Cheeseburger Gothic

Lost in Space remake.

Posted November 25, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

Is there anything Netflix can’t (or won’t) do? I’m both a little excited and bemused at news the maximum streamer is to remake Lost in Space, one of my favourite childhood memories.

Gilligan’s Island can’t be far off, starring Michael Cera as Gilligan and William Shatner as the Skipper. Hogan’s Heroes already had a sort of reboot with that dark biopic of Bob Crane a few years ago. And there’s been how many very Brady movies?

My childhood afternoons just need this one last remake to be complete. I did enjoy the Lost in Space movie adaptation a couple of years ago*, especially the bit where John Robinson looks at the shiny space blanket and is like, “Pfft. As if.”

Looking through the lens of the way-back-when machine though, I sort of wonder how close to the original series any new version would be. It was pretty lame. I suspect Netflix would be looking for something gnarlier and less kid friendly - but then if that’s the case who’s the audience? They can’t be narrow-casting to nostalgic Gen Xers alone can they?

___

* I admit I may have been alone in that.

26 Responses to ‘Lost in Space remake.’

John Samuel mutters...

Posted November 25, 2015
I seem to recall liking the Lost In Space movie. I think it handled time travel and paradoxes fairly well, which is always nice to see from Hollywood (I've only seen it once though).

DNABeast asserts...

Posted November 25, 2015
Lost in space is actually my 'go to' film for time travel narrative failure. It mixes the 'Changes to the timeline have already happened and are immutable' and the 'go back in time and change everything'. (though I concede this may be justified with a sentient time machine.)

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan is gonna tell you...

Posted November 25, 2015
I am so looking forward to this - and not just because of the Space Chick factor. If Marvel could take the crap that was Guardians of the Galaxy and spin it into gold, then Netflix can do it with Lost in Space.

Halwes mutters...

Posted November 25, 2015

And what cream of the crop space chicks they were too. Except the mother who I'd have left on earth accidentally in the hope of hooking up with some shape shifting, brain stimulating alien who wasn't so serious about everything.

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Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted November 25, 2015
Be interesting to see their take on Dr Smith's relationship with young Will. Also, Smith's insults of the robot better be good.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted November 25, 2015
* I admit I may have been alone in that.

I was in a bar in Berkeley when I learned about the reboot and announced it to everyone present. After a fast discussion it was generally agreed that the film has at least ten minutes that are excellent.

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Barnesm would have you know...

Posted November 25, 2015

You aren't alone JB I too enjoyed the Remake a few years back, inspite of Matt LeBlock who I thought was a good choice to play major west. I thought it had all the right nods to the series down to the guest appearances by the original cast, the large enigmatic space ball station.


Warner Brother's tried to reboot the series in 2003 with The Robinson's (I serious hoped that was only ever considered a working title, yes we all know it was an updating of Swiss Family Robison but still) caught the pilot episode when it was uploaded to Youtube at the time, I think the 1998 movie did a better job of updating the story.

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 25, 2015
My favorite example of how they updated the movie but noted the series was with the Robert Kinoshita designed Jupiter space craft looking like the old saucer but once in orbit exposing the sleek Chris Foss inspired craft.

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Quokka swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 25, 2015
With Gary Oldman as Dr. Smith, how could even the most hardened cynic not find something to enjoy in that movie?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted November 25, 2015
Eight of the ten minutes of greatness belong to Oldman.

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GhostSwirv reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015

I saw William Shatner's show in Melbourne - I can definitely see him in the Gilligan remake but not as the Skipper ... he'd want to be called the Admiral.

As for the Netflix remake of Lost in Space ... an all-time favourite as a teenager, especially as the Jupiter II launched on my birthday.

I trust they'd make a better fist of it than the Goldsman/Hopkins movie - I agree with PNB, there's only about 10 minutes of good stuff in the whole show.

Key questions - who to voice the Robot, who to play Will and Doctor Smith and what am I going to have for lunch?

Sudragon has opinions thus...

Posted November 25, 2015
This may cause much debate, but Cumberbatch as Smith could work. He does sneering and snide very well.

John Birmingham reckons...

Posted November 25, 2015
Yes, yes he does.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted November 26, 2015
But then the stories must ensure Dr Smith never has to say Penguin.

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Bondiboy66 ducks in to say...

Posted November 25, 2015

I too loved the old Lost In Space - and the other Irwin Allen shows i.e. Land of the Giants, Time Tunnel, etc. The remake was not bad, and as usual Gary Oldman chewed vast swathes of scenery... I just hope they don't stuff up the latest remake. It HAS to have certain elements - make the robot basically like the old one, the Jupiter 2 has to be a saucer shape, and Dr Smith has to have a love/hate relationship with the robot, complete with insults like 'bubble headed booby'...



Paul_Nicholas_Boylan asserts...

Posted November 25, 2015
"and Dr Smith has to have a love/hate relationship with the robot, complete with insults like 'bubble headed booby'...

I have to disagree. For a remake to be successful those reinventing cannot be burdened by sacred cows of any kind. That is what ruined Green Lantern. As a child I enjoyed the relationship between the mincing Dr. Smith and the robot. But it wasn't something at the core of what made the series special - those times it was special. There were more awful episodes than great ones - which is why it lasted only two seasons - despite the new theme song.

Therbs reckons...

