TV Shows Renewals and Cancellations Commentary

TV Shows Renewals and Cancellations Commentary

Normally in my entertainment news blogs I include information on which TV shows are being canceled or renewed. It had been so long since I had done such a blog I decided to separate out that topic into a separate blog. My source of information is the following link from TV Line.

I won’t comment on every show so you might want to check the link to see if they have information on a show I didn’t mention.. Going network by network here are the broadcast TV shows that have either been renewed, canceled, or scheduled to end.

ABC

  • All of their primetime game shows such as Pyramid, Card Sharks, Match Game, Celebrity Family Fusion, Holy Moly, Press Your Luck, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and To Tell the Truth have been renewed. The only one I ever watched was Millionaire.
  • Reality shows such as American Housewife, The Bachelor, Bachelor in Paradise none of which I watch have been renewed
  • American Idol renewed however I thought last year’s “at home” version was absolutely terrible. If we don’t get out from underneath the pandemic I would wish they simply postpone it. Singer “Just Sam” won the season all alone in her apartment without any family or friends to celebrate with her. The hometown visit for the finalists never happened. The duets with famous celebrities was completely unsatisfying when done virtually. I thought the whole thing was a disaster. America’s Got Talent is probably down that same rabbit hole and I’m not looking forward to it.
  • Dancing With The Stars renewed however Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews will not be back as hosts. The same panel of judges are expected to return. I suppose this show would be watchable without an audience but it would probably miss something like the audience booing at the judges especially the Len Goodman.
  • The following shows were canceled and I either didn’t watch them or perhaps never even heard of them: The Baker and the Beauty, Bless This Mess, Grand Hotel, Kids Say the Darndest Things, Reef Break, Schooled, Single Parents.
  • How to Get Away with Murder — series ended May 14. I watched all but the final season of this. It was just too tiring to watch with all of the flash forwards and flashbacks. It was a show deliberately designed to keep the audience guessing and it seemed that when all of the questions were answered in the final episode each season I no longer cared about the outcome. It just wasn’t worth the effort to try to reassemble the timelines in your head each episode. I liked the early seasons but it just wasn’t worth it anymore. Goodbye.
  • Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD final episodes now airing. This season has been by far their best ever. It’s nice that they are going out on a high note but I wish some of the previous seasons had been this great. I’m going to miss it.
  • Returning sitcoms: black-ish, The Conners, The Goldbergs. I only watch the first two and I like them. Spinoff mixed-ish will also return. I watched a few and liked it. Will probably binge the rest someday. The only really good new sitcom last year.
  • Modern Family — A groundbreaking sitcom that lasted 11 seasons and finished on a nice note back in April. I didn’t see much of the last just because my schedule was full but it was a fun ride while it lasted.
  • Fresh off the Boat — series finale was February 21. I never watched it.
  • Grey’s Anatomy will be back for its 17th season without original cast member Justin Chambers as Dr. Alex Karev who was written out late this past. Also related its spinoff Station 19. I continue to enjoy both of them.
  • The Rookie and Stumptown are new last season cop shows that I rather enjoyed but did not watch that much. They will both be back.

CBS

  • Reality shows Big Brother, Big Brother: Celebrity Edition and Love Island are back this summer. Also Undercover Boss returns and I couldn’t care less.
  • Survivor and The Amazing Race have been renewed but delayed because of the pandemic. I can’t see either one going back into production until the pandemic is completely under control. I miss them both already.
  • Sitcoms Bob Hearts Abishola, The Unicorn, The Neighborhood, Mom, Young Sheldon Renewed. I only watch the last two. I never did Heart Bob 🙂 Seemed like a sad ripoff of Mike and Molly. I gave Unicorn good review but didn’t have time to watch it. Wasn’t interested in Neighborhood.
  • Broke, Carol’s Second Act, Tommy, Man with a Plan, God Friended Me all canceled as I expected. Many friends said they liked Tommy. I didn’t watch any of them.
  • Hawaii Five-O ended its 10 year run on April 3. I really enjoyed it but finally got tired and gave up on it partway through last season.
  • Blood & Treasure, MacGyver, Magnum P.I. renewed but I don’t watch.
  • Bull, FBI, NCIS, NCIS Los Angeles, NCIS New Orleans, SWAT, Seal Team all coming back. I watched all expect LA. Don’t know why I don’t like it. Characters just don’t appeal to me the way the others do.
  • Criminal Minds aired its final episode February 19. Ran for 15 seasons. I probably watched eight or nine of them but I finally got tired of a new and weirder psychopath each week.
  • Evil renewed. Did not watch it but intended to. I might go back and binge at some point. Legal drama All Rise renewed but I never watched and probably won’t. Looks like it potential.

Fox

  • 911, 911: Lone Star, The Masked Singer, Prodigal Son all returning and I’m very happy. Lone Star isn’t as good as the original 911 but it’s watchable.
  • The Orville — creator/star Seth McFarlane was too busy to produce the next season in time. So Fox decided to pass on it and season 3 will relocate to Hulu. I really look forward to it.
  • Empire had its final episode April 21 and is it possibility of a wrapup movie. I watched the first season but didn’t care enough to continue.
  • BH 90210, Deputy, Flirty Dancing, Outmatched not watched by me and apparently nobody else. All canceled.
  • So You Think You Can Dance — season 17 called off for pandemic. No word about its future.
  • The Simpsons, Beat Shazam, Bless the Harts, Bob’s Burgers, Duncanville, The Great North, Hell’s Kitchen, Master Chef, Last Man Standing, The Moodys, The Resident all renewed and I either did didn’t watch or never heard of them.

NBC

  • America’s Got Talent and America’s Got Talent The Champions are listed as “sure thing” however I’m already dreading how AGT live shows will look during pandemic. American Ninja Warrior, Ellen’s Game of Games and The Voice also returning but I don’t watch.
  • Little Big Shots listed as “a safe bet” while The Wall, Songland listed as “a long shot” and “could go either way” respectively. Making It renewed.
  • Bluff City Law an excellent legal drama starring Jimmy Smits did not survive its first season. I really liked it.
  • AP Bio which I never liked is moving to Peacock streaming for its third season. Counsel of Dads, Indebted, Lincoln Rhyme, Perfect Harmony, The InBetween, Sunnyside are all canceled. Superstore returns without its star America Ferrera and I don’t care for any of these. I wanted to like Lincoln but it was just really bad
  • Blindspot series finale just aired. I’m 2 seasons behind but I still like it and intend to binge it to completion.
  • All three Chicago shows, Law & Order: SVU Manifest and New Amsterdam all renewed for 3 more seasons. I only watch Manifest but I’m behind a season.
  • Good Girls, The Blacklist, This Is Us, Brooklyn Nine-Nine all returning but I only watch the first three.
  • Will and Grace had its second series finale April 23. It was fun to have it back for a couple of new seasons but it was probably ready to quit.

CW

  • Batwoman returns with a new character. Black Lightning, Legends of Tomorrow, Stargirl, The Flash, Supergirl all renewed and I watch regularly. Arrow had its series finale January 28 and I will miss it a little bit.
  • Supernatural it’s 15th and final season will premier this fall. I’m about season and a half behind but it still favorite of mine. Probably time for it to go however.
  • The 100: returned May 20 with its final season. There are rumors of a spinoff. I kind of like it as well as the other YA sci-fi series Pandora which is returning much to my surprise. It’s not great but it’s okay.
  • All-American, Charmed, Dynasty, Legacies, Nancy Drew, Riverdale, Roswell New Mexico, Whose Line Is It Anyway all renewed but I don’t watch.
  • Penn & Teller: Fool Us returning and I’m very happy.
  • Katy Keene I think this is a spinoff from some other CW show that I never watch. It will not be back.

Cable Channels

Here is the link to the page that is the basis for these listings.

Obviously neither I nor my source TV Line can cover every cable TV show. This is just a sampling.

AMC

  • Better Call Saul — I’m behind but I plan to catch up for its 6th and final season.
  • Dispatches from Elsewhere season 1 began April 27 and it looked like it was not intended to be multi-season. Bizarre yet interesting show with a very unsatisfying final episode. No word on its future. The Terror also is a one season at a time kind of show that if it returns will be a totally new premise as was the second season. No word yet.
  • McMafia and NOS4A2 renewed but I don’t watch.
  • Lodge 49 was a fun quirky show that will not be back for season 3 and I probably really won’t miss it. But it had its moments.
  • Fear The Walking Dead returns for season 6 October 11. The Walking Dead will have its postponed season 10 finale October 4 to be followed by 6 additional episodes. Renewed for season 11. New spinoff series The Walking Dead: World beyond premieres October 4 and is scheduled to only run 2 seasons

Audience

I never heard of this network. No surprise then it ceased operations sometime this spring.

BBC America

  • Doctor Who season 12 started March 1. Sure thing for renewal but no date yet.
  • Killing Eve award-winning show renewed for season 4 and I can’t wait.

Cartoon Network

  • Rick and Morty — season 4 aired May 31 and has been renewed. I know it’s a geek favorite but I never watched it and don’t think I would like it.

Cinemax

The network is no longer producing original programming. Jett season 1 finale was August 9, 2019. Strike Back series finale was April 17. Warrior renewed and will premier this fall.

Comedy Central

  • Awkwafina is Nora from Queens, Drunk History, The Other Two renewed as well as season 26 of South Park. I don’t watch any of them.
  • Corporate season finale was July 22 and I never watched.

