Always Be Watching - 14 September 2018

ABW is curated with love by Dan Barrett

Modern Family are killing off a major character in its final season. It’s a shame that someone felt that this kind of information needs to be telegraphed in advance. The best TV deaths are usually shocking and unexpected. I’d put money on the family dog Stella not making it through to the end.


When Australian digital movie store Ezyflix shut down in 2015, people who had purchased movies from the platform all lost the movies they had purchased. This, I recall saying, was the danger of buying from smaller online retailers, but purchasing from global players like Apple and Google should protect consumers from a company folding.

What a folly that line of thinking was. An interesting story in the last few days had one user notice several films he purchase from Apple were now gone from his library. The distributor, it seems, had pulled the films from the Apple store, which in turn meant they were yanked from users libraries. The compensation offered: two free movie rentals.

Does anyone have a good, legal solution to this? It seems like the only way to protect a legal purchase is to download the file, strip it of any DRM protection the file has, and then host it on your own home server. And having to go to that level of effort is straight-out silly.


And speaking of digital availability, consider how many classic TV shows are missing from streaming services and also through online stores. One of the more notable is Murphy Brown, which is seeing a revival in the US in the coming weeks. Outside of the Season 1 DVD release and naughty uploads to torrent sites and YouTube, episodes of the series are impossible to find legally. The reason for this is the expensive cost of re-licensing all of the music used in the show. Murphy was a fan of Motown and the show regularly included Motown classics. Clearly season one didn’t sell well on DVD, making the cost too prohibitive to just make the show available.

With the show back on CBS soon, CBS has made available 18 episodes from its original run on its CBS All Access service. The catch is that the episodes will only be available for a limited time until Murphy Brown 2.0 launches.


Apparently Aaron Paul is joining Westworld for its third season. A smart move for all involved.


Driving a lot of US right-wing controversy has been efforts by conservative media outlets like Fox News stoking culture wars. New streaming service NRA TV is clearly trying to make a name for itself as it starts its own culture war, but this one seems ill-advised. Presenter Dana Loesch has gone on the attack against Thomas The Tank Engine after it announced plans to introduce a character of color.

Without spending too much time on how dumb this is, isn’t it worth pointing out that Thomas The Tank Engine is a British show - unless NRA TV is looking to pit its patriots against the Brits, I’m not sure I get the point of this?

And -- which that by the way, that's where it gets really strange to me because I've looked at Thomas and Friends, at their pictures, and I see gray and blue. Am I to understand this entire time that Thomas and his trains were white? Because they all have gray faces. How do you bring ethnic diversity? I mean they had to paint, what I guess they thought was some sort of African pattern on the side of Nia's engine? How do you bring ethnic diversity to a show that literally has no ethnicities because they're trains. They don't even have skin pigmentation. Where -- was there some concern that the show had racist undertones? Because, Sir Topham Hatt clearly is white, but the trains? I mean, I'm looking at this picture and I'm really, really struggling to understand how in the world there isn't any diversity in any of this. Oh, was it because, I see it. It was the white hoods. And the burning train tracks. OK, fine, fair point. Fair. I get it. Thomas the Tank Engine has been a blight on race relations for far too long. Clearly this is overdue. Right?
- Dana Loesch


Conan O’Brien has been a late night TV host now for 25 years. And he’s celebrating with the launch of an archive featuring almost everything he has put to air over that 25 year period.

His very first episode will be a drawcard for a lot of fans:

But what I’ll be looking for first in the archive is a better quality of what I think is the best late night talk show interview I had the pleasure of witnessing: Norm Macdonald heavily interrupting an interview with Courtney Thorne-Smith. The Melrose Place star was there to promote her new film with Carrot Top Chairman of The Board and it is likely a recurring nightmare for whichever movie PR person accompanied Smith to the taping of the episode.


Speaking of Norm, he’s had a pretty interesting week where he has repeatedly shoved his foot as far down his throat as he could repeatedly in interviews. But, he has issued an apology, which the woke kids at The AV Club have given their blessing to. So I guess everything is okay now? He also gave this solid interview to Vulture (but given before his quotes his the fan).


A Netflix film starring Paul Giamatti and Kathryn Hahn? I don’t even need to see this trailer to know what I will be doing on October 5.