Most new TV series have a few episodes shot before they debut and then can feed off of viewer reaction from that point. In the case of the new Netflix series, MARCO POLO, all ten episodes were shot months before their debut this Friday. We talk with the cast about the good and bad parts of that, plus the show’s core relationship between hero and villain. Speaking of bad guys, SONS OF ANARCHY fades out tomorrow night and Katey Sagal shares her regrets while Kurt Sutter gives us some exclusive news on his next TV project.
Comedian Chelsea Peretti has led the pack in using social media and her reach in the online community to guide her successful stand up and TV career. Her popular podcast, Twitter feed (TIME MAGAZINE called it one of the Best of 2013) and her new association with Netflix mark her as having both feet firmly planted on the edge. We talk about how she got there plus life on BROOKLYN 99. On the flip side of being funny is Fox’s BOBS BURGERS. After winning an Emmy, H. Jon Benjamin and the cast talk about their dedication to getting weekly laughs.
Binge-watching is defined by the Urban Dictionary website as a “marathon viewing of a TV show from its DVD box set.” Wikipedia adds that binge-watching has become an “observed cultural phenomena with the rise of online media services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime.”
A lot of cable networks have gotten in on the act. Cloo includes on its schedule “marathon” showings of House, CSI, Monk, and Law & Order: Criminal Intent; yesterday (Sunday, July 27th) the channel brought on Burn Notice. The original Law & Order runs on TNT, Sundance, and WE, although I can’t figure out what it’s “thematically” doing on WE, unless it’s because Chris Noth is hot and Jerry Orbach is just so damn watchable. And Law & Order: Special Victims Unit is on USA right now.
Verne Gay of Newsday (yes, the paper at which Ray Barone of Everbody Loves Raymond toils as a sports writer is an actual real-life Long Island institution) recently listed 57 shows that are worthy of your couchpotatoing the weekend away. It’s all a matter of the viewer’s opinion and genre bias, of course, but here are Gay’s (paraphrased) qualifications for shows that are “binge-worthy,” with my examples.*
A story arc, i.e., a storyline that continues throughout the season, notwithstanding one or two stand-alone episodes that nonetheless always contain either at least once scene related to the season’s overview or is in some way related to the overarching theme of the season. Examples: Breaking Bad, Angel, Orange Is The New Black, Scandal, Friends, Mad Men, Battlestar Galactica, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (you didn’t think I wasn’t going to mention BTVS, did you?), Dallas (original and new), Game Of Thrones.
Characters that the viewer is invested in, i.e., whether good or bad, hero or antihero, starring role or a member of the “Scooby Gang.” Examples: Don Draper, Kara “Starbuck” Thrace, Sookie Stackhouse, Willow Rosenberg, Olivia Carolyn Pope, Rachel Green and Ross Geller, Buffy Summers, Sarah Manning, Jesse Pinkman, Spike, Rose Tyler, Frank Underwood, Angel, Monica Geller and Chandler Bing, J.R. Ewing (Sr. and Jr.), Cordelia Chase, Amy Pond, Rory Williams, Wesley Wyndham-Pryce
A definite ending; i.e., questions raised during the course of the show are answered, the hero/heroine completes his/her journey. This does not guarantee a “happy” ending. It also does not guarantee that the viewer will be satisfied. Examples: Breaking Bad, Friends, Dexter, Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which actually had two endings – Season 5, in which Buffy sacrifices herself to save her sister Dawn and the world, and Season 7, in which Buffy realizes that she can share her power. For the record, I prefer Season 5), Battlestar Galactica. Two shows that were suggested were Lost and Angel. However, I can’t recommend Lost, despite its many excellent moments, because too many questions were left unanswered, and although Angel rocked its five seasons, The WB’s (very stupid, im-no so-ho) decision to cancel the series rushed its ending so that it felt too ambiguous – except for Wesley’s death, which was the only part that felt real. And it remains to be seen how True Blood, Mad Men, The Walking Dead, and Game Of Thrones handle their endings.