Epix

  • Deep State and Get Shorty no word yet but I hope they are renewed.
  • Pennyworth will be back for season 2 and I’m anxiously awaiting.

FX & FXX

  • American Crime Story season 3 will be the impeachment of Bill Clinton
  • American Horror Story renewed through season 13 with a spinoff ordered. Will be American Horror Stories (plural) it will be individual episodes instead of a season long story.
  • Atlanta, Breeders, Mr. Inbetween, Pose, Taboo, Snowfall all renewed but I don’t watch. Also Better Things is renewed and I’ve always wanted to see it but never had time.
  • Fargo season 4 is delayed but will be coming. Mixed feelings about it. Some seasons are good. Others not so much.
  • Mayans M.C. renewed for season 3 and I can’t wait.
  • What We Do in the Shadows my roommate Josh is happy season 3 is coming but I never watched it. It’s a vampire comedy series.
  • Archer season 11 premiered in September. No word on 12. I hope so.
  • It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia renewed for season 15. Tried it once and thought it was terrible but it must be popular to survive that long.

HBO

  • Barry, Perry Mason, and Westworld all renewed and I’m very happy.
  • Avenue 5 renewed. I watched a couple and it had a bizarre quirky charm. I made binge the rest or let it go. Not sure yet. His Dark Materials renewed by haven’t seen it but I intend to go back and binge.
  • Betty, A Black Lady Sketch Show, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Euphoria, Gentleman Jack, Insecure, My Brilliant Friend, The Righteous Gemstones, Succession all renewed but I don’t watch.
  • Game of Thrones series ended as scheduled. Prequel series scheduled for 2022. Silicon Valley ended as scheduled. I should have watched but didn’t.
  • Room 104, Ballers both canceled but I never watched. “Run” was fun for 9 episodes and then fizzled in the finale. Also will not be back.

History

  • Knightfall and Project Blue Book canceled. Only watched the first. Not bad but I won’t miss it.
  • Vikings second half of final season 6 with no premier date. Spinoff series ordered Netflix.

Nickelodeon

  • SpongeBob SquarePants renewed for season 13. Never seen it.

Paramount Network

  • Yellowstone board me to death after one episode but has been renewed for season 4.

Pop TV

I never heard of this network until recently. Flack canceled but moving to Amazon Prime. One Day at a Time previously on Netflix will have season 4 here date undetermined. Schitt’s Creek much nominated comedy series by Eugene Levy ended April 7

Showtime

  • The Affair finale was November 3, 2019. Always wanted to watch it but never got around to it after several seasons.
  • Billions I’m a season behind but happy it is returning even though no dates yet.
  • Homeland not coming back but it had run its course. It was good while it lasted.

    Penny Dreadful: City of Angels was one of the best new dramas this year. No word on renewal but I really hope it is coming back

  • Back to Life, Black Monday, City on a Hill, On Becoming a God in Central Florida, Work in Progress All renewed but I don’t watch.
  • The L Word: Generation Q coming back but not as good as the original.
  • Shameless renewed for final season without Fiona

Starz

  • American Gods and Outlander have both been renewed and I’m very happy.
  • The Girlfriend Experience, Hightown, P-Valley renewed but I never watch them.

SyFy Channel

  • Killjoys ended September 20, 2019 and I will really miss it
  • The Magicians indent April 1 and I will really miss it
  • Vagrant Queen ended June 4 I never watched
  • Van Helsing — I watched a couple of seasons but it wasn’t that good in the long run. Season 5 upcoming will be the last.
  • Wynonna Earp season 4 just premiered July 26. I watch the first episode of season 1 and really liked it but have not had time to go back and get caught up. I didn’t realize I was so far behind.

TBS

  • American Dad for seasons 17 and 18. Never watched it.
  • The Last O.G. season 3 ended June 9. No word on future season.
  • Miracle Workers this bizarre offbeat comedy with Steve Buscemi and Daniel Radcliffe finish season 2. I would be surprised if it came back. No word yet.

TNT

  • The Alienist season 2 premiered July 19 and has been excellent.
  • Animal Kingdom season 5 coming. I never watched. It’s not a nature show by the way.
  • Claws renewed for final season 4. Never watched it.
  • Snowpiercer excellent new sci-fi show renewed for season 2 and I can’t wait.

TruTV

  • At Home with Amy Sedaris season 3 finished July 22. No word. Never watched.
  • I’m Sorry renewed for season 3. Never heard of it.
  • Tacoma FD it says season 2 resumed July 23. Never heard of it.

USA Network

  • Briarpatch canceled after one season. I kind of liked it.
  • Dirty John previously on Bravo season 2 finished July 14. I heard it was popular but I never saw it.
  • Mr. Robot really bizarre surrealistic sci-fi that I liked. Officially ended December 22, 2019. I still need to binge the final season.
  • The Purge has been purged. I watched one or two and it didn’t appeal to me.
  • Queen of the South renewed for season 5. Never saw it.
  • The Sinner on very happy and has been for season 4. Interesting twist on a procedural cop show. You know from the beginning whodunit. The question is why.
  • Suits ended after 9 seasons. I will mess it.
  • Pearson spinoff from Suits was pretty good but canceled after one season.
  • Treadstone loosely based on the Bourne books and movies. It was okay but it only lasts one season.

Streaming Services

Again obviously we can’t cover everything and I’m not going to even cover everything that TV Line covered. Here is the link to their page if you want more detail.

Amazon Prime

  • Bosch we need for final 7. I’ve heard good things about it but never had a chance to watch.
  • The Boys season 2 starts September 4. Already renewed for season 3. I intend to catch up.
  • Carnival Row renewed for season 2. I intend to check it out.
  • The Expanse formally on SyFy Channel one of the best sci-fi shows out there. Happy to hear its renewed for season 5.
  • Flack previously on Pop TV renewed for season 2. Never seen it.
  • Fleabag award-winning comedy season 2 released in May now on indefinite hiatus but I guess it will probably be back. Haven’t seen it yet but it is on my must-see list from everything I’ve heard.
  • Goliath renewed for final season 4. Never watched it.
  • Hannah renewed for season 3. I may go back and check it out.
  • Homecoming season 2 released May 22. No further word. On my list to check out.
  • Hunters season 1 released February 21 no word. Also on my list.
  • The Man in the High Castle officially ended November 15 after several seasons. I heard great things but never got around to it.
  • The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel renewed for season 4 and we are very very happy. Excellent comedy.
  • Modern Love renewed for season. Never heard of it.
  • Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan renewed for season 3. Haven’t seen it but it’s on my must-see list.
  • Undone renewed for season 2. Amazing animated drama using a strange rotoscoping animation technique. Really liked the first season although it was kind of strange. I’m surprised but pleased will be back. Kind of messes your mind in a fun way.
  • Upload relatively new sci-fi series about a digital afterlife. I’ve heard good things but haven’t seen it yet. Renewed for season 2.

Apple TV +

  • Amazing Stories first season released April 3. No word on renewal. I was kind of disappointed in this reboot.
  • Central Park and Dickinson both renewed for season 2. I know nothing about them.
  • For All Mankind this alternate history of the Apollo era of space travel is absolutely awesome. Very happy it will come back for season 2. Highly recommended.
  • Home before Dark a cute family-friendly show about an eight-year-old girl who is an investigative reporter. I really enjoyed it and it will be back for season 2.
  • The Morning Show despite the fact that it stars Jennifer Aniston and Steve Carell this is a very serious drama about a morning news program. One of the most amazing explorations of the #MeToo issues. Highly recommended and it will be back for season 2.
  • Mythic Quest: Raven’s Banquet workplace comedy about video game developers. It will be back for season 2. Never watched it.
  • See — an interesting post-apocalyptic action show starring Jason Momoa. Not the greatest but I liked it. It will be back and I look forward to it.
  • Servant creepy horror series from M. Night Shyamalan. I intended to check it out but never got around to it. It will be back for season 2.
  • Truth Be Told never heard of it but it will be back for season 2.

CBS All Access

  • The Good Fight renewed for season 5. One of the best dramas on TV. On its own worth the price of subscribing.
  • Interrogation a CIA comedy starring David Schwimmer just premiered February 6. Haven’t seen it.
  • Star Trek Discovery season 3 premieres October 15 and I can’t wait. Must-see for Star Trek fans.
  • Star Trek Picard season 2 has been ordered. The first season started off kind of slow but ended with wonderfully. Looking forward to more.
  • Star Trek Lower Decks premieres August 6. Animated comedy about minor characters aboard the Enterprise. The previews look really cheesy. I’m not impressed.
  • Star Trek: Strange New World a spinoff from Discovery starring Anson Mount as Capt. Christopher Pike. I’m really looking forward to this. The characters from this war prominent in season 2 of Discovery. Listed as in preproduction. No target date yet.
  • The Twilight Zone this reboot by Jordan Peele had season 2 released June 25. The first season was kind of up and down. Some episodes were great others not so much. Haven’t had time to check out the new season. No word on a third.
  • Why Women Kill renewed for season 2 but I haven’t seen it.

DC Universe

  • Doom Patrol also available on HBO Max. Season 2 ends August 6. Heard good things but I haven’t seen it yet.
  • Harley Quinn season 2 released June 26. Just okay animated series. Only watched about half of season 1 but I will probably go back.
  • Stargirl season one started here on DC Universe and then repeated on CW network. Season 2 moves exclusively to CW. Haven’t seen it yet but intend to catch up.
  • Titans I’ve heard good things but haven’t seen it yet. Renewed for season 3.
  • Young Justice: Outsiders renewed for season 4. I don’t know anything about it.