Posted November 26, 2015
Time Tunnel!

Bondiboy66 is gonna tell you...

Posted November 26, 2015
Only two seasons? I thought it went a tad longer than that (ah thanks Wikipedia - 3 seasons and 83 eps...gawd that's a lot of episodes!). Granted, finding a suitable replacement Dr Smith aka The Special Guest Star would be hard....Jonathan Harris was a unique specimen!

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 26, 2015
I confused Lost in Space (3 seasons) with Land of the Giants (2 seasons). Anyone could have made that mistake.

GhostSwirv mutters...

Posted November 26, 2015
Sure, it's easy to mistake two of Irwin Allen's science fiction series, when they clearly both have a robot, a dog, a busted space-ship, aliens of wildly differing size, shape and colour, an irredeemably cowardly saboteur, square jawed athletic leading men, brightly dressed women and a young boy who somehow always manages to save the day to a boppy Johnny Williams theme.

Oh wait ... ?

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 26, 2015
"anyone could have made that mistake"....really?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted November 27, 2015
Okay, I lied. I've never even seen Land of the Giants. But Wiki told me it had a two year run and, as GS points out above, there are some striking similarities between Land of the Giants and Lost in Space. So I thought it might be a convincing lie.

Nevertheless, my point remains: no sacred cows should influence the remake. An occasional reference for the fan boys is fine (there are plenty in Jessica Jones - such as Luke Cage saying "sweet Christmas" - his comic book catch phrase - and Jessica's friends' attempt to persuade her to were a costume that is clearly a reference to her comic identity as Jewel) but none of these shout-outs dominated or influenced the story line the way DC's insistence on power rings charged by small batteries that are in turn powered by a really big battery on another planet (great in the 1940's, but simply stupid in the wireless age) and power rings that make shapes like cars and swords (again, great for a kids comic, but idiotic in any adult context) totally fucked up Green Lantern. Jessica Jones, on the other hand, let go of the the sacred cow of the Purple Man's color and focused on his evil. You saw the result.

I expect Netflix to put together creative and production teams that have the same good sense when it comes to the Lost in Space remake.

Barnesm mumbles...

Posted November 27, 2015

You have just provided one of the best pieces of advice I have seen on how to up date an old beloved TV series for the modern age.

Whatever your clients are paying you its not enough for the quality of your analysis.

GhostSwirv swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 27, 2015

You had me at ... "Okay, I lied"!

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Surtac swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 25, 2015
Not just Gen Xers. This particular Boomer, then a teenager, was once quite infatuated with Angela Cartwright's performance as Penny Robinson in the tv show.

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JG would have you know...

Posted November 26, 2015
Loved Lost in Space. I watched it religiously. Mr Smith - what a meanie, and those two women - very B52s.

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Christmas cannot get here soon enough

Posted November 18, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

... but it doesn't matter because the Bill Murray Netflix Christmas Special drops on December 4!

17 Responses to ‘Christmas cannot get here soon enough’

trib swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 18, 2015
Can. Not. Wait.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 19, 2015
Yeah but your Christmas is weird. Far too warm. And bright. As Tim Minchin describes:

Darling, when Christmas comes
We'll be waiting for you in the sun
Drinking white wine in the sun
Waiting for you in the sun...


And that's just weird.

Murphy_of_Missouri swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 19, 2015
Wait . . . this coming from someone who lives in California?

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted November 19, 2015
My heart and soul are part of the American Heartland.

And, from that perspective, California is weird, too.

Murphy_of_Missouri mutters...

Posted November 19, 2015
I'll take the weird over the frozen anyday. :D

Lulu mutters...

Posted November 19, 2015
You say that now, but you haven't suffered through a Christmas/New Year of 104F. Frozen starts to look quite good ...

insomniac mutters...

Posted November 19, 2015
With the suffering compounded by ignoring that it's 40C and continuing to cook and eat like it's 10C.

FormerlyKnownAsSimon reckons...

Posted November 19, 2015
i don't care what anyone says - i want my damned roast potatoes at christmas goddammit.

Barnesm reckons...

Posted November 19, 2015
Oh hell yes, give me frozen over an Australian summer.

Murphy_of_Missouri mumbles...

Posted November 19, 2015
I can cite the fact that I've been to the Arabian Desert, which in terms of the heat, I quite enjoyed. Or I can cite the fact that I work as a lifeguard at temperatures reaching 118 degrees.

Bring on the heat.

Barnesm would have you know...

Posted November 19, 2015
you can have it.

insomniac ducks in to say...

Posted November 19, 2015
Fahrenheit or Celsius?

Murphy_of_Missouri is gonna tell you...

Posted November 19, 2015
Fahrenheit. I'm human, not kryptonian.

Therbs has opinions thus...

Posted November 19, 2015
Tim Minchin is weird. Drinking wine in the sun isn't.

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she_jedi has opinions thus...

Posted November 19, 2015
Yes, my family would lynch the first person who suggested we skip the roast dinner at Christmas and eat something more suited to the inevitable 40 - 45 degree heat we'll experience on Christmas Day. Their solution is to crank up the air conditioning and enjoy their roast potatoes. Any other outcome is blasphemy, or at the very least a disown-able offence.

Quokka mutters...

