Wednesday, May 18, 2016

The May 2016 Follow-Up Post

For the uninitiated, my "follow-up" posts are the semi-regular installments where I write about recent developments related to topics I've blogged about in the past, but which I didn't think needed a whole new write-up to themselves. The original posts are linked below for your convenience.  It's been a long while since I've done one of these, so we have some ground to cover.

Oscars So White

The studios are diversifying with a vengeance in reaction to the recent controversy.  I doubt that it's going to last, but we've seen a slew of high profile deals in recent weeks for big projects involving black talent. Ava DuVernay will be directing "A Wrinkle in Time" for Disney.  Idris Elba has the lead role in "The Dark Tower."  Starz' "American Gods" TV series cast Ricky Whittle as the lead.  Note that Elba's character was white, and Whittle's character was racially ambiguous in their original source material.  We've also got some diverse Oscar contenders for next year being lined up - slave revolt epic "Birth of a Nation," which was acquired in a record-breaking deal at Sundance, fictionalized Obama romance "Southside with You," and the mixed race love story "A United Kingdom."   Meanwhile, Joseph Fiennes was cast as Michael Jackson in a British comedy about 9/11, which strikes me as somewhat odd, but a perfectly defensible choice on artistic grounds.  Good luck with the PR for that, though.

The Fall Season With No Cancellations -

Well, the cancellations did come eventually.  Shortly after I posted, ABC cancelled serial killer drama "Wicked City" after only three episodes.  "Blood and Oil," "Minority Report," "Second Chance," "The Player," "Angel From Hell," "You Me and the Apocalypse," and "Truth Be Told" soon followed, though most of them weren't outright cancelled.  Episode orders were cut, or the shows were sent to quietly play out on Fridays, because something still has to air on Fridays.  As the major networks continue to lose viewers, they haven't been so quick to drop the axe on struggling shows.  ABC's "The Muppets" got retooled, and the low-rated CW musical comedy "My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" got an additional episode order, and then renewed.  

My 2015 Holiday Wish List -

I'm going to quickly sum up my thoughts on the recent "Sherlock" Christmas special here, because I did see it a few months ago, and it was mentioned at the end of the wish list. I feel no need to write out a full review, because there's not that much to say.  It was an interesting interlude, and a lot of the humor and little details were fun, but the underlying mystery struck me as pretty half-baked, and the attempts to tie the story into the current chronology of "Sherlock" were awfully clumsy.  This was also clearly aimed at existing fans, with an awful lot of callbacks and references.  I enjoyed it overall - especially fat Mycroft - but it's not something that I would recommend or rewatch in a hurry.  And "Sherlock" can take as long as it needs to come back for the fourth series.  The writers clearly need some time to regroup.

Fingers Crossed for Trevor Noah -

Well, I'm still watching "The Daily Show."  I'm not liking it as much as John Oliver on "Last Week Tonight" or the occasional clips I see of Stephen Colbert and Samantha Bee, but I'm still watching.  I know the ratings are not in good shape, but Noah is delivering some fairly consistent laughs, about what I'd expect for a someone who has only had this gig for six months.  The fact that we're in one of the wildest, weirdest primary seasons in decades really makes it obvious how outmatched he is by the other "Daily Show" alumni on the air, but Noah is settling well into his role as host.   He's not giving us the same insight and intellectual rigor that Jon Stewart did, but he can occasionally land a punch from an entirely different direction than any of the other commentators.  I know people are tired of being told to give him time, but give him time.  He's doing just fine.

A Director Fit For a Franchise -

Neill Blomkamp's proposed "Alien" project was shelved back in October, while FOX moves ahead with Ridley Scott's "Alien: Covenant," apparently another prequel that isn't related to "Prometheus" and will feature none of the same characters.  Depending on how "Alien: Covenant" goes, Blomkamp may still have his shot at the franchise, but it's too early to say one way or another.  "Alien: Covenant" won't be in theaters until August, 2017.  In the meantime, Blomkamp has been in talks to write and direct an adaptation of sci-fi novel, "The Gone World."

The Disney Animation Slate -

With the release of "Zootopia," and "Moana" coming up on November, there's not a lot left on Walt Disney Pictures' animation slate.  The "Jack and The Beanstalk" adaptation "Gigantic" is coming in spring of 2018, and we have an "Untitled" film dated for Thanksgiving of 2020.  That one might be the space-themed Dean Wellin film we heard about in 2013.  No new projects have even been hinted at in three years, aside from the very up-in-the-air plans for a "Frozen" sequel.  With Disney also juggling all the upcoming PIXAR films, I'd be a little worried that they're letting one studio dominate,  - well, if "Zootopia" hadn't just made a bundle at the box office.


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