Tuesday, June 11, 2019

TV: If there's a way to screw up, NETFLIX will find it

If there's one lesson of 2019, it's that NETFLIX screws up everything.

JESSICA JONES?  It streams its last season next Friday.  It's an okay season but not a solid one and certainly not one that really wraps up Jessica's journey.  But none of the MARVEL shows wrapped up well, NETFLIX didn't let them, did they?  They just took an axe to them.

Just like they took an axe to ONE DAY AT A TIME.  CBS was interested in the show for their streaming service and HULU was interested in exploring it.  But NETFLIX -- which didn't want the program -- wouldn't let the show go forward.

And also axed?  FRIENDS FROM COLLEGE, SANTA CLARITA DIET, on and on it goes.  Where does it end?  Last week, it ended with the announcement of the final season of THE RANCH.


When you're asking people to pay in order to watch your programs, is it really a smart business model to keep cancelling the shows they watch?   Then again, how smart is a business model to begin with which, since 2012, has spent much more money than it has ever taken in?  A business model that now depends upon junk bonds?

Every month, the trades report some other big hire at NETFLIX but, thus far, none of these executives have done anything that's actually improved the streaming service.

Last Friday drove that home twice.  First off, TALES OF THE CITY.


Armistead Maupin's TALES OF THE CITY has now been responsible for four mini-series.  The first aired on PBS.  The fourth just aired on NETFLIX.

You have to be really stupid -- and NETFLIX is infamously ignorant -- to air that last Friday.

Laura Linney should sue.

Watching the latest installment, watching Linney's Mary Ann return to San Francisco, still uptight, still well meaning, still a bull in a china shop was watching an Emmy worthy performance.  Not Emmy nomination worthy, mind you, but a performance worthy of the award itself.

It probably doesn't stand a chance now because NETFLIX is so damn ignorant.

Had they released it two Fridays ago, on May 31st, it could have qualified for an Emmy this fall.  May 31st was the cut-off date for this year's Emmys.

Now there's a chance Linney will get nominated next go round.  There's a chance.  Not much of one, mind you.  Because by the time May 31, 2020 rolls around, her performance will be almost a year old.  Many voters will associate it with being a year old.  And the fresh punch it packed over the weekend?  That will likely be taken for granted.

When we asked a NETFLIX suit, "What the f**k were you'll thinking," we were told that it was released for Pride Month.  Armistead Maupin's classic was a major LGBTQ work.

We're not denying that.

But we're smart enough -- and we believe the LBGTQ community is as well -- to grasp that releasing TALES OF THE CITY one day before Pride Month would be a-okay.  It would be kicking it off one day early and it would allow all the actors doing such incredible work the chance of being recognized.

Linney deserves an Emmy.  You want to slap Mary Ann at times but that's the character of Mary Ann and Linney brings her to life and then some.  Charlie Barnett, Murray Bartlett, May Hong and certainly Olympia Dukakis all gave Emmy nomination worthy performances.

And if NETFLIX had done its job and known when the cut off was for the Emmys (the suit we spoke with was unaware that they had missed the cut off date by seven days), there would be a ton of nominations for the latest chapter in this much loved work.

Instead, a year from now, it will be a distant and fading memory and it'll be lucky if anyone gets nominated.

The bulk of the cast deserves nominations.

Ellen Page does not.

There are three scenes she's effective in -- three scenes in ten episodes.  They're crying scenes.  She cries very well.  Like a child actress, she can hit that note.

She can't hit any others, but she can hit that note.

There is something deeply pathetic and pathological in casting a 32-year-old actress as a 25-year-old.  There is a world of difference, as any young person can tell you, between 25 and 32 -- more of a difference than between 35 and 42, in fact.  Now a great actress could bee 32 -- or 42, for that matter -- and play 25.  But Vanessa Redgrave was not cast in the role, Ellen Page was.

She is the worst actress of her generation.  She never creates a character but always plays Ellen Page.  And what passed as charming for a child actress is now just empty for a professional, adult actress.  An Ellen Page performance is always the same accent, always the same way of speaking, always the same way of moving, always the same thin acting.  There are out lesbians who could have been cast as Shawna and made her a real character.

