Always be Watching - 19 September 2018

Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who today has a sniffle

We’ve all got thoughts on the Bert and Ernie relationship? Good friends? Boyfriends? My personal take has always been that they’re a long-term couple who enjoy nothing more than spending their evenings binge-watching TV shows and eating Ben & Jerry’s on the couch. But maybe I’m projecting. Former Sesame Street writer Mark Saltzman recently revealed that he always wrote them as a couple, using his own relationship as inspiration. Sesame Workshop have issued a statement to say they are just good friends and that puppets can’t have a sexuality. But, I ask: if a puppet can form an emotional friendship bond, why can they not form a romantic bond?


It looks like Netflix isn’t going ahead with its Marvel superhero team series The Defenders. There’s no official word on why (my guess would be it’s a simple matter of completion rates not being high enough to proceed with a second season), but could it be that the Netflix-Marvel relationship is starting to wind down?

After all, Disney have several new Marvel series coming to its new streaming service next year. Word has it that two series, one featuring Loki, and another focused on the Scarlet Witch, are in the pipeline. With huge budgets planned for both, the Netflix Marvel shows will start looking pretty cheap and old hat.

This blurb from Variety is telling:

Disney has already started to unwind its licensing deals in order to put as much premium content on the platform as possible. That’s meant that the company is forfeiting billions of dollars in profit, as well as shouldering the cost of developing the technology. The company has announced a number of high-profile projects, including a Star Wars series overseen by “Jungle Book” director Jon Favreau, a show based on “High School Musical,” and a live-action “Lady and the Tramp” film. The company also plans to offer several new releases when it launches, including its live-action “Dumbo” film and “Captain Marvel.”


Avatar The Last Airbender is coming back to TV as a live-action Netflix show. They’re looking to avoid all the criticism of the live-action film:

“We’re thrilled for the opportunity to helm this live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender. We can’t wait to realize Aang’s world as cinematically as we always imagined it to be, and with a culturally appropriate, non-whitewashed cast.

It’s a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build upon everyone’s great work on the original animated series and go even deeper into the characters, story, action, and world-building. Netflix is wholly dedicated to manifesting our vision for this retelling, and we’re incredibly grateful to be partnering with them.”


The most interesting story in TV right now is the winds of change circling around Viacom. Up until the last few weeks, there was a lot of talk about the power struggle between CBS chief Les Moonves and President of National Amusements (which owns Viacom and CBS) Shari Redstone. The blood is in the water surrounding Viacom, which is heavily tied to its cable TV assets that include brands like MTV, Comedy Central, and Nickelodeon. These are traditional linear assets that haven’t transitioned as well to digital as they should have by now. The hits keep on coming, with a Wall Street analyst today savagely criticising Viacom for having a heavy ad load during prime time on its linear channels - the thinking being that running so many ads is only further driving audiences away.


Finally, Star Trek: The Next Generation almost had a young Spock as a character.