Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Assignment 7: Binge-Watching

Binge-watching was a phrase coined by Netflix to mean: watching many episodes of a TV show or shows in succession (such as over a weekend or in one day). The phrase has only been around for about 5 years.  I don't really like binge-watching. I'm just used to the old-fashioned way we watch TV - one episode per week. I'm too busy, most of the time, for binge-watching, unless my DVR is almost full and I'm trying to watch stuff just to get it off there. For example, I try to keep up on everything, but I record 2 soap operas, "General Hospital" and "Young and the Restless," and I'm behind on watching both. I like all the soaps, but they're not so good that I want to watch them every day. I'd rather watch Primetime shows, so they usually take priority. If I'm caught up on all of my other DVR shows, I do try to watch "General Hospital." VIDEO

Star Trek Beyond poster

As you may remember from my first blog post here, I watch a lot of TV.  Before streaming videos were common, you could only binge-watch if a TV network was showing a marathon of shows, or if you bought a videotape or DVD set, or (later) if you recorded a whole season on the DVR.  I still buy DVD's and have a DVR, so that's where I do most of my binge-watching. I don't watch TV on my phone. The screen is way too small. I really don't even like watching on my laptop. I use my ROKU to watch Netflix, Amazon, HULU, et al.  Although I'm mostly discussing TV shows here, people also do binge-watch movies, and they binge-read as well. There are a lot of movie series or franchises and a lot of book series. I don't go to the movies much, but I love to watch any movie with a superhero in it, or any "Star Trek," "Star Wars," "Lord of the Rings" or "Harry Potter" movie. I also loved all of the "Hunger Games," "Mazerunner," James Bond and "Divergent" movies. I don't have much time to read, but in the past decade I did binge-read the Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling, The Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins, The Millennium Trilogy by Stieg Larsson, the Hammarby series by Carin Gerhardsen,  the Harper Connelly mysteries by Charlaine Harris, and all of the Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

Teen Wolf cast

In the past, there were some shows I binge-watched on DVD, or on a late-night marathon, long after they had started airing: "Highlander (92-98)," "Revenge (2011-15)," "Desperate Housewives (2004-12)," "Homicide: Life on the Street (93-99)," "Dawson's Creek (98-03)," "Dynasty (81-89)," "Eureka (2006-12)," "Mad Men (07-15)," "Queer As Folk (2000-05)," "Curb Your Enthusiasm (2000-present)," "I Married Joan (52-55)," "Teen Wolf (2011-17)," "Dexter (2006-13)," "The Closer (2005-12)," "Joan of Arcadia (2003-05)," "Laugh-in (67-73)," "Car 54, Where Are You? (61-63)," "Poltergeist: The Legacy (96-99)", "Forever Knight (92-96)," and "Medium (2005-11)."  These are all that I can remember right now; there are probably others. Before I had a DVR, I would watch many re-runs late at night, usually on cable.

There are some shows that I watched when I was younger, but I can always watch them if I see them now in re-runs, like "Hogan's Heroes (65-71)," "The Flying Nun (65-70)," "M*A*S*H (72-83)," any of the "Star Trek" or "Law & Order" franchises; "Two and a Half Men (2003-15)," "Fawlty Towers (75-79)," "The Bob Newhart Show (72-78)," "Seinfeld (89-98)," "Twilight Zone (59-64)," "Monty Python's Flying Circus (69-74)," "Designing Women (86-93)," "Night Court (84-92)" and "Barney Miller (75-82)." They never get old to me. I can always laugh or enjoy them.