Disney+

Probably apart from Netflix the best streaming service for your money featuring all of Star Wars, all of Marvel comics, all of Disney, and National Geographic.

  • Diary of a Future President renewed for season 2. I’ve not seen it.
  • High School Musical: The Musical:The Series — Really? It takes 2 colons? Season 2 premieres in the fall 2020. Not interested.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars excellent animated Star Wars series you can binge all seasons. Series finale was on May 4
  • The Mandalorian absolutely awesome live-action Star Trek series. I’m very happy it will be back for season 2. Also check out EXCELLENT documentary “Disney Gallery: Star Wars: The Mandalorian” which gives amazing insight into the creative process and the technology of this wonderful series. If you love behind-the-scenes insight into filmmaking and storytelling even if you are not a Star Wars fan this is a great view.

Hulu

I’m definitely not commenting on all of these. Check out the link above for more info.

  • Castle Rock based on Stephen King material season 2 was December 11. No word on more. I’ve heard good things but haven’t seen it.
  • The Handmaid’s Tale absolutely amazing future history social sci-fi season 4 premieres in 2021. Absolute must-see. I can’t wait.
  • Marvel’s Runaways teen action drama officially ended December 13. I really enjoyed it.
  • The Orville moved here from Fox. Season 3 will be late this year and I really am looking forward to it. Very funny yet sometimes serious set in a Star Trek like setting.

Netflix

Again my list is only a partial list of those covered by TV Line and they don’t cover everything on Netflix. I don’t even think Netflix knows everything that’s on Netflix 🙂

  • 13 Reasons Why somewhat controversial series about teen suicide officially ended due to 5
  • Altered Carbon interesting sci-fi series I watched about half of the first season and intend to finish. Season 2 premiered February 27. No update.
  • Arrested Development season 5 released March 2019 on indefinite by you this.
  • Black Mirror bizarre sci-fi anthology season 5 released June 5. No word on updates.
  • Cobra Kai spinoff of the Karate Kid previously on YouTube renewed for season 3.
  • The Crown be needed for allegedly final season 6 although they have recently hinted it could be extended to 7.
  • Dead to Me renewed for final season 3
  • Fuller House series finale June 2.
  • GLOW renewed for final season 4
  • Grace and Frankie excellent comedy with Lily Tomlin and Jane Fonda renewed for final season 7
  • The Kominski Method award-winning comedy starring Michael Douglas renewed for final season 13
  • Locke & Key interesting fantasy series renewed for season 2. I’ve heard good things but haven’t seen it.
  • Lost in Space excellent family action sci-fi story will return for final season 3 in 2021. I can’t wait.
  • Lucifer moved here from Fox season 5a premieres always 21st renewed for final season 6. A favorite of mine.
  • Messiah not coming back but it looks like a one season miniseries to me.
  • MindHunter season 2 releases last August listed as on indefinite hiatus. I’ve heard good things.
  • Raising Dion show about a kid with superpowers. I’ve heard good things but haven’t seen. Renewed for season 2
  • Stranger Things probably the most popular show on Netflix I’ve never seen. Renewed for season 4
  • The Umbrella Academy offbeat superhero show that I enjoy renewed for season 2
  • YOU a nominated crime drama renewed for season 3

Peacock

  • AP Bio moved here from NBC season 3 premieres September 3
  • Brave New World based on the classic book season 1 premiered July 15. No updates yet.

That’s all folks. In a few days I will try to post info about upcoming new series but keep in mind the pandemic is going to have the schedule very much in flux.

After More Than a Year Hiatus… An Entertainment News Blog.

It’s been over a year since I did an entertainment news blog. Much of this is out of date and will probably be lots of obituaries but I’m going to go through the RSS feeds of all my entertainment new sites and try to get caught up before the new TV season starts. Assuming it does start. I hope to find out in writing this what the status is on whether or not production can resume in the face of the pandemic.

I was going to include my usual links to the list of renewed and canceled TV shows but I’m going to do that in a separate blog with my reaction to some of them.

Usually at this point I mentioned movies that I’ve seen recently. But the last movie I went to once “The Joker” which was wonderful. I look forward to getting back to movies sometime soon once the virus runs its course. In the links below here are some articles of interest.

Miscellaneous Entertainment News Bits

  • Kayla Compton who plays Allegra Garcia on “The Flash” has been promoted to series regular for season 7
  • Disney+ is developing a prequel series to “Beauty and the Beast” featuring Josh Gad as LaFou and Luke Evans as Gaston.
  • Televangelist Jim Baker was ordered by the Atty. Gen. of New York to stop something fake coronavirus cures. Why are we not surprised?
  • Led Zeppelin won it’s copyright lawsuit over “Stairway to Heaven”.
  • Disney will release a Peter Jackson documentary about the Beatles currently scheduled for September but who knows?
  • Movie producer and sexual predator Harvey Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for rape. While in prison he contracted Corona Virus.
  • Disney’s “Song of the South” will not be added to Disney+ even with a disclaimer about its outdated racial stereotypes. I understand why but there are still some really nice things about the film like the song “Zippy Due Da”.
  • Amazon prime has ordered to series “Fernando” a biopic about Formula One champion Fernando Alonso
  • Rosario Dawson has been cast as Jedi apprentice Ahsoka Tano in season 2 of “The Mandalorian”. The character has previously appeared in animated Star Wars: the Clone Wars and Star Wars: Rebels but never in a live-action production until now.
  • Jasika Nicole who plays Dr. Carley on “The Good Doctor” will not be a series regular next season.
  • Christopher Melonli will return as Ellie Stabler in a “Law & Order: SVU” spinoff series for NBC. Series ordered 13 episodes for now.
  • In case you missed it, Disney+ has an eight part documentary about its hit series “The Mandalorian”. Search for “Disney Gallery: Star Wars The Mandalorian”.
  • As expected there will be a film version of “The Hunger Games” prequel “The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes”. The book was released May 19, 2020. No word on when the movie will start production or potential release dates.
  • Disney announced “Hercules” will be the next of its animated films be made in a live-action version. This will be directed by Joe and Anthony Russo known for directing Avengers films.
  • There will be a new “Transformers” movie in 2022
  • There will be another Star Trek spinoff series on CBS All Access. Called “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds” it will feature Spock, Capt. Pike and Rebecca Romin as “Number One”.
  • FX sitcom “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia” has been renewed for a record-breaking 15th season. It is now officially the longest running live-action comedy in TV history surpassing “Ozzie and Harriet” at 14 seasons. Note this is live-action. “The Simpsons” will begin its 30th season in the fall.
  • FX has ordered new series “American Horror Stories” (note its plural the original AHS is singular). This will be a similar anthology show but each story will only run one episode.
  • “The Bachelor” casts its first African-American bachelor
  • NBC’s provisional fall schedule has only one new show a Law & Order spinoff.
  • After the controversy of Jimmy Fallon wearing black face in a 2000 SNL skit (see link below), Tina Fey has asked streaming platforms to pull several “30 Rock” episodes that had white characters in blackface.
  • “The Simpsons” will no longer use white actors as voices of nonwhite characters. Kristin Bell is withdrawing her voice and animated show where she played a mixed race character.
  • Disney+ version of “Hamilton” has 2 “f-bombs” edited out.
  • Javicia Leslie will be the new “Batwoman” replacing Ruby Rose who left the series at the end of the first season. She will play completely different character takes up the identity of Batwoman.
  • “The Masked Singer” will have a spinoff titled “The Masked Dancer”. No word on when it will begin.
  • Ozzy Osbourne announced in January that he has Parkinson’s disease
  • PS4 videogame “The Last of Us” will be made into a series for HBO
  • Although Netflix previously announced “The Crown” would end in season 5 they have now confirmed it will be extended to season 6
  • Tom Bergeron and Erin Andrews will not return as hosts of “Dancing with the Stars”. No replacement yet named.

Obituaries

These obituaries are not in any particular order. They are really an order I discovered them my RSS feeds and because of a weird glitch they are not always chronological even though I keep my feed allegedly sorted by date. When the feed gets really full it sometimes gets out of order.