Posted November 20, 2015
We recently bought a Delonghi multi-fry, which does exceptionally delicious roasties without heating up the kitchen to Luciferous levels. For bonus points it makes such a racket cooking them that you can bank on it eliminating 30 minutes of Bolt Comments from the most obnoxious of your relatives come Xmas day.The downside is the reduced fat levels, so don't pin your hopes on the grease from their plates sending anyone home early with a nasty bout of cholecystitis.Swings & roundabouts.

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Iain Bertram ducks in to say...

Posted November 21, 2015
Bung the turkey in the BBQ (we used to roast it in a Weber in the pre-airconditioned days).

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Star Trek returns to TV

Posted November 3, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

CBS announced overnight that they'd be airing a new series of Trek in 2017. No deets about storyline or when in the Federation's history it might be set, but with The Expanse going to the small screen, and Star Wars back in the multiplexes, it seems the Space Opera Moment is back with us.

Esquire is offering some free advice to the producers of the new series, about stuff they must absolutely do; not all of which I agree with, eg. "Don't follow the Netflix model". And some of which I do:

Hire real science fiction writers.

What made the original Trek a hit? A perfect cocktail of factors, to be sure. (Some of it was just making the uniforms bright. NBC was owned by RCA at the time and wanted to sell a lot of these newfangled color televisions.) But part of the alchemy was the freshness of the ideas—a sincere strike of bonafide sci-fi on television

Theodore Sturgeon, Robert Bloch, Norman Spinrad and Harlan Ellison (though he contests how much of his work ended up on screen) all contributed teleplays. My hope is that the new Trek show recognizes that the most important thing about this show has always always been the ideas. Finding creative folk who can dream up unpredictable and exciting adventures is more important that getting another bozo who knows how to take a good lunch in Los Angeles.

21 Responses to ‘Star Trek returns to TV’

Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 3, 2015
Is it possible to find a real science fiction writer these days? I mean, you know, one that everyone can agree on?

It seems to me that Star Trek's greatest success was when they found someone who had never watched any Star Trek at all, Nicholas Meyer, to direct Star Trek II, The Wrath of Khan. He threw out a great deal of Roddenberry's bloated Utopia for something a bit more realistic and nautical in nature.

Thus, they may well be better served in finding anyone but a science fiction writer. Or speculative writer, whatever the hell the accepted cadre is called these days, one has a hard time keeping track.


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Blarkon has opinions thus...

Posted November 3, 2015
Most of the "real SF Author" stuff never ended up on screen. It was more a publicity boost used by Roddenberry. There's a recent series of three books that goes through the creation of the series and each episode - down to digging through script revisions, called "These are the Voyages" by Marc Cushman that is a warts and all account of how it all came together. Either the SF authors normally touted as being involved with Star Trek submitted ideas that wouldn't be filmed as written (Ellison) or they didn't get around to submitting (Asimov). Almost all of the most famous episodes were written by people without much of an SF background.
Why new trek may work: The average TV viewer is in their late 50's. They might actually turn up to watch a show on broadcast TV that's been around before. Nostalgia will get people to sit down and look at the first episode.
Won't work for millennials though. Millennials watch on BitTorrent or streaming and their rates of watching traditional broadcast TV are plummeting. This is going to hit The Expanse much harder as millennials will be the primary audience for The Expanse and it doesn't get that nostalgia kick. It may end up like Galactica or Firefly - a series that people are vocally passionate about, but that not many people actually watch.
The big challenge is going to be the amount that Trek costs to make. Expensive TV is almost impossible to make these days because the audience isn't there. Encounter at Farpoint got 27 million people. Today Big Bang Theory, the series rated first or second in the US, gets about 20 million. The top rated series in 87, when Farpoint aired, was getting 35 million people.
Advertising rates are lower. Audience numbers are lower. Sales of BluRays and DVDs died sometime in the last decade.
I'd love for this to work - but whether the entertainment ecosystem can support a big budget show like Star Trek is questionable.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mumbles...

Posted November 3, 2015
Almost all of the most famous episodes were written by people without much of an SF background.

My favorite "who the fuck is that?" person associated with the first series is Gene L. Coon, a guy with no SF background whatsoever who nevertheless is credited with creating Klingons, the Prime Directive, The United Federation of Planets, Star Fleet Command, Zefram Cochrane, Khan Noonien Singh, and he wrote Devil in the Dark, one of the better episodes.

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ChrisB reckons...

Posted November 3, 2015
I wonder if this is the long-rumored 29th Century Star Trek, the 10-years-after NextGen or the follow in footsteps of the new-reboot version of TOS. Either way they go, they gotta get some storytellers...

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Murphy_of_Missouri would have you know...

Posted November 3, 2015
Might be Star Trek Renegades.
They were trying really hard to get CBS to buy their project.

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Aaron has opinions thus...

Posted November 3, 2015
Maybe a bit of both is needed. Get scientists to contribute ideas to play with and different writers to make them sing.
I agree about outsiders, they can bring something fresh.

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Blarkon swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 3, 2015
The success of Star Trek was that it appealed to people that weren't SF fans.

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Rob puts forth...

Posted November 3, 2015


as someone who didn't really like the Next Generation that much , but really liked Enterprise. I'm actually looking forward to it, I'd watch it. Although a made up on the fly story arc like in Battlestar might annoy me a bit. So I hope they have a plan from the outset.