I wish I had time to catch up on so many shows that I had to quit watching due to lack of time; Either I have most of these on DVD, on VHS, or they're available online: "Runaways (2017-present)," "The Gilmore Girls (2000-07)," "The Good Fight (2017-present)," "Star Trek: Discovery (2017-present)," "Orphan Black (2013-17)," "Stranger Things (2016-present)," "The OA (2016-present)," "Unreal (2015-present)," "Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. (2013-present)," "Torchwood (2006-11)," "Outcast (2016-present)," "Travelers (2016-present)," "Mr. Mercedes (2017-present)," "Luther (2010-18)," "The Americans (2013-present)," "Fargo (2014-present)," "Lost (2004-10)," "Person of Interest (2011-16)," "Mr. Robot (2015)," "Humans (2015-present)," "The Fosters (2013-present)," "The Expanse (2015-present)," "Stargate SG-1 (97-2007)," "Stargate: Atlantis (2004-09)," "24 (2001-10)," "Alias (2001-06)," "Arrow (2012-present)," "Covert Affairs (201-14)," the older "Doctor Who" franchise (1963-1989), "Glee (2009-15)," "Grey's Anatomy (2005-present)," "Hollywood Heights (2012),"
"Nashville (2012-present)," "The Good Wife (2009-16)," "Sleepy Hollow (2013-17)," "True Blood (2008-14)," "V (2009)," "The Vampire Diaries (2009-17)," "The Originals (2013-present)," "12 Monkeys (2015-present)," "Empire (2015-present)," "Greenleaf (2016-present)," "The Royals (2015-present)," "Impastor (2015-16)," "Sex&Drugs&Rock&Roll (2015-16)," "Damages (2007-12)," "Riverdale (2017-present)," "Bloodline (2015-17)," "Altered Carbon (2018-present)," "Mindhunter (2017-present)," "The Punisher (2017-present)," "Atypical (2017-present)," "Atlanta (2016-present)," "Victoria (2016-present)," "Archer (2009-present),"   "The Exorcist (2016-present)," "Midnight Diner (2016)," "Van Helsing (2016-present)," "The Librarians (2014-present)," "Queen Sugar (2016-present)" (OWN), "Outlander (2014-present," "Lucifer (2015-present)," "The X-Files (93-02, 2016-present)," "The Magicians (2015-present)," "Bull (2016-present)," "Younger (2015-present)," "Beyond (2016-present)," "Mary Kills People (2017-present)," "Castlevania (2017-present)," "The Durrells in Corfu (2016-present)," "Top of the Lake (2013-present)," "Deadwood (2004-06)," "The Good Doctor (2017-present)," "The Sinner (2017-present)," "The Tick (2016-present)," "Timeless (2016-present)," "Designated Survivor (2016-present)," "Scandal (2012-present)," "People of Earth (2016-present)," "Friday Night Lights (2006-11)," "ER (94-09)," "The West Wing (99-06)," "Genius (2017-present)," "Saving Hope (2012-17)," "Extinct (2017-present)," "Knighfall (2017-present)," "Vikings (2013-present)," "Electric Dreams (2017-present)," "Counterpart (2017-present)," "The Alienist (2018-present)," "Indian Summers (2015-16)," "Jane the Virgin (2014-present)," "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend (2015-present)," "The Shannara Chronicles (2016-17)," "Night Manager (2016-present)," "Sense8 (2015-18)" "Rome (2005-07)," "Nurse Jackie (2009-15)," "Prime Suspect (91-06)," "Entourage (2004-11)," "Continuum (2012-15)," "The Son (2017-present)," "The Glades (2010-13)," "Grimm (2011-17)," "Transparent (2014-present)," "Poldark (2015-present)," "Mr. Selfridge (2013-16)," and "The Night Of (2016)."  There are many others, I'm sure, that I just haven't thought of.  Since I try to watch every new fiction show on TV, I usually will just watch one or two episodes for the review and then not watch the rest due to lack of time.

I've heard that these shows are very good, but I haven't seen them at all; I would probably like them: "The Wire (2002-08)," "Game of Thrones (2011-present)," "The Crown (2016-present)," "House of Cards (2013-present)," 'The Handmaid's Tale (2017-present)," "Six Feet Under (2001-05)," "Call the Midwife (2012-present)," "Black Mirror (2011-present)," "Rectify (2013-present)," "Endeavor (2012-present)," "Episodes (2011-17)," "The Knick (2014-15)," "Shameless (2011-present)," "Grace and Frankie (2015-present)," "True Detective (2014-present)," and "Orange is the New Black (2013-present)."

Jessica fighting a bad guy

This week I've been trying to watch "Jessica Jones" Season 2, in between my DVR shows.  There are just way too many good TV shows, and I'm not that picky, so I always have way too much that I want to watch.  Here are the shows I regularly binge-watch when they come out on Netflix with a new season. I love them, so I make time for them: "Longmire (2012-17)," "Daredevil (201-present)," "Jessica Jones (2015-present)," "Luke Cage (2016-present)," "Iron Fist (2017-present)," "The Defenders (2017-present)," "The Killing (2011-14)," and "13 Reasons Why (2017-present)." Also, I watch any standup TV special by Dave Chappelle, Lewis Black, Anthony Jeselnik or Ricky Gervais.   On Amazon, I always watch any new episodes of "Bosch (2014-present)" and "Red Oaks (2014-17)."  All of the other shows I watch regularly are on broadcast or cable network TV.

Last week I binged-watched the entire season of "A.P. Bio (2018)," since I was interviewing two of the show's cast members. I was pleasantly surprised at how funny it is.  Last year I binge-watched the Netflix limited series "Alias Grace (2017)," which was really good, until the end, which was very disappointing. I also binge-watched Amazon's "I Love Dick (2017)," which was very good.  You can't always tell if a series is going to turn out OK or not.  I wish I had time to re-watch some of my favorite series, such as all the Star Treks, "Buffy the Vampire Slayer (96-03)," "Angel (99-04)," "Constantine (2014-15)," "Remington Steele (82-87)," and "The Dead Zone (2002-07)," as well as all of the "Harry Potter" and "Lord of the Rings" movies. No matter how I binge-watch, I enjoy doing it. I just wish I had more time!

