Marvel Television’s Problem (And How to Fix It)

imageWhile Marvel Studios’ Black Panther literally tears through box office records Marvel Television–the arm of Marvel Entertainment that handles television projects–is doing…okay.

They’ve got four shows on Netflix (Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage and the The Defenders), one on Hulu (Runaways), one coming up on Freeform (Cloak and Dagger) and another on ABC (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is rumored to be ending) though it’s worth mentioning that the parent company of both Marvel and ABC is Disney, so that there’s a bit of synergy there shouldn’t surprise anyone.

Though there’s a problem, namely if Marvel Television wants to expand beyond ABC they’re going to have to move beyond the ‘grounded’ superheroes they have become comfortable depicting and start walking on the more fantastical side of the Marvel Universe.

And there have been attempts have been made to do so (Inhumans) though it didn’t fare so well for one important reason, namely Marvel Television isn’t willing to spend the money for what a sprawling epic like Inhumans should have been (which is odd if only because Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is likely one of the best looking–and highest budgeted–comic-based television shows on television).

Though Marvel Television can’t afford another misstep, which is in a way ironic because the only way that history is not going to repeat itself is if they go bold and loosen up the purse strings along the way.

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Netflix and the Transformation of How We View Television

Netflix logoI imagine that television executives haven’t been too glad about the ascension of alternative viewing options–they’re still reeling from cable– beyond the channels within their control, but I honestly think that if they’re able to see beyond their own parochial interests they’ll come to realize what a boon it can potentially be for them in the long term.

Reason being, I have discovered more new–to me–television shows via Netflix than I ever have via network television.   And what’s most interesting is that subject-wise they’re certainly more varied than anything that I would normally watch.

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Analysts Are So Damned Irritating

Everything Is Better With Legos, Including Ant-Man!

Marvel Studios’ Ant-Man premiered Friday of last week, and earned domestically just over $58 million by the end of the weekend.    Now keep in mind that the movie was budgeted at $130 million, and when you figure in overseas box office (just over $56 million) it has so far pulled in just over $114 million.

That’s not too shabby–especially when you consider that Ant-Man makes the Guardians Of The Galaxy like the Guardians Of The Galaxy pre-movie–yet some are using words like ‘soft‘ to describe its domestic gross.

Now what matters at this point is if the movie has legs, because it can go either way this early in the game.

Though, speaking of ‘soft,’ that’s a word that’s fine for describing pillows; not so much when applied to either box office gross, erections, or movies based on characters as obscure as the Guardians Of The Galaxy (which was a massive hit).

And besides, I get the feeling that such an interpretation can adversely effect how well a movie does because I know that if I get the feeling that a movie is going to tank I am less likely to see it, especially when all you have to do is wait a few months when it will turn up either on Neflix, Hulu, Direct TV or cable (the later two I don’t have, btw).

Why You Should Be Watching “United States Of Tara” On Netflix

Part of what makes Netflix (and services like Hulu) so awesome is that whenever you see a series, no matter when it was actually released, it’s new to you.

Having recently watched Keir Gilchrist in Dark Summer I was impressed enough with his performance to seek out more of his work, so when I learned that he also starred in Showtime’s United States of Tara I decided to give it a watch.

And it’s a surprisingly entertaining show–though that may have a little to with me binging on it.

And the first thing that came to mind is that United States of Tara initially feels like a Weeds clone (which aired on HBO), down to the opening and theme song, while different, plays visually and aurally similar to Little Boxes.

Little Boxes

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‘Community’ Will Be Back, And I Still Won’t Tune In

Community Season 1 Trailer

Though that’s not to imply that I didn’t try.  When there’s so much buzz around a show you think that if you don’t at least check it out, you’re be missing something.

Which is a normal feeling.  I honestly think that a lot of the reason behind the success of HBO’s Game Of Thrones and AMC’s The Walking Dead is less because of the novels or comic books they’re based upon–I am willing to bet that the majority of fans have not read either.  At all–more than they know someone who has enjoyed the show (and who also has little if any knowledge of the source material) and wanted to give it a try.

So I checked out a few episodes and liked it, though I didn’t love it.   The cast was quirky, the situations were bizarre but for my money it was too self-aware of it’s quirkiness, as if it were saying:  “Look at me!  Aren’t I clever?”

Community Season 4 Trailer

Though for what is essentially a niche series–Community was never particularly strong ratings-wise–it has generated a huge amount of goodwill.  It has been on NBC for five seasons (every single one seemingly on the bubble) and what’s most amazing is that it has even lasted that long.

Many series, if they don’t develop an audience by their first season, are gone. And some don’t even get beyond two episodes.

But somehow despite relatively weak ratings, Community has survived perilously, and for awhile there was a lot of doubt that there would be a sixth.  But being that no one involved with this show seems to know the word “die,” an attitude that appeared almost prophetic when talk of either Netflix or Hulu taking on the show began to fill the Interwebs.

Though unfortunately, neither suitor came to the rescue.

Though it appears another white knight, in the form of  Yahoo Screen, has come to the rescue.

I haven’t heard of “Yahoo Screen” to now myself, but since they’re a member of the Yahoo! family, purchasing an entire season of episodes–which costs millions–won’t be an issue.

Though I am still don’t think that I will tune in (though credit where credit’s due, Dean Pelton (Jim Rash) is hilarious).

Community Season 5 Trailer

Another Irritating Thing About Hulu

HuluI am really trying to like Hulu.  I even posted a complementary post a day or so ago, though just when I am feeling good about them, they go and do something irritating (which may be part of someone’s master plan).  And the funny thing, despite my griping, is that they must being doing something right, since they earned a profit of $695 million last year (thanks to the Fabulous & Money Savvy blog for the head’s up).

So what has offended my oh so delicate sensibilities?  I was looking for something to watch on Netflix, and struck out, since I had already seen much that interested me already, and wasn’t in the mood for a low-budget zombie flick.

So I moved on to Hulu.  I was looking for some horror, and decided upon “Barely Human.”  Sure, for a show that’s about a ghost, vampire and werewolf that decide to co-habitate (?) it’s awfully talky;  but did I mention that it’s a show about a ghost, vampire and a werewolf?

But there’s a caveat: Certain shows are only offered with a HuluPlus membership, “Being Human” being one.

What I am wondering is how they determine which shows are available on the regular Hulu, and which on HuluPlus?

Though, however they decide such things, it’s another irritating thing about Hulu.

And I am (relatively) easy to please.  Just get rid of ALL commercials on HuluPlus, and stop with the silly differentiators like this show is on Hulu, while this one is on HuluPlus, and I will subscribe.

Hulu Moves To Original Programming

According to Cnet.com, Hulu has a 13-episode commitment to “Battleground,” a comedy about a primary campaign for a Wisconsin Senate seat, “A Week In The Life,” a 10-episode documentary series about famous people, and a so-far unnamed travelogue series from Richard Linklater.

Streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are developing original content in order to differentiate themselves from competition from cable networks as well as provide unique programming options that don’t leave them as dependent on the whims of the big movie studios.