Monday February 18, 2019

Barry returns to HBO on March 31.

I watched a few episodes of The Umbrella Academy on Netflix. It’s interesting and different. An adaptation from a comic book penned by My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way, it’s worth a look. More below.

I continue to enjoy The Resident on Fox. I’m not usually one for medical dramas, but this one stands above the rest IMHO.

A sneak peak at Survivor, which kicks off another season on Wednesday.

Showtime released a trailer for season 3 of Billions. “When everyone is out for revenge, no one is safe. This is never more true than in season four of Billions. Bobby Axelrod and Chuck Rhoades, former enemies, and Wendy Rhoades (Maggie Siff), the chief counselor to each, have come together to form an uneasy but highly effective alliance, aimed at the eradication of all their rivals, including Grigor Andolov (guest star John Malkovich), Taylor Mason (Asia Kate Dillon), Bryan Connerty (Toby Leonard Moore) and Waylon ‘Jock[ Jeffcoat (guest star Clancy Brown). Ambition and betrayal have long been at the heart of Billions, and this season all the characters find out exactly how high a price they'll have to pay to satisfy those needs. Catch the season premiere Sunday, March 17 at 9 p.m. ET/PT. “

Did you catch that connection back to season 1 of True Detective on last night’s episode? The newspaper photo with Woody Harrelson and Matthew McConaughey?

I knew Jussie Smollett was a lying scumbag. He deserves to rot in a cell.

Of course he’s denying the allegations.

John Mulaney will host SNL on March 2.

Netflix has ordered a 2nd season of Carmen Sandeigo.

“Paul Shaffer has mastered the art of captivating conversation from his seat at the piano, and the renowned bandleader and four-time Emmy nominee will further hone his chat chops with the launch of his new multiplatform series, Paul Shaffer Plus One. This summer, Paul Shaffer Plus One will bring several of Shaffer's famous friends and colleagues across the music industry — including Sammy Hagar, Graham Nash, ZZ Top's Billy Gibbons, Steely Dan's Donald Fagen and more — to the program, which will air monthly Sunday nights at primetime on SiriusXM and AXS TV. Shaffer and his esteemed guests will discuss everything from inspiration and influences to notable songs, with a few impromptu musical moments thrown in. The interviews of Paul Shaffer Plus Onewill be conducted in a recording studio setting — and with Shaffer stationed at his trusty piano, of course, just in case the mention of a particular track moves him and his special guest to perform.”

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From 9to5Mac: “The launch of Apple’s long-rumored streaming video service is closer than ever. After building an executive team and signing numerous TV shows and movies, Apple is seemingly set to launch its video service in 2019. Here’s everything we know so far about Apple’s streaming service.

“Apple’s efforts in streaming video really got started in 2017 when it hired Jamie Ehrlicht and Zack Van Amburg, two veteran Sony Television executives. Ehrlicht and Amburg serve as the co-heads of Apple’s video programming worldwide division and report to Eddy Cue.

“While at Sony Television, Ehrlicht and Amburg spearheaded some of the biggest TV shows including Breaking Bad, Better Caul Saul, The Crown, and more.

“In addition to Ehrlicht and Amburg, Apple has made numerous other TV hires. Carol Trussell of Gaumont Television joined Apple as its head of production. Apple also hired a Channel 4 TV exec, as well as executives from WGNAmazon StudiosUniversal Television, and more.

“What’s notable about these hires is that Apple isn’t trying to launching its streaming service on its own. The company’s first originals, Planet of the Apps and Carpool Karaoke, were developed without veteran TV help and ended up being widely criticized.

“By hiring outside executives from such big-name studios, Apple is seemingly signaling that it’s ready to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon when it comes to original content and its streaming video service.

“Apple has signed dozens of TV shows and movies for its streaming video service. The shows range from sci-fi to comedy to drama and include star-studded casts.

“While Netflix original content is notorious for being unapologetically raunchy, Apple is taking a different approach. A pair of reports from Bloomberg and The Wall Street Journal have outlined Apple’s aversion to adult language, violence, and nudity in its TV shows.

According to The WSJ, of the shows Apple is producing, ‘only a few’ will veer into TV-MA territory. Bloomberg, meanwhile, says that Apple wants its TV shows to be “suitable for an Apple Store” and is focusing on “comedies and emotional dramas” similar to what you might see on NBC.

“So what TV shows can we expect from Apple? Quite a few of them.

“One of Apple’s flagship TV shows will star Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon, and Steve Carell. The drama will center around a morning show and offer a look at ‘the lives of the people who help America wake up in the morning.’ It’s based Brian Stelter’s book Inside the Cutthroat World of Morning TV.

