Always Be Watching - 02 November 2018

ABW is written by Dan Barrett today while drinking a cool, refreshing glass of lemonade.

Do you remain confused by all the news about the soon-to-change TV landscape with so many big multi-national streaming services ready to launch?

NBC’s Dylan Byers is here to help with this explainer that recontextualises all of the streaming services as the various houses from Game of Thrones. I don’t know if this is incredibly dumb or inspired genius, but I think I love it.


Speaking of Game of Thrones, this final season sounds like it might be the most ambitious season for a TV series ever filmed. For example, there’s the battle scene that took several months to shoot. Previously reported to have taken 55 days to shoot, apparently that was just the outdoor component to the battle - the rest of the sequence took several more weeks.


Remember when TV used to be the ghetto where no movie stars wanted to venture? The work was seen as less prestigious, plus the pay just wasn’t in the same league. It seems that has all changed - especially the pay.

Variety has this great article exposing the salaries of TV’s best paid performers.

Did you know that, per episode, Norman Reedus on The Walking Dead now earns more than Julia Roberts? Or that Javier Bardem can command double what Julia Roberts makes? I’m baffled by that one. When it comes to TV, The Rock makes less than Sean Penn. Also, somehow Norm MacDonald made $75,000 per episode for his cable access cum Netflix show.


Speaking of Julia Roberts, she has been out on the promotional circuit promoting her new Amazon series Homecoming, which was also produced and directed by Mr Robot’s Sam Esmail.

The two gave this lengthy chat to The AV Club.

I’m very eager to check the series out, but in considering the fact Julia Roberts is starring in it, I’m mostly interested in the fact it’s a new Sam Esmail series. And isn’t that true of most series now - is the big name what gets you enthused about a show? Sure, it drives attention to the show, but is all of that earned media worth the high salary cost of a big name cast?


One of my great TV regrets is never giving Penny Dreadful more of my attention. The show had an incredibly loyal viewership and it always seemed more interesting than the pilot suggested.

I’ve just been given a good reason to go back. Creator and writer John Logan has just been greenlit to go ahead and make a follow-up series, Penny Dreadful: City of Angels.

A spiritual descendant of the story set in Victorian-era London, the next chapter will employ a new vision, new characters and storylines. It opens in 1938 Los Angeles, a time and place deeply infused with Mexican-American folklore and social tension. 


Longtime TV critic Brian Lowry has taken a look at the new Orson Welles film The Other Side of The Wind and suggests that viewers pay more attention to its companion documentary instead, They'll Love Me When I'm Dead.

It's hard to call the operation a success, but to those for whom Welles' name still denotes something vaguely magical, it's worth watching the documentary, which -- in much the way the journalist in "Citizen Kane" sought to better understand the man by unlocking the riddle of Rosebud -- provides some insight into what made its legendary subject tick.


Lachlan Murdoch has been actively out there supporting Fox News, which he is now officially in charge of.

The Fox boss also dismissed the notion that the company has fanned extremist flames, though Sorkin noted that mail-bombing suspect Cesar Sayac was a faithful viewer and had Fox News stickers on his infamous van. “I don’t take responsibility for a criminal who was a criminal before watching Fox News,” Murdoch said. Asked if Fox is a “red-state” company, he replied, “I think of it as an all-state media organization…. We program to everyone – the coasts in California and New York, but also everywhere in between.

But, really, what else could he say?


Been wondering where season 2 of The OA is? Brit Marling explains:

“TV shows are created on a yearly cycle primarily because they function off a pattern narrative,” Marling wrote. “The show creator acts as a master tailor – she crafts the pattern for the original garment (pilot). Then other great tailors come in and create new garments out of this same pattern. This allows for creation with great speed and also familiarity, which is one of the things we all love about great TV.”

“The OA” is vastly different, however. “Our chapters vary in length, scope, and even genre,” Marling said. “There is no pattern. As a result, at every step along the way nothing can be imitated, it has to be invented.”

For example, Marling said that a producer on the new season had to throw out the concept of “pattern budgets” that television shows often use to map out the financial costs of a particular season. Since each installment in “The OA” Season 2 is drastically different from one another, the producer could not simply lock in a budget for one episode and expect the next episode to be budgeted the same way.

What a lot of wank.


Finally…

I leave you with a movie recommendation.

I’d given up on Michael Moore years ago. His last run of films have varied from limp to downright terrible. His mode of messaging was now being better delivered through TV, particularly via spiritual successors from The Daily Show. But Fahrenheit 11/9 is actually worth your time.

The film has received a lot of mixed criticism. And I can understand why some people felt a little cold on it. It sometimes feeld muddled and lost in the weeds. But, that’s kind of the point of the film. This is a film that shows how US residents have been let down at every turn by its government, regardless of who is in power. And after generations of it, it has completely whittled away at democracy, education, and people’s sense of right and wrong. Moore takes the idea to its most extreme, which I hesitate to even write down as it sounds ridiculous when you read it without the context of the documentary.

But it is good. And worth making the effort to see it in the cinema. Give it a look.