Thursday, December 23, 2021

TV: Wishes and reality

The things we wish. Maybe it's the holiday season, but lately, we've been wishing a lot -- and for a lot -- when watching.


For example?

Katie Halper did a pretty strong roundtable on Julian Assange last Thursday. 



A number of people participated and, like Halper, they made strong points regarding the ongoing persecution of Julian Assange by the US government and the nonsense of Joe Biden and company trying to extradite Julian for the 'crime' of reporting. Susan Sarandon, Chris Hedges, Glenn Greenwald, Margaret Kimberly, Marianne Williamson and many more participated. Again, strong points and they more than established the case for ending the persecution. So what was our complaint?

Watching, we wished Kyle Kulinski hadn't participated. We don't care for Kyle for various reasons -- among which? He constantly interrupts women when they speak. The two hour plus special hadn't even gone ten minutes in before Kyle was repeatedly cutting off Marianne.

Marianne Williamson is many things. The list includes a businesswoman, an author, a politician and an activist. Some people forget but the list also includes a strong and moving speaker. So when Marianne was explaining the basics about Julian Assange the last thing needed was for Kyle to be repeatedly interrupting her. 

Marianne Williamson: Key to authoritarianism in secrecy and no secrecy is more dangerous than military secrecy.   Everybody [corporate media lapdogs] will be going on about what a 'criminal' he is.  And great people will be talking tonight [on the live stream] about how is he and what did he really do.  But I I want to talk for a moment about what he did do.  What Julian Assange revealed were War Crimes.   What he revealed were atrocities.  What he revealed were gratuitous deaths.  I'll give you just an example: Almost 700 people were killed because -- mainly, by the way, the mentally ill and women who unknowingly got to close to a checkpoint.  There were men who were trying to drive their pregnant women to the hospital, got too close to a checkpoint.  This was in 2010 that all these things were revealed.  Let's be very clear here everyone  Vietnam was a debacle, Iraq was a debacle, Afghanistan was a debacle.  So when the military establishment tries to go at us with "Nothing to see here, guys"?  If anything is clear, there's a lot to see. There's a lot to see.  There's a lot we should have been paying very close attention to. And the fact that the US government, rather than wanting to stand for the free press, the right of the people to know and holding the military accountable?  You have to have transparency.  A military that is not held accountable?  And the way that they are able to do what they do is through this completely illegitimate use of the classification system.  Classified document, right?  They're not supposed to classify a document [when] it's just really they don't want you to know.  [The sole man on the panel feels the need to interrupt Marianne while she is speaking; not once but twice.]  So millions of documents are made classified.  Journalists who would say, "What's in there?" -- "we can't tell you because it's classified.  They're only able to classify something if they can prove it's essential to US security.  This is a whole veil that they're putting over it.  You're going to hear a lot tonight about how 'Oh, you're putting the troops in danger.'  We don't want to put the troops in danger but we don't want them to put the people of Afghanistan in danger, which they did, and the people of Iraq in danger, which they did, or the people of Iraq in danger, which they did.  So you're going to hear about that tonight.  All of these issues are extremely important.

Marianne knows how to shape the topic, she knows how to build, she's an incredible speaker . . . if someone doesn't keep butting in and talking over her. 

This is not the first time Kyle has talked over a woman. This is his pattern. It's long past time that he was told to take a look at it. He needs to take a look at it and grasp that women don't need him jumping in to explain what they're saying. He needs to grasp that women can -- and do -- speak for themselves.

It was irritating and it was entirely avoidable. All you had to do to avoid it was to not invite him.

We wished that they had.

Watching PEACOCK's new series MACGRUBER, we couldn't help but wish that Tina Fey wasn't always so busy being one of the boys and that she'd actually have taken the time to write for women. Specifically, Kristen Wiig. It's years since BRIDESMAIDS and Kristen's really had little to show for it. In MACGRUBER, she's back as Will Forte's girlfriend and she's often hilarious -- especially when singing. A little real effort poured into developing a sitcom for her talents would've paid off.

MACGRUBER pays off. It's engaging and funny. Wil, Kristen, Laurence Fishburne, Billy Zane, Ryan Phillipe and Sam Elliot are all good sports and that goes a long way to make this extended SNL sketch work.

Even so, we wish PEACOCK had more to offer. ONE OF US IS LYING remains their best series. You can -- and we do -- applaud MACGRUBER and THE GIRL IN THE WOODS (which reminds us a little of season one of THE OA). That's three programs. Not a lot to praise when you grasp that PEACOCK hit the one year mark over the summer.

That said, have you checked out AMAZON or HULU?

They've been in the original programming game for some time and so much of what they offered in the past was wretched. Not 'okay,' not 'blah,' but outright wretched.

Both now have 'hubs' where they highlight all their original programming and you can find years and years of wretched and unwatchable programming.

Now every streaming service is going to have spotty programming. It's a given. But NETFLIX, for example, early on offered original programming and, in 2013, we're talking programs like HOUSE OF CARDS, ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK and HEMLOCK GROVE. Neither AMAZAON nor HULU can boast of similar strong programming in its early years. In 2011, HULU got into the original programming game. and it was years before they had anything worth watching. Even now, the only thing in production that's worth watching is THE HANDMAID'S TALE.  AMAZON had similar problems with garbage no one wanted to watch until they lucked on to THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL. What did both shows share in common? They weren't 'dude' shows programmed for the bro community. In other words, when both streamers realized they could go after something then the audience for SPIKE TV, they found success. 

We wished that they had realized that sooner. So much sooner.  And we wished they had more to show for it but they really don't.  FUTURE MAN and DIFFICULT PEOPLE remain HULU shows that have ceased production but remain worth watching and you can say the same about season one of AMAZON's HOMECOMING and the still-in-production series THE BOYS.  But they're not NETFLIX.  NETFLIX has GRACE AND FRANKIE, SENSE8, OZARK, STRANGER THINGS, YOU, THE WATCHER, FIREFLY LANE, ATYPICAL, LUPON, DAREDEVIL, JESSICA JONES, MINDHUNTER, RUSSIAN DOLL, ASTRONOMY CLUB: THE SKETCH SHOW, MASTER OF NONE, LUKE CAGE, IRON FIST, THE DEFENDERS, SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, ALTERED CARBON, WHAT/IF?, DOLLY PARTON'S HEARTSTRINGS, HATERS BACK OFF, ONE DAY AT A TIME, DISJOINTED, LOST IN SPACE and DISJOINTED to name only a few.

PARAMOUNT+ is the latest streamer in the game and it beats HULU, AMAZON and PEACOCK  easily.  That's mainly because it's CBS streaming and more.  It has access to shows you're not getting elsewhere.  THE KROLL SHOW and STRANGERS WITH CANDY aired, while in production, aired on COMEDY CENTRAL. PARAMOUNT+ has those shows and many others.  These archival programs give the service a huge step ahead of others emerging (or others still struggling all these years later).  In addition, they have original programming like WHY WOMEN KILL, THE GAME, THE GUILTY PARTY, the one season of TELL ME A STORY, STAR TREK: DISCOVERY, STAR TREK: PICARD and STAR TREK: LOWER DECK. There's more.  EVIL and SEAL TEAM moved from CBS to streaming on PARAMOUNT+ with new episodes.  Still more, there is the access to PARAMOUNT's film library.   That puts it so far ahead of other streaming services.

There's a lot to wish for but, as 2021 draws to a close, we wish people would grasp that, no, we are not in a golden age of TV.  If we were, with all these channels and streaming services, there would be a lot more worth watching.






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