  • Roscoe Born soap opera star from “The Young and the Restless” and “All My Children” age 69.
  • Nicholas Tucci who started in Syfy Channel’s “Channel Zero” age 38 of cancer
  • Danny Tidwell was a finalist on “So You Think You Can Dance” age 35 auto accident
  • Mark Crowley playwright of “Boys in the Band” age 84
  • Max Von Sydow known for “The Exorcist” and as Emperor Ming in “Flash Gordon” and as the original Three Eyed Raven in “Game of Thrones”. Age 90
  • Comic book artist Allen Bellman who did early versions of Capt. America age 95
  • Lorenzo Brino child star will who appeared in CW’s “7th Heaven” age 21 auto accident
  • Country Music Icon Kenny Rogers age 81
  • Terrence McNally Tony award-winning playwright. Age 81 Covid 19
  • The pet dog from “Modern Family” and one of the Inuit Husky dogs that appeared as a Direwolf in “Game of Thrones”
  • John Callahan soap opera star of “All My Children” and “Santa Barbara” age 66 of a stroke
  • Krzystof Penderecki modernist composer whose work appeared in the soundtrack of “The Exorcist” and “The Shining” age 86
  • Country music star Joe Diffie age 61 Covid 19
  • David Schramm best known for playing Roy Biggins in the TV series “Wings” age 73 no cause listed
  • Songwriter Alan Merrill who wrote “I Love Rock ‘n’ Roll” age 69 Covid 19
  • Andrew Jack dialect coach and actor who appeared in 2 Star Wars films age 79 Covid 19
  • Grammy-winning soul singer/songwriter Bill Withers age 81 heart disease
  • 16-year-old actor Nolan Williams played the young version of “The Flash” in 8 episodes of the CW series. Fentanyl overdose.
  • Rebecca Ramsey produced visual effects on Watchmen, Spider-Man 3 and others age 54 complications of a fall.
  • Tom Dempsey NFL placekicker who held the field-goal record for 43 years age 73
  • Actress Shirley Douglas mother of Kiefer Sutherland age 86 pneumonia
  • Honor Blackman played “Pussy Galore” in the James Bond film “Goldfinger” age 94 natural causes
  • James Drury of the NBC long-running question series “The Virginian” age 85
  • John Prine country folk singer/songwriter age 73
  • Hal Willner music producer for SNL age 64 Covid 19
  • Danny Goldman the voice of Brainy Smurf and actor in “Young Frankenstein” age 80
  • Brian Dennehy — Tony and Golden Globe winning Emmy nominated actor age 81 natural causes
  • Allen Daviau cinematographer for “ET: The Extraterrestrial” age 77 Covid 19
  • Matthew Seligman bass player for David Bowie and member of the group “Camera Club” age 64 Covid 19
  • Jerry Stiller comedian, actor, Seinfeld star and father of Ben Stiller age 92.
  • Frank Bielic Designer for TLC’s “Trading Spaces” age 77
  • Fred Willard comedian and frequent costar on a variety of sitcoms as well as the comedy series “Fernwood 2 Night” age 86
  • Phyllis George former Miss America, NFL sportscaster, TV host age 70
  • Ken Osmond who played Eddie Haskell on “Leave It to Beaver” age 76
  • Jimmy Cobb legendary jazz drummer age 91
  • Character actor Richard Herd roles included Mr. Wilhelm on “Seinfeld” and a number of Star Trek characters in various series. Age 87.
  • Larry Kramer playwright and AIDS activist age 84
  • Dennis O’Neill comic book writer for both Marble and DC age 81
  • Joel Schumacher director of “St. Elmo’s Fire” and 2 “Batman” movies age 80
  • Charlie Webb author of the novel “The Graduate” age 81
  • Nick Cordero a Tony nominated actor age 41 Covid 19
  • Carol Lynley actors who played ship singer in “Poseidon Adventure” age 77
  • Cokie Roberts journalist and political commentator age 75 breast cancer
  • Robert Evans producer of “Chinatown” and “Godfather” age 89
  • Brian Tarantina who played Jackie in The Marvelous Mrs. Maeisel age 60
  • Ron Leibman who played Rachel’s father in “Friends” age 82
  • Caroll Spinney “Big Bird” and “Oscar the Grouch” puppeteer age 85
  • Danny Aiello character actor age 86
  • Chuy Bravo sidekick to Chelsea Handler on her talkshow age 63
  • Don Imus controversial talk radio host. Age 79
  • Syd Mead futuristic artist that gave the “Blade Runner” movies their distinctive look. Age 86
  • Jack Sheldon jazz singer famous for “Schoolhouse Rock”. Age 88
  • Buck Henry comedian, cocreator of “Get Smart” and frequent SNL appearances. Age 89
  • Neil Peart drummer and lyricist for the rock group “Rush”. Age 67
  • Terry Jones of “Monty Python”. Age 77
  • Jean Reynolds cocreated “MASH” and “Lou Grant”. Age 96
  • Kirk Douglas legendary actor. Age 103
  • Orson Bean actor, comedian, raconteur and frequent guest of Johnny Carson. Age 91
  • Robert Conrad star of “The Wild Wild West” and “Black Sheep Squadron”. Age 84
  • John Singleton director of “Boyz N The Hood”. Age 51. Stroke.
  • Doris Day legendary actress. Age 97
  • Tim Conway comedian and regular on Carol Burnett show. Age 85
  • Max Wright who played Willie Tanner on “ALF”. Age 75
  • Rip Torn Emmy-winning character actor. Age 88
  • Lynn Cohen who played Magda on “Sex and the City”. Age 86
  • Ja’net DuBois who played Willona Woods on “Good Times”. Age 74
  • Lee Philip Bell cocreator of soap operas “Y&R” and “B&B”. Age 91
  • James Lipton host of “Inside the Actors Studio”. Age 93
  • Naya Rivera former star of “Glee”. Age 33. Drowning
  • Ronald L. Schwar Oscar-winning producer of “Ordinary People”. Age 76
  • Benjamin Kerough son of Lisa Marie Presley and grandson of Elvis. Age 27
  • Kelly Preston actress and wife of John Travolta. Age 57. Cancer
  • Grant Imahara for more MythBusters star. Age 41. Brain aneurysm
  • Regis Philbin iconic TV host. Age 88
  • Olivia de Havilland golden age actress appeared in “Gone with the Wind”. Age 104
  • Malik B. Founding member of “The Roots”. Age 47
  • Maurice “Reese” Schonfeld founder of CNN and “The Food Network”. Age 88.

Pandemic Delays and Cancellations

An incomplete list of shows, films and events canceled or postponed due to the pandemic.

  • Link to an article at TV Line listing TV shows that have been suspended or delayed because of the virus pandemic.
    https://tvline.com/feature/cancelled-tv-shows-list-coronavirus-production-delays-1171349/
    Also this article https://tvline.com/gallery/coronavirus-tv-delays-cancellations/coronavirus-effect-contests/
    Note that these may not have been updated with the most current information. We will mention other items as we discovered them.
  • Survivor has indefinitely delayed production on season 41 and 42. Although survivor seasons premier six months apart, they are actually filmed with only about a month off in between.
  • Various entertainment festivals such as SXSW and PaleyFest and CinemaCon and TCM Classic Film Festival
  • “A Quiet Place II” release delayed
  • Ridley Scott film “The Last Dual” production delayed before it started.
  • Disney films “Little Mermaid”, “Home Alone”, “Nightmare Alley” and others as well as TV pilots production indefinitely postponed
  • Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall Of Fame induction ceremony for 2020. Rescheduled for November.
  • Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune will resume filming with safety measures in place
  • The 2020 Primetime Emmys will be a virtual event.

Links to Articles of Interest

Follow-up On Previous Reviews and Looking Ahead

Those of you who know me, know how addicted I am to TV. I have a list of entertainment websites that I frequent to get caught up on all the latest entertainment news. For a long time every time I would see an interesting article I would email a link to my friends but pretty soon I was sending lots of emails. I changed my policy and started putting together longer emails with lots of links and lots of other entertainment news items that were a sentence or two long and not really worth a link. I was sending it perhaps once a month to about eight or nine people. Finally I decided in February 2012 to open this entertainment blog and then post the link to Facebook where more people could read it. I also periodically post my reviews of new TV shows and last year I made a serious attempt to review every new show but I wasn’t able to keep up.

I just looked at my last entertainment news update blog was in March 2019 over a year ago. I have posted quite a few reviews since that time and even added a new section of YouTube channel reviews. You can expect more YouTube reviews sometime soon.

I’m going to try to get caught up on some entertainment news and post a blog. It’s probably going to take days to go through my RSS feeds of all my websites. My RSS reader only saves about 8000 articles and I’m sure it has overflowed several times in more than a year. So much of the “news” will be old news. It will probably consists of lots of obituaries. But I would like to get caught up while everything is on hiatus because of the pandemic. When TV production finally does start anew then I will be caught up and ready to go.

As I was scrolling back to previous articles I thought perhaps I would take a quick moment to give you an update on all of the shows that I previously reviewed. The big entertainment news article will probably take me a week or more to prepare. Here’s a follow-up on all of the reviews I’ve written in the past year and a half.

“Gone” Will Be Gone Soon but Plot Twists Save It from Being Just Another Police Consultant Show

I really liked this short series. It’s a shame they didn’t make more of them. In my review I said it was a one and done and it was.

“Witches” Should Be Left Undiscovered

Apparently this BBC America series “A Discovery of Witches” was more well received by the audience then it was me. According to IMDb it was renewed for seasons 2 and 3 although neither one has premiered yet or has a premiere date. I still say it’s a hard pass.

New “Twilight Zone” Might Make CBS All Access Worth It

The Jordan Peele reboot of “The Twilight Zone” had a rather uneven first season. Some of the episodes I thought were brilliant while others were just so-so. It was fun to try to spot all of the Easter eggs in each episode. There were YouTube videos that helps you spot them. Season 2 has already premiered but I haven’t had a chance to watch it yet. It’s high on my to-do list.

Bob Hearts is a Weak Reboot of Mike without Molly

Apparently the audience ❤s “Bob ❤s Abishola” better than I did. It was a reasonably big hit for CBS and has been renewed for season 2.

“All Rise” has Potential to Give Shondaland Competition

CBS legal drama “All Rise” was okay and I rated it “recommended watchable” but I never did watch anything beyond the first couple of episodes. I decided I liked the Jimmy Smits legal drama “Bluff City Law”. Sadly Bluff didn’t get renewed but “All Rise” will be back next season. I doubt I will pick it up.

