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.

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.

TV Comes To Presto. And Thoroughly Underwhelms.

It’s difficult to understand exactly what Foxtel are trying to do with Presto. Its original iteration that delivered all the movies they have on their service each month as a standalone app made sense. The presumption that Presto was to be split into two products (Presto Movies and Presto TV) seemed clunky, but also made sense.

But this current version of Presto, mixing film and TV content? It seems so half-hearted that it hardly seems worth the effort.

What Is Presto TV?
Presto TV is television content that sits alongside the existing Presto Movies service. Or to put that more simply, there’s now a tab at the top of the screen next to ‘Movies’ called ‘TV’. Click it and there’s now some TV content on Presto for $9.99, the same monthly subscription price they are charging for the far better movie service. One can subscribe to both for $14.99 per month.

To deliver the TV content to Presto, Foxtel partnered with Seven West Media to form a jointly owned company that would deliver content to the Presto service.

Preto-Ad
What Programs Are On Presto TV?

Presto’s TV content is split into 7 categories, as seen below. All drama is considered Premium Drama on Foxtel, with the exception of some Aussie shows.

The Presto TV library is listed below based on its genre categories (some titles do double up). The service relies heavily on the HBO library, with some good library titles as a result. But, most of these titles are older seasons and shows that have long concluded. How many interested people haven’t seen The Sopranos, The Wire, Sex & The City, Band of Brothers, etc by this stage?

Is All Saints and Always Greener enough to convince subscribers to give Presto a look? It’s doubtful.

Presto-Drama-Selection

Premium drama

A Touch of Frost
Always Greener
Band of Brothers
Boardwalk Empire
Brotherhood
Californication
Deadwood
Devil’s Playground
Dexter
Entourage

Endeavour
Girls
Love My Way
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
Redfern Now
The Borgias

Comedy

Californication
Cheers (first 6 seasons only)
Doc Martin
Entourage
Ja’mie Private Schoolgirl
Upper Middle Bogan

Everybody Loves Raymond
Frasier
Girls
A Moody Christmas
Rake
We Can Be Heroes

Kinne
Nurse Jackie
Sex & The City
Angry Boys
Summer Heights High

Presto-Cheers
Kids

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
Thomas & Friends
The Wiggles

Reality

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

Dramedy

Always Greener
Californication
Doc Martin

Entourage
Girls
Nurse Jackie

Sex & The City
Slide
Spirited

Mini Series & Specials

Angels In America
Band of Brothers
Consentino: The Grand Illusionist
Consetino: The Magic, The Mystery, The Madness

Devil’s Playground
Hercule The Human Bear
My France With Manu
The Killing Field
Jumbo Jet

The Pacific
The Passenger Who Landed A Plane
Cloudstreet
World’s Richest Dogs

Local Drama

All Saints
Always Greener
City Homicide
Devil’s Playground

Love My Way
Packed To The Rafters
Satisfaction
Rake

Spirited
Tangle
Wentworth
Redfern Now

The Value Proposition
In its own bubble, Presto’s new TV offering is perfectly fine. It’s just a selection of good TV content to add in to their movies app. It’s standard definition, and is largely the domain of those that can play it on laptops, PC’s, tablets, and those who have a Google Chromecast. It poses no threat to cannibalising Foxtel’s existing pay television service.

Presto-How

But Presto isn’t operating in a bubble. It’s competing currently against the potential 350,000 Australians with a grey Netflix subscription. Come March this year Netflix will officially launch. Their Australian library will be approximately 1/5 the size of the US library of content, but it will still offer a greater volume of shows and movies than Presto TV. And furthermore, it will be available in high definition on almost any device you own with a screen. In terms of local competition, there is also the Nine/Fairfax service Stan which will launch in coming weeks which will provide movies and TV shows in high definition. In terms of the size of its library, it is expected to be bigger than what Presto offers.

It is difficult to understand what Foxtel are doing with the Presto service. With this TV content, and with it (and the movies) available only in standard definition, it’s providing a sub par service against competition that looks set to completely dominate this space. Once viewers subscribe and plough through the TV shows they’re interested in, there’s very little to retain them as subscribers.

Presto TV stinks of limited investment. Presto TV stinks of half-hearted effort. Presto TV…it stinks.