“Apple is also working closely with Oprah Winfrey on original content for its streaming video service. Last summer, the company announced ‘a unique, multi-year content partnership’ with Winfrey. The press release for this partnership was also one of the clearest indications of Apple’s TV plans:

“Apple today announced a unique, multi-year content partnership with Oprah Winfrey, the esteemed producer, actress, talk show host, philanthropist and CEO of OWN. Together, Winfrey and Apple will create original programs that embrace her incomparable ability to connect with audiences around the world.

“Apple is also collaborating with Steven Spielberg on a new Amazing Stories sci-fi series. The high-budget show will feature at least 10 episodes and act as a continuation of the anthology of the same name that ran on NBC in the 1980s.

“The big name productions don’t stop there. J.J Abrams is producing a pair of TV shows for Apple. One will star Jennifer Garner, while the other is a dramedy with Abrams and Sara Bareilles.

“As for movies, Apple’s efforts there aren’t quite as broad as its TV shows. Apple is partnering with film studio A24 to produce original movies. The first collaboration between the two is a film On the Rocks starring Bill Murray and Rashida Jones, with Sofia Coppola serving as director and producer.”

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Per EW, “I think we’re alone now… but are we?

“Halfway through the first episode of The Umbrella Academy, five of the seven Hargreeves siblings — Luther (Tom Hopper), Diego (David Castañeda), Allison (Emmy Raver-Lampman), Klaus (Robert Sheehan), and Vanya (Ellen Page) — all find themselves reunited in their childhood home for the first time in years. They’ve been brought back together by the only event that possibly could, the death of their adoptive father, Sir Reginald Hargreeves (Colm Feore). But after scattering their father’s ashes and bringing up various old grievances, they all find themselves back in their old rooms: reunited, yet still alone.

“And then the music kicks in. Music is a big part of The Umbrella Academy, dating back to its origins as a comic written by former My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way (and illustrated by Gabriel Bá). There is even more music in the show itself, ranging from the casting of singer Mary J. Blige to the eccentric soundtracks for fight scenes. In this moment, it’s Tiffany’s cover of I Think We’re Alone Now that starts playing over the house speakers, inspiring each sibling to start jamming out without realizing the others are doing the same thing.

“‘Everyone can relate to the moment when you shut the door of your room, and maybe you haven’t been in your childhood home for years, and it brings you back to being a kid,’ showrunner Steve Blackman tells EW. ‘They think they’re so different, but in that one moment, with that one song playing, they’re all dancing. They think no one else is, but they’re all doing the same thing. Deep down, they’re all desperate for the same thing, which is acceptance and being a part of a family again. If only they could just take a minute to tell each other! But they won’t, and that’s the fun of the show, seeing if maybe one day they’ll figure it out and also possibly save the world.’

“When the dance sequence begins, the camera alternates between rooms, giving us a sense of each sibling’s dancing style (as well as their personalities: Luther’s room is full of toy airplanes and rocketships from even before he went to the moon, while Allison’s colorful boas seem to have predicted her career as an actress). But then, slowly but surely, the camera pans out, and Umbrella Academy headquarters starts to resemble a dollhouse that we’re peering into, watching each member dance by themselves.

“Blackman explains the camera angles and special effects that created the dollhouse shot.

“‘I’m very proud of that shot,’ he says. ‘When I was rewriting the pilot script, I put that in. No one understood it, but I just said, look, it’s one thing to see them dancing in their own rooms. But when you sort of put it in the perspective of a dollhouse, where you pull back and see that they’re all doing the same thing, it brings a micro back to a macro. They’re siloed off, but they’re all together in the same house. It’s a fully VFX shot. We shot them all individually in their own rooms in green screen, and our VFX people did an incredible job of creating that shot, which is fully CG and animated. It just does something to see them from the dollhouse perspective, it brings you into a new perspective of how this family works. In my mind it shows you they’re all together, but they’re alone, but somehow they’re gonna make this work. I really loved it and I pushed hard for it. It wasn’t until people saw it they understood what it did. It’s just a beautiful perspective of a family, apart yet still together. It’s a very tricky shot to do, and it took a lot of extra effort. We also threw in lots of extra bits and Easter eggs that you might notice when you watch it a second time.’

“Season 1 of The Umbrella Academy is streaming on Netflix now.”

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Per The Hollywood Reporter, “[f]ollowing a big haul of awards for its first two seasons — and a new overall deal for its creative team — The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is giving its stars a hefty raise.