It’s entertaining. Or as Gay puts it, “fun.” I hope you don’t need an “i.e.,” but just in case you do – you’d better enjoy what you’re watching, or you’re just wasting time. Examples: Dallas (old and new), Doctor Who, Firefly, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Star Trek: Voyager, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Scandal, House Of Cards, Dexter.
Gaye calls this one “informative,” but I’ll put it more simply – you learn something. You get excited. Maybe about the universe, or maybe, vicariously, about yourself. You can learn to appreciate great writing, or great camera work, or great acting. You can learn that you don’t really want to get an MBA and work on Wall Street, even if it does mean you’ll be rolling in dough and driving a Porsche; you discover that you want to work in an industry that allows you to key into your inner child, whether it’s as an actor or a writer or a director, a special effects artist, or a stunt man/woman, even if it does mean that most of the time you’ll be earning money temping as a receptionist or slinging dishes in a restaurant and depending on tips to make the rent. Examples: Cosmos, Band Of Brothers, Firefly, War And Remembrance, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Battlestar Galatica, The World Wars.
There ain’t no commercials. And you don’t want to hit the “pause” button. Meaning you hold it in for between discs or between episodes. Examples: Your DVD Boxed Set, Netflix Streaming, And Amazon Prime. As for Hulu/Hulu Plus – points off for the ads.
I’d love to know your binge-worthy shows.
* Some are shows I have binge-watched; others are recommendations by friends and family.
He’s “That Guy” – the funny one! Ron Funches is making a big name for himself, taking his unique style of comedy to NBC’s UNDATEABLE and @MIDNIGHT on Comedy Central. So what makes HIM laugh? We find out, then we explore the CSI reality show that started it all. MEDICAL DETECTIVES is headed back to cable and we talk to the guy who is guiding it there – plus Rosario Dawson becomes a part of DAREDEVIL.
“How important it is for us to recognize and celebrate our heroes and she-roes!” — Maya Angelou
Don’t you love getting excited and worked up about movies that you can’t wait to see or television shows that you can’t wait to watch or comics that you can’t wait to read?
You know what I mean. I remember reading everything I could get my hands on about Star Wars, especially in Starlog magazine – that’s for you, Bob Greenberger. (I also remember being incredibly pissed coming home from work that May 25, 1977 to find that my then-husband, Steven, had gone to see Star Wars with his friends while I was stuck at work, and then incredibly happy and excited because he said that he would go see it again. Immediately. And out we went.) I remember standing on what seemed an endless line three years later and worrying that we wouldn’t get in to see The Empire Strikes Back. And I remember the insanity that led me to taking 3 ½ year-old Alixandra to an 11 a.m. showing of Return Of The Jedi because I couldn’t wait to see it and I didn’t want to go to the movies alone. (She was remarkably good, too; didn’t have to bribe her with candy…much.)
I remember reserving a copy of Crisis On Infinite Earths #1 at my local comic book store (now unfortunately defunct) and still worrying that it wouldn’t be there when I got finally got there. Yes, I know that I was freelancing at DC at that time, but I didn’t want to wait for my freelancer’s pack, and, besides, I liked supporting the shop. I remember when Alan Moore took over Saga Of The Swamp Thing and I read his first issue (“The Anatomy Lesson,” Saga of the Swamp Thing #21, February 1984) not because I was into shambling muck monsters, but because Karen Berger was my editor at the time and she was raving over it. Then the time between issues seemed not a month of waiting, but years of impatience.
Do I still feel that excitement?
Sadly, these days…
Not so much.
It isn’t that there aren’t movies and TV shows that excite me; I think it’s a product of being older and being jaded and knowing that if I miss X-Men: Days Of Future Passed, for example, in the theater – and no, I haven’t yet seen it – I will be able to watch it in a few short months courtesy of Netflix or Amazon Prime or iTunes. And certainly the price of one movie ticket these days also holds me back. And I hate going to the movies alone; for me part of the joy of going to see Star Trek: The Motion Picture or any of the Star Wars movies – well, the first three, anyway – is the communal experience.