Netflix By The Regions Report – USA

Purpose Of The Report
When Netflix launch into new territories, they must sign content deals with the rights holders of content in that region. As such, different content appears in different Netflix regions. Furthermore, Netflix don’t just roll out US content into every territory, but rather mix it up with local content that suits the cultural temperament of the territory. The Netflix By The Regions Report is a mere snapshot of the sorts of content on offer in each region and how they differ to other Netflix offerings.

Territory Overview
Netflix first launched their streaming service in January 2007. In the United States, Netflix operates a mixed mode service in offering video streaming as well as their heritage DVD by mail business. While cable TV still dominates the US market, subscription video on demand services have built up a significant presence.

With 77% of people aged 18-34 likely to belong to a ‘cord-never’ household (that is, they will never subscribe to traditional cable TV services), over-the-top services like Netflix are fighting to control this space. Their core competition is Amazon and Hulu. Premium TV heavyweight HBO are expected to roll out an SVOD service in 2015.

Content
The US Netflix store is the biggest of the Netflix libraries across the globe. Its collection is the widest and most robust. Operating in such a competitive environment, however, means that some of the best titles available to Netflix subscribers in other markets are not available in the US store.

US-Netflix

There are 6191 titles in the US store (as per 11 January 2015).

Titles included in the Popular On Netflix section are:
Friends (TV), Maron (TV), Family Guy (TV), Psych (TV), Secret State of North Korea, Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, The Trip To Italy, Broadchurch (TV), Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs 2, Californication (TV), Law & Order: SVU (TV), The Croods, The Honorable Woman (TV), Chelsea Peretti: One of The Greats, The Walking Dead (TV), Jim Gaffigan: Mr Universe, Patton Oswalt: My Weakness Is Strong, American Dad (TV), Jessie (TV), Dexter (TV), An Idiot Abroad, Cast Away, Bill Burr: I’m Sorry You Feel That Way, The Birthday Boys (TV), The Blacklist (TV), A Young Doctor’s Notebook (TV), Donald Glover: Weirdo, Call The Midwife (TV), Trailer Park Boys (TV), Nick Offerman: American Ham, Parenthood (TV), Grey’s Anatomy (TV), Snowpiercer, Wyatt Cenac: Brooklyn, The Spoils of Babylon (TV), To Be Takei, Once Upon A Time (TV), Django Unchained, The Wolf of Wall Street, Aziz Ansari: Buried Alive, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Silver Linings Playbook, Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Women Aren’t Funny, Tom Segura: Completely Normal, Mike Birbiglia: My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend, Good Eats Collection (TV), Morgan Spurlock: Inside Man, The Betchley Circle (TV), I Frankenstein, Jim Jeffries: Bare, Snatch, The Master, Labor Day, Reggie Watts: Why $#!+ So Crazy?, Star Trek Into Darkness, Fargo, Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations Collection (TV), Miss Fishers Murder Mysteries (TV), El Dorado, Team America: World Police, Derek (TV), 20 Feet From Stardom, Trevor Noah: African American, Chuck (TV), Turbo (TV), Short Term 12, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (TV), Legit (TV), Buffy: The Vampire Slayer (TV), Doug Benson: Doug Dynasty, Fear & Loathing In Las Vegas.

With so many US cable networks seeking to establish a presence with original scripted programs, the market is seeing some unique and interesting titles. No program is odder than WGN’s Salem, a series about the Salem witches. There are some sights on this program that some cannot unsee.

Salem-NetflixOverall
No Netflix region offers the depth of library and breadth of genre that the US Netflix provides. But, is it the best? Ultimately, it’s really predicated on taste. With more titles, the US Netflix service provides a great library, but there is greater bidding for quality titles with some titles simply not available in the market. So, while the Canadian Netflix store may have The Grand Budapest Hotel, 12 Years A Slave, The Dark Knight Rises, Argo, Superbad, Community, Brooklyn Nine Nine, or The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, they won’t be in the US store. The biggest Netflix store? Most certainly. But not always the best.

 

HBO’s Togetherness Establishes That We Don’t Want To ‘Binge’, We Want To Consume Naturally.

As the screen faded to black and the credits rolled on HBO’s new half hour series Togetherness, an immediate desire to press play for the next episode came upon me. My inability to do so, knowing I’d have to wait another seven days for the next episode to air, was the source of considerable frustration. This spoke just as much to the fact that Togetherness is compelling television as it did about the way our viewing behaviours have changed.