“Rachel Brosnahan and Tony Shalhoub have both earned sizable pay increases after renegotiating their deals, and Alex Borstein is close to a new agreement as well, sources tell The Hollywood Reporter.

“Amazon declined comment.

“Brosnahan stands to reportedly make as much as triple her previous salary, potentially earning up to $300,000 per episode, and may also get a piece of the show's back end with her new agreement. Though she's number one on the call sheet, Brosnahan's starting salary was said to be lower than that for some of her more established co-stars; that has likely been rectified.

“Shalhoub's pay will also rise substantially, to a reported $250,000 per episode, and Borstein's is expected to as well. Regulars Michael Zegen, Marin Hinkle and Kevin Pollak are also likely to get pay bumps.

“Season one of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel won eight Emmys, including individual wins for Brosnahan and Borstein as well as the award for best comedy series; Shalhoub was nominated for best supporting actor in a comedy.

“Shalhoub and Brosnahan also won individual SAG Awards in January, and the cast took home an ensemble award.

“The raises for the cast come on the heels of Amazon signing Mrs. Maisel showrunners Amy Sherman-Palladino and Daniel Palladino for a new overall deal to create more projects for the tech giant's Prime Video platform.”

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Per Vulture, “True Detective’s first season introduced two major new voices in television — creator-writer Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Joji Fukunaga — and cemented the McConaissance, but it became a pop-culture supernova thanks to an occult-conspiracy angle that fueled a cottage industry of clue-finding and connection-making but ultimately went nowhere. Pizzolatto had written a show about rich pedophiles and their poor, mentally ill splinter cell; their Yellow King of Carcosa pretensions were never intended to be anything but delusions of grandeur. The season’s strengths (Fukunaga’s filmmaking, Matthew McConaughey’s performance, a pervasive sense of dread) and weaknesses (tough-guy dialogue played completely straight, a dearth of women characters given anything to do but react to the menfolk and occasionally disrobe) largely got lost in the shuffle.

“Following Pizzolatto and Fukunaga’s less than amicable creative divorce and a lingering sense that season one’s Lovecraftian antics had been a big bait and switch, season two was bound to face an uphill battle in recapturing the magic. Its near-total disconnect from the first season on practically every level — thematically, aesthetically, the nature of the crime and the criminals, the relationship between the detectives — didn’t help. Nor did a Byzantine murder mystery, dialogue even more stylized than the first go-round, and a suite of confrontationally unpleasant lead performances by co-stars Colin Farrell, Taylor Kitsch, Rachel McAdams, and Vince Vaughn. I get the sense that time has dimmed the furor against the second season and led more people to discover its own murky beauty — it certainly did for me; consider exhibit A and exhibit B — but it still hovers somewhere between “cult favorite” and “contrarian curio” on the prestige-TV continuum.

“Where does that leave season three? How do we talk about a show that’s been talked damn near to death two seasons running?

“Creatively speaking, the show’s in a pretty good place. Despite sharing its southern-gothic setting, sex-abuse-conspiracy story line, and odd-couple investigators with season one (the events of which it has even referenced directly), it’s much less dorm-room trippy and much more focused on the human element than on supernatural winks and nods. Yet in keeping the show down to earth, Pizzolatto (who now serves as the show’s occasional director as well as writer and showrunner) has also avoided the sense of smog-choked confusion that dogged so much of the California-based second season.

“A friend’s description of the series’s overall arc has stuck with me. Imagine a big-ass equalizer knob on a stereo. First, it wobbles all the way to one side — the heady, reference-laden metaphysical season-one stuff. Then it swings wildly in the opposite direction, deep into season two’s exhausted, outclassed losers who couldn’t even outthink a bunch of mildly mobbed-up city bureaucrats, much less describe the nature of space and time. Finally, it settles in the middle, where a troubled but fundamentally reasonable cop, his less intuitive and more careerist but still decent partner, and the ambitious but talented and well-intentioned writer he marries (Mahershala Ali, Stephen Dorff, and Carmen Ejogo respectively) do their best to solve a sad and tricky case, despite hitting dead end after dead end.

“Maybe they’ll get to the bottom of it, like McConaughey and Woody Harrelson’s detectives did, even if they were never able to bring the real ringleaders to justice. Maybe they’ll be hounded into defeat, like the quartet of characters in season two, wrapping up the season with only a slim, but still tantalizing, prospect of justice winning out in the end. Either way, the solution seems far, far less important than what they discover in the act of attempting to find that solution. The death of Will Purcell, the disappearance of his sister Julie, and the myriad crimes and killings that surround them keep spiderwebbing out into deeper, darker, and ever less glamorous corners of the community so badly rocked by these events.