“Mixed-ish” is Funny and More Poignant than Its Parent “Black-ish”

“mixed-ish” did really well and was extended for a full season of 23 episodes and has been renewed for next season. Sadly I did not have time to watch more than a couple of the first episodes but I intend to go back and binge sometime. I still recommend it as the only new sitcom worth watching in the past year.

“Emergence” Might Emerge On Top of a Overdone Premise

I really liked this take on an old concept that I described as “overdone”. I managed to watch almost half of the episodes and I do plan to finish it someday. Unfortunately it is a one and done with only 13 episodes made. I don’t know how much of a cliffhanger they might have left or if they resolved the story but it did not get renewed.

“Carol’s Second Act” Can’t Compete with her Previous Work

As predicted “Carol” isn’t going to get a third act. It made it to 18 episodes but did not get renewed.

“Prodigal Son” is a Hannibal Ripoff but it Works

I highly recommended “Prodigal Son” after just one episode and it did not disappoint in the remaining 19 episodes. Although IMDb doesn’t show it is renewed, TV Line says it has been and I’m really looking forward to more. A good one to binge on demand.

“Stumptown” is Mildly Entertaining but Nothing Special

Although I only watched a couple of episodes, I kind of liked it but never did get around to finishing it. Maybe I will binge it before season 2 starts.

“Almost Family” is Almost Worthless

Apparently I was right. 13 episodes with no renewal. This was really a stinker.

“Sunnyside” Celebrates Incompetent Politicians

I called this correctly also. 13 and done with no renewal.

“Batwoman” is a Worthy Edition to the Arrowverse

I didn’t get to watch much of this but what I saw I liked and I will definitely finish it off eventually. Much to everyone’s surprise, at the end of the successful first season, the title star actress Ruby Rose decided to quit. Next season there will be a new actress playing a new character who will take up the mantle of Batwoman. While some people say on-set injuries played a part in her decision, she insists she just didn’t want to play the role anymore. No controversy but lots of speculation.

“The Unicorn” Verifies Walton Goggins Can Do Anything

I gave this a “Recommended Watchable” which means I thought it was pretty good but would not watching it myself. That was true. I never went beyond the opening couple of episodes but the audience liked all 18 enough that it will be back next year.

“Deputy” is Nothing Special

The audience agreed. 13 and done with no renewal.

“For All Mankind” is almost worth subscribing to Apple TV+

I loved every episode of this and cannot wait for its return. HIGHLY recommended even if you aren’t a sci-fi fan. It’s a really richly drawn alternate history of the space program.

Fans of Dystopian Action Should See “See”

I really like this new series although it did fizzle a little bit towards the end I am looking forward to a new season. Not worth subscribing to Apple TV+ but if you have it, and are in need of some post-apocalyptic fun action then my recommendation persists “See See”.

“The Mandalorian” Is the Best Star Wars Since “The Empire Strikes Back”

I stand by my original assessment and the audience agrees. It was a huge hit and the fans went nuts over the “Baby Yoda” character. EVERYONE is highly anticipating its return. One confession however… I’ve never seen a bad Star Wars movie or series. I liked all nine of the movies in the Skywalker series even the final three. I also liked Solo which didn’t do well at the box office. But I think I’m in the majority on liking this one. By the way there are rumors that Lucas/Disney is considering disowning the final three Star Wars movies saying they are not officially part of canon and would be relegated to the noncanonical “Legends” series. More if I hear anything. Disney+ remains the best value in streaming.

Would You Recognize Jesus If He Arrived Today? “Messiah” on Netflix Seeks the Answer.

This was definitely intended as a one season miniseries. If you’ve not seen it, definitely check it out. I’m surprised there wasn’t more hype or even controversy about it. Apparently the religious right never discovered it.

“The Morning Show” Best New Drama of the Year — Says Me

I stand by my glowing review of this highly nominated series. It will be back and I can’t wait to see what they do next.

“Star Trek: Picard” Shows Great Promise

The first episode was wonderful. The next five or so were real yawners. But it finished very strong. If you gave up on this one after a couple of episodes, give it another try. It will be back for a second season.

“Devs” is a Creepy Reflection on the Nature of Reality.

This one kept me on the edge of my seat for the full 8 episodes. However it finished kind of flat. I wasn’t satisfied with the ending but it was a fun ride while it lasted. A very thought-provoking series about the nature of reality and free will. This was definitely a one-shot miniseries and will not be back.

After that review back in March any blogs since then have been about my favorite YouTube channels. I had hoped to post more of those perhaps on a weekly basis but I got tied up with different maker projects (which pay me and this doesn’t) so I got away from that. Look for a big wrapup entertainment news here and about a week and more YouTube reviews soon after that.

Is Broadcast TV Dead? — Part 3 the 2020 Emmy Nominations

Last year I posted 2 blogs asking the question “Is Broadcast TV Dead”. I looked at the fact that little or no broadcast TV shows were nominated for other Golden Globes or Screen Actors Guild Awards.

Is Broadcast TV Dead?

Is Broadcast TV Dead? Part 2.

Today the Emmy nominations were announced. Here are the results.

Streaming 66 nominations. Premium Cable 30 nominations. Basic Cable 20 nominations. Broadcast TV 30 nominations.

Although that looks better than the Golden Globe Awards or the Screen Actors Guild Awards for which I previously reported, the Emmy awards have many more categories including guest actors and actresses as well as reality shows. Broadcast TV earned 18 of its 30 nominations in those categories. Keep in mind that streaming and premium services generally do not produce reality or competition shows. Broadcast TV was completely shut out from Made-For-TV Movies and Limited Series.

Broadcast shows were led by SNL 8, The Good Place 5, This Is Us 3, black-ish 2, How to Get Away with Murder 1, Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Modern Family 1, other reality competition shows 4, variety shows 2.

NBC crushed the competition with 20 nominations, ABC had 6 and CBS and Fox had one each.

Showtime got a nomination for Don Cheadle as Lead Actor in a Comedy for “Black Monday” however all 31 other premium cable nominations went to HBO. Cinemax no longer produces original programming. Starz, The Movie Channel, and Epix were shut out.

Netflix crushed streaming competition with 36 out of 66 nominations. Hulu had 13. Amazon Prime had 10, eight of which were for “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”. Disney+ add 2 for “The Mandalorian”. Apple TV+ had 5 for “The Morning Show”.

On basic cable, Pop TV had 5 nominations for Canadian produced show “Schitt’s Creek”. BBC America had 3 all for “Killing Eve”. FX 2, Bravo 3, VH1 had 2, Comedy Central 2, TBS 1.

I counted at least 4 series which were nominated in their final year: “The Good Place”, “Modern Family”, “Schitt’s Creek”, and “How to Get Away with Murder”.

TV ratings and award nominations do not seem to show any correlation. For example hit reality series “America’s Got Talent” did not get nominated. On the other hand most of you have ever heard of Pop TV and “Schitt’s Creek” yet it got 5 nominations.

Here is a link to the complete list of nominees provided by TV Line.
https://tvline.com/2020/07/28/2020-emmy-nominations-list-awards/

Here is a table I created summarizing the breakdown between streaming, premium cable, basic cable, and broadcast TV

Category Streaming Premium Basic Broadcast
Outstanding Drama 5 1 2 0
Lead Actor Drama 2 2 1 1
Lead Actress Drama 3 2 1 0
Supporting Actress Drama 3 3 1 0
Supporting Actor Drama 3 4 1 0
Guest Actress Drama 2 2 0 2
Guess Actor Drama 4 1 0 1
Outstanding Comedy 3 2 2 1
Lead Actress Comedy 3 1 1 1
Lead Actor Comedy 2 1 1 2
Supporting Actress Comedy 3 1 1 3
Supporting Actor Comedy 4 0 1 3
Guest Actress Comedy 2 1 0 3
Guess Actor Comedy 2 0 0 4
Limited Series 4 1 0 0
Made-For-TV Movie 4 1 0 0
Lead Actress Limited Series or Movie 4 1 0 0
Lead Actor Limited Series or Movie 3 2 0 0
Supporting Actress Limited Series or Movie 5 1 0 0
Supporting Actor Limited Series or Movie 3 3 0 0
Reality Show Host 1 0 3 2
Reality Competition Show 1 0 2 2
Variety Sketch Series 0 1 1 1
Variety Talk Series 0 1 2 2
Totals 66 32 20 28

So we ask again “Is broadcast dead?” The answer is “Probably not but it’s not looking good.” HBO and Netflix continue to broaden their nominations with Netflix surpassing HBO for the first time 36-31. If you want to watch the top award-winning TV shows you are going to have to pay for it.

Stephen Denette a modern day Noah? — YouTube channel Acorn to Arabella

Stephen Denette had a dream. He wanted to build a boat and sail it around the world. There were some problems he had to overcome however. He knew nothing about how to build a boat. He’s never been on a sailboat let alone sail one himself. He had only minimal savings and no way to fund his project. But he didn’t let that stop him. On April 23, 2016 he and his friend Alix Kreder uploaded their first video to a channel called “Acorn to Arabella“.

