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.

Stan Is Here. Should You Subscribe?

On Monday the Nine/Fairfax streaming service Stan officially launches. Most of the people who registered their email address on the Stan site have received a sneak peek invitation to trial the service over the past week with the first invitations sent last Monday.

Stan will cost $10 per month to access its library of movies and TV shows. The question many will ask is “Should I subscribe”?

Let’s deal with the first two basic questions before going too deep:

1) What Is it?
Stan is a subscription video on demand service. For a flat monthly fee, you can access their library of content and watch any of the movies and TV shows on the service for no additional cost. The content can be watched in standard definition or in high definition, depending on your settings. It’s like ABC iView, but will cost you a small monthly charge.

Do keep in mind that streaming TV and movies will use the data provided to you by your Internet Service Provider. So, don’t be watching Stan on the train every morning on your phone. Find out what your monthly allowances are and watch the TV content accordingly.

2) How Can I Watch It?
Movies and TV shows on Stan can be watched on your computer browser by visiting the Stan website. An app is also available for Android and iOS (Apple) tablets and smart phones. Currently, there are no apps available for connected TV devices. So, if you would like to watch the service through your smart TV’s, video game consoles, or any other device that delivers internet content to your TV, you are out of luck. That said, Stan does support Chromecast and Apple’s AirPlay, meaning you can send video from your web browser/tablet/phone to the TV.

Now that is out of the way, let us deep dive into Stan.

The base question is: “Should I subscribe”? The answer to that really comes down to what is it you want from a streaming video service.

stan1For my money, Stan is the best all-round Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) service currently operating in Australia. If you average everything out, Stan is a great value service. It offers a better mix of shows and movies than other providers and provides them in high definition and 5.1 surround sound when available.

Every streaming service has its positives and negatives.

Presto – The TV content on Presto is largely rubbish. Most of the best shows are also available on Quickflix and Stan. Their big lure is their access to the HBO library, but the titles available are all older HBO shows that most of us have already seen. Do you really need to pay $10 a month to see The Wire again? What is great on Presto is their movies – they offer a 1500+ range of good to great titles. If you’re interested in movies, it’s worthwhile, but their TV pack is too low in volume to find value in. With Presto, the film and TV packs are $9.99 each. or $14.99 bundled together.

Presto’s content is also only available in streaming standard definition. It’ll look okay on a tablet or smartphone, but go bigger than that and the viewing experience is awful.

Quickflix – For under $10 per month subscribers can access a far better range of TV content. The selection of movies is generally quite good too. If you want a second service to compliment a Stan or Netflix service, consider Quickflix. Content is available in HD where possible.

Stan2Netflix – It’s hard to look past Netflix – they’re the grandaddy of streaming services. Their library is constantly growing, they’re investing in large swathes of original content, and their programs can be viewed in high definition. Netflix is also available on pretty much every platform available. An official service hasn’t launched yet in Australia, but it is expected to launch in March.

Which brings us to Stan.

To make things simple, here are the pros and cons of Stan:
Pros

  • Many great TV titles in their library (approx 320 titles, tripling that of Presto TV).
  • Several exclusive series including Mozart In The Jungle, Transparent, and soon the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul.
  • The movie library (approx 770 titles) has a great mix of Hollywood, Australian, and international films available.
  • The user interface is easy to navigate and the design is quite good.
  • Chromecast and Airplay compatible.
  • Free month-long trial offered.
  • Ability to build a playlist
  • A kids only section is available with additional support for a kids only profile.

Cons

  • Not every show is available in full.
  • All content appears to be curated on the menu pages with recommendation engines only offering suggested content after a program has been viewed.
  • Chrome web browsers are not supported on Mac.
  • Profile switching occurs on the front page of the site which also showcases content on the site. A similar problem exists with competitor Netflix, but Netflix do have an elegant solution to this on their app. When using the app, Netflix loads a profile switching page first before letting one in to select content. Stan users can only switch profiles once a profile has been logged into, mimicking the web interface.
  • If an adult is logged in, kids are exposed to adult content (such as a large Masters of Sex banner) before being able to switch the profile over to the kids account. Of course, there is an element of parental responsibility that should be taken into consideration here. Concerned parents can switch the profile themselves before giving the child access, though the practicality of this isn’t always so clear-cut.

Masters-of-Stan

Whether you want to subscribe is really going to depend on the content. This is an exhaustive list of every TV show and movie available on Stan on day of launch:

TV

Mozart In The Jungle
Fargo
The Good Wife
Ray Donovan
Sherlock
The Tudors **
Breaking Bad **
Masters of Sex
Deadwood **
Hawthorne **
Dexter
Hannibal
Justified
The Fall
The L Word
Hustle **
Wallander
Line of Duty
Ripper Street
The Bridge
Lost Girl
Last Resort **
Huff
The Shield **
Damages **
Jack irish: Bad Debts
The Pillars of The Earth
World Without End
Brotherhood
Sleeper Cell
The Borgias
Torchwood
Whitechapel
State of Play
Primeval
Lark Rise To Crandleford
Great Expectations
The Straits
The Strange Calls
Dangerous Remedy
Gallipoli From Above
Graeme Murphy’s Romeo & Juliet
Underbelly **
Underbelly A Tale of Two Cities **
Underbelly Squizzy **
Underbelly Razor **
Underbelly The Golden Mile **
Underbelly Badness **
Fat Tony & Co **
My Place
Cambridge Spies
Hellfjord
DCI Banks
House of Cards (UK)
Jack Taylor
Luther
Silent Witness
New Tricks
Republic of Doyle
Run
The Bletchley Circle
The Circuit
Prisoners of War

Transparent
Nurse Jackie
Ja’mie Private School Girl
Extras **
Will & Grace
The Big C **
Summer Heights High
Alpha House
Betas **
Californication
Gavin Stacey **
Little Britain
The Thick of It
South Park
Wilfred **
The IT Crowd
Married With Children
Absolutely Fabulous
The Mighty Boosch
Blackadder
The Office **
The League of Gentlemen
Psychoville
Yes Minister
Yes Prime Minister
Stella
The Vicar of Dibley
Better Man
Rake
Jack irish: Black Tide
Fat Pizza
Go Back To Where You Came From
Housos
Bodyline
Raising The Curtain
It’s A Date
All The Way: Australia v America In Vietnam
Dirty Business: How Mining Made Australia
Mabo
Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries
The Mystery of A Handsom Cab
Upper Middle Bogan
The Elegant Gentlemans Guide To Knife Fighting
Redfern Now
Love Child
Crownies
We Can Be Heroes
Lowdown
House Husbands
Mad Dogs
Jekyll
Spooks
Top Gear
Call The Midwife
Inside Men
Mistresses
Pride & Prejudice
Sense & Sensibility

