Dan Barrett

Dan Barrett is the Content Director of Televised Revolution. His musings on television have been heard across ABC Radio, on websites like The Guardian and Crikey, and drunkenly in pubs across the country. At night he spends too many hours watching repeats of Cheers.

What To Watch? Hancock, Gallipoli, and Better Call Saul

John Oliver’s Last Week Tonight returns this week, which will delight many of the fans that discovered the show during its first season. It’s phenomenal just how much of a cultural juggernaut it became in just a matter of weeks. Proof positive that audiences do (can?) pay attention when a show comes out as strong as that show did.

Also, The Walking Dead does return for the second half of its fifth season this week.

The ‘What To Watch’ list is a primer for shows that are debuting or have an episode of note. If you want more complete TV listing site, be sure to check out the Pogdesign Calendar. Please note that all dates cited below are in accordance with their local broadcast times.

Special thanks goes to Jen Knight for assisting in compiling the list.

New shows debuting this week:

The House of Hancock
Airs: 8 February (Nine Network – Australia)
This TV movie (though it appears to be two one our episodes aired back-to-back) examines the real life Lang Hancock/Gina Rinehart/Rose Porteous relationships and the marriage between Lang & Rose that amused the Australian public. Whether this TV movie rises above mere amusement value is yet to be seen.

Better Call Saul
Airs: 8 February 2015 (AMC – US)
The ‘Breaking Bad’ prequel series spin-off starring shady lawyer Saul Goodman launches this weekend. Advance word is that this is not an overt comedy, despite how the series had been billed when first announced. Fans of Breaking Bad will no doubt be highly enthused to see the return of the show, but the big question is whether they’ll be just as interested in watching a show with a different pace and tone to the original series.
Note: Better Call Saul will air in Australia fast-tracked from the US on Monday night from 6pm. The second episode follows the next night, as it does in the US.

Gallipoli
Airs: 9 February 2015 (Nine Network – Australia)
This is the first episode of an 8-part series that depicts the ten-month campaign in Turkey during World War 1 that led to the death of so many Australian soldiers and played such a large part of forming the nations cultural identity.

Asylum
Airs: 9 February 2015 (BBC4 – UK)
Inspired by the Julian Assange stint in the Equadorian Embassy, this UK comedy stars Ben Miller as an egotistical whistleblower seeking refuge in a South American embassy.

The Slap
Airs: 12 February 2015 (NBC – US)
When an annoying child is slapped by an adult at a barbecue, so sets off a series of dramatic repercussions that are felt by all the adults in attendance. This is the US remake of the Australian TV series and stars Uma Thurman, Thandie Newton, Peter Saarsgard, Zachary Quinto, Brian Cox, and Melissa George (reprising her role from the Australian series).

The Late Late Show with Adam Pally. The Most Honest and Funny TV Hour of 2015.

US late night chat shows are built format and continual repetition. It’s pure TV comfort food built around the idea that viewers fall asleep to them on a nightly basis. And so, when a late night show does something out of the ordinary, it gets attention.

Novelty episodes have been a long-time, yet irregular staple of late night. Fans of the genre speak with reverence of the night Late Night with David Letterman presented a show in which the screen slowly rotated 360 degrees over the course of the hour, the night Late Night with Conan OBrien replaced the studio audience with children, along with the multiple other gimmicks the writing staff of years-long chat shows conjure up.

Long gone from the medium is the ‘guest host’. Johnny Carson, back in the day, would routinely have guest hosts fill in to give him a break or to holiday. These days networks seem content to just run repeats in lieu of guest hosts. With the exception of the guest hosts that filled in for Dave Letterman during the time of his heart surgery, they are long gone from late night.

The guest host itself has become a novelty. Currently on CBS, they are using guest hosts to fill the transitionary gap between outgoing host of The Late Late Show Craig Ferguson and new host James Corben. The show, which airs at 12:30am every night after Letterman, has been running different guest hosts with no consistency as to how long they’re doing their stint for. Some have been single nights, two nights, or multiple weeks. One week even had a late night version of the daytime CBS show The Talk run. So far, hosts have included Drew Carey, Judd Apatow, Whitney Cummings, Regis Philbin, Jim Gaffigan, and Sean Hayes. Future guest hosts will include Wayne Brady, Tom Lennon, Will Arnett, Billy Gardell, and Kunal Nayyar.