“True Detective season three is about the fate of the Purcell children, yes. But it’s also about the prejudice and PTSD that drove Native American Vietnam vet Brett Woodard to spark a lethal firefight after his neighbors tried to lynch him for a crime he didn’t commit. It’s about the mysterious one-eyed man who gave the Purcell kids a doll he purchased from a racist parishioner at the local Catholic church, then resurfaced a decade later to harangue Amelia for profiting off other people’s suffering. It’s about the black neighborhood that understandably reacts to a visit from the police like an invasion by outside occupiers. It’s about the three random metalhead teenage assholes who nearly get jammed up for murder because they’re surly and wear Black Sabbath shirts in a God-fearing southern community. It’s about Tom Purcell, driven to alcoholism to dull the pain of life in the closet. It’s about his wife, Lucy, who employs drugs, drink, and promiscuity in much the same self-medicating way after a childhood of abuse and incest. It’s about the contemporary true-crime boom, and how well-meaning filmmakers and podcasters and writers can get us closer to the truth but do a lot of damage on their way there. It’s about the way wealthy men and their allies in government and law enforcement can collude to treat the communities they rule with the kind of impunity that would make a feudal lord envious. It’s about an old man with Alzheimer’s, whose own life is fast becoming as big a mystery to him as the case he could never quite solve, and whose loved ones are slowly slipping into anonymity the same way the real killers and kidnappers did.

“In this respect, True Detective season three has learned lessons not only from its own direct predecessors, but from the ne plus ultra of small-town murder mystery television: Twin Peaks. And it’s learned the right lessons, too.

“Though separated by time and distribution methods alike, the first two ABC Network seasons of Twin Peaks, the prequel film Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me, and the Showtime revival Twin Peaks: The Return add up to much more than the buzzword Lynchian could ever hope to capture. It’s true that David Lynch and Mark Frost’s creation had all the head-scratching clues, eye-popping surrealism, and chilling supernatural flourishes that fans of True Detective season one enjoyed, or at least thought they were enjoying; that stuff’s nowhere to be found in season three. Lynch and Frost also have a pronounced fondness for the soap-operatic — the sex, the scandal, the silliness — that none of Pizzolatto’s three True Detective seasons to date have gone anywhere near.

“But when that one-eyed man popped up at Amelia’s book reading in Hunters in the Dark, disruptive and distraught, perhaps complicit in the central crime in some tangential way but seemingly remorseful and also very obviously disturbed by his own experiences, I didn’t think of the Black Lodge or the Red Room, Norma Jennings and Dougie Jones. I thought of Russ Tamblyn’s Dr. Jacoby, the eccentric psychiatrist who had an unethical relationship with his teenage patient, snapped when she was murdered, and wound up a conspiracy crank in the woods.

“There are so many people like that in Twin Peaks, people driven to the margins of the idyllic small-town society by abuse, poverty, mental illness, drugs, or their own bad actions, never to return. Harry Dean Stanton’s Carl Rodd, wise and sad in his trailer park. Alicia Witt’s Gersten Hawyard, a onetime child prodigy clinging to her suicidal and abusive junkie lover. Lenny Von Dohlen’s Harold Smith, the shut-in with the lonely soul. Catherine E. Coulson’s Log Lady, whose prophetic gifts couldn’t save her from dying of cancer like anyone else. Addicts, adulterers, crooked cops, scheming hoteliers, lonely gas station operators.

“Some are closely connected, in one way or another, to murdered high-school student Laura Palmer — herself pulled in a million different soul-damaging directions long before her murder and quite apart from the demonic forces feeding off her misery. Others have no connection at all except geography. All of them float around in the dark and icy waters of the American underclass. In Twin Peaks, Laura’s tragic murder is the crack in the ice that allows us to observe the sea of suffering underneath.

“That’s what I think of when I think of True Detective season three, not Matthew McConaughey’s twitchy nihilism, nor Colin Farrell’s thousand-yard, eight-beer stare. Wayne Hays, Amelia Hays, and Roland West may well be the truest detectives we’ve met yet. But from Agent Dale Cooper on down, not even the best investigators have ever truly seen an open-and-shut case, one they could comfortably solve and file away forever. The forces that made life so hard for the Purcells and the people around them, that empowered their community’s worst elements and discarded otherwise decent people like corpses at a crime scene, will be there even if Will and Julie’s attackers are taken down once and for all. Who killed Laura Palmer?was the start of a discussion about what we do in the face of endemic pain and injustice, not the end of it. If True Detective season three wraps up with the same strengths it has displayed so far, it will ask a similar question, and offer just as challenging an answer.”