Dumb Drunk & Racist
World on Wheels
A-Z: The A-Z of Contemporary Art
The Crocodile Hunter
A Moody Christmas
Awkward
Geordie Shore
Daria
Teen Wolf
Party of Five **
Dawsons Creek **
Misfits
Teen Mom
I Used To Be Fat
My Super Sweet 16
16 & Pregnant
Beavis & Butthead
Angry Boys
Nitro Circus
Pranked
Jersey Shore
Thunderbirds **
Stargate SG1
Orphan Black
Merlin
Stargate Atlantis
Life On Mars
Doctor Who
The Sarah Jane Adventures
Andromeda **
Being Erica
Aeon Flux
Doctor Who Dreamland
The Nanny **
Reno 911
Drop Dead Diva **
Whites **
Just Shoot Me
Friday Night Dinner
Moone Boy
Community
Russell Brand In New York City
Come Fly With Me **
Fawlty Towers **
Coupling **
Roast of William Shatner
Roast of Roseanne
Roast of David Hasselhoff
The Office
Rev
Roast of Charlie Sheen
Blue Bloods
CSI
Dexter
Upstairs Downstairs
Waking The Dead
Jane Eyre
The Inspector Lynley Mysteries

Human Planet
Wonders of The Universe
Pain, Pus, And Poison: The Search For Modern Medicines
Michael Palin New Europe
Freddie Flintoff Versus The World
Frozen Planet
Inside Natures Giants
Louis Theroux – Louis & The Brothel
Louis Theroux – African Hunting Holiday
Louis Theroux – Behind Bars
Louis Theroux – America’s Most Dangerous Pets
Louis Theroux – Gambling In Las Vegas
Louis Theroux – Under The Knife
Louis Theroux – The Most Hated Family In America
Louis Theroux – The City Addicted to Crystal Meth
Nature’s Great Events
Planet Earth
Michael Palin: Pole To Pole
Scary Therapy: Scary Sharks
She Wolves
Treasures Decoded
Wonders of The Solar System
The Natural World: Big Red Roos
Attenborough & The Giant Egg
Amazon With Bruce Parry
The Ascent of Money
Dolphin’s of Shark Bay
Great Barrier Reef
Life In The Underground
Life In Cold Blood
Seven Wonders of The Industrial World
Wild Africa
America In primetime
Bite Me With Dr Mike
East To West
French Coastlines