JB maybe you can write a spec script? ala a time travel episode of old and new technology, that Star Trek loved to do occasionally.

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Rob asserts...

Posted November 3, 2015
Oh and I don't know if 'on the small screen' is relevant anymore. I always watch TV on my 65" screen, and 5.1 surround sound in my lounge. Sometimes I go to the movies and it sounds terrible, the picture is dim and scratched and the people around have kids with them. I just end up thinking it would be better at home.

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John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted November 3, 2015
I seem to have been outvoted on the sic fi writer thing. Ok. Fuck you all.

Narkor ducks in to say...

Posted November 3, 2015
If it was today's science fiction writers, it would be an endless sermon on the evils of transphobia and the patriarchy. It wouldn't be the USS Enterprise, but something like "The Intersectionality". There wouldn't be anyone incharge of the ship, it would sort of be run by a collective except instead of "make it so" the first season would involve countless arguments about the problematic nature of space exploration and the real need to solve more important issues on the Earth such as the problematic nature of many halloween costumes and the rights of roosters that self identify as chickens.



John Birmingham asserts...

Posted November 4, 2015
Yeah, but not if I wrote it.

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JBtoo has opinions thus...

Posted November 3, 2015
Bring back Blake's 7

Anthony mumbles...

Posted November 6, 2015
Just Servalan will do...

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Barnesm puts forth...

Posted November 3, 2015
I want to see at least a sprinkling of the current crop of Scifi writers have a crack especially those with short story experience, perhaps the well known author of a series of time travel/world war II novels as Rob above suggests.

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tqft has opinions thus...

Posted November 3, 2015
So this post is jb angling for a ticket to an LA writers room?
Section 31 needs a run.
I also saw greatest American hero is being rebooted.
Why not Blake's 7 as someone else asked above. Apparently not dead but not happening either.

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Sparty (via JB) mumbles...

Posted November 4, 2015
Well they up the quality and that means no more 22-26 episode seasons. And go for more Sci Fi stories – and an eclectic range of writers (Birmo looking at you!). And not dumb down at the very time TV is actually going in the opposite direction. And not get to stuck in their own mythology – that can come later by the third season etc. Oh and they should defiantly have a talking Robot Puppy Dog at the helm position.

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she_jedi is gonna tell you...

Posted November 4, 2015
Star Trek coming back to TV is great news, but we'd be better off with new, original content, like an AoT TV series. JB should start writing that one :)

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GhostSwirv puts forth...

Posted November 4, 2015

I like the idea of a Star Trek series at the tail end of the Third Millennium, I agree that sci-fi writers may not make the best writers for episodic TV, no matter how it's delivered, but I'd like them to contribute ideas and help shape the series.

Maybe there can be nods to the previous Trek adventures by using the idea that all of the Captain's Log's from Archer & Kirk through to Picard and Janeway have been uploaded to the ship's computer and every now and then an old Captain of the Enterprise wants to offer advice on how to solve an alien situation.

I also agree JB with the galactic will of the Burgers and strongly suggest you get cracking on a spec specky script ... nothing too flash, just a new propulsion system, fire-control & weapons system, new bad-guys and oh what about an Shark Alien with lasers for eyes?

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted November 4, 2015
It's like you're looking over my shoulder.

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Rhino swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted November 7, 2015
What's funny is that CBS is going to use this to bolster it's paid online service. The first one will be on the (free but not free cable) TV box ... but after that, you gots to pay the cheddar to get it online.

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X Files trailer!

Posted November 2, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

SO looking forward to this.

7 Responses to ‘X Files trailer!’

Surtac puts forth...

Posted November 2, 2015

Looks good. And GA still looks good, too. :)


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Duce would have you know...

Posted November 2, 2015
I'm sceptical, because boy did that last movie suck hard. And, you know what, from re-watching most of the original series lately, I've been struck by just how hit and miss the original X Files was. I mean I'll watch this regardless, but I'm not expecting brilliance.

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Sparty mumbles...

Posted November 2, 2015
A revolving stage and front row seats meant she took a shower in underware right infront of me during her production of streetcar in London last year. So I can happily confirm Surtacs observation....

Surtac reckons...

Posted November 3, 2015

I am soooooo jealous now ...


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Wolfcat mumbles...

Posted November 2, 2015
OMG.... OMG... OMG... Breath... nope still OMG

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Murphy_of_Missouri reckons...

Posted November 3, 2015
God, why? Of all of the possible remakes, why this?

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Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted November 7, 2015
Nope. Somebody needed a paycheck.

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Daredevil and the New Television

Posted September 11, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

Been meaning to write something about this series for a while, having finished watching it a few weeks ago. I still haven't sorted my thoughts out though, beyond my initial and sustained impression that Daredevil is an exemplar of everything that is good about TV as a medium right now. Perhaps that's why I haven't sorted out my thinking yet. It may not be possible to appraise the series without considering it within context.

This is not a show that could have been made before the advent of subscription TV, and specifically before the arrival of premium content makers who don't care for aggregating mass audiences with product for the lowest common denominator.

If you haven't watched Marvel's best TV adaptation yet (it is much superior to Agents of Shield) that's probably because you don't have a Netflix subscription. Netflix, like HBO, can afford to invest in original series like Daredevil, Narcos, House of Cards and Orange is the New Black because its business model is so different from the free to air networks and even the cable aggregators like Foxtel – although with reboots like The X-Files you can see Fox catching onto the game (and HBO's model is not perfectly aligned with that of Netflix. Not yet, anyway).