By far, the best host has been Happy Endings / Mindy Project star Adam Pally, with Parks & Recreation recurring actor Ben Schwartz as his sidekick. The two, hosting the show with no studio audience from the set of CBS breakfast show CBS This Morning, delivered an hour of jokes about how terrible their hour has been and how much disdain the professional crew shooting the program have for the hosts. They present well as two friends who genuinely have an affection for one another. Adam Pally delivered a wonderfully pathetic man on the street segment and awkwardly interviews guests with the limited skills he has in that. A true highlight had Pally asking a footballer over a satellite link (already a situation that is fraught with stilted and difficult conversation) about whether he saw the movie boyhood.

It is an hour of wonderfully funny and altogether human comedy. All of the artifice of the late night chat show genre is stripped away with Pally offering a show that feels as honest as many podcasts do. Television would be better off allowing chat shows to be this honest.

[PODCAST] Televised Revolution – Weak Tea [Ep 382]

This week has seen Foxtel announce its Triple Play bundling, but have consumers moved on from what they are peddling? What does this say about Foxtel? And what on earth does the weekends election in Queensland have to do with any of it? Strap yourselves in, because Televised Revolution is keeping it 100!

This week on the show the panel discuss:

  • Tenplay on Apple TV
  • The Foxtel triple play
  • How watching TV marathons may be a sign you are depressed

 

At Televised Revolution, we look forward to receiving your mail and check us out on the Twitter. You can also find the podcast on iTunes (please leave us a review, it helps people find the show).

Televised Revolution is available on:

iTunes | PocketCasts | Soundcloud | StitcherRSS

Foxtel Triple Play Bundles – There Are Better Deals To Be Found

Foxtel have today announced their triple play bundle packages. This provides subscribers the opportunity to bundle together their Foxtel, phone line, and broadband Internet into the one discount package in the same way that telco’s offer discounts to customers who bundle their home phone lines, mobile, and broadband together. But, does it offer value to its customers? For Telstra customers, there is certainly value to be found, but for customers with other providers there is very little incentive to sign up.

Foxtel Triple Play pricing for existing Foxtel subscribers:

FoxtelBundlePrices

Triple Play pricing for new Foxtel subscribers:

FoxtelNewSubPricing

But, how do those broadband packages stack up against other providers? In considering the three leading ISP’s in Australia, their pricing is as follows:

TELSTRA
50GB – $73
200GB – $93
500GB – $113

OPTUS
30GB – $55
200GB – $80
Unlimited – $100

IINET
100GB – $29.95*
300GB – $49.95*
600GB – $69.95*
1000GB – $89.95*

*iiNet pricing doesn’t include phone line connection, which is $29.95 per month. 

In comparing the pricing, These new Foxtel bundles are a good deal for anyone comparing their service against Telstra’s. For anyone wanting to add Foxtel’s basic TV package on top of a Telstra broadband plan (which includes a phone line), one can save between $8-$13. But that’s where the good deals end.

Ignoring the low data Optus 30GB plan, which is so low in data it isn’t really comparable to any of the competitors or Foxtel plans, an Optus 200GB subscriber can get the same price for their Internet/phone + Foxtel. Their $100 unlimited package also matches the price of Foxtel’s $500GB plan, but offers the same 500GB plus as much data on top of that as one wants. Because ‘unlimited’.

It’s the iiNet plans which provide the best value for money that diminish the value of the Foxtel triple play bundles. Each of their plans come under the cost of the Foxtel plans even after the phone line and Foxtel subscriptions are added. For that point of comparison:

FOXTEL TRIPLE PLAY BUNDLE 
50GB – $90
100GB – $95
200GB – $105
500GB – $125

IINET W/ PHONE LINE AND FOXTEL
100GB – $84.90
300GB – $104.90
600GB – $124.90
1000GB – $144.90

Not only are iiNets pricing 10 cents cheaper, but they’re adding 50-100GB more data with every comparative plan.

