Written PostNews Around the Net

News Around the Net

Here’s an epic-looking new trailer for season two of His Dark Materials:

I enjoyed season one of the show, and I’m very interested to see how the series handles the very weird and crazy goings-on in The Subtle Knife, book two of Philip Pullman’s series.

Here’s a beautiful new trailer for Pixar’s upcoming film, Soul:

I’m obviously disappointed to be seeing a 2nd Pixar film in a row on Disney+ (Onward was the first) rather than on the big screen where these films belong, but I am so appreciative that Disney made the 100% correct decision not to release this film in theaters in November as planned… and I’m also very thankful to be able to watch this film in December on Disney+ rather than having to wait a year for a postponed theatrical release.  Nice job here, Disney!

Speaking of Disney+, I’m excited for season two of The Mandalorian!  Click here for Variety article with some interesting tidbits on season two and their hopes to begin production on season 3 soon.

This is exciting a surprising — they’re working on a Willow sequel series for Disney+!!  I recently rewatched Willow (for the first time in years) with my daughters.  We all loved it.  I hope this Willow series actually happens.

Sticking with Disney news for a moment longer, here’s our first substantive look at Raya and the Last Dragon:

That’s a terrific trailer!  Gorgeous animation.  I love the music.  My only concern is that there is a LOT in there that looks, ahem, borrowed from Avatar: The Last Airbender… (Raya’s outfit; the whole business about a world divided by four different tribes that must be brought together by a child with special skills…)

Devin Faraci of Cinema Sangha has written a fascinating article article entitled “Are You Still Watching? Netflix And The End Of Attention”.  It’s a fascinating read.  (I believe this is only accessible if you are a follower of his writings via Patreon.  It’s accessible for as little as $1 a month.  I’m a fan of his writing.)  Mr. Faraci is highly critical of what he sees as Netflix’s model of creating disposable shows, where the important thing is just to keep you watching.  Mr. Faraci writes: “Netflix took advantage of the rise of the binge and the rise of the live tweet to create a new version of the old soap opera format: TV shows that were not intended to be actually watched, but were intended to play in the background.”  He continues: “They’ve taken that old world and condensed it into hyper-weekends – they drop a show on Friday and assume you’ll blow through it, one eye on the TV or laptop screen, by Monday. This has a double impact: they not only create shows intended to be ignored, they create shows intended to be forgotten. The Netflix model isn’t that every show has a new episode on Friday, it’s that every Friday there’s a whole new show. They don’t want you still obsessing over The Haunting of Hill House, they need you moving on to The Witcher or whatever is next.”

While I have watched and enjoyed plenty of Netflix shows that were more than just a modern-day soap opera, I think he is right on the nose about what Netflix has been morphing into and how that has affected the quality of many, many of the series on that platform.

Rolling Stone TV critic Alan Sepinwall has sounded many similar alarm bells in his recent article “Has COVID Leveled Peak TV?”  In addition to the recent wave of show cancellations (even of shows that had earlier been renewed, and even a show like GLOW that had already shot the first episode of its next season before being suddenly canceled), Mr. Sepinwall describes how we’d already been seeing a trend of Netflix’s not being interested in renewing shows beyond two or three short seasons.  He writes: “Even before the pandemic hit, Netflix had developed a newfound appetite for canceling shows, with the phrase ‘renewed by Netflix for a third and final season’ a staple of industry trade stories over the last couple of years. It’s a huge turnaround from the early days of the streaming age, where the unwritten contract between audiences and Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, et al., was that shows would be allowed to run for as long as their creators wanted — or, at least, that the creators would be given enough warning to properly wrap up their stories.”  Mr,. Sepinwall also writes: “It’s tough not to notice that most of the un-renewals so far (as well as abrupt cancellations for relative newcomers like Netflix’s Teenage Bounty Hunters) have been series about, and often made by, women. As the cuts go deeper and wider, odds are that all kinds of shows will suffer similar fates. But when it comes time to green-light new series under these conditions, it feels like stories from and about underrepresented voices, or stories told in unique ways, will have a much tougher go of it.”  I understand that this is show business and ultimately Netflix — just like the TV networks before it — is in the business to make money.  Still, these are disheartening trends.

Finally, in more serious news: Sacha Baron Cohen’s impassioned op-ed piece in Time Magazine about our democracy being at risk from a “flood of hate, lies and conspiracies spewed by demagogues and spread by social media” is well-worth your time to read.  Also worth your time is this in-depth interview with Mr. Cohen by Maureen Dowd for the New York Times.

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