Many people thought that Stephen was crazy for taking on such a project. The boat was to be built in rural western Massachusetts more than 100 miles from the ocean. It would be built in the front yard of his family’s property where he grew up with three generations of his family members. The property is several acres of woods including white oak and pine. He would harvest the wood from the family property, mill it himself using borrowed or rented sawmills, and would be built using some tools handed down to him from his great-great-grandfather. The title of the channel refers to the fact that some of the trees they are using to build the boat were actually planted by his family generations ago. The oak trees of course originated from an acorn.

Initially he only worked on the projects evenings and weekends while maintaining a full-time job. But eventually quit his job to devote full-time to the boatbuilding project. If you think Stephen is crazy, his partner in the project Alix is close behind. He also quit his job, left his girlfriend, and moved from Maine to Massachusetts to be the videographer for this project. Although he had studied photography in college he had never worked as a professional photographer and had not worked in video prior to taking on this project.

With a little help from Stephen’s grandfather and moral support from their trusty dog Akiva the two set out to take on this enormous project. Although the YouTube channel started in April 2016, there had been years of planning and preparation prior to this. According to this timeline on the website he began studying boatbuilding from books in 2011. In 2014 he began harvesting trees and milling the lumber. In 2015 after much research they decided on the design for the boat and purchased plans to build it in 2016. Alix built the website, purchased video equipment, establish themselves on Patreon and the project was underway.

The Arabella is a double ended ketch designed in 1934 by William Atkin inspired by the work of Colin Archer who was a famous Scottish naval architect and shipbuilder from Larvik Norway. Archer designs were used primarily for fishing vessels on the North Sea and polar expeditions. It will displace 25,000 pounds and has berths for up to 5 people however it can be sailed single handed. It measures 37’6″ on deck with a 32 foot waterline. It will carry 816 sqr.ft. of sail and the frame is built out of white oak with planking made of white oak and white cedar. The deck will be white pine. It will have a stove, refrigerator, and bathroom facilities.

I discovered the channel in January 2018 when the video below went viral with 2.5 million views and begin trending on YouTube. It was the story of how they melted 4.5 tons of lead and poured the keel of this 38 foot wooden sailboat. Note that the YouTube channel opened in April 2016 and here we were some 20 months later and all they had to show for their efforts was a ramshackle boathouse they had built in their front yard and a large pile of milled lumber in the backyard. Pouring the keel was the first visible step that they were actually building a boat.

Today the basic frame of the boat is completed and they have begun planking the exterior and are approximately 30% up the side of the boat. At least now it really looks like a real boat but for years it seemed like progress was moving at a snails pace. Progress is still quite slow as they have faced many obstacles along the way.

Soon after building the boathouse, a building inspector came by to inform them that it was an illegal structure. They had not bothered to seek a building permit. The boathouse is a wooden framework covered in plastic. They had to disassemble the boathouse and reassemble it at a different location on the property. Then years later a different building inspector decided that the plastic roof was a fire hazard and they had to take the roof off of the boathouse, rebuild the roof and cover it with a more suitable material.

Also along the way they have purchased and or received donated equipment such as wood planing machines, band saws, and other woodworking equipment. At one point they purchased a junk sailboat called Victoria that they completely disassembled to salvage brass hardware that would be used on their boat. Although they did salvage some nice mahogany wood from the interior cabin of Victoria that will be reused for Arabella, they discovered that most of Victoria was completely rotted and unusable. They salvaged the engine from Victoria but eventually sold it to another boat builder and purchased a new engine for Arabella.

The channel now boasts 135,000 subscribers and a substantial number of Patreon supporters. A new video comes out every Friday and averages about 100,000 views. Not only are they earning enough revenue to fund the project and their living expenses, they also have hired an assistant to manage things like T-shirt sales, social media posts etc. as well as a video editor to free up time for Alix to shoot the video and work on the boat himself.

From time to time they have work parties where volunteers come to assist them. They currently have scheduled a planking party to help speed up the process of planking the exterior of the boat. On occasion fans have taken a weeks vacation just to go help to work on the boat. They’ve got lots of support from professional shipwrights and other people in the amateur boatbuilding community.

Those community connections also recently led them to do some volunteer work in Costa Rica in support of a shipbuilding project in that country. Along with other New England boatbuilders they gathered up woodworking and blacksmithing tools from fans who donated equipment. It was a all loaded into a cargo container and sent to the Sailcargo project in Costa Rica as explained in this video.

After initially discovering the channel in early 2018, I went back and watched every video from the beginning and I have seen every video on the channel up to date. It was interesting to watch how the video skills of Alix evolved in the early days. The videos produced in the past couple of years are of sufficient professional quality that I’m surprised some cable channel hasn’t offered them their own TV show. They produce a new video about 20 minutes per week. Alix also entered a video in the International Maritime Film Festival in late 2017 and was voted the Audience Favorite award. That video is shown here.

Here is the video that is the story of their trip to the film festival. I also recommend the video below which is a 45 minute interview of the two builders to gives much of the back story of how they got into this project. Although it is a bit long, it is a compelling story that you might enjoy.

In the title of this review I describe Stephen Denette as a modern day Noah. Obviously he isn’t going to be collecting animals 2 by 2 for this project. However seeing this driven individual undertake the monumental task of building a boat from scratch I can’t help but think of such a crazy project without thinking of him as a Noah type who is driven to build a boat against all odds.

I think he shares much in common with Martin Molin of Wintergatan building his Musical Marble Machine that I described in my previous YouTube channel review. Both men have taken on an enormous engineering and building challenges and gone on a personal journey to fulfill a dream of building something special. They both serve as an inspirational example of what an individual can do to fulfill their dreams with lots of hard work and determination.

I obviously recommend you subscribe to the channel and watch a few of their recent videos. I’ve learned a lot more about boatbuilding that I ever thought I would and I’ve been entertained along the way.

Martin’s Marvelous Marble Machine — The Wintergatan YouTube Channel

This is the first in what I hope will be a long series of blog posts highlighting my favorite YouTube channels. Note: you can click on the links in this blog for other related content such as Wikipedia pages and other YouTube videos, channels, and playlists that I chose not to embed in the blog itself.

Today we are going to feature a YouTube channel called Wintergatan that is one of my favorites of all time. It contains about 200 videos and I would speculate that over the past 4 years I’ve watched all of them. Click here for Wintergatan on YouTube.

Who is Wintergatan

Wintergatan is a somewhat obscure Swedish folk electronic band from Gothenburg, Sweden that has only released 1 album and 14 singles. Amazingly they have 1.69 million subscribers and a video that boasts 135 million views. Playing only instrumental music, the band’s ensemble includes vibraphone, synthesizers, theremin, base guitar, drums, and occasionally a typewriter as a rhythm instrument. They also have a homemade music box that uses punched paper tape to play music. Some of their songs are a bit ethereal or mystical sounding but most have a rather upbeat or happy beat to them that makes you want to tap your foot or perhaps clap your hands along with them. Here is a video of a live performance of their song “Starmachine 2000”.

On their channel you will find a playlist of 6 live performances as well as the audio from their entire first album on a separate playlist.

Although they’ve had a presence on YouTube for many years and a small following of fans of their videos and live performances, they would have to admit they are a fairly obscure group.

Enter the Marble Machine

All of that changed in March 2016 when they uploaded a video titled “Wintergatan – Marble Machine (machine instrument using 2000 marbles)” seen below. We suggest you watch it now.

That amazing video has been seen over 135 million times and skyrocketed them from relative obscurity into one of the most popular YouTube channels available. As mentioned before, they now have 1.69 million subscribers and boast over 4000 paid members and Patreon supporters.

For a computer geek like me this amazing Marble Machine is very reminiscent of the “Animusic” computer animations that were popular in the 1990s. In those videos, robotic machines would drop marbles onto musical instruments and play complex melodies. These videos were immensely popular in their day because they were not only interesting visually and musically, they demonstrated the state-of-the-art of computer animation long before companies like Pixar even existed. There videos were sold on VHS and DVD. By the way they do have their own YouTube channel here. It consists of just 11 videos and nothing new has been uploaded in 7 years. However if you’ve never seen one of their videos we recommend “Pipe Dreams” available here.

Back to the real Marble Machine… it was constructed by band member Martin Molin and documented in a series of a few videos between December 2014 and March 2016. Here is a playlist of 14 videos about building the Marble Machine.

The machine was built out of hand cut plywood with a few metal parts and the programming wheels were made out of Lego technics pieces. Martin later admitted that the machine barely worked at all. They struggled to get it to play the now famous “Marble Machine Song” all the way through in order to make that famous video. Although a marvel of handbuilt engineering, it just didn’t have sufficient precision to hold up to repeated performances.

Martin had always had the dream that he could take the Marble Machine on the road and perform with it live on a world tour. It was obvious the machine just wasn’t up to the task. So in January 2017 he endeavored to build a new machine called the “Marble Machine X”. This new machine would still be built mostly of plywood, augmented by some metal frame parts. Rather than hand cutting the pieces, he purchased a computer-controlled CNC router to cut the pieces. The entire machine has been meticulously modeled in Fusion 360 CAD software. It is such a complicated model that it has pushed that software to its very limits. He has even created a video where he consulted with developers from AutoCAD on how to more efficiently use Fusion 360 for such complicated designs.

From January 2017 until now he has created a series of weekly videos that chronicle the building of the new Marble Machine X. It is a weekly series called “Wintergatan Wednesdays”. These construction videos are amazing. They chronicle the daily struggle of trying to design and build and sometimes redesign and rebuild various components of the machine. We journey along with him as he slowly masters CAD design, tig welding, and other fabrication techniques. Here is a playlist of the entire 120 videos titled Building Marble Machine X.