Where Foxtel do have an advantage is with data inclusions. If you want to stream any video from Foxtel services (Foxtel Go, Foxtel Play, or Presto), this is quota free. Televised Revolution contends that 600GB is enough data for a family of four to stream a whole lot of Presto on top of standard Internet consumption use, but some may find the quota exceptions a valuable feature.

And then there’s the Foxtel issue. For what Foxtel offer, there are many consumers who just aren’t finding the value for money in the service, even with their revised pricing structure announced late last year. For the $25 entry level Foxtel cost, Australians will be able to subscribe to at least two of the new SVOD services and buy a cup of coffee (or skip the coffee if they want the Movies AND TV Presto package). Subscribing to Stan and Netflix, for example, may be a far more enticing proposition for that price point.

While the quota exclusions are nice, these bundle deals just don’t offer all that much value to customers willing to shop around for a good deal. Both Optus’ unlimited and iiNets packages offer better deals. Of course, all of this is predicated on the idea that consumers want a phone line at all. With so many people opting to just use their mobile handsets, there has been a dramatic reduction in the number of home phone lines and landline calls being made generally.

[PODCAST] Sensible Chuckle – David Ashby [Episode 5]

In our fifth episode we sit with David Ashby (for the last time) and discuss the fifth episode of season 2 of Danger 5. We explore the differences between Iron Sky and Danger 5, why a 6-person crew manipulating a prosthetic Pierre would be a bad thing, and the secret truth behind Skill Tester arcade machines.

This is the fifth of seven podcasts that will tie in with season 2 of Danger 5. Future episodes will feature interviews with other Danger 5 actors and the creators of the show. Each episode will focus on a different episode, providing quasi-director commentaries to watch along with the show.

Sensible Chuckle is available on:

iTunes | PocketCasts | Soundcloud | StitcherRSS

Review: Hiding (S01E01)

There’s a strange romance attached to witness relocation. There’s the excitement and fear of dangerous criminals attached to stepping away from your identity entirely. You become someone entirely new, without the ability to touch upon your life of old for fear of recrimination. The new ABC series Hiding does a great job of touching upon everything that makes witness relocation equally exciting and terrifying, but fails to make it engaging enough to want to see how the story plays out.

This new ABC TV 8-part series concerns the Quigg family who are forced into witness relocation after father Troy agrees to give evidence against his former boss, a crime boss. His wife and teenage children are forced to join him in their new lives as the Swift family, moving from the Gold Coast to suburban Sydney. As you would expect from a drama series, things don’t go well.

Hiding was created by Matt Ford, who cites series like Friday Night Lights as inspiration for this show. While most Australians may better know Ford for his work on stage as musician ‘Pinky Beecroft’, Ford has been working as a writer on a number of good Australian series including Satisfaction, Wildside, Dance Academy, and Farscape. Ford is a solid writer and the bones are all in place here for Hiding to work, but outside of the premise, there’s nothing particularly exciting about what the show has to offer.

At least there’s nothing evident in this first episode and that’s the biggest problem Hiding has.

TV viewers today so many options that if a show isn’t willing to offer them the promise of something truly engaging, there are plenty of other shows/movies/games that will. From this first episode, the audience knows it is going to run 6-8 episodes and it will follow a reasonably predictable tract. Family go into witness relocation, family have trouble adapting to witness relocation, a member of the family is seen which reveals their location/new identities, mobsters turn up to take care of the outstanding business. Viewers are happy to be taken on that ride if they’re provided with an interesting hook, a tantalising morsel that shifts the viewer outside the expected rote plot developments that are assumed from episode one.

Instead the viewer is provided with exactly what they expect to see happen. While some viewers may be content enough with that, it limits the series and its potential moving forward.

Consider Friday Night Lights, which Ford used as an inspiration. That show built up its pilot episode with all of the dramatic expositionary moments the viewer expected – the new family in town coming to terms with their ‘celebrity’ status, the footballers dealing with each of their own individual problems, and finally the big game which the team win. It follows all the expected moments, but it builds in an unexpected climactic moment where the star football player who we’ve been following as the series lead (of sorts) is knocked down on the football field and doesn’t get up. It’s at *THAT* moment that the show hooks its viewer. It takes the rote expectation and offers that extra something.