Recently, like many of you, I enjoyed watching the Amazon series Transparent (coincidentally also starring Jay Duplass, co-director of Togetherness). Like Togetherness, this is a half hour series that sits comfortably between comedy and drama featuring a very similar aesthetic to the ‘mumblecore’ films of the mid 00’s (a film movement sparked by films directed by Jay Duplass and his brother Mark). Amazon embraced the same model that Netflix employed, which is to release an entire season of a show and allow viewers to watch the show at their own pace, rather than parsed out one instalment at a time each week. Or what is known as ‘binge viewing’.

The term ‘binge viewing’ connotes a sense of uncontrollable consumption. While it’s certainly the case that some people do find themselves up for an hour or two longer than intended when they hit upon a highly engaging run of episodes, how uncontrolled really is this activity? If anything, the act of ‘binge viewing’ is actually a controlled viewing experience with viewers self-determining just how much they wish to consume at any one time. To suggest that viewers cannot self-regulate how much of a TV series they want to watch reeks of corporate broadcaster paternalism.

In watching Transparent I watched the episodes not all at once, as the miscomprehension of binge-viewing seems to be, but rather in clusters over three days. 4 episodes one day, another 3 the next, then the final 3 a day later. I fit the show into my own schedule, matching the number of episodes I wanted to consume at any one time. I’d have loved to have done the same for the similarly toned Togetherness.

While the conversation that surrounds a TV show is important culturally, it doesn’t match the cultural enrichment one feels when they’ve been appropriately sated by media they’ve consumed. In watching Transparent in blocks, I had the time to immerse myself deeply into that world and to fully experience the rich emotional tapestry of the world that creator Jill Soloway had crafted. Just a half hour of the show would simply not be enough to feel fully enriched. Is the conversation really of enough value as to strip away the far stronger emotional engagement I felt with Transparent by watching more than a single episode at a time? Heavens no.

transparent

What is wonderful about half hour series of this nature is they do provide easy access points for viewers to consume as many episodes as they need at any given moment. But more than that, it’s a more comfortable way to consume a narrative in the comfort of ones living room.

Films feel comfortable in 90-150 minute blocks in the cinema as the environment is suited to that experience. We’re all happy and content to sit there as we’ve put aside that time to be at the event, are in a darkened room with a huge screen that compels ones attention, and are prepared to abide by societal expectation that we will stay quiet and focus on the film. TV is different. We consume it more casually with people talking during shows, taking bathroom and kitchen breaks, and second screening. An effort has rarely been made to be in the position to consume that content.

Cinema consumption behaviour never quite transferred to the lounge-room. For many of us, we grew up with TV advertising dominating much of our consumption habits. As such, any movies we watched were always interrupted by television commercials. The idea of a character arc being broken up into 25-30 minute increments feels as natural as a television ad break. A continuous run of a movie only entered the average persons consumption habits after 1999 when DVD became the dominant form of film consumption.

Sure, prior to DVD we had VHS movie rentals, but the behaviours we built from video store rentals echo that of the cinema. Consumers still made an effort to rent the movie. They drove to the store, walked the aisles, and made a purchasing decision. Already consumers were far more invested than plonking on the couch to see what content is available.

While our consumption habits have changed, our learned behaviours still exist. For many millennials and younger, they grew up in an age of DVD, so their learned behaviour mimics that of the full movie consumption experience. For the rest of us, we instinctively expect a home content consumption experience to be interrupted. Watching a TV series in half hour chunks is the most natural of TV experiences.

But additionally, we have learned to consume multiple episodes at once. We may be comfortable with our consumption experience being interrupted, but we now also expect (through a near 15 years of DVD viewing in addition to expectations set by Netflix’s House of Cards) that we can now consume multiple episodes at once. This is a newly learned behaviour that sits comfortably with our established learned behaviours.

The TV viewer of 2015 is not the same TV viewer of 1995.

HBO’s ‘Togetherness’ is not transformative TV, but it does offer strong emotional ties for the viewer with subject matter that has very strong connective tissue with those watching the series. It’s wonderful TV that demands to be seen. It is, however, mired in an old fashioned mode of consumption that no longer holds relevance with today’s viewer. We want TV that connects, but we also want to experience that connection for as long as feels relevant to us at that point in time. TV schedules are obsolete. What remains are controlled viewing desires that offer an emotional connection which have no connection to an arbitrary weekly time-slot.