It's not just the sex and violence and grown-up concepts, it's the narrative space afforded to a 'narrowcaster'. You can see this in the establishing episodes of Sense8, which I wrote about a while back. You need to take a few hours to fill in back story and build character? Sure. You got 'em. You're not going to lose huge swathes of your audience after the second commercial break airs and the A-story is still no closer to exposition, let alone resolution.

I neither binge-watched nor eked out Daredevil. I watched a couple of episodes back to back, and at times went for weeks without watching any, usually when work and life got too busy. This is a crucial advantage for content-on-demand providers. Their program directors don't have to schedule an hour-by-hour line up, night after night to lock in millions of viewers. They effectively narrowcast to a time-shifting audience of one. Each subscriber is his or her own market, a single cell demographic. You don't have to lock them in with the six o'clock news and keep them locked in until they switch off the set and go to bed. If the viewer wants to drop out for a while, the next episode is always there, always waiting for immediate replay and already paid for by monthly subscription.

More than once I watched only a single episode of Daredevil because the intensity was so great that to watch any more invited overload. It is famously grittier than the movies that have made Marvel Studios a modern cultural power centre, and although it references the wider Marvel universe, the smaller more intimate story is not held in thrall to the demands of that meta narrative. Ask Joss Whedon about how frustrating and constraining those demands can be.

So, the synopsis. Daredevil tells the story of Matt Murdock, Roman-Catholic son of Hells Kitchen and only child of 'Battling' Jack Murdock a local boxer who couldabeen a contender, if only a local guy could get an even break. Which of course they can't.

Young Matt is blinded. Old Jack is done in by the perfidy of lesser men. And Thor's evil brother Loki opens a crack between the worlds above Manhattan unleashing Hell. The destruction in New York which occupied the final reel of Whedon's first Avengers outing, preoccupies the concerns of all the little people without spandex or superpowers in the opener of Daredevil. Matt and his college bud Foggy Nelson have opened a boutique law firm in their old stomping ground of Hell's Kitchen but it is boutique only in the sense of being very small and obscure. There are no polished floorboards, no Swedish furniture, and no epic narrative. At least not to begin with. A small case leads to one, however, in the doings and a-goings on of one Wilson Fisk, a towering villain played with the full range of Shakespearean flaws by Vincent D'Onofrio. Fisk is a very Manhattan super villain though. He doesn't want to destroy the world, he wants to redevelop its disgracefully undervalued waterfront property. It's the smallness of the story, the base criminality, which foregrounds so well against the Homeric scale of the greater Marvel universe. The violence is intimate but it hurts more for that.

People die in this show, and it hurts. When they get hurt, they carry the bruises and scars for weeks, even months, just like you would. Sometimes for years in the case of the two main protagonists. Murdock is a traditional comic book hero in needing to maintain his secret identity. Tony Stark he is not. There are emotional consequences for everything he hides and all that is revealed and it's a mark of the storytelling craft that went into this series that you can never quite be sure, right up until the end, how those consequences will play out.

The biff is excellent. Again, it all happens at such a human scale, the opposite of say Ironman vs the Hulk in A2. Matt Murdock, who resists his embiggening into Daredevil, is gifted with heightened senses by the loss of his sight and, it's implied, by the way he lost it – in a chemical spill. But he is not possessed of superhuman strength or speed or the ability to stretch his hand out all the way across across the room to grab a beer from the fridge. He just trains really hard at a bunch of martial arts and mostly fights in the dark, where he is at home. He still takes more than a few beat downs.

The kinetic exchanges are choreographed and performed with painful and violent authenticity, but also with real nuance. If you watch closely you can see Murdock alter his fighting style depending on the nature of his opponent, especially when he is forced by circumstance to take on somebody with whom he has no actual disagreement. It is the emotional exchanges, however, which power the series. Daredevil is driven by relationships, not action. Even Fisk's humanity is afforded sympathetic treatment and his friendships and the love he finds as he seeks dominion over the city are no less genuine than our heroes'. In the way of all great dramas it is sometimes hard to watch because human beings are hard to watch when they decide to destroy themselves.

Season 2 of Daredevil has been confirmed and started shooting in July. A pilot season of The Punisher is due and will reportedly tie in with Murdock's story arc like Arrow's with The Flash. I've never read the comics so I can't speak to future storylines, but as the best TV shows improve with every season (up to and including season 4, after which it's usually all down hill), I'm very much looking forward to getting back to Hell's Kitchen.

33 Responses to ‘Daredevil and the New Television’

Barnesm puts forth...

Posted September 11, 2015

I agree with everything you say, and certainly a topic worthy of discussion about how the new model Netflix is pioneering allows for this sort of TV. I am impressed with all the casting but its Vincent D'Onofrio Wilson Fisk's character I was most engaged with, he was complemented in his portrayal of person on 'the spectrum'.

Another thing I liked, in the episode where a woman was taken hostage and threatened with violence the writers didn't choose to go the lazy trope of threat of sexual assault. Still visceral, still terrifying but obviously made the considered choice not to go the lazy writing path.

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ChrisB mutters...