Polisse---Stan

 MOVIES

Sherlock Holmes
Bran Nue Dae
21 Jump St
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
Get Smart
The Artist
Gran Torino
The Trip
The Vow
Mao’s Last Dancer
My Week With Marilyn
The Ides of March
The Young Victoria
The Special Relationship
Blue Valentine
Your Sisters Sister
Robocop 2014
Zookeeper
Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky
As It Is In Heaven
The Imposter
Ocean’s Thirteen
Wargames
Jindabyne
This Is Spinal Tap
The Lincoln Lawyer
The Brothers Bloom
The Time Travellers Wife
He’s Just Not That Into You
Arbitrage
Stranger Than Fiction
Synecdoche New York
Four Weddings & A Funeral
Million Dollar Baby
Bernie
I Am Legend
Dear John
Fat Pizza
17 Again
Adventureland
Life As We Know It
Abduction
Blade 2
End of Days
Drag me To Hell
Dreamcatcher
After The Sunset
Arthur & The Invisibles
Arthur & The Revenge of Maltazard
An American Haunting
Alpha and Omega
Cats & Dogs 2: The Revenge of Kitty Galore
Constantine
Enemy At The Gates
Fracture
Ghosts of Girlfriends Past
Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle
A History of Violence
Laws of Attraction
Skyfall
Quantum of Solace
Casino Royale
Die Another Day
The World Is Not Enough
Tomorrow Never Dies
Goldeneye
Licence To Kill
The Living Daylights
A View To A Kill
Never Say Never Again
Octopussy
For Your Eyes Only
Moonraker
The Spy Who Loved Me
The Man With The Golden Gun
Live & Let Die
Diamonds Are Forever
On her Majesty’s Secret Service
You Only Live Twice
Thunderball
Goldfinger
From Russia With Love
Dr No
Animal Kingdom
Snowtown
Balibo
Chopper
Australian Rules
The Hunter
Muriel’s Wedding
Cliffy
Newsfront
One Perfect Day
Phar Lap
Romper Stomper
The Craic
Young Einstein
Reckless Kelly
Love The Beast
My year Without Sex
Lucky Country
My Brilliant Career
Wake In Fright
Lantana
Walkabout
Samson & Delilah
Paul Kelly: Stories of Me
Not Quite Hollywood
Kenny
Japanese Story
He Died With A Felafel In His Hand
Ten Canoes
Mad Max
One Two Three
Last Tango In Paris
Network
The Missouri Breaks
The producers
Arizona Dream
Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now Redux
Cecil B Demented
Human Nature
Ghost Dog
Levity
An Inspector Calls
Letters To Juliet
The Ghost Wriyter
Sorority Row
The Upside of Anger
Sex Drive
Raging Bull
The Care Bear’s Movie
True Confessions
Vampire’s Kiss
The Bounty
Yentl
Blue Velvet
The Woman In Red
The Discreet Charm of The Bourgeoisie
Carnal Knowledge
3 Days of The Condor
Wedding Daze
Lapland Odyssey
The Wedding Party
Stanley & iris
Romance & Cigarettes
The Vow
The Time Travellers Wife
Metal Skin
Leap Year
Down To You
Killers
Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium
Astro Boy
Spy Kids
Speed Racer
A Monster In Paris
Short Circuit
The Neverending Story
Around The World In 80 Days
Loch ness
The Secret of Nimh
Space Chimps 2
All Good Dogs Go to Heaven 2
Madeline: Lost In Paris
Spy Kids: All The Time In The World
The Black Stallion
The Black Stallion 2
American Ninja 4
Tell No One
Point Blank
The Raid
Lost Highway
Wolf Creek
Mystic River
Sword Fish
The Scapegoat
Bad Lieutenant
Complicit
At Close Range
China Moon
Desperate Hours
Fled
The Falcon & The Snowman
Gang Related
Eden Lake
Berbarian Sound Studio
Candyman: Farewell To The Flesh
Carrie
Ghoulies 2
Poltergeist 2
Poltergeist 3
Stigmata
The Fog
The Howling
Jacob’s Ladder
Prince of Darkness
Saw: the Final Chapter
Let The Right One In
Kill List
The Messenger
Splice
The Awakening
The Host
Twin Peaks Fire Walk With Me
Valhalla Rising
Three Musketeers
Bloodmatch
Bulletproof
The Legend of Zorro
Walking Tall
The Three Musketeers
The Three Musketeers (1972)
The Man In The Iron Mask
The Odd Angry Shot
A Man Apart
Blade Trinity
Snakes On A Plane
The Double
Hostage
Three Kings
The Hurt Locker
Rush Hour 3
Air America
Redacted
The Counterfeiters
Lions For Lambs
Navy Seals
Paths of Glory
Valkyrie
Windtalkers
Platoon
Red Dawn
Soldiers of Fortune
U571
A Field In England
Rules of Engagement
The Wipers Times
Curtin
In The Valley of Elah
War Witch
Kokoda
Chaplin
Cutthroat Island
The Doors
Arizona Dream
Basic Instinct
Fresh
LA Story
Leaving Las Vegas
Narrow Margin
The Ice Storm
The Crying Game
End of Days
Double Impact
Dead Man Walking
The Cutting Edge
Hackers
At First Sight
An All Dogs Christmas Carol
Supernova
Proof
Romper Stomper
Kundun
Body of Evidence
Return To Me
Peter’s Friends
Angel heart
Johnny Handsome
Sid & Nancy
The Oustiders
Shocker
Red Sonja
Santa Claus The Movie
Raw Deal
The Delinquents
The French Lieutenants Woman
1984
Child’S Play
Lock Up
A Fish Called Wanda
A Guy Thing
Art School Confidential
Barbershop 2
Army of Darkness
The Great Train Robbery
The Taking of Pelham One Two Three
Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring
Lord of The Rings: The Two Towers
Lord of The RIngs: The Return of The King
The Hobbit
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
Twilight
Twilight New Moon
Twilight Eclipse
Sex & The CIty 2
Matrix
Matrix Reloaded
Matrix Revolutions
Robocop
Robocop 2
Robocop 3
The Terminator
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo
The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo (US)
Rocky
Rocky 2
Rocky 3
Rocky 4
Rocky 5
Rocky Balboa
Austin Powers
Austin Powers: Goldmember
Scream 4
Species
Species 2
Species 3
Species The Awakening
Rambo First Blood
Rambo 2
Rambo 3
Analyze This
Analyze That
The Amityvile Horror
The Amityville Horror (2005)
Agent Cody Banks
Agent Cody Banks 2
FX
FX2
The Birdcage
La Cage Aux Follies
La Cage Aux Follies 2
Legally Blonde
Legally Blonde 2
The Pink Panther (2006)
The Pink Panther 2
The Pink Panther
A Shot In The Dark
Return of The Pink Panther
The Pink Panther Strikes Again
Revenge of The Pink Panther
Death Wish 2
Death Wish 5
Final Destination
Final Destination 3
Catwoman
Cats & Dogs
Half Nelson
Much About Nothing
In The Loop
Everything Must Go
Me & Orson Welles
What Maisie Knew
Scenes of A Sexual Nature
Submarine
Stargate
Total Recall
Universal Soldier
Escape From New York
Flash Gordon
Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure
Bill & Ted’s Bogs Journey
Futureworld
Rollerball
Dark City
Alexander The Great
Birdman of Alkatraz
The Magnificent Seven
The Long Goodbye
Midnight Cowboy
A Bridge Too Far
Raging Bull
Platoon
The Unforgiven
Mystic River
The Graduate
The Alamo
West Side Story
The Great Escape
A Fistful of Dollars
For A Few Dollars More
The Good The Bad and The Ugly
The Greatest Story Ever Told
The Apartment
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang
Battle of Britain
The Children’s Hour
Clambake
It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World
Wake In Fright
Moby Dick
Addams Family Halloween
Dr Heckyll & My Hype
An Inspector Calls
King Kong (1976)
City Slickers
The Claim
Three Amigos
The Unforgiven
The Misfits
The Missouri Breaks
Heaven’s Gate
Dead Man
Rush Hour 2
My Big Fat Greek Wedding
The Wedding Crashers
Miss Congeniality
Elf
The Wedding Date
Charlie & The Chocolate Factory
Hoodwinked
Zoolander
Sliding Doors
Red Heat
Brothers Grimm
Annie Hall
Priscilla Queen Of The Desert
Everything You Always Wanted To Know About Sex
Curse of The Pink Panther
Eraserhead
God Bless America
Transsiberian
Blue Caprice
The Age of Reason
The Source
Angel of Evil
Welcome To The North
The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle
Happy Family
The Cezzane Affair
The Right Thing
I, Don Giovanni
Wendy & Lucy
Policeman
A Touch of Sin
Augustine
Four Dragons
Fill The Void
The Patience Stone
The Days To Come
Masquerade
Lapland Odyssey
Welcome Aboard
On Air
Michael Kohlhaas
Crestfallen
Mammuth
Polisse
Tasting Menu
The Man Who Laughs
Triad
War Witch
The Edge
Viola Di Mare
The City Below
The Murder Farm
The Debt
The Kid
Frozen Silence
About Elly
The Minister
Wunderkinder
Do Me Love
Artificial Paradises
The Priest’s Children
Hunting Elephants
Honeymoon
Mad Dog Morgan
Road Games
Love Like Poison
I’m Glad My Mother is Alive
Beloved
Love Is In The Air
A Gun In Each Hand
Against The Wind
Viva Italy
Like Father Like Son
Bets & Wedding Dresses
Treasure Hunter
Sister
Twice Born
17 Girls
They Came Back
Goodbye
Deep In The Woods
An End To Killing
Cairo 678
The Act Of Killing
The Imposter
Searching For Sugarman
Gasland
Exit Through The Gift Shop
Man On Wire
Hoop Dreams
Heidi Fleiss: Hollywood Madam
Biggie & Tupac
Being Elmo
Babies
Bill Cunningham: New York
Joy Division
Sarah Palin: You Betcha
The Complete History of My Sexual Failures
Annie Liebovitz: Life Through A Lens
Chasing Ice
American: The Bill Hicks Story
Eames: The Architect and The Painter
Bobby Fisher Against The World
El Bulli
Page One
Dig
Crumb
Autoluminescent
Sex My British Job
Tracking Down Maggie
The Greatest Movie Ever Sold
The Selling of A Serial Killer
Aileen: The Life & Death of A Serial Killer
American Grindhouse
Storm Surfers: The Movie
Patti Smith Dream of Life
Gonzo
Joan Rivers A Piece Of Work
March of The Penguins
007 And The Word Was Bond
Bond Girls Are Forever
Fargo
Desperately Seeking Susan
Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Fatal beauty
Flawless
Get Shorty
Ghoulies
Getting Even With Dad
French Kiss
Barbershop
The Crocodile Hunter: Collision Course
Bandits
Charlie Bartlett
Fiddler on The Roof
Fatal Instinct
Evil Dead 2
Much Ado About Nothing
New York I Love You
The Switch
Three To Tango
Blame It On Rio
Frankie & Johnny
At First Sight
The Hot Spot
Alvin Purple
Alvin Purple Rides Again
Teen Wolf
Teen Wolf Too