One of the best times I’ve ever had in a movie theatre was back in the 90s, when I was working at Marvel full-time. A whole bunch of us – Mark Gruenwald among them – went uptown to the Museum of Television and Radio on W.52nd St. to see a showing of two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation about time travel: Yesterday’s Enterprise and Cause And Effect. It was absolute heaven watching them in a roomful of ST geeks who were my friends, and it was absolutely joyful to talk about them afterwards.
But these days I’ve either lost touch with some fellow geeks, or they live too far away to just call up and say, “hey, let’s go to the movies tonight/today/this afternoon (that’s you, Mike and John), or as working adults everyone’s schedule is too crazed and too hard to synchronize. And when Alix, of whom I’ve proud to say may not be a total geek but absolutely gets her geek mom, and Jeff, her wonderful husband with whom I share some geek qualities, want to go out for the night, who gets called to babysit with little Meyer (which is how we distinguish him from my father and his great-grandfather)?
And of course I will gladly give up going to see The Hunger Games: Mockingbird to be with my grandchild, if called upon to do so.
The last movie I didn’t wait to see was Star Trek: Into Darkness. I went to see it by myself on a Sunday afternoon. And you know what? I didn’t enjoy it as much as I was expecting to – my biggest disappointment was the lack of imagination in that J. J. Abrams (and the studio?) decided to remake The Wrath Of Khan; I still think that retelling the Gary Mitchell story would be a home run for the rebooted series – because I was alone, and there wasn’t anybody that I could “ooh” and “aah” with during the viewing, or share the “tingles” with as Alexander Courage’s iconic theme came up, and afterwards go for a drink and dissect the film and bitch and moan about “why did they remake TWOK, the perfect ST story and film?”
There’s one movie that I’m already feeling the shivers and pricklings and quiverings of excitement for.
One movie about which I am already saying, “Fuck Netflix! Fuck Amazon Prime! Fuck iTunes! I’m going to see it now, with or without company!”
One movie that’s already got me searching the web for tidbits of information.
Mark Hamill. Carrie Fisher. And…
Oh, no! Harrison Ford broke his ankle while shooting on the set! Is he okay? Will he be able to continue? And it could screw up the schedule?
This March, the Eisner Award winning creative team returns for the next chapter in the saga of Matt Murdock, as the Man Without Fear rushes headlong into All-New Marvel NOW! Marvel is proud to present your first look at Daredevil #1 – from the blockbuster creative team of Mark Waid & Chris Samnee!
Gifted with an imperceptible radar sense, blind lawyer Matt Murdock patrols the streets with a billy club and a passion for justice. Only this time – it’s a brand new city, with even more dangerous foes. Join Matt Murdock as he journeys from the dark streets of Hell’s Kitchen to the sun-drenched boulevards of San Francisco.
“With a new status quo that demanded an ALL-NEW MARVEL NOW! launch,” says Editor Ellie Pyle, “this is a perfect time to jump on to Daredevil.”
“With the Eisner-Award winning creative team and the kick-butt San Francisco setting (and did we mention the Netflix series starting next year?) you’re crazy not to give Daredevil #1 a try!”
And the scenery isn’t the only new thing in store for Ol’ Hornhead. A world of changes are in store for Matt Murdock as old haunts and familiar faces rise up to give the devil his due. Changes that will turn his life upside down yet again! Don’t miss one moment of the highly anticipated series this March when Daredevil #1 comes to comic shops and digital devices!
DAREDEVIL #1 (JAN140630)
Written by MARK WAID
Art & Cover by CHRIS SAMNEE
75th Anniversary Variant by ALEX ROSS (JAN140633)
75th Anniversary Sketch Variant by ALEX ROSS (JAN140632)
Variant Cover by PAOLO RIVERA (JAN140631)
Animal Variant by CHRIS SAMNEE (JAN140634)
Young Variant by SKOTTIE YOUNG (JAN140635)
The other day Mike Gold shot me a quick e-mail about the WWE Network making its way to Apple TV. I should take this time to note that Mike likes me more than Michael Davis because I give him my articles on Tuesday evening, and they don’t post until Saturday… allowing him optimal time to source images at his leisure. Suffice to say, nya nya nya boo boo. Maybe that’s mean of me, it is Black History Month, after all. According to Jay Pharoah, I should opt to hug MOTU, not take pot shots at his obviously racial laziness. Damn, I’m punchy tonight. But I digress.
