Thursday, January 28, 2021

TV: AMAZON wins the race to the bottom

 All streaming services are not created equal.  That became even more clear last week as NETFLIX offered FATE: THE WINX SAGA while AMAZON offered FLACK.


A story about fairies or a story about public relations nightmares in the UK -- which do you think would be more mature?

Sadly, it was the teen drama FATE which gives notice, at long last, that we've all grown bored with zombies and that they just don't have the staying power of, for example, vampires or witches.  NETFLIX went looking for a new horror genre and came up with the fairies.  Outside of DISNEY's Tinkerbell, there hasn't been a lot of focus in films and TV on fairies though they were a subplot from time to time on HBO's TRUE BLOOD.  FATE is based on a NICKELODEON cartoon series WINX CLUB.  THE VAMPIRE DIARIES' Bryan Young fleshed out the cartoon for live action and the six-episode season one is pretty much perfection.


Pretty much?  An amazing female cast, strong writing, some solid special effects and some solid heart tugging scenes make this series a winner.  Even a snapped neck near the end of the final episode makes sense despite how missed that character will be in season two.  The fairies have various powers and lead character Bloom is both a fairy and a changeling so her powers are tremendous and Abigal Cowen does a fine job portraying her.  Also worthy of praise?  Precious Mustapha, Eliot Salt, Eve Best, Sadie Soverall and Hannah van der Weshuysen.  

Among the men?  Robert James-Collier has made Saul a fully realized character which is no easy feat when the teacher is basically the older male in any Tom Cruise learning-a-lesson film. The show's biggest failing is the male cast.  Worst of the bunch?  Danny Griffin.  


He plays Sky.  Though he's supposed to be a great warrior -- and the son of one -- it appears his fairy powers are blow out, bangs and especially layers.  Sometimes the front mop of hair is a brushed out, curled mess but, even when that happens, there is often this solo strip of golden hair running down the right forehead that's perfectly straight, not a curl, not a wave.  If only as much thought was put into his character. Griffin may not be the worst actor on the show but his face is always in full close up when poorly reciting one line after another.  By contrast, everyone seems to realize Josh Cowdery's inadequacies as an actor and they spend a lot of time shooting him from the back so that his pert little bottom does most of his acting for him.  (Barbra Streisand in THE MAIN EVENT served up fewer butt shots.)


Griffin's also stuck with the least interesting role.  Maybe season two will find some purpose for him (Daddy issues seem ready to implode by the end of the sixth episode)?  Season two also needs to seriously address Riven and Dane.  Freddie Thorp plays Riven and Theo Graham plays Dane.  Riven's convinced from the outset that Dane is gay and interested in him.  It appears Riven is right.  While Riven takes up with Beatrix, it still appears that Riven is interested in Dane.  The three have a vaping interplay -- shotgunning weed off one another.  In that scene, and pretty much all the others, every move Riven makes is made with one eye on Dane.

At one point, near the end of the season, Riven tells Dane he thinks he's gay and that he wanted his dick but now he's not sure what Dane feels for Beatrix so, tell him, when Dane's beating off, who's he thinking of.  Dane basically says shut up and changes the subject.  We would have preferred Dane to have replied, "Your butt, I drool over and dream of your ass."  They've already made a great couple -- much more believable than Sky and Bloom or Sky and Stella.  But the show doesn't seem to want to go with it.  

But they don't, not in season one.  And we're getting really tired of it.  As Ann noted, CHARMED has yet again sidelined the gay sister.  She can be a sister there for her siblings but she doesn't get the romances that her two sisters get.  She's a lesbian and we're supposed to applaud them for the 'courage' of including a gay character in the cast.  Why?

Before WILL & GRACE -- the revival or the original run -- and before Ellen De Generes character came out on ELLEN, Bill Brochtrup was already playing John Irvin on NYPD BLUE -- as far back as 1994.  Having a gay character on your show is really nothing new or daring.  Having a gay character on your show whose romances are off screen or non-existent is shameful.  

The people behind FATE need to grasp that there is real chemistry between Riven and Dane and they don't need a woman to hide behind.  CHARMED needs to get its act together.  

AMAZON PRIME apparently will never get its act together.  We recently noted that the networks could have used foreign content last fall to offer new shows for people to watch.  The streamers have always been happy to do that.  AMAZON's a little too happy, in fact, which is how they ended up with FLACK. 


FLACK is a bad show.  We would say that to it's credit, it opens with a gay couple but it's not a gay couple.  It's an in the closet entertainer who is paying a guy to have sex with him -- a guy who then wants to blackmail him and who insists he's straight.  Nothing can save this bad show but somehow AMAZON wanted to rescue it.

They're airing season one.  You might have caught it already on POP or SHOWTIME -- it's bounced around a lot, this British show, in the US.  Now it's landed on AMAZON (which will shortly begin airing season two).  It's more bad news for AMAZON.  Hard to believe that they've been doing streaming as long as they have and yet there is so little to show for it.


FLACK is about number 50 when you count the drama and comedy shows AMAZON's passed off as one of their ''original" programming offerings.  50.  And so little has stood out -- even less would qualify as good.


Worth watching?  A VERY ENGLISH SCANDAL, THE BOYS, HOMECOMING, THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL, CRISIS IN SIX SCENES and that's really it.  In almost eight year, in almost fifty programs, that's it, those five shows worth watching.  

No, all streaming services are not created equal.

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