KIDS

Sesame Street Elmo’s Alphabet Challenge
Sesame Street Elmo’s Potty Time
Sesame Street Elmo’s Shape Adventure
Sesame Street Counting With Elmo
Sesame Street Leaning Letters With Elmo
Sesame Street Bedtime With Elmo
Sesame Street Elmo’s Magic Numbers
Being Elmo – A Puppeteer’s Journey
Octonauts
Mister Maker
In The Night Garden
Dora The Explorer
Ready Steady Wiggle
Charlie & Lola
Thomas & Friends – Calling All Engines
Fireman Sam
Caillou
Magi-Nation
The Adventures of Abney & Teal
Fimbles
Five Minutes More
Balamory
True Jackson VP
Victorious Unfabulous
MI High
Doctor Who Dreamland
The Sarah Jane Adventures
House of Anubis
How To Rock
Kung Fu Panda Legends of Awesomeness
Leonardo
Maid Marian & her Merry Men
Julia Jekyl & Harriet hyde
Feather Boy
Horseland
Johnny Test
The Troop
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Round The Twist
Thunderbirds
CareBears
Hairy Maclairy
Fanboy & ChumChum
El Tigre
Horrible Histories
Dinosaur Detective
How To be Indie
Dino Squad
Jackanory
The Wot Wots
Kipper
Thomas & Friends – Day of The Diesels
Angelina Ballerina – Princess Dance
Thomas & Friends – The Great Discovery
Angelina Ballerina – Sets Sail
Pingu
Zigby
Barney
Spongebob Squarepants
Lockie Leonard
My Place
The Penguins of Madagascar
Inspector Gadget
Rugrats
Rocko’s Modern Life
Avatar The Last Airbender
Mona The Vampire
Kung Fu Dino Posse
Bo On the Go DinoSapien
Adventures of Sonic The Hedghog
Angela Anaconda
The Adventures of Paddington Bear
Mike The Knight
Nihao Kai-Tan
Guess How Much I Love You
Rastamouse
Postman Pat
Little Princess
3rd & Bird
Baby Jake
Zingzillas
Woolly & Tig
Bubble Guppies
Grandpa In My Pocket
Monster Math Squad
Wonder Pets
Martha Speaks
Angelina Ballerina
Bob The Builder
Justine Clarke – Great Big World
Madeline: Lost In Paris
Agent Z and The Penguin From Mars
The Fairy OddParents
The Wild Thornberrys
Jimmy Neutron Boy Genius
iCarly
Lizzie McGuire
Arthur
Johnny Test

Overall
Stan is impressive for a product that has just launched. The library archive is an excellent foundation upon which to build and it provides a great number of viewing options. Where the library does fall flat is in that it doesn’t offer enough US drama and sitcoms. The service feels improportionately weighted with too many Australian and UK shows. At launch, Stan represents the best SVOD service operating in Australia. For $10 a month, the service is good value and worth a look.

Jessica Fletcher experiences an epiphany. Many of them. For an hour.

2015 saw too many people with Internet access making it through 11 minutes and twelve seconds of the sublime Too Many Cooks. That benefited nobody. Dress it up in all the post modern commentary you want, but nobody benefited from that.

This YouTube video is different. It’s spiritually enriching in the most meaningful of ways. This supercut offers just shy of an hours worth of footage of Jessica Fletcher experiencing some level of epiphany.

Editor Isaac Royffe is doing important work here. Bless him.

X Things That Need To Be Done For The X-Files To Come Back Properly

TV (and pop culture more widely) runs in 20 year cycles. Once a show concludes and enters the world of syndicated repeats, DVD/streamed relics, and almost distant memories, it has at least ten years of laying fallow and being just a little on the nose. Unless you were deeply in love, an oft-watched show begins to feel like an awkward one night stand that compels you to brush off the experience and move on with your life. But eventually nostalgia kicks in and that seems to be at the 20 year-mark. Recently we’ve seen renewed interest in Twin Peaks, Seinfeld, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and The X-Files.

When it was mentioned by new Fox executives Dana Walden and Gary Newman at a recent Television Critics Association panel that they are considering bringing back The X-Files as an event limited series, it felt right. The world is ready again for The X-Files in a way that it most certainly wasn’t when Fox attempted to revive the property in 2008 for the movie sequel I Want To Believe.

Opening-Credits-xfiles

In considering The X-Files, it needs to be remembered that the shows latter seasons are not remembered fondly. This is a show that defined what TV could be and played a significant role in maturing the medium, but eventually the wheels fell off the bike. Even the most die-hard of fans found their devotion tested once David Duchovny left the show with the conclusion of season 7 of the series.

A recent revival of the Fox Keifer Sutherland show 24 brought back much of the remaining cast and crew for a limited run series which highlighted the reasons as to why audiences had fallen out of love with that show initially. The X-Files deserves a better fate.

What can Fox do to safeguard The X-Files to keep it as a viable property for many years to come?

I) It cannot be an event mini-series
The absolute strength of The X-Files is that it is traditional TV with a monster of the week and a new story every week. Building an event mini-series around the property will build into it an expectation that the show will focus on a larger ‘mythology’ storyline and not where the show excelled, which was in telling stories about humanoid flukeworms in the sewer systems, a New Jersey sasquatch, and limb-extending serial killers.

Recently we saw Aaron Sorkin conclude his series The Newsroom, which many fans of the show considered to be the best of the three seasons of that series. What made the show start to work is that Sorkin brought back a feeling of network television to his writing. The X-Files needs a similar feeling. Sure, one can attempt to dress it up with longer arcs and a more streaming-friendly approach, but that isn’t working to its strengths. Be the network drama series that we all want it to be.

Besides, the prevailing attitude today when people are asked about The X-Files is that the episodes they remember fondly are the monster of the week episodes and not the ongoing ‘mythology’ episodes to do with the conspiracy around an alien invasion.

It needs to look and feel like an ongoing TV series.

II ) Mythology cannot be the bulk of episodes. But it needs to exist.
The X-Files established the ongoing mythology approach that has driven so much crime, horror, and sci-fi TV over the past 20 years. There would be no Lost without The X-Files, most certainly. Viewers, however, remember the stand-alone episodes more fondly with stories of the Cigarette Smoking Man and the disappearance of Mulder’s sister no longer favourable. And fair enough. When one goes back to re-watch the series, these episodes don’t hold up particularly well.