I’m punchy, in part, because Mike’s friendly e-mail reminded me that in my own laziness, I’d allowed a whole new technological break-through to settle into near-mainstream amongst my peers without me even considering it. For a good long time ‘cutting the cord’ on traditional cable was more a signifier of pro-active TV consumption than I cared to debate mentally. With new technology emerging, I simply didn’t ‘buy’ that I could enjoy all that I do via my traditional cable/DVR combo. I should note though that I grew up in a home without cable. When I made my way to college, faced with the sudden luxury of dozens of channels churning out reruns and crappy original programming I’d never been previously accustomed to led me down a dark and slovenly path. Frankly, it’s been the drug I couldn’t quit ever since. Well, that and carbohydrates.
I’d like to think it was my generation that started a small march towards technological freedom. I recall fondly upon signing my first lease for an apartment declaring no need to own a home phone. My parents gawked at the notion. “How will we get a hold of you?!” they’d scream. “Oh, I don’t know, you could call my cell phone, which is literally on my person at all times I’m not otherwise sleeping?” I’d retort like a hipster ordering a Miller Lite. And thus, did me and my kin take our first awkward steps from out of the cave. Soon, we were graduating from MySpace to Facebook, and getting real jobs. City-dwelling friends of mine ditched cars in lieu of state-of-the-art (smells a bit, but it’s cheaper than gas!) public transportation. And now, those who share in muh-muh-my generation are shunning Xfinity, Uverse and Ycable for a whole new shebang.
The future is now, and we better start dealing with it.
I turn back to the argument I started a few weeks prior. I postulated that if someone could figure a way to Netflix up a comic book database, it might very well be the way to take the leap into the next generation. Screw the motion comics, augmented reality links, and ultimate experiences. Deliver me a litany of comic book content on-demand, for a monthly fee so low I can’t possibly deny myself access. If my dream for ComicFlix were to come true… how long would it take to see the death of the local comic shop?
That is to say, the death of what few comic shops still are in business and making enough money to stay in business beyond the calendar year with sincerity.
Let’s ask the tough questions then. Did we all mourn the loss of Blockbusters around the country? When you go to the Comic Con and snag that graphic novel you really wanted for 50% off cover price, do you hide it under your jacket, and leave yourself a reminder to never bring it up at the comic shop for fear the counter jockey will shame you to tears as he eats his last bowl of cup-a-noodles? Doubtful on both counts. Do we come to grips with the moral dilemma of watching our medium take the necessary steps to grow… or do we cling to the past in hopes that somehow everything will just get better though sheer will power? I mean, all those successful movies will get the masses over to invest in pull boxes at some point, right? Right?
Sean Parker and the late Steve Jobs used technology to upend the music industry… services like Spotify, Pandora, and the like are set to revolutionize it. Google, Roku, Hulu, and Netflix are on their way to evolving television. All content delivery is evolving at a rapid pace. The antiquated world of comics is not an uncrackable nut. There’s money to be made, content to be shared, and new fans to convert. If we build it, they will come. It won’t be pretty. But what matters now more than ever is that we find a way to adapt. Pulp and paper can be as good as bytes and pixels. It’s time to put the books down, and flip the tablets on.
That being said, I have a review to do, and I need to crack open my copy of Avengers World. I know, I know… But I have an excuse. My wife has the iPad. Cheers to the future kiddos. Hop on the band wagon before it starts to pick up speed. Lest you have a man a decade or two older making you feel like a luddite. Natch.
The new series REIGN is catching a lot of buzz on The CW Network, we talk to the cast and creators about the good and bad parts of a show based on such a famous, and tragic, historical figure. Plus Bye Bye Blockbuster and Netflix (with Marvel) drops a bomb on the fans.