TV distributors and broadcast channels need to match viewer expectation. Viewers are seeking consumption habits that feel natural to their psychological nourishment and not the whims of a television schedule.

Netflix By The Regions Report: United Kingdom

Purpose Of The Report
When Netflix launch into new territories, they must sign content deals with the rights holders of content in that region. As such, different content appears in different Netflix regions. Furthermore, Netflix don’t just roll out US content into every territory, but rather mix it up with local content that suits the cultural temperament of the territory. The Netflix By The Regions Report is a mere snapshot of the sorts of content on offer in each region and how they differ to other Netflix offerings.

Territory Overview
Netflix launched in the UK in January 2012. A monthly subscription to the service costs £6.99 (US $10.56). Their biggest competitors in the market are Sky Go and Lovefilm/Amazon Prime Instant Video.

Content
Amid the quite good collection of movies, the most notable aspect of the UK Netflix library is its very strong collection of UK TV shows. Most of these shows are sourced through Channel 4. Netflix UK, more than any other Netflix region, more closely resembles the regions linear TV services thanks to this content – there are more panel shows available here than you know what to do with.

Netflix-UK

The Netflix UK library offers 2353 titles (as of 06 January 2015).

Titles included in the Popular On Netflix section are:
Sons of Anarchy (TV), The Office – US (TV), Breaking Bad (TV), Pretty Little Liars (TV), Brooklyn Nine Nine (TV), House (TV), Merlin (TV), Sabotage (TV), Orange Is The New Black (TV), Gossip Girl (TV), The Inbetweeners (TV), Marco Polo (TV), A Long Way Down, Homeland (TV), The Legendary Hercules, Misfits (TV), Prison Break (TV), Dexter (TV), American Horror Story (TV), A Haunted House 2, Toy Story 3, 90210 (TV), Horrid Henry (TV), Mr Selfridge (TV), White Collar (TV), Flight, The Vampire Diaries (TV), The Tomorrow People (TV), The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Monsters Inc, The Killing – US (TV), Miranda (TV), Just Go With It, Sherlock (TV), Luther (TV), The IT Crowd (TV),Fringe (TV), Lie To Me (TV), The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Fresh Meat (TV), Chuck (TV), Brave, Single Mom’s Club, Outnumbered (TV), The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, Grown Ups, Locke, Grimm (TV), The originals (TV), Top Gear (TV), Seriously Funny, Olympus Has Fallen, Walking On Sunshine, Homefront, The Unit (TV), Scrubs (TV), Skins (TV), The Dateables (TV), Draft Day, Stargate Universe (TV), Orphan Black (TV), Mythbusters (TV), Jack Reacher, Michael McIntyre Showtime (TV), Last Tango In Halifax (TV), The Family, Breakout Kings (TV), Educating Yorkshire (TV), Step Brothers, Whitechapel, Damages (TV), Covert Affairs (TV), 8 Out of 10 Cats (TV), Gavin & Stacey (TV), Qi (TV).

One cannot discuss the UK Netflix without pointing out that they do in fact stream the original House of Cards TV series starring Ian Richardson.

UK-House-of-Cards

Overall
The UK library is an awkward, mixed bag. While it certainly has a bunch of good movies and TV shows, it doesn’t have many of the best of British TV series. While there is *some* BBC content on the service (current era Doctor Who, for example), without the BBC content (or even the recent run of quite okay Sky Atlantic original series) it feels a little lacklustre.

[PODCAST] Televised Revolution – Stan, Presto, Netflix? Which One? (Ep 379)

The first quarter of 2015 in Australia will see an explosion in subscription video on demand services. We’ll have Stan, Presto, and Netflix all seeking your attention. What do they have to offer subscribers? Which should you sign up to? The panel have a chat about these services and how they’ll fit into their TV consumption habits moving forward.

The panel also discuss the TV news of the week.

  • Amazon announce their new pilots and a blow to their greenlit Chris Carter show The After.
  • Sling TV is announced for the US.
  • Millennials want Netflix.
  • Presto add kids TV titles to their TV service.

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).