But to lose an ongoing narrative would be a mistake. Viewers today do want a more complex narrative built into the shows that they watch. It provides connective tissue to the episodes, compelling viewers to tune in weekly. For the show to feel modern, it will require the same narrative techniques almost all other TV dramas employ – techniques The X-Files pioneered in the mid 1990’s.

III) Keep away Chris Carter. And any of the former writers.
Chris Carter was never the strongest writer on The X-Files. While he certainly developed a great framework for the series to excel within, his creativity never drove the shows success. Rather the strength of the shows writing came from writers like Jim Morgan and Glen Wong in the early seasons, with Frank Spotnitz and Vince Gilligan as the show continued in later seasons.

To bring back Chris Carter would be a mistake. He’s not a strong writer and his attention always diverts from the narrative strength of the series. Consider the film I Want To Believe, which he penned. The screenplay keeps apart the two protagonists for much of the film, sidelining Scully with a dull storyline set in a hospital. The film, instead of exploring notions of faith in a compelling and meaningful way as intended, felt like a charmless wet blanket.

chris-carter

Chris Carter is well-meaning, but its simply time to hand over the reins and give the show a fresh new take. Bringing back any of the shows other writers (and yes, this includes Breaking Bad’s Vince Gilligan) may deliver some good episodes, but it needs a new attitude and point of view.

Bring in a new showrunner with a very clear direction for the series. A direction that builds upon the original series, but is also willing to embrace elements that will contemporise the series. Consider the approach being taken with JJ Abrams on the new Star Wars films.

IV) Expand the team.
The Mulder/Scully dynamic was the driving force behind The X-Files and it was what made it the special series it was. But a new series needs to be bigger. If Mulder and Scully are still the only two people fighting for finding ‘the truth’, then their work until now has been for nought.

Rather than see The X-Files return for one or two limited run engagements, it would be preferable to see a framework established which creates a future for the franchise that extends beyond the willingness of Duchovny/Anderson to be involved. Their dissatisfaction with committing to the show longterm was a factor in the shows decline in the final seasons run. Bring in a team of agents to work under and with them. As would be the case with any successful law enforcement unit.

V) Keep It Prestige.
US Network TV is dying a horrible death. Within just a decade, US broadcast went from offering progressive and deeply engaging drama series on a regular basis to being a wasteland of generic formula-driven procedurals. The only hour-long drama of any value is The Good Wife. So if one is to bring back a beloved prestige broadcast show like The X-Files, it is important to make sure that the show is given the tools it needs to stand above the other series on the air. It needs a strong creative team, appropriate budget, and creative freedom.

This cannot look and feel cookie cutter like any old episode of NCIS or CSI.

VI) New beginnings.
Viewers want to be reminded of the joys they experienced with the original series along with the thematic core that kept them returning back week after week. Viewers want scares, questions about the hidden secrets that exist around them, and restrained interplay with the series leads. Bringing back any of the accoutrements that hung off the original series will feel tired and too much like fan service. This means no Smoking Man, no Skinner, and above all, no Lone Gunmen (unless it’s a new publication with a new staff).

VII) Keep the theme.
It isn’t The X-Files without Mark Snows theme song. And it can’t be a remix of the original – we had enough of that in the 90’s at peak X-Files. That novelty has been well and truly worn out.

But keep the theme shorter. That opening titles sequence is a bitch to sit through nowadays.

VIII)Modernity.
The villains of yesterday still exist. We still fear government control. We still fear those that operate within the shadows of power. But that power has shifted. We have large corporations that are now firmly entrenched in our personal lives that never quite had that level of involvement in the past. Our collective fears are now less entrenched in the corridors of power, but more firmly in what technology and those who control it can do to us. Xenophobic fears related to terrorism and terror cells within Western society also runs through society in a manner more reflective of the Twilight Zone cold war paranoia than The X-Files initial Bush/Clinton era.

Mulder & Scully investigate the monsters that are really controlling Google Now?  It sends shivers down my spine.

IX) URST?
The X-Files has already stripped away the unresolved sexual tension that led to the creation of a thousand Geocities shrines. Mulder and Scully had a kid – that seems like some pretty strong resolution right there. This is a big part of why the show will need a younger generation of agents involved in the show. Introducing a sense of URST among the younger cast can drive some of the URST that the show will now be missing. And if you don’t think URST is important to the success of The X-Files as a format, just consider how dull the show became with the sexless Agents Doggett & Reyes who led the show during those final two seasons.

the-x-files---pantsuit

X) Vancouver Locations.
Let’s be honest with ourselves – The X-Files solving mysteries anywhere other than that one Vancouver forest really doesn’t feel right. For The X-Files to continue to feel like the show we have in our hearts, it needs to return to Vancouver.

Stan Goes Beta – Initial Thoughts

Subscription Video on Demand service Stan has gone live. Sort of. Invites went out to a small number of people who had signed up to the Stan website asking for information when they do actually launch. Presumably, this is a control group of subscribers to enable StreamCo (the company set up by Nine and Fairfax to manage Stan) to find bugs and any problems that exist with the service.

It is unfair to review the product at this stage, so Televised Revolution won’t be doing that. Stan isn’t available to your average punter who logs onto the site yet, so it can’t properly be considered a commercial release.

That said…

It is fair to consider the review and form of what Stan will be offering. And right now, Stan is looking very good indeed.

User Interface
Having accessed Stan now via the web, iOS, and Android interfaces, Stan comes out far ahead of competitors Presto TV and Quickflix. It’s clean, bold, and logical in its organisation. Unlike Netflix, Stan makes it fairly easy to peruse an entire library when browsing by genre, which is fantastic from an end users perspective.

The menu button on the top left-hand side of the iOS app opens up a side menu that will let you choose between TV or Movies, with sub categories allowing you to pinpoint the sort of show you actually want to watch.

While categories of shows never get as hyper specific as they do on Netflix (there’s no Con Game Movies From The 1940’s category, for example), they do have sections for Australian films, a James Bond collection, and World Movies.

stan1

The Content
Some of the content found on Stan will also be found on Presto TV and Quickflix. Shows like Nurse Jackie and Summer Heights High are common. The library goes considerably deeper, thankfully, and pools from a number of BBC Worldwide titles like Friday Night Dinner, Moone Boy, and Absolutely Fabulous. There’s also a bunch of titles from other players like Sony. There’s a lot of TV to choose from, but most audiences won’t go past new exciting titles like Transparent and Mozart In The Jungle.

The biggest surprise of the Stan library is how good the film library is. It draws upon SBS’ World Movies archive, with a surprisingly large assortment of foreign titles. They also have a large number of big, mainstream Hollywood films, including the Matrix, Lord of The Rings, and Robocop films. Most movies are contemporary, but there are very few new releases.

