Monday, December 19, 2016

TV: HULU, 8 or so years on

It's not been an easy haul for HULU.


The streaming service kicked off at the end of the '00s and featured films like DR. GOLDFOOT IN THE BIKINI MACHINE and CAPRICE and TV shows from FOX, NBC and ABC.

It quickly rushed to offer a fee based service in addition to free content.

The thing was, it's fee based content?

The exact same of what it had before.

And it knew it had a problem.

Every summer, the number of people using the service crashed as HULU was left without content with the networks offering nothing new.  It would live for the moment when USA's summer shows started airing and it finally had some new content.

So it new the need for new content.

But it failed repeatedly at producing it.

THE MORNING AFTER was the closest the show came to a hit for years and this was just a five minute daily gossip show.  It ran from 2011 to 2014.

HULU's other failures included MOTHER UP!, QUICK DRAW, THE AWESOME, THE WRONG MANS, RESIDENT ADVISORS, THE DOOZERS and especially DEADBEAT -- one of the worst
so-called comedies ever inflicted on audiences -- and that call is made by two people who watched NBC's THE PAUL REISER SHOW.

Finally, via purchasing, HULU ended up with FOX's THE MINDY PROJECT and possibly finally remembering women streamed as well they also added DIFFICULT PEOPLE (their first funny show created for the channel) which was followed by their first dramatic hit 11.22.63.

For months, those three were all they had but compared to, say, AMAZON they were a huge success.

They just got even more successful.

SHUT EYE is a caper show.  It's about a married couple working a con -- played by Jeffrey Donovan and KaDee Strickland -- as psychics for a Roma gypsy mob.

Over ten episodes, the couple plot and plan to get out from under the mob -- while Donovan's Charlie actually manages to develop psychic powers.

If that's all the show offered, it would still be a success on pure entertainment terms.

But what really made the December offering a success was Isabella Rossellini's performance as Rita. SPOILERS follow.

Rita's the mother of mobster Fonzo (Angus Sampson).

And from the start, she was shudder inducing.  Charlie's sister is caught in a lie and, to punish her, Rita has mobsters hold her down while Rita carves letters into the woman's face.

She's not at all troubled by what she's doing or by the screaming taking place as she does it.

Throughout later episodes, she goads and admonishes her son.

This includes when, to end a beef, she forces Fonzo to marry off one of his under-age daughters.

Fonzo is torn up over committing his daughter to another family and destroying her life.  He tells his mother, at one point, that he wishes he'd had a son.  Rita eyes him up and down before replying that so does she.

It all ends with Rita set up for murder by her own son and carted off to prison.

The role of Rita is scary and juicy, the kind of role that too often doesn't exist for a woman of any age, let alone one over forty.

Isabella runs with the role and, in the process, HULU can boast of something truly memorable as 2016 winds down.  With any luck, they'll build on that in 2017.

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