In the past year or so he has brought on board dozens of volunteers to assist with the project. Engineers, designers, fabricators, musical instrument makers, project management specialists, and just plain fans of his work have all stepped up to contribute to the project despite the fact that some speculate the machine will never be finished. Personally I think it will be completed. I would guess he is about 90% complete at this point after over three years of construction. If his promised world tour ever comes to Indianapolis I will definitely be buying a ticket.

The videos present an interesting dichotomy between this lone maker now living in France and working out of his home workshop as well as the team effort of people around the world who have contributed materially and financially to the project.

The videos themselves are extremely entertaining. They are accompanied by his amazing musical compositions and sprinkled with lots of humor. It’s not just some boring videos of a guy assembling pieces of some weird machine. Case in point this week’s video is illustrating the entire path that the marbles take through the machine and how he had to redesign one section because it was unreliable. But the entire video is in the form of a sporting event that he narrates as the marbles race around the machine.

The weekly videos are so popular that they average over one half million views each week. There are also nearly 5000 paid members to his channel and Patreon supporters. Martin released sheet music of a piano version of the Marble Machine Song for free. Fans of the Marble Machine have honored him by making their own cover versions of the famous Marble Machine Song. He put together a video of himself watching these tribute videos and his reaction is quite heartwarming. I can’t imagine what it would mean to a person to have that much fan support and devotion as he spends countless hours alone trying to create the new machine. Here is his reaction video to all of the other Marble Machine tribute videos.

The description of that video includes a link to a playlist of all the tribute videos used in the compilation.

Music Machine Mondays

In addition to all of the videos about building the Marble Machine X, Martin also produced a series of videos called “Music Machine Mondays” in which he tours a number of museums that feature other mechanical music machines. Most of the videos were shot at the Speelklok Museum in the city of Utrecht, Netherlands. Here is a playlist of those videos. It includes someone playing a clock tower carillon version of his Marble Machine Song.

Here’s another collection of 21 fascinating videos from that museum featuring different instruments. Martin recently visited another museum of mechanical musical instruments and promises more upcoming videos in that series.

Final Thoughts

The saga of Wintergatan and Martin Molin is an inspiring story of what one person with an undying vision can accomplish. We see how his singular vision to create this fantastic musical instrument has inspired millions of followers and thousands of contributors who want to see him complete his dream. There are lessons to be learned in his journey. Spend some time watching these videos and I think you will find these videos as entertaining and inspiring as I have.

Introducing My YouTube Favorites

Those who know me know that I’m addicted to TV. I watch way too many TV shows and I get so far behind on watching some of them that I am often nearly one year behind on several shows. I’ve had to create a Google Docs spreadsheet to keep track of which episodes of which shows I’ve seen.

Not only am I addicted to the broadcast networks, cable networks both basic and premium, I also watch streaming services including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon prime, CBS All Access, Apple+ and Disney+.

As if that was not enough, I’m also addicted to YouTube. I currently subscribe to 445 YouTube channels. Obviously that doesn’t mean I watch all of them every day. Many of them only rarely post content. But some of my favorites post new content at least once a week and sometimes several times a week.

With many of us stuck at home oo out of work because of the pandemic, I thought I would do a new feature on my entertainment blog where I would highlight some of my favorite channels. I will try to stay away from niche channels that are closely related to my hobbies such as electronics or 3D printing but I may do one review that gives an overview of my favorite 3D printing channels or favorite maker channels.

Where most people are familiar with YouTube and may occasionally watch a YouTube video posted on Facebook or other social media, my guess is most people don’t really take advantage of all the features of the site that make it easy to keep track of your favorite channels and save links to your favorite videos so that you can show them to friends and family. It’s sort of like that commercial for Goodwill Stores where the guy says “To shop you just need a cart… But to compete you need a strategy!” In this blog post I’m going to give you some instructions on how to get the most out of YouTube. I will describe some of his features just for those who want to watch. How to create and upload videos for YouTube is an entirely different topic that we won’t be handling today.

Everything that we are demonstrating today assumes you are watching YouTube on a computer using a browser. We will be using Google Chrome but the screens should look similar on Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge or whatever you might be using. We will not be describing how to do these things on a phone or tablet because the apps might look different for different platforms and we don’t have access to all of that. We suggest you set things up using a browser and then most of these features should be available on your phone or tablet in some way shape or form.

Creating a Google Account

If you really want to get the most out of watching YouTube, you should create a YouTube account. YouTube is owned by Google so if you already have some sort of Google account then use it to login to YouTube. Examples of Google accounts include a Gmail email account, Google drive storage, Google Play store for purchasing apps for an android phone or tablet. If you don’t already have a Google account it’s easy to create one. If you already have an account you can skip this section.

Start by going to YouTube.com and you will see the YouTube homepage that would look something like this:

Note: you can click on any of the images in this blog to see a larger version.

In the upper right corner click on the button that says “Sign In” and you will see a screen that looks similar to the one below. Because I’ve already used this browser to log into 2 different Google accounts it gives me the option to click on one of those but if you need to create a new account you should click on “Use another account”.

That will bring up the following screen. If you hover over the “Create account” button there will be a drop-down to choose if the account is for personal use or business. We will click on “For myself”

You will be asked to give a first and last name, an email address, and a password that you will use for all of your Google accounts not just YouTube. This should not be your email password or any other password you use. It should be unique for Google services. Then click on “Next”.

You will be emailed a six digit verification code that you will enter into the next screen and then click on “Verify”. Next you will be asked to optionally give your phone number. I see no need. You will also have to enter your date of birth because some Google services are age-restricted. You will also be asked “Gender” but you can choose “Rather not say” if you don’t want to. Then click on “Next” and you will be taken back to the YouTube homepage logged into your new account.

At this point you can browse around YouTube, see what’s on the homepage as recommended. In the upper left corner click on “Trending” which shows you the most popular videos currently showing. Or you can click in the search box and look for any topic or channel name that you want. To the right of any video you will probably see a list of recommended videos based on topics that you have watched before. Of course Google/YouTube keeps track of everything you watch so it can make these recommendations and send you targeted advertisements. That’s just the way the Internet works. Actually it is quite useful because I’ve discovered some great content through these recommendations.

How to Watch Videos

I almost didn’t include this section because most of the videos you just click on them and they play automatically. However there are a few tricks and tips that should help you enjoy the videos even more. First of all, most videos are accompanied by advertisements. There is usually a countdown timer in the lower right corner of the video such that after 5 seconds you can click on “skip ads” and get straight to your video. Sometimes longer form videos have ads in the middle of them and you can similarly skip some of them after 5 seconds. There are also banner ads that pop up at the bottom of the screen and there is a tiny “x” in the upper right corner that you can click on to close them.

There are also a number of very handy keyboard shortcuts that you will find useful. For example pressing the spacebar will pause or play your video. Pressing “m” will temporarily mute or unmute the volume. Pressing “c” turns captions are off and on. Some videos have professionally produced captions but YouTube also has a speech to text feature that will automatically create reasonably good captions for videos that don’t have specific captions or subtitles already created. Click here for a complete list of keyboard shortcuts.

There are also tiny icons in the lower right corner of the video available when you hover your mouse over that area. It allows you to increase the size of your video to something called “theater mode” or to make your video full-screen. There is a slider bar across the bottom of the video when you hover over it that allows you to skip to any section of the video.

How to Subscribe to YouTube Channels

One of the most powerful features of YouTube is the ability to “subscribe” to channels. These subscriptions are free. All it really means is that you are making a list of your favorite channels so that you can see the latest videos from each of them in one handy place. After you have subscribed to a channel, you also have the option to sign up for notifications. That is explained below.

Anytime you’re watching a video there are a number of options in the lower right just below the video that look like this:

If you have not already subscribed to this particular channel you will see the red “SUBSCRIBE” button. If you click on it or if you have already subscribed you will see:

Next to the gray “SUBSCRIBED” button is a little bell icon. If you click on it, you will get notifications every time a new video is uploaded to that particular channel. Only enable notifications on the channels that you really want to be on top of continuously. You will get a pop-up message on your browser and you will get an email telling you about new uploads.

In that area you can also click on a thumbs up or thumbs down icon to express your like or dislike of the video. We will talk about the “SAVE” option later in the section on “Playlists”. The “SHARE” button gives you the option to share the video to Facebook, Twitter, other platforms or just copy a shortened URL address. You also have the option to share it beginning at a particular start time if you only want to call someone’s attention to a particular section of the video. You cannot specify an end time.

Let’s look at the YouTube homepage again. In the upper left corner the third item down is “Subscriptions”. If you click on it you will see a screen that looks like this:

This shows you the latest videos from all of your subscribed channels with the newest videos at the top. Actually if any videos are live streams they will be shown first and then other uploaded videos in chronological order from newest to oldest. So each day when I want to watch YouTube, I go to this page and it shows me everything which is new in one handy place. As I scroll down, once I see something familiar I know that I’ve reached the end of everything that was new since the last time I visited. In the lower left corner you will see a column “SUBSCRIPTIONS” that shows you all of the channels to which you have subscribed. Any channels showing live videos will appear at the top with a red icon. The rest of the list is sorted in alphabetical order by channel name.