Stan2

 

Overall
SVOD services, when competing against experienced players like Netflix, need to make a great impression out of the gate. Stan have done this. It’s unfair to offer too much comment on their content, but it does serve as an excellent foundation to this service. Stan is one to watch.

 

 

[Podcast] Televised Revolution – Roadtesting Stan & Presto TV. (Ep 380)

This week saw the official launch of the anticipated Presto TV, along with a sneak preview of it’s local competitor Stan. We take a look at both streaming services and offer our thoughts on what they both have content-wise.

The Televised Revolution panel also offer their thoughts on the TV news of the week:

  • Tony Iffland departs SBS
  • Rumours that Fox may revive The X-Files
  • 7 announce their new head of broadcast operations
  • Ten ad revenue drops amid renewed bids for ownership
  • Cricket Australia comes to Apple TV

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).

Sensible Chuckle – Sean James Murphy [Episode 3]

An interview with Danger 5 star Sean James Murphy. Together they discuss episode 3 of Danger 5 season 2 “Revenge of The Lizardmen”. This is the ONLY interview you will hear in which Murphy answers to the obvious parallels that exist between his and Whoopi Goldberg’s career.

This is the third 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 can be listened to and downloaded from here:

iTunes | PocketCasts | Soundcloud | StitcherRSS

What to watch? Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore, Catastrophe, and Cucumber [Week of 19 January 2015]

Last week this column highlighted a new US comedy series starring Jay Baruchel called Man Seeking Woman. The trailer for it indicated that the show would be largely awful. What aired was a clever sitcom that explores dating tropes through a set of bizarre and arcane conceptual realisations. In episode one the Baruchel character is sent on a blind date with an actual troll before meeting with his ex-girlfriends new boyfriend who is the actual Adolf Hitler. It’s funny, clever, and has potential. Don’t let it get you by.

Also, fans of the film Snowpiercer would be well advised to check out the very clever parody of the film in the second season return of Broad City – highly inspired.

The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
Airs: 19 January 2015 (Comedy Central – US)
Larry Wilmore launches his new late night chat panel show this week, sliding into the now vacant slot behind The Daily Show following the conclusion of The Colbert Report. The series plans to represent the underrepresented voices along with some jokes. It’s unfair to judge a show based on its first episode and this will undoubtedly take a few nights to settle in. That said, Wilmore is a clever, charismatic guy who will undoubtedly put together a very good show.

Catastrophe
Airs: 19 January 2015 (Channel 4 – UK)
The pretty wonderful Sharon Horgan has a new 6-part show that she wrote with co-star Rob Delaney about a woman in the UK who is impregnated by a casual fling/visitor from the US. Difficult comedy is sure to ensue.

The Eichmann Show
Airs: 20 January 2015 (BBC2 – UK)
Movie length drama based on the story of American producer Milton Fruchtman and blacklisted documentary film-maker Leo Hurwitz, and their quest to record the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, one of the major organisers of the Holocaust.

Wolf Hall
Airs: 21 January 2015 (BBC2 – UK)
This 6-part series is based on two Hilary Mantel novels, Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies. It documents the rapid rise to power of Thomas Cromwell in the court of Henry VIII through to the death of Sir Thomas More.

Cucumber
Airs: 22 January 2015 (Channel 4 – UK)
This is part of Russell T Davies trilogy of stories of gay life in the 21st century, building upon his work with Queer As Folk.

Backstrom
Airs: 23 January 2015 (Fox – US)
The Office’s Rainn Wilson stars as Detective Backstrom. A super smart police detective who is pretty much House with a badge. The real value in this is being able to shout out the name “Backstrom” with mock serious intensity.

Presto TV vs Quickflix: A Comparison

Lost amid the big SVOD launches in Australia for 2015 is scrappy underdog provider Quickflix. First to market and battling all manner of internal strife, Quickflix powers on. Whether the service can still continue to find an audience with three large competitors entering the space, each with large marketing spends, is yet to be seen.

What was evident upon the launch of Foxtel/Seven West Media’s ‘Presto TV’ this week is how barebones it was. Presto TV’s library leans hard on HBO content, with a smattering of locally produced series. Considering the size of Foxtel & Seven West Media when compared against Quickflix, they should be miles ahead. But when compared side by side, the Presto TV library falters at least in terms of volume.

PrestoWhen it comes to content, it is always going to come down to a matter of personal taste. But in examining the content deals, Quickflix may have the upper hand. Where Presto TV offers HBO content, Quickflix offers BBC Worldwide series….along with an assortment of HBO titles. Both offer series from Australia’s ABC. Quickflix has The West Wing (and really, isn’t that all anyone needs?).

So, what does Presto TV offer that Quickflix doesn’t? A handful of Channel 7 shows like Always Greener, along with a handful of Foxtel’s locally produced shows like Wentworth and Tangle. Also, a far better looking user interface. Quickflix consistently looks like garbage.

It’s the movie libraries that sets the two services apart. Want to add movies to your Presto TV subscription? It’ll up your price from $9.99 to $14.99 per month. Quickflix, however, offer just under 500 movie titles for their monthly $9.99 streaming subscription price. This is about a third the size of Presto’s film library and lacks their healthy selection of new films. The Quickflix 500 film library does have a good selection of beloved and known titles.

QuickflixThe advantage truly rests with Quickflix in that they do provide high definition streaming and the service is available on most connected TV platforms servicing the Australian market. Compare that to Presto which maintains standard definition streaming and can only be accessed through web browsers, iPad tablets (Android is coming soon), and Chromecast.

Quickflix, user interface aside, is a pretty clear winner.

* * * *

So, just what do Presto and Quickflix look like, content-wise, when examined side by side?

