Chernobyl breaks viewing record! Plus the kids show reimagined as a brutal horror.
Always Be Watching is curated by Dan Barrett who is TGIFing today.
An interesting bit of trivia. Chernobyl is the first HBO drama to have most of its viewing coming from digital platforms and not through the linear HBO channels.
52% from HBO Go, HBO Now and other OTT platforms.
NYT has a review of the new Showtime series City On a Hill. The first episode is already streaming online (via Showtime in the US and Stan in Australia):
In his new series for Showtime (starting Sunday), the writer Chuck MacLean is not shy about his ambitions. He’s going for the big canvas, the statement about a time and a place, the sprawling tale of justice and politics and race and reform with a police investigation at the center to keep you hooked. Look out, David Simon, Chuck’s coming for you.
There is a new Shaft movie opening in cinemas across the US this week. The trailer looked dumb and reviews have been pretty uniform in trashing it.
The new Shaft, from director Tim Story — he of 2005's Fantastic Four (and its sequel) and Think Like a Man (and its sequel) — doesn't have the '71 picture's sociopolitical weight or the '00 one's professional zip. What it does have is an inexhaustible supply of gay-panic jokes of the sort that cost Kevin Hart (with whom Story made Ride Along, and yes, its sequel) his Oscars-hosting gig. Specifically, Shaft Sr. (Jackson again) is mortified that his estranged FBI computer whiz son (Jessie T. Usher, star of Independence Day: Resurgence) might not be living up to the family name in the Sex Machine to All the Chicks department.
…this iteration, in spite of a smattering of topical references, is steadfastly not political. Its main comic idea — the sometimes funny script is by Kenya Barris and Alex Barnow — is that Shaft (the one played by Jackson) is not politically correct. He’s another one of those grumpy older guys with lots to complain about, in particular the younger generation.
What’s up with those millennials, am I right? Shaft’s son (another John Shaft, usually called JJ) is a member of that generation, about whom Dad and the writers have some unusual ideas. Apparently millennials are people who congregate in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood and also on Facebook, shop at the Gap and can be described as metrosexual. The truth hurts, doesn’t it? Put that in your vape and smoke it, snowflake.
When he comes to the door of John Shaft Investigations, he’s greeted by a nude woman covered in glitter – and then by Shaft himself, with glitter in his beard. Get it? And with that, the new Wacky Shaft is off and running, as the script by Kenya Barris (Black-ish) and Alex Barnow (Family Guy) strains to see how many tired variations it can wring out of Shaft being a) horny, b) violent, and c) un-woke.
To be clear: all of this might matter less if the jokes were at least funny. But they’re terrible, seemingly penned not by two professional writers, but by a junior high kid who just learned his swears, or Michael Scott mining for double-entendre.
Right now it’s rocking 37% on Rotten Tomatoes, which, mind you, is doing better than Men In Black International.
Thankfully, those who are curious and live outside the US, the film is going straight to Netflix in foreign territories and it’ll drop at the end of June.
Friday Trailer Park
In an age where old IP is routinely being dredged up, regardless of audience interest, at least the Banana Splits Movie is doing something different. It is going direct to the Syfy channel later this year. If you’re going to watch one trailer today, it should probably be this one:
Get ready for the Fast & The Furious animated series from Netflix. Spy Racers debuts sometime soon (date TBA).
Godfather From Halem is a new Epix series from the writers of Narcos and stars Forest Whitaker, Vincent D'Onofrio, Giancarlo Esposito, Paul Sorvino, Nigel Thatch and Ilfenesh Hadera.
That’s it for today. As always, there’ll be another email later today with a guide to all the new shows that launched during the week (ready for you to watch this weekend). Also, don’t forget to check out the Always Be Watching podcast for some other viewing ideas.