Always Be Watching - 12 September 2018

Dick Wolf loves the $$$$

If you’re looking for that one big TV-related news story that will dominate your thinking this week/month/maybe even year, it might well come along tomorrow with the Apple iPhone event. Apple are working on some sort of TV service, but there’s no word yet on what the shape and delivery of that service will be. There’s some speculation that Apple will unveil the service during the iPhone event.

And maybe there will be an announcement, but I wouldn’t get your hopes up. Maybe there is something about the way that the TV service will function as part of a subscription model which means they have to announce it tomorrow, but it doesn’t make a whole lot of sense that they would.

The new Apple TV service will feature some of the world’s biggest stars and creative talents appearing in huge attention-getting TV series. Launch that alongside their new flagship phones and either the expensive TV series launch gets lost in the announcement, or the phones do. Smart money is on an event to take place next year, possibly on the same day it will launch the service.

It is shocking to me that a less famous person is making less money after replacing a more famous person on a TV show. It does feel like QI is less of a thing post-Stephen Fry hosting, but also buzz-wise, it felt like a show in decline for a few years before Fry left. Surely Sandi should be making more money through Great British Bake-Off anyway - that’s the buzzy show!


I’ve always liked the candor of Law & Order creator Dick Wolf. He’s never made any bones about his passion for churning out TV drama for its profit potential ahead of artistic aspiration. He recently spoke to The AV Club about why he hasn’t signed a Netflix deal and his answer was absolutely on brand, dun-dun:

Television has changed more in the last 36 months than the last 72 years. I don’t know what the business is going to look like. I mean, if broadcast goes down to a reduced number of episodes, I’d be much more willing to look at streaming. But it’s not even algorithms, it’s arithmetic. You do five years on Netflix, first of all, there’s no back-end. And you’ve got 40 episodes. I do five years on a broadcast network, I’ve got 110 episodes. [It’s] just arithmetic.
- Dick Wolf


Yesterday I dedicated far too much time to watching, talking about, and thinking wistfully about Colonel Sanders guest spot on General Hospital. Today a co-worker alerted me to my new obsession, which is the TV ads made for a Japanese candy, Sakeru Gummy. Long Long Man is oddly captivating:

She really loves long things.


I think we all agree that an episode of Black Mirror is not a TV Movie, and yet the Emmys continue to reward the category fraud that has seen Netflix now walk away with two Emmys in the category.

USS Callister was pretty good tho.


It annoys me a little bit when I hear people bang on about how The Wire is the greatest TV show ever. If only because I know for a fact that that same person has never watched The Knick, Steven Soderbergh’s 2-season hospital drama starring Clive Owen and Andre Holland. Now, I’m willing to concede that The Knick may not be the best TV show ever, but I also don’t think The Wire is better than it. Regardless, it fills me with joy to know that Holland is reportedly re-teaming with Soderbergh on his new Netflix movie.

Paul Thomas Anderson and Christopher Nolan are on a quest to make TV look better. Or rather, they want to make their movies look better on the TV you watch by demanding new practices to reduce the artificial look that ‘motion smoothing’ technologies have on TV sets.


I have complicated feelings about the Louie CK business, but certainly less-so about Roseanne. And I’m just a by-stander from the other side of the world. I’d imagine close friends of the two are working through a lot of emotions and complex thoughts about their own relationship with the comedians. Interesting to hear that Norm Macdonald, friends with both, organised the two to have a chat about what each other was going through. That would have been one heck of a phone call.


And finally, Alex Trebek with a beard suddenly makes him seem whole. I welcome the new status quo.