PRESTO TV

A Touch of Frost
Always Greener
Band of Brothers
Boardwalk Empire
Brotherhood
Californication
Deadwood
Devil’s Playground
Dexter
Endeavour
Entourage
Girls
Love My Way
Redfern Now
The Borgias
Mr Selfridge
Nurse Jackie
Ray Donovon
Satisfaction
Slide
The Good Wife
The Killing Field
The Newsroom
The Pacific
The Sopranos
The Wire
Cloudstreet
True Blood
Wentworth
A Moody Christmas
Angry Boys
Ja’mie Private Schoolgirl
Rake
Summer Heights High
Upper Middle Bogan
We Can Be Heroes
Thomas & Friends
The Wiggles
Jumbo Jet
Rake
Cheers
Doc Martin
Entourage
Everybody Loves Raymond
Frasier
Girls
Kinne
Nurse Jackie
Sex & The City
Arthur
Bo On The Go
Bubble Guppies
Caillou
Dora The Explorer
Franny’s Feet
Go Diego Go
Hooray For Huckle
Littlest Pet Shop
My Little Pony
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation
Pound Puppies
Power Rangers Megaforce
Power Rangers Super Megaforce
Spongebob Squarepants
Strawberry Shortcake
The Adventures of Chuck & Friends
Transformers Rescue Bots
Transpormers Prime
Yo Gabba Gabba
Bogan Hunters
Border Security: International
Botched Up Bodies
Botched Up Brides
Bringing Sexy Back
Brynne: My Bedazzled Life
Formal Wars
My France With Manu
Surveillance Oz
What Really Happens In Bali
Young, Lazy, and Driving Us Crazy
Always Greener
Doc Martin
Slide
Spirited
Angels In America
Consentino: The Grand Illusionist
Consetino: The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness
Devil’s Playground
My France With Manu
The Killing Field
The Passenger Who Landed A Plane
Cloudstreet
World’s Richest Dogs
All Saints
Always Greener
City Homicide
Love My Way
Packed To The Rafters
Satisfaction
Spirited
Tangle

QUICKFLIX TV

BBC
The Bletchley Circle
Sherlock
Great Expectations
The Bridge
Jack irish
Mabo
Crownies
David Strassman
Boardwalk Empire
Luther
Go Back To Where You Came From
Fawlty Towers
Miranda
Prime Suspect
Bugs Bunny 1001 Rabbit Tales
Rake
Sonic The Hedgehog
Doctor Who
The Killing
Horrible Histories
Misfits
True Blood
Torchwood
Carl Barron
Lost In Austen
The Returned
Australia: The Time Travellers Guide
Octonauts
Dangerous Remedy
Prisoners of War
Thomas & Friends
Redfern Now
Time of Our Lives
Upper Middle Bogan
Above Suspicion
The Sarah Jane Adventures
The West Wing
Cold Feet
A Moody Christmas
It’s A Date
Christopher of His Kind
Kitty Flannagan
Survivors
Agony Auncles
Extras
Curtain
Poirot
Blackadder
Summer Heights High
Primeval
Life On Mars
Super Mario World
Housos
Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries
Hornblower
Sex & The City
Eastbound & Down
The Sopranos
Outcasts
Emma
Miss Marple
Wilfred
The Wiggles
Hamlet
Hairy Maclary
Hung
Blonde
The Adventures of Elmo In Grouchland
The Office
Charlie & Lola
The Bugs Bunny Roadrunner Movie
Bored To Death
Entouage
The Darling Buds of May
At Home With Julia
Outrageous Fortune
Lark Rise to Crandleford
Big Love
Married Single Other
Being Erica
Red Drawf
A Touch of Frost
The Wire
Bone Kickers
Mutant X
Round The Twist
Correlli
Paddington
Angry Boys
The Librarians
Justine Clarke
Curb Your Enthusiasm
Bob The Builder
Republic of Doyle
Nip/Tuck
Inspector Gadget
Andromeda
Ja’mie Private Schoolgirl
Little Britain USA
Woodley
Dumb Drunk & Racist
Relic Hunter
Jimoin (Special)
Bro Town
Tom & Jerry
Trial & Retribution
John From CincinattiRobocop: The Series
Cinderelmo
Go Girls
My Place
Real Sex
Dave Attell
Baby Jake
Caillou
Hey There It’s Yogi Bear
The Goodies
Robbie The Reindeer
The Fairies
The Wot Wots
Next Stop Hollywood
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Sesame Beginnings
How To Cook Like Heston
Myf Warhursts Nice
Pingu
Teletubbies
Bananas In Pyjamas
Down & Dirty w/ Jim Norton
Fireman Sam
Louie CK
Fireman Sam
Autopsy: Secrets of The Dead
The Elegant Gentlemans Guide To Knifefighting
Bill Maher
Wayne Brady
The Mystery of Agatha Christie
Yo Gabba Gabba
Bob The Builder
Care Bears
Cracker
Trollz
The Thick of It
Mother & Son
Angelina Ballerina
Kitty Glannagan
In The Night Garden
Head First
Giggle & Hoot
Mister Maker
Gerald McBoing Boing
HBO Comedy 1/2 Hour
The Zingzillas
The Young Comedians All Star Reunion
Wibbley Pig
Roseanna Barr

 

2015 Amazon Pilot Season – Ranking From Best To Worst

Each year Amazon unveil the pilots they are considering greenlighting for their Amazon Instant subscription video on demand service. They maintain a pretence that the viewers have part of the say in whether shows are picked up. This week Amazon launched the 2015 pilots. Among them were 7 pilots for adults and a further 6 for kids.

This year there aren’t any series that demand attention or enthusiasm in the way that 2014’s pilot group did. Transparent, Red Oaks, Bosch, and Mozart In The Jungle were all highly engaging and it’s clear why they were chosen to go to series. Should they be seeking another comedy, they’d be well advised to give this years crop a miss and go back to 2014’s bunch and give The Cosmopolitans or Really a look – both had potential.

To save time and effort, Televised Revolution have watched the 7 pilots produced for adult subscribers and have ranked them below from the best to worst. Be sure to let us know what you think of the shows in the comments section below.

The Man In The High Castle
Based on the Philip K Dick novel, The Man In The High Castle posits the idea that the US lost the second world war, leading to the creation of a split America. The west coast controlled by the Japanese, while the East coast is controlled by the Germans.

Liberties are taken in adapting the book for television, with this series taking place in the early 60’s with Hitler expected to die soon and a fight for power set to take place within Nazi ranks. In this pilot, a woman in San Francisco is handed an underground newsreel by her half-sister who is gunned down by the authorities moments later – she follows the path her sister was on and goes to the town of Canon City where she meets a man with a similar newsreel who has travelled there from New York.

The opening titles for this pilot are particularly gorgeous.

The fictional Canon City itself is very familiar to TV viewers from its prior identity as Cicely, Alaska.

Roslyn-Cafe

The pilot is rather gorgeous to look at and while it does have a few dodgy special effects here and there, great consideration has gone into the set design to build this post-war United States with both the East and West coasts now taking on similar aesthetics to their new governments cultures.

Of all the pilots, Amazon have released, The Man In The High Castle is the most fully realised.

Should you watch it?
If the idea of an alternate history story about a United States that lost the second World War sounds appealing to you, then most certainly. Anyone bored by alternate history stories won’t find much joy from this.

