Friday, November 11, 2016

My 2016 Holiday Wishlist

Boy, did last year's requests not go down well. The election coverage was a mess. The "X-files" revival was deplorable. Broadcast television looks like it's in meltdown. I still have no reliable TV podcast to replace Firewall and Iceberg. Oh, and did I refer to "Suicide Squad" as "David Goyer's 'Sinister Six'" last time? Yes. Yes I did. But still, it's time to try again.

Dear Hollywood,

This year for Christmas I want...

For strategic uncrowding of the release schedule. One of the reasons that summer of 2016 saw so many underperformers is that there were too many would-be event films released too closely together. I suspect that we're starting to see bigger hits in August simply because that's when the competition finally eases a bit. 2017 doesn't look any better at the moment, with many, many more sequels that nobody asked for. It's even happening on a smaller scale with specific genres. Notice that January has somehow become a popular month for horror movies, with five horror titles being released in four weeks - which all but guarantees that they're going to cannibalize each other's business.

For the theatergoing to be more affordable. I'm willing to jump through some pretty ridiculous hoops to save a few dollars, but there aren't any discount or second run theaters within driving distance of me, and ticket prices just keep going up. I'm now close to paying $12 for a weekend matinee, which is too much for me to justify for all but the most absolute, must see films. This year, that's been a grand total of two films so far, and I'm finding that simply waiting for that second window is becoming easier and easier. I'm barely even watching trailers and commercials anymore, so dodging the hype hasn't been a problem.

For more sequels to flop in 2017. "Sequels nobody asked for" were blamed in part for the summer slump, and there are several likely contenders for that title coming up next year. I won't name names, but there are certain moribund franchises on their third, fourth, or fifth installment that I'm really doubtful will actually make money. If a bunch of them bomb again, maybe it'll finally start curbing the studios' addiction to high-numbered sequels. Of course, two of next year's most anticipated films are the eighth in their series, so...

For more streamable commentary tracks. I haven't listened to a film commentary track in years, since I stopped watching DVDs, and I miss them. I'm hoping that with the new proliferation of streaming services, and competition increasing, we'll see more of them offered, along with other extras. Netflix added director commentary tracks to some of its "House of Cards" episodes a few years ago, and "Amazon Prime has some for "Transparent," but these are rarities. Podcasts have helped fill some of the gaps, but it's just not the same.

For diversity efforts in Hollywood to continue, no matter the backlash. I know the "Ghostbusters" reboot was a disappointment, but a more diverse media landscape is a better media landscape. I continue to be impressed with the strides being made on television, and look forward to more movies finally reflecting reality a little better too. "The Dark Tower" will be an interesting case next summer. And in a related request -

For Twitter to be more proactive about curbing online harassment. There are other social media platforms that also need a firm kick in the pants, but Twitter has been by far the most high profile service to have facilitated the growth of an online culture of harassment toward certain groups and individuals through their inaction. Trolling behavior has become far too normalized, and there needs to be more pushback before the entire internet ends up looking like 4Chan.

For all the new films and television shows coming out this winter and next year to exceed my expectations, and for those that didn't to improve. There's a lot of good stuff coming our way soon, which I'll expand on in other posts.

For Trevor Noah and Stephen Colbert to hang in there, in the post-election season.

And for the new "Doctor Who" companion to kick ass. We're rooting for you!

Happy holidays!

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