Posted September 11, 2015
Agreed, JB. Tried to binge watch, only got through two back-to-back. Very intense and real, in a way none of the Marvel movies have gotten to. Even Tony's PTSD or Cap's 'old timey' conflict w/modern warfare and the loss of Bucky don't ring as true as Matt's past and present. And those fights - especially the hallway scene...wow.

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Mordwa mutters...

Posted September 11, 2015
<font face="verdana">Matt "Murphy" in para 7? Uhh, John, I think you two are spending too much time together-!</font>

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 11, 2015
Ha. Sorted. Ta.

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NBlob puts forth...

Posted September 11, 2015
To date I have not seen Daredevil, so won't comment on that. SWMBO has the Tom tits that our current rental is sans ariel, so has forked over for Netflix subscription. So that eases some of my guilt about stealing IP. But I'm still praying for a business model that will get me back into video production.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted September 12, 2015
By the way, we've just found that NetFlix has The Princess Bride. I've just introduced my Godson & his little brother to it. Gold, served on gold platter, dusted with gold with a side of gold.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 13, 2015
I hate that movie.

NBlob reckons...

Posted September 13, 2015
Only because you wanted Prince Humperdinck to prevail. All that scheming, for nothing.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan would have you know...

Posted September 13, 2015
I hate being so transparent.

Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted September 13, 2015
Has anyone ever counted NBlob's fingers? I counted mine after we shook hands but didn't notice his.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan puts forth...

Posted September 13, 2015
I've never even thought about his fingers until now.

Thanks for that.

NBlob has opinions thus...

Posted September 13, 2015
It's the webbing between my fingers that seems to put people off.

Rob has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2015
I've been thinking about the 'getting back into video production' thing too. But so far I think it would mean shutting down my YouTube channel and starting again with no copyrighted material on it and filling it with pugs and bands I film. Been doing stuff with my Canon DSLR, those things are a pain to hold up for longer than 3 minutes, (mainly cos I'm so old and crusty now)

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tqft has opinions thus...

Posted September 11, 2015
Netflix will be a reality here soon.The nbn fibre optic cable has been routed from the street to our house. Just need to decide a plan and make it happen.
Couldn't get adsl2 before.
Also we are running out of space for DVDs

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Rhino reckons...

Posted September 12, 2015
Daredevil is pretty freakin' awesome.
Part of me was kind of hoping that Fisk would succeed.

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alexvdl ducks in to say...

Posted September 12, 2015
Great article! I'm a huge fan of what Netflix is doing with their content, and I think that Amazon and Hulu building on that should lead to some great television coming out in the future.

A minor quibble, but the next Marvel Netflix show will be Jessica Jones
(http://marvel.com/news/tv/25069/marvel_netflix_announce_release_date_for_marvels_jessica_jones)
and Punisher is showing up in season 2 of Daredevil, not getting his own show (yet)

http://www.ign.com/articles/2015/07/28/netflix-on-marvel-series-release-plan-and-if-punisher-could-get-a-spinoff

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Rhino puts forth...

Posted September 12, 2015
#TheDave would be great on Netflix.
Just sayin'

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Darth Greybeard asserts...

Posted September 12, 2015
Yep. A great series and looking forward to the second season. Fisk was the best realised, most human and fleshed out (sorry) villain I've seen in years. Re Barnes above, the suits were a fascinating and un-commented light on Fisk's nature. Still working my way through Sense8 and finally reached the point where their ability seems to be more than an absolute nuisance. Another one I can't binge watch, unlike The Glitch.

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Grant is gonna tell you...

Posted September 12, 2015
I need to read more comic books! Daredevil was more interesting, better directed and better acted than almost anything in the mainstream Marvel or DC movies (although I have a very soft spot for 'Captain America: The Winter Soldier'). If the superhero genre starts to stagnate, as Spielberg has predicted, maybe we'll get to see the likes of Batman and Thor with their own gritty TV adaptations.

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Rhino is gonna tell you...

Posted September 12, 2015
Started watching the Netflix series Narcos with the wife tonight.
A little heavy on the voice over exposition but pretty good.
What's funny is that it is set in the same time/place as the story I'm working on. Crazy.

John Birmingham would have you know...

Posted September 12, 2015
Yeah I'm about four eps in and loving it.

Rhino has opinions thus...

Posted September 13, 2015
It gets even better.

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Paul_Nicholas_Boylan mutters...

Posted September 13, 2015
I fucking loved this series - from the opening credits that so elegantly and quietly point out that the urban jungle becomes visible only when covered with blood. The way Matt Murdock sees the City.

I binge watched the whole thing.

One of the coolest aspects of the show is that they found an actor to play Foggy Nelson who looks like the comic book character. How the hell did they do that?

If this is an example of the new television then I want more. I cannot wait for Iron Fist, Luke Cage, Jessica Jones and The Defenders - all, like Daredevil, throw away Marvel properties with fantastic narrative possibilities.

NBlob would have you know...

Posted September 13, 2015
And you say I'm lacking gravitas.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 13, 2015
I never said that. Ever. Stop spreading disparaging rumours.

NBlob asserts...

Posted September 13, 2015
Ok, so you didn't actually say "Blob my man, you are well short on Gravitas." It was more inference, implication. When one repeatedly has one's attention drawn to mighty figures of history; remarkable artists, historic jurists, purveyors of precious stones with bearings such as if hewn from basalt, one can't help but feel a point is being made. A comparison drawn through which I am found somewhat lacking in the gravitas stakes.