Mad Dogs
A re-make of the UK series, original creator Chris Cole teams up with Shawn Ryan (The Shield, Terriers, The Chicago Code) for this pilot about four friends who fly to Belize to celebrate a friends retirement. When they arrive, however, their friend is icey and is clearly involved in something dodgy that he is unwilling to discuss. Tension builds until inevitably something goes terribly wrong.

A show like this lives and dies on the charisma of the leads. The most impressive aspect of the casting of Mad Dogs is that not only have they got a cast that play nicely on screen together, but it’s build from a cast of actors who are so often badly miscast in sub-par films and TV shows. Comprising of the four key group members are Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos, Life On Mars USA), Romany Malco (Weeds, No Ordinary Family), Steve Zahn (Treme, Mind Games), and reprising his role from the original is Ben Chaplin (The Truth About Cats & Dogs, Mad Dogs UK). Playing the distant friend is Billy Zane (Titanic, The Phantom).

The show is tense and engaging, with the viewer left at the end of the episode interested enough to want to see where this series is going.

Should you watch it?
It’d be a mistake not to. This is almost certain to be picked up for a full series and will likely be driving a lot of conversation when it does. You should also come away from it thoroughly entertained and intrigued.

The New Yorker Presents
A magazine-style show based on the New Yorker magazine, this presents several short segments during its half-hour running time. The first segment is a short film written by former SNL writer Simon Rich and starring Alan Cumming and Brett Gelman as God and the man he has chosen as his voice on Earth. Unfortunately God is mistaken in believing that people will only pay attention to Gelman if he is dressed in green speedos and a football helmet. The second segment is an interview feature with performance artist Marina Abramovic that is entertaining, but fails to really deliver the depth of her art to the screen adequately. A third segment is a much longer piece, a documentary by Jonathan Demme about biologist Tyrone Hayes. And the final piece is a poem read aloud by Andrew Garfield. Each segment is broken up by a short animated recreation of a New Yorker cartoon.

If Amazon went ahead and purchased this as a series, it’s certainly something I would be interested in watching regularly. The half hour running time is possibly too much for this, however. Less is more. Not every segment works either. The Demme documentary wasn’t entirely enthralling and the Garfield poem segment was awful. While the short film was very funny, launching the pilot with it threw off the tone – it would have been much better served as the third or final segment.

Should you watch it?
This is a meaty diversion, but little more. Segments are not substantial enough to feel that one has a solid grasp on the subject. It’s brainy casual viewing. If that’s what you’re interested in, be sure to press play.

Down Dog
Logan Wood, played by Josh Casaubon, has coasted through life on nothing more than his good looks and ability to attract women. He has fallen into a long-term relationship with a former movie executive who now runs a yoga studio (Paget Brewster) who harbours jealousy over his flirty relationship with one of the young women who work at the studio. This leads to a fight that has her leaving him and the studio. Logan takes this opportunity to prove his worth and protect himself financially as he gets older and seeks to make a serious go at running the yoga studio.

It’s difficult to really get a sense of the value of the series moving forward. By the end of the just-under 30 minute pilot, Logan proves he is capable of making the first moves toward adulthood. But now what? What can this show even be moving forward?

Casaubon is largely an unknown actor and he proves here that he’s an engaging screen presence. Paget Brewster is also always welcome on screen (though it’s questionable how much she’ll be in this if it is picked up to run as a series. The pilot is written by Robin Schiff and it maintains a similar tone to her best work, Romy & Michelle’s High School Reunion.

Should you watch it?
The pilot isn’t particularly funny, nor are there any stakes which will compel you to want to watch the show through to the end. But it is a very easy watch. If it was picked up to series, it’d be worth a look. But again, if this goes nowhere, no tears will be shed.

Cocked
This pilot, written by Samuel Baum (Lie To Me) and Sam Shaw (Manhattan), stars Sam Trammell (True Blood, Going To California) as a man forced to return home to help save the family business. This enables Amazon to meet the seemingly mandated requirement that at least 10% of pilots in any given season involve an estranged family member forced to return home to help save the family business/look after sick Dad.

The family business is guns. Trammell’s character, Richard Paxson, has rejected guns his entire life and has a similarly gun averse wife and daughter. His son, who Richard has difficulty connecting to, is captivated by them. Richards brother, Grady Paxson (Jason Lee), is very much into gun culture and the dick-swinging attitude that surrounds it. Grady also has a substance abuse issue and has spent much of his life tormenting his younger brother. Their father, Wade Paxson (Brian Dennehy) has a long-time feud with his brother who runs a rival gun manufacturer. This is the source of the tension in the show, with fallout from this feud leading to a violent encounter that sees Richard return home.

If this pilot makes it to series, it would be a massive surprise. It’s a half-cocked in execution with tired characters and a lazy premise that tries way too hard to create father and son juxtapositions with it’s entire male cast.

At one point the show looks like it’s about to take an interesting direction with Richard shifting the company’s marketing in a campaign targeting LGBTIQ customers, the series treats it as little more than a joke as it peddles weak caricatures of gay men buying firearms.

Cocked is in every way the anti-Transparent, appealing to middle america and the vast number of Americans who support the right to carry arms. Quite the shift from the Californian transgender-supporting comedy that Amazon Originals have built their name upon. While Amazon are certainly entitled to become all things to all people, one would like to think that they would find a better show to appeal to their more traditionally-minded subscribers.

Should you watch it?
It’s difficult to not want to watch something starring Jason Lee. The show also features Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23’s Dreama Walker, who is always great on screen. But beyond an appealing cast, the show just isn’t all that engaging. If curious, give it a look, but don’t expect much.

Salem Rogers: Model Of The Year 1998
The very attractive Leslie Bibb (About A Boy) stars as Salem Rogers, a narcissistic former model who has spent the past 10 years in a drug treatment facility. She’s asked by the clinic to leave for being an awful person, so seeks out her former assistant turned tween self-help writer (Rachel Dratch) to get her life back on track. Despite good performances by the cast and fine direction by Mark Waters (Mean Girls), the production is let down entirely by the script (written by Lindsey Stoddart) that feels like an effort to re-create the very funny Don’t Trust The B—- In Apartment 23. The scene setups and character interplay between Bibb and Dratch is lifted almost entirely from that show.

Should you watch it?
I don’t know who you are, but you deserve far better.

Point of Honor
Lesser ‘Lost’ co-showrunner Carlton Cuse teams up with Randall Wallace (We Were Soldiers, Pearl Habour) for this civil war story of a family split by the civil war. With sides being taken on the subject of slavery, muskets are prepared, shots are fired, and an absolute barrage of dull dialogue fills the screen.

This show is sleep inducing, is packed full of exceedingly dull conversational dialogue, and doesn’t offer enough to stimulate the tired story being told.

Should you watch it?
No. It’s not that it’s a bad show, but it’s just that it is offensively dull.