Some research indicates that binge-watching might be bad for you. It might cause heart problems or insomnia. Well, like any good thing, it should be done in moderation. You can't binge-watch and neglect your job, your studies, your family, your health, etc.  It's like anything that "they" say is bad for you: If you do it too much, you might go blind!

Besides the shows I mentioned here, here are some other really good shows that I recommend you watch.  Dramas: "The Mentalist," "Mad Men," "Leverage," "Veronica Mars," "Castle," "Suits," "White Collar," "Men of a Certain Age," "Royal Pains," "Numb3rs," "Terriers," "Queer As Folk," and "St. Elsewhere."
Sitcoms: "The Larry Sanders Show," "Blackadder," "Police Squad!," "Frasier," "Big Bang Theory," "Will & Grace,"
Sci-Fi/fantasy: "Babylon 5," "Haven," "Fringe," "Once Upon a Time," "Supernatural," "Arrow," "Battlestar Galactica," "Jericho," "Revolution," "Falling Skies," "Eureka," "La Femme Nikita," "Being Human," "Lois and Clark: The Adventures of Superman," "Farscape," "American Gothic," "Medium," "Firefly," "Dollhouse," "Earth Two," "Heroes," "Alphas," "Wilfred," and "Sliders."

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Assignment 6: Global Trends

U.S. Films - Including Netflix Features - Clean Up at International Box Office

Avater poster

When the average person in the U.S. talks about how well a movie does at the box office, they usually ignore success in other countries.  Most of us lead very U.S.-centric lives and don’t really think about the billions of people in other countries.  Movie studios, however, care very much.  Not only do many regular theater films do well in other countries, but many U.S. movies that are "direct-to-video" releases also do well there.  Those movies are usually not the kind that most of us see (aside from a few popular animated superhero movies).  Now there are original movies on streaming services.  Netflix has been doing original feature films for a while, but now they have many successful ones (at least, as far as we can tell - Netflix doesn't release their viewing statistics).  Most of their successful films do really well internationally. "More than 52 million of its 104 million subscribers now come from outside the US.," according to the Guardian.  Video Clip

Black Panther

Action films do the best overseas because it doesn't matter if the audience understands English or can relate to the nuances of the characters. These movies have likable characters and plenty of fights, car chases, shoot-outs, and crashes to enjoy (not to mention plenty of special effects).  For instance, "Black Panther," based on a comic book, is making almost as much money in other countries as it has domestically. It's making 900 million dollars already, worldwide, in its first week overseas.  If we look at the 100 top-grossing films worldwide of all time, they're all films with plenty of action, and most are from this century (aside from the original "Star Wars"). Video Clip

Netflix chart

In an age where borders often seem non-existent, due to the internet, people from other countries can see many of our shows and movies easily, and vice versa (sometimes not legally).  Netflix reaches almost every country in the world, making it easier for anyone to watch TV shows and movies on any device. Their content varies for each country, due to copyright issues. Of course, you can watch the most Netflix content in the U.S.  International viewers used to be able to use a Virtual Private Network to watch U.S. Netflix, but Netflix figured out how to block VPN's. There are other ways, of course, and I'm sure that there always will be. No matter how you block one type of invasive software, there are going to be people motivated enough to come up with another. Video Clip

poster for the movie Bright

Some of our American action heroes, like Will Smith, are even more popular internationally.  Netflix's scifi/fantasy/action movie "Bright," which starred Smith, pulled in 11 million viewers internationally in the first 3 days.  Not long ago, in 2015, film studios were worried that Netflix movies were not doing well, but that is no longer true. A lot of these films, including “Bright,” are panned by the critics, but viewers love them (including non-U.S. viewers). Netflix is already planning to make a sequel to "Bright." Major movie studios, like Paramount and Universal, can now choose to sell their films directly to Netflix, rather than showing it at the theaters. A few years ago, they may have put the movies in the theater at a time when they wouldn't have made much money, and then sold the DVD's, or did "ancillary sales," such as to TV or Pay-Per-View; now they can sell it to Netflix instead.  Some in Hollywood think that this will hurt the movie business in the long run. Only time will tell. Check out this list of the best original Netflix films. Video Clip

Although some of the successful Netflix feature films get poor reviews from Critics, others are loved by them, just like "regular" films in the theater. Some are critical successes, and some are box office successes, and few films are both. Netflix won their first Oscar this year for Best Documentary Feature (for "Icarus") and several of their films were nominated as well.  Amazon Prime, another streaming service, won Oscars last year for "Manchester by the Sea" and "The Salesman" (Best Foreign Language Film). Having conquered TV, it appears that streaming services are now a force to be reckoned with for feature films, both in foreign and domestic sales. Video Clip

Netflix original films