Every mainstream entertainment hit – from Marvel to Call of Duty, to prestige TV – is at more risk of a rapid decline in popularity than ever. Fueled by the internet and on-demand media, alternative options are compelling and diversified. So when the audience sees a weak spot in their entertainment library, many bail to new possibilities, even across different forms of media, and don’t look back. Let’s call it Niche Consumption Theory (NCT).
NCT is an underrated contributor to The Marvels bombing. While many factors sunk the box office, from middling reviews to superhero fatigue, it’s exacerbated by having so many great leisure substitutes to swap in. TikTok, PS5, mobile gaming, Netflix reality TV, VR, and other alternatives can look very appealing against a mid-tier MCU film. They won’t match the spectacle of a $300 million movie, but they don’t have to.
After a decade of rapid growth, Netflix took a tumble over the past quarter, for the first time losing more subscribers than it signed up. Wall Street’s reaction has been swift, with the market slashing Netflix’s valuation to less than half of its value from a few weeks prior.
Many schadenfreude-fueled takes revel in watching the king of streaming take a hit, but Netflix’s downturn won’t improve film watching habits or shake up streaming’s ascendance. The availability and discoverability challenges on streaming – clunky user interfaces, ruthless algorithms – won’t improve. Mega budget streaming sites will survive. What will change are the type of shows and movies that streaming sites buy, produce, and green light going forward.
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Mindhunter shows how simple shot and editing techniques can elevate a series above a routine crime procedural. For this post we’ll look at one standout scene in the final episode of season one. Subtle changes in shot length, distance, and angle heighten emotions. David Fincher directs, Erik Messerschmidt serves as DP, and Kirk Baxter, who’s been Fincher’s primary editor for almost a decade, edits. (Mild spoilers follow.)
On paper the scene is a conversation between two characters that turns threatening. FBI agent Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) profiles and studies serial killers. Incarcerated mass murderer Edmund Kemper (Cameron Britton) is Holden’s interview subject early in the season. This last scene serves as a reunion after many episodes apart; Kemper tried to kill himself, and Holden visits him in the hospital.
As I wrote weeks ago, Apple TV needed several key factors to challenge console and PC gaming. Based on the keynote and what we’ve learned since, they missed on all counts. Traditional console or PC gamers won’t be flocking to Apple TV. Yet some wildcards could upend the casual gaming market in the long run.
Apple TV’s problems start with the included remote. A touchpad and single available button won’t give the precision needed for most traditional games. And add-on controllers are unlikely to make headway. Apple didn’t release a first-party option, and developers can’t require external controllers for play.
Then there’s the issue of a fairly weak starting library. Granted, several games look entertaining. Yet it’s mostly small scale entertainment — diversions alongside other apps and streaming media.
It’s a bummer that Hannibal only got three seasons. Great acting across the board, especially by Dancy and Mikkelsen. But it’s DP James Hawkinson’s visual language – striking, dreamlike, horrific, often all at once – that makes it especially unique.
New Yorker TV critic Emily Nussbaum (and yes, spoilers in the quote and article for the entire Mad Men finale):
I don’t think the show was saying that real change is impossible. In fact, nearly everyone around Don changed quite a lot, and in ways that ring true for people living through decades—a real rarity in a TV show. Pete and Peggy and Joan, in particular, barely resemble the people they were at the beginning of the show. They’re stronger, clearer, and also more ethical. Their relationships are authentic. (Roger not so much, but that’s why we love Roger.) But if Don Draper is as much a symbol as a person, maybe that’s the point.
Among the many shows its compared against – from The Sopranos to Breaking Bad – Mad Men’s final world view ends up far more optimistic.
David Bax, host of the consistently excellent Battleship Pretension podcast, writes on the dangers of the Netflix “all at once” TV model. For some shows, making an entire thirteen episode season available at once works. But some shows like Bloodline suffer from the format and treatment.
Vox’s Todd VanDerWerff on Mad Men and TV’s transition away from antiheroes:
The story of Mad Men isn’t about a man who slowly closes himself off from others. It’s the story of a man who builds a workplace family around himself, even if he’s not consciously aware of it. For as lousy of a husband and father as Don is, he’s often a magnificent coworker. He recognizes in his protege, Peggy Olson, something that nobody else likely would have, and he urges Joan Harris not to do something unthinkable simply to land an account.
One of my favorite Reddit AMA’s that somehow bubbled up to the movies subreddit front page a few weeks ago. As a huge The Wire fan, it’s awesome hearing so many behind the scene bits presented from such an unorthodox angle. An extended example of the British actor Dominic West (McNulty) having to head in the studio for ADR sessions is a highlight.
The praise gets arguably hyperbolic, but as written in this profile and interview by Vulture’s chief critic Matt Zoller Seitz, it’s hard not to love Michelle MacLaren’s work. An exceptionally strong director, she’s one of the rare TV names that I recognize (usually in the credits on Breaking Bad or Game of Thrones) immediately and know we’re about to get something special.