In a year from now, Ellen Page's latest pedestrian performance is what TALES OF THE CITY will be most remembered for, not the excellent acting on the part of others, not the wonderful scene where Charlie Barnett is seated with middle-aged White men and endures their racist remarks (Charlie's character Ben is African-American) and then has to listen to them refers to "trannies."  When he explains that is derogatory and that we should respect people's right to self-identify, an enraged White man wants to hector him.  The scene plays reals and beautifully -- the angry man countering Charlie delivers a strong performance as well.  And the scene is based upon some of the regrets that trail blazers always have for those who follow on the road that they paved with their blood and tears.  It's a very real moment and one of many.  It's too bad, however, that Ellen Page and her SAVED BY THE BELL 'acting' keeps destroying every real and genuine moment that TALES OF THE CITY delivers.

At least TALES delivers.

What can we say about DESIGNATED SURVIVOR?

Maybe that the ABC show should have been left cancelled?  Maybe that when NETFLIX is cancelling so many fan favorites, they probably don't need to be bringing in works from networks that no one was watching.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR started off strong in the first season.  It was all over the map in its second season.  It was also anti-woman and it was a non-stop CIS gender White male parade.  Maggie Q's FBI agent Hannah was the only woman that mattered and the only person of color that did.  Maggie Q gave an incredible performance.  So, of course, season three and NETFLIX result in her being killed off (episode seven).

She was the only reason to consistently watch the show and now she's gone.

Is there anything to praise about season three which NETFLIX started streaming last Friday?

Anthony Anderson delivers a great performance.  He's a new character, the Chief of Staff.  He's about the only real reason to watch.

Hannah, early on, is fired by the FBI but hired by the CIA.  Why the president of the United States, played by Keifer Sutherland, didn't intervene to save her job at the FBI is anyone's guess.  But without Hannah, DESIGNATED SURVIVOR has no action scenes is nothing more than one of those male weepy soap operas (REGARDING HENRY, THE DOCTOR, etc.) that bombed repeatedly in the nineties.

DESIGNATED SURVIVOR in season three is a really bad soap opera.  How bad?  It's a moralizing soap opera.  Soap opera's people love feature a character to boo and hiss -- Alexis Carrington, Abby Ewing, etc.  There's no time for real villains when every script needs to include significant space for Keifer Sutherland to moralize.

And it's Keifer, not his character.

Someone needs to tell Keifer that his jowls need to be removed.  Those huge, lower fat portions on each side of his face are rather disgusting and make his pie-in-the-sky nonsense come off even more dated.

The show wants to preach centrism.  While identifying everyone you disagree with as a racist.

Season three has a plan where a biological weapon will sterilize people of color and allow the US to remain majority White for decades to come.  This is a plan that uses KKK types but is secretly funded by the Republican Party and seemingly involves every member of that party except for the presidential nominee.

The presidential nominee?  There is a Republican nominee, a Democratic nominee and then Kirkland (Keifer) running for re-election.  All three are White men.

It's 2019 and that's rather strange, isn't it?  That's before you even get to Aunjanue Ellis.  When DESIGNATED SURVIVOR aired on ABC, the actress played Vice President Ellenor Darby.  She pops up in one episode on NETFLIX to announce she's stepping down as Vice President and planning to run for the presidency.  Then we never hear of her again.

That's perfectly in keeping with NETFLIX's DESIGNATED SURVIVOR.  While on ABC, each season had a number of female directors.  Now that it's on NETFLIX?  All the directors are men.    And that really shows in the crap that makes it to the screen.

Peter Noah writes bad scripts, he always has.  He does here as well.  We especially enjoyed marveling over how awful Peter 'Woke' Noah managed to be in the tenth episode.

In this episode, new character Isabel (Elena Tovar) tells Emily (Italia Ricci) she was wrong to attack her for sleeping with Aaron (Adan Canto) and that women needed to stop blaming each other and start blaming the cheating man.

So 'woke,' Peter, so 'woke.'

Written just like a man who thinks he knows women but doesn't.

Isabel had every right to be upset with both Emily and Aaron as she originally was.  She should have stayed mad.  Emily slept with Aaron despite knowing that Aaron and Isabel were a couple and were talking marriage.

There is a world of difference between not blaming a woman who is a stranger and has no idea of what's what and in blaming a woman you work with, that your lover works with, who knows you are a couple and goes ahead and sleeps with the man anyway.

Both are betrayals.  But having offered no real scenes between two women (other than Hannah with her boss), 'woke' Peter felt this would play well.  It didn't.  It doesn't.

The whole third season is a fake ass piece of crap.  And NETFLIX wasted money to produce ten episodes of this crap while axing SANTA CLARITA DIET?

NETFLIX doesn't know what the hell it's doing.  That only becomes more obvious with each passing day.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.
Poll1 { display:none; }