NBlob asserts...

Posted September 13, 2015
At least I don't read comic books.

Paul_Nicholas_Boylan swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2015
"I don't read comic books."

Neither do I. Comic books are a childish, low class affectation designed for those who lack the intellectual capacity to distinguish cartoons from literature.

If I am anything, I am cultured and educated. That is why I do not read cheap comic books: I read Graphic Novels. Fucking expensive Graphic Novels.

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Aaron is gonna tell you...

Posted September 14, 2015
I went from not having any interest to loving daredevil and want to see the joss wed on epic movie of it.
If anything Fisk is the best character.
If anyone on the fence I promise it's worth it. It's a great crime drama first and superhero story second.

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Rob swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted September 14, 2015

I think the new Netflix model is very interesting. It puts the consumer directly in the decisions over competition law issues (pricing collusion, restriction of competition via IP and licencing arrangements, bigger players killing off smaller players) previously competition law arguments ignore the consumer in favour of advertisers and media buyers, This arrangement now means the consumer (who pays directly for the service) must be taken into account when deciding which way the company responds to issues. About time too I say.

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Aaron has opinions thus...

Posted September 14, 2015
And very much agree with the new format making it possible. Imagine the alternative universe where firefly came out now on netflix, we would be reading announcements for season 2 etc. oh the joy

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pi has opinions thus...

Posted September 17, 2015
I was asked the other day what I thought of A2 from a guy that I recommended Daredevil to. I thought Daredevil was the best adaptation of a comicbook there has been in TV, and the re-invention of the characters in a modern context was second-to-none. Up until it was released, I started believing that this was a DC/Marvel thing. With the reboot of batman a few years back, and the re-invention in a modern setting, I didn't see a lot of the same thing happening with Marvel. Now that has changed.

But the effect of this was my opinion of A2. After Daredevil, it just looked too fantastical. I mean seriously... the suits were just over-the-top, and ultron was really just a caricature of a bad guy. Fisk had real depth to his character, and you were torn with his vision of how he wanted to change the world.

I think what is happening, is that the marvel universe is being split between the PG and the M markets. I have a kid, and I love watching the avengers universe with my pre-teen boy. But there is NO FRIGGIN WAY you can watch Daredevil with a child. The violence is so personal, and so affecting, it would give any balanced kid nightmares.

The long and short of it is that I want to see more of Daredevil, and less of the Avengers these days.

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Boscolamb mutters...

Posted September 18, 2015
I've been on the fence for a longtime about getting Netflix, but the arguments about how good Daredevil is has pushed me into signing up. Thanks folks!

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Sense8: Renewed and Reviewed

Posted August 10, 2015 into Telly by John Birmingham

Netflix has renewed Sense8 for a second season, and this is a great thing. S1 encompassed a comprehensive origin story with a satisfying climax and denouement, but as with all great stories peopled with interesting characters, it left me wanting to know What Happened Next.

For those who haven't watched the series, a very brief, hopefully spoiler-free recap; eight people, four men and four women, scattered around the world, experience an unusually intense vision of a woman's death. Intense enough to perhaps be a moment of psychosis, especially given what follows, more visions and waking dreams of a seemingly shared consciousness between all eight. Oh, and pursuit by a well resourced cabal of government and corporate villains intent on exterminating them all. Huzzah!

But why? Why would well resourced cabal of government and corporate villains be intent on exterminating them all? Well, they are sensates. An evolutionary throwback to a period when human beings were connected to each other with close psychic bonds. In the mythology of the series, Homo sapiens proved a more ruthlessly effective and efficient successor population because, lacking any sense of shared empathy with their fellow creatures, they were much better at killing them. And we can’t have the world being taken over buy a lot of feely, squishy nonlethal sensate types now, can we? So, lets kill ‘em all. It’s a bit like X-Men, without the lycra.

Sensates exist in clusters, which can number anywhere from 2 to 12 individuals. The eight characters we meet in series one are a diverse crew of mixed race, gender, even transgender, sexuality and skill set. In narrative terms, it's probably the skill sets which are most important. A cop, an actor, a criminal, a scientist, a hacker, a female banker turned cage fighter, and so on. They eventually have a full suite of Matrix style awesome to call on.

But a lot of the critical reception to Sense8, and a lot of the hand wringing over its apparent lack of popularity, focused on the diversity of the cast. It's not just white males and their quirky/sexy female offsiders. If you search up critiques of the series you'll read a lot of essays about identity politics and how the decisions of the producers – the Wachowski siblings and Babylon 5's J. Michael Straczynski – alienated the mass audience by focusing in on minority characters. The transgender woman. The gay South American actor. The African bus driver. The Indian bride.

Nope.

I don't think so.

We getting into subjective territory now, but I didn't come to love this series because of or in spite of the diverse cast. I grew to love Sense8 because it’s fantastic story telling. The cast were great, and their stories do grow on you. But they take at least three or four episodes to connect. The producers have even been quoted as describing the first couple of eps as 'preludes'. For a series which races through its later story arcs with bursts of violent kinetic energy, not much happens in the first couple of hours of Sense8. Or rather, not much seems to happen. Understandably a lot of the cast sit around wondering, "What’s happening to me?"

