But, where ViacomCBS have an added tool to work with is the recently acquired PlutoTV which is a really elegant way to merge together on-demand and linear TV services. Through PlutoTV, ViacomCBS can not only run a whole lot of cheap pop-up channels based around older content in its library, but it can also transmit CBS channels through the platform in addition to Viacom channels like Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, etc. That won’t happen overnight, but I’d expect ViacomCBS to make the most out of its linear services as the cable TV model of linear loses traction in the coming years.

Image result for pluto tv

What does this mean for Australia?

CBS own over-the-air broadcaster Channel 10. While I doubt much will change, my assumption is that it will open up opportunities for Viacom archive content to be broadcast. Older shows from Comedy Central, MTV, Nickelodeon, and TV Land, for example, plus it is possible that the company might use Australia as a test market for linear channel brand extensions - an MTV-branded music show on Saturday mornings for example.

Oh, and we might finally see TV drama Yellowstone in Australia.

Read more: Variety

Image result for mtv moon

Denis Leary will star as the patriarch in the US adaptation of A Moody Christmas.

Source: Variety

Denis Leary

Don’t expect to see a revival of The Inbetweeners. Star Simon Bird:

“I don’t know how that would work. I don’t think it would work with the characters grown up, which we now all are. No one is going to buy us as teenagers any more.

“And I think the idea of the four of us back together as 30-somethings is going to be a bit more depressing for everyone. I can’t see us doing any more of it”.

Source: Radio Times

And finally…

We have another trailer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance. It debuts on Netflix on August 30 and may well be TV’s best-looking show. It. Is. Gorgeous.

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