Hiding is a solid production that looks good, offers better than average dialogue, and has a rather nifty musical score (by beloved Australian rocker Dave McCormack). But if you’re after a show that’ll hook you in and demand that you give over 8 of your precious TV watching hours to it, that’s a difficult case to make. There is nothing in this first episode that offers anything other than the expected.

Hiding debuts Thursday 05 February at 8:30pm

What To Watch? Hiding, Allegiance, and Fresh Off The Boat [Week of 1 Feb 2015]

The ‘What To Watch’ list is a primer for shows that are debuting or have an episode of note. If you want more complete TV listing site, be sure to check out the Pogdesign Calendar. Please note that all dates cited below are in accordance with their local broadcast times.

Special thanks goes to Jen Knight for assisting in compiling the list.

* * * *

10,000 BC
Airs: 02 February 2015 (Channel 5 – UK)
20 everyday Brits are set into the wilderness to survive like cavemen/women did back in the day. Because this is a reality show staring British people, explain lots of complaining. Thankfully we know everyone will come out of it okay because there are plenty of camera people around recording it… just like in the prehistoric times.

Fresh Off The Boat
Airs: 04 February 2015 (ABC – US)
Based off the memoir by US chef Eddie Huang, this is set during the late 1990’s and is about an Asian-American family dealing with the culture-shock of moving from Washington DC to Florida so that the father in the family can open a steak restaurant. While the premise for the show sounds, politely, dubious, the series is being run by the very funny Nahnatchka Kahn who created the oft-brilliant Don’t Trust The B—- In Apt 23.

Allegiance
Airs: 05 February 2015 (NBC – US)
A young and brilliant FBI agent is unaware that his parents are sleeper Russian spies. It’s like The Americans meets Sherlock. *Sigh*.

While a blatant effort to cash in on some of the supposed heat of The Americans has irked many TV critics, Televised Revolution maintains indifference at that. But isn’t it time to retire the current US TV trope of the brilliant detective who can recognise ridiculously impossible and arcane clues through the smallest of details?

Hiding
Airs: 05 February 2015 (ABC – Australia)
A family enter the witness relocation program after their father decides to squeal on his former boss, a crime boss. Televised Revolution offers a review HERE.

[PODCAST] Televised Revolution – Transparent See (Ep 381)

Television is getting a little bit exciting again. With Australia now firmly engaged in multi-platform viewing, we are finally getting access to a wider number of shows. For many, it will be a challenge of keeping up with where to look. Today’s official launch of Stan offers the promise of what is to come.

This week the panel discuss:

  • Stan launches in Australia
  • Presto TV now available for Android
  • Netflix’s biggest competitor is… PopcornTime
  • Ten signs Richard Reid
  • Supanova stirs controversy by inviting Adam Baldwin
  • FreeviewPlus lauded for interacting with its very tiny userbase
  • Powers is coming soon to PS4 – now we know when.

We force Dennis to sit down and watch a TV show. This month he lets us know what he thought of Transparent.

At Televised Revolution, we look forward to receiving your mail and check us out on the Twitter. You can also find the podcast on iTunes (please leave us a review, it helps people find the show).

Televised Revolution is available on:

iTunes | PocketCasts | Soundcloud | StitcherRSS

What To Watch? Fortitude [WEEK OF 24 JANUARY 2015]

There are some high profile return series this week: The Americans, Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe, Midsummer Murders, Sirens, and Mr Selfridge. New series are absent from this weeks schedule, but this week does herald a series that promises to be one of the best of 2015, the new UK/US co-production Fortitude.

Fortitude
Airs: 29 February 2015 (Sky Atlantic – UK)
When a murder is committed in the close knit community of Fortitude, DCI Morton (Stanley Tucci) is flown in to assist the local head of police in investigating the crime. Also stars Richard Dormer, Christopher Eccleston, Michael Gambon, and Sofie Gråbøl. This is a UK/US Scandi-noir that has embraced the format so heavily as to bring on The Killing’s Sarah Lund.