Instead of getting straight to the car chases and violence we do a deep dive into the emotional lives of our eight psychics. The struggles of Capheus in Nigeria to secure drugs to help treat his mother's AIDS infection. The unexplained bereavement of Riley Blue, a DJ from Iceland living in London and apparently trying to forget some personal trauma. The tragicomic shenanigans of Lito Rodriguez a deeply closeted Mexican actor trying to maintain a secret relationship with his gay lover while living a public life as a macho action movie hero.

These are stories which can take a while to get into, but the payoff is that once character development gives way to narrative acceleration and that whole secret gov-corp anti-Sense8 conspiracy thing, we care more deeply about these individuals than would otherwise be the case.

I truly believe that Sense8’s problems stem not from difficult issues of identity, but simple pacing in those opening episodes.

Perhaps with Series 2, having dispensed with the origin story and the emotional architecture, the producers will carry the show forward at a much greater speed, but without sacrificing empathy and depth.

It’s worth a Netflix subscription just to binge this one.

13 Responses to ‘Sense8: Renewed and Reviewed’

BrianC mumbles...

Posted August 10, 2015
Some minor spoilers here within.

Look.

I loved this cast and the concept. But I have to disagree in terms of the story. I found it lacking and in search of cohesion. Especially for the first 5 or so episodes. There where some massive plot holes. Like why didnt the multinational super powerful government agency think to look in her apartment for her? Why didn't her parents. How does the guy living in mexico not get that the girls ex is a f'ing gangster?

There are some wonderful moments that i wont spoil and over all this is definitely a show worth watching, i just hope we get more story and less concept next time.

John Birmingham has opinions thus...

Posted August 10, 2015
I don't think it lacked cohesion as such. It was more of a pointillist canvas than a straight line narrative.

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Anthony ducks in to say...

Posted August 10, 2015
Agree with BrianC. It needs to move along a bit with the actual story line but worth watching.
And on another note - anyone else found this?
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http://www.history.co.uk/shows/the-great-martian-war

Beautifully put together from WWI footage, CGI and some re-enactment it's commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Martian invasion of 1914.


http://vimeo.com/107454954

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Murphy_of_Missouri asserts...

Posted August 10, 2015
Why not just get to the point and trickle feed the season one material as backstory?

We writers do that all the time.

I don't know how many times I've been hammered by editors who pretty much say, "For fuck's sakes, Murphy! Get the fuck on with it."

That said, if it fails, it'll be chalked up to the usual laundry list of ists, isms, and phobias to which the rest of us are perpetually privileged to be guilty of from the moment we left the womb.

Good times.

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Blarkon reckons...

Posted August 10, 2015
This sort of thing wouldn't happen if they attended the John Birmingham Academy of FKN AWSM writing and plot development where if there isn't an explosion in the first few paragraphs, it's because there is a tension build up to the explosion that's going to narrativley upper cut you in the next few paragraphs.


John Birmingham ducks in to say...

Posted August 10, 2015
You're right, of course. But it seemed churlish to say so.

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Barnesm reckons...

Posted August 10, 2015
Damn, in the middle of cooking dinner prior to the_weapons training so I don't have enough time to talk about why I thought Sense8 was awesome. But I watched it twice and on the second viewing realised my 'problem' with the early episode narrative was exactly that My Problem, due to what I expected in a series instead of watching it without that expectation.
Brilliant stuff and very pleased it got a second series.

John Birmingham swirls their brandy and claims...

Posted August 10, 2015
yeah, having written this today I've been thinking a second viewing might be in order too. I rarely do that but expect to get even more out of it the second time around.

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Gethbox reckons...

Posted August 10, 2015
Largely agree that it was great, but I suspect a fair number of detractors quit early on because the first episode was such tiresome hackneyed tripe.It's kinda interesting, given how much praise was heaped on the series for normalising "otherness" (gender, race, sexuality, etc) that is usually so exoticised in mass-consumption screen stuff, that the first episode played like a showcase of cliche and stereotyping.Still, it came good pretty quickly. I'll be back for season 2...

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GhostSwirv would have you know...

Posted August 11, 2015

I've seen some of the criticism of Sense8, wondered what the fuss was about - both good and bad, Netflix is on the list of things to connect to.

This thread has piqued my interest in giving the story a go and its great that a second series has been greenlit.

Sad though that in an age where we're able to access any content across any platform real storytelling isn't allowed time to breath and develop ... would our Seinfeld's and other shows that took a few seasons to find their groove be given a go now?

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Maudy reckons...

Posted August 11, 2015
I will be all over Series 2. I didn't think I loved it when I was watching it, but afterward, I was all "oh, I wonder what happened next". That only happens when I really did love a show. The diversity was cool, ok - some of the tropes were a bit obvious, but the characters were interesting and their back stories were cool as well, even if nothing seemed to really be happening!

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Rhino would have you know...

Posted August 12, 2015
Damn ... now I have to binge watch this too.
There is too much media ... don't have time for all of this. I need to focus on the priority faffing.

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w from brisbane ducks in to say...

Posted September 2, 2015
Wow! I just finished this first series. I tend to lose interest with TV serials, but this appealed to me very much. It really pushed my buttons. Great story telling and depth of character and alarm and delight.

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