Marvel’s cinematic Avengers will be joined on the smaller screen by The Defenders, the culmination of four series just commissioned by Netflix. Luke Cage, Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Iron Fist were announced this by Variety morning as each receiving thirteen episode commitments. The linking device is that all four series will be set in New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen, which, in the comics, has been Daredevil’s base of operations dating back to the 1970s.
This rumored set of series was revealed without naming producers, writers, showrunners or casting but would be expected to debut some time in 2014. The announcement did not acknowledge if this quartet of series will be set in the same reality as the film series. If so, it would also connect these shows to ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Netflix has received great attention thanks to their original series, a move now being imitated this month by Amazon Prime and soon by Hulu and YouTube. Their House of Cards was the first internet series to receive an Emmy nomination and will be back for a second season in the winter. The pay channel’s Orange is the New Black is their most watched original series and will also be back for a second season, as will their Hemlock Grove.
Since Jeph Loeb was added as a VP for filmed material, Marvel has filled in a vital gap with live-action television, something they seemed unable to crack. Beyond these four, and the subsequent Defenders teamup project, Marvel has been said to be eyeing a Peggy Carter spinoff based on the short film with Haylee Atwell that was attached to the home video release of Iron Man 3. Other series apparetly also ebing pitched to other networks.
Disney’s Marvel movies will move from Starz to Netflix after the current dea for the studio’s output expires in 2015, just in time for The Avengers 2.
DC Entertainment aso has numerous television series in development, mostly at their co-owned CW network with the Flash expected for the 2014-15 season. Fox is also developing a Gotham City series featuring young James Gordon, long before Bruce Wayne first dons the cape and cowl.
I was a little slow when it came to adopting television as a part of my lifestyle. I only cared about cartoons as a small child, and no wonder: teevee was mostly local and cheaply produced and all those public domain Fleischer and Warner Bros. cartoons were a delight. They still are. I didn’t get sucked into the mainstream until pre-adolescence.
When that happened, TV Guide was my bible. A digest-sized magazine that contained detailed descriptions of every local and network show to be aired in the following week, I, like my peers, pretty much planned our lives around the boob tube. The annual Fall Preview issue was a genuine event.
When it comes to broadcast entertainment today, TV Guide has become less than irrelevant – it’s useless. Cable has brought us so many channels if the magazine stuck to its original concept it would take a half hour to read the next 30 minutes of descriptions. The printed grid tells us nothing we can’t get from our cable grid. And the vaunted Fall Preview issue presumes the “new fall season” is unique. It is not. With the exponential growth of choice, “new seasons” come with each new season.
more important. I take the recommendations of my friends quite seriously – daughter Adriane is a constant source of advice, and I take heed at the recommendations of Martha Thomases and the other ComicMix crew (Martha makes one such nod this Friday; I’d link to it but it’s not Friday yet).
But if my jaded, tube-weary brainpan is capable of generating any excitement similar to that of the old new fall season, it happens right now, in January. Some of my favorites return this month: Justified, Community, Young Justice, Bill Maher. There are a number of promising-sounding shows such as Ripper Street, and before long we’ll have Louie, Hell On Wheels and Doctor Who back.
None of these (save Bill Maher) are what we used to think of as full-length series. We get maybe a dozen episodes of each annually. Even though each episode is played many times, teevee-watching isn’t quite the passive experience it once was.
All of this cable stuff already is being eclipsed by streaming media: Netflix and others have competitive original content, Apple has a box for sending stuff from a great many services (including, of course, its own) to the teevees in your house, and Intel is going to be rolling out an interesting new media box on a market-by-market basis starting soon. The larger cable companies have apps that allow you to pick up their service at home on your smartphones and tablets, and content suppliers such as HBO and the various networks allow you to steam their material to these same devices.
We’re probably just a heartbeat away from fulfilling the prediction made back in 1967 in the brilliant social satire, The President’s Analyst. Pretty soon we’ll just have a chip installed in our heads, and the fees will be debited to our bank accounts.
We don’t need drugs, alcohol or virtual reality. We have television.