About Playlists

If you think of your Subscription list as a favorite channel list you also have the ability to make multiple lists of favorite individual videos. These are called “Playlists” but you should really just think of them as folders to store your favorite videos. You can name these playlists anything you want. Some of my playlists are “NASA and Space”, “Maker Projects”, “3D printing”, “Radio Controlled”, “Science”, “Math”, “Music”, or “Comedy”. Others are more specific for example I have so many favorite videos for TV shows such as Star Trek, Star Wars, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones etc. that they each have their own playlist. Other playlists include “Marvel” and “DC comics”. When you click on the “SAVE” button you are given the option to save it to one or more of your existing playlists or to create a new playlist.

Playlists are a great way to organize your favorite videos in case you want to watch them again or show them to your friends and family. It would be nice if they would let you nest your playlists like you can nest folders on your computer hard drive. For example it would be nice to be able to have “Music” and then within that “Classical” and “Rock” etc. but unfortunately you cannot do that. You cannot have a list within a list. But as mentioned before a single video can be added to multiple lists for example I might add a video to both it and “3D printing” and “Assistive Technology”.

Professional and Commercial YouTube Channels

My upcoming reviews will focus mostly on channels that are independent efforts of a single person or a small group of YouTube creators. But there are also many channels related to your favorite networks, TV shows, and musical artists. We suggest you do a search for your favorite shows or artists and subscribe to those channels first.

All of the late-night comedy shows such as Jimmy Fallon, Jimmy Kimmel, Seth Meyers, Stephen Colbert, James Corden, Trevor Noah, and John Oliver have YouTube channels. Significant portions of their comedy routines such as Jimmy Fallon’s hashtags, thank you notes etc. appear on YouTube. Seth Meyers famous “A Closer Look” political commentary is often posted in the early evening before the show even airs. Videos also include some segments of the monologue and excerpts from guest interviews. John Oliver’s weekly show on HBO is a 30 minute show but the major portion of it is about a 20 minute rant on a particular topic of the week. It amazes me that he puts these entire rants on YouTube for free considering that HBO is a premium cable service. It’s been especially fun to watch the YouTube videos these comedians have been posting from home during the pandemic. Be sure to check them out.

I also subscribe to channels for various networks like AMC, BBC America, CW and FX because they include lots of behind the scenes videos about my favorite genre shows. HBO had some great videos behind-the-scenes of the making of Game of Thrones. Other shows such as Doctor Who and The Orville just to name a couple have their own YouTube channels for trailers, interviews, and behind-the-scenes content.

My favorite artists such as Sting, David Gilmore of Pink Floyd, Blue Man Group and others have their own channels. If your particular artist doesn’t have a dedicated YouTube channel, look for a channel from their record label. Some comedians such as ventriloquist Jeff Dunham have their own channel. He recently did some live streaming of him creating a new dummy character for his act. That was very interesting.

Supporting Your Favorite Channels

Creators of YouTube content are supported by ads. However in order to qualify to receive money from the advertising you have to have a minimum of 10,000 subscribers to your channel and I believe there is also a minimum amount of traffic that you have to have before you can share in the revenue that YouTube makes from all videos with ads.

YouTube creators however often have difficulty getting individual videos to qualify for advertising. For example if you are covering a controversial topic, YouTube might choose to de-monetize your particular video. There are also severe restrictions on monetization of videos aimed at children. Because it’s difficult to make a living off of advertising alone, there are other ways you can financially support your favorite content providers. Some channels have a “membership” button that allows you to financially support your favorite channels directly through YouTube. YouTube also gives you the ability to make spontaneous donations during live stream videos.

There is also a site called “patreon.com” that allows you to pledge money on a per video basis to your favorite creators. Typically creators who use this service will encourage you to support them by this method and/or they will thank those who have already supported them through patreon. Some creators provide exclusive content to their Patreon supporters. Channels are also often supported by selling merchandise such as hats, T-shirts, coffee mugs, and posters related to the channel.

Note also that there is a premium YouTube service called YouTube TV that provides premium content such as TV shows and movies similar to the way other streaming services such as Netflix or Hulu work. I believe YouTube TV also occasionally supports cable channels and even local TV channels. I’ve never used it so I can’t really say. YouTube TV is not to support your favorite ordinary YouTube channels. It is all professionally created content from networks, cable channels etc.

My Reviews

Immediately after this blog post I will begin posting reviews of some of my favorite YouTube channels. You can click on the links in my blog to get to the channel and to see some of my favorite videos from those channels. And if you like them you can click on SUBSCRIBE to add them to your subscription list or perhaps add particular videos to one of your playlists. I’m going to be posting several reviews probably one every other day for the next several days to get you through your pandemic quarantine. I will then attempt to write perhaps one per week after that.

Enjoy!

Late Night Comedy Does Work-from-Home

Last week both Stephen Colbert and Jimmy Fallon attempted to put on a show with no audience. Both attempts were funny only because they were such terrible failures. On October 29 and 30, 2012 David Letterman did shows without audience just before and after hurricane Sandy as seen here. Telling a joke with only Paul Schaefer with his signature annoying laugh just didn’t work. Colbert’s audience consisted of about 20 staff members. Part of the way through his monologue he asked “Is this going okay?” And they all cheered and applauded. He thanked them and then reminded the viewers “Of course I pay these people so who knows.” Another good line was he said “Each night in my mind the show is perfect. All of the jokes are hilarious. And the only thing that goes wrong is when an audience shows up and proves me wrong. Tonight with no audience to disprove it, this show will be perfect.”

Seth Meyers and James Corden went to reruns rather than go audience free.

Now the late-night comedians have taken to YouTube to do 10-20 minute monologues. Here’s a sampling. Suggest you subscribe to their YouTube channels to see remaining episodes. It’s sort of reminiscent of amateur YouTubers who haven’t quite yet figured out how to do lighting and audio in a home environment. Click on the show title to get to their entire YouTube channel. And then click the links on individual shows.

The Late Show Was Stephen Colbert

March 17 Colbert broadcasts from his bathtub

March 18 Colbert in his backyard fire pit. Includes a very funny parody of “Danny Boy” and a nice piano concert by bandleader Jon Batiste.

 

Jimmy Kimmel Live

March 17 Quarantine Minilogue. Discovers by staying at home that he actually has children. Says that they watched Frozen 2 more times than the animators who created. Apparently first in a series.

 

Late night with Seth Myers

March 12: A Closer Look. Seth Myers canceled his Thursday night show but went ahead and recorded his “A Closer Look” segment that they had already written the night before. He hasn’t done any additional YouTube since then.

 

The Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon

March 17 Home Edition (The First One). Shot by his wife on an iPhone apparently from his kids play room. Wonderfully amateurish 🙂

 

LastWeek Tonight with John Oliver HBO

March 16: Did his regular show without an audience. Could not do it in his regular studio because it had been contaminated by someone who tested positive. Clearly the most successful non-audience show of the group.

 

The Late Late Show with James Corden

He is showing reruns on broadcast and has not contributed anything to YouTube

 

 

Overall I’m giving the entire collection a rating of “I’m watching”. It’s really nice that I don’t have to record the entire show and fill up my DVR. I could just watch these monologues on YouTube whenever they come up. Hope you are staying safe and healthy during this crisis.

“Devs” is a Creepy Reflection on the Nature of Reality.

A new sci-fi thriller called “Devs” is available on Hulu. This eight part miniseries is released under the branding of “FX on Hulu” however the series doesn’t appear to be available on FX network at least as of yet. Nick Offerman plays a billionaire genius Forest who runs a computer company that has made major breakthroughs in quantum computing. If you’ve not heard of quantum computing it’s a new type of computer processor that takes advantage of some of the bizarre properties of quantum mechanics. Pundits currently claim that it has the potential to create the most powerful computers we’ve ever seen. It could be a disruptive technology that could unlock any current encryption techniques rendering all computer security obsolete. In real life quantum computing has yet to deliver on its promises but in this series it has delivered way beyond expectations.

The story follows Lily Chan played by Sonoya Mizuno works for a computer company called Amaya along with her boyfriend Sergei. Sergei gets promoted to the company’s top-secret division known as “Devs” but disappears the next day. She goes on a quest to uncover what really happened to him and to try to figure out what’s really going on in the company she works for.

The entire show has a very creepy feel to it. The Amaya company campus is in a wooded area featuring a giant 60 foot statue that looks like a two-year-old girl dressed in a dress. It sort of looks like a giant baby doll. No explanation is given why they have this bizarre monument. We get lots of creepy looking shots of this figure towering above the trees. The soundtrack that runs continuously beneath the show also adds a very creepy feeling to the entire thing.

At this point I will just say that after 3 episodes I’m really enjoying it and giving it a strong rating of “I like it“. It is being described as a miniseries of 8 episodes so don’t expect a second season. If I’m going to continue to talk more about it I really need to get into some spoilers. If you read on, I don’t think it will ruin your enjoyment of the show but some people are especially sensitive to any spoilers so if that’s you… stop reading now and go watch the show.

spoilers below

 

 

 

In the opening episode, Sergei is taken on a tour of the Devs facility by CEO Forrest played by Nick Offerman. It is housed in a completely separate building on the Amaya campus. A giant quantum supercomputer is housed in a vacuum sealed building that hovers inside the building using magnetic levitation. The entire thing is completely sealed from the outside world. Sergei is invited to sit down at a workstation, look at the code they are developing and then he will realize what the Devs project is all about. After several minutes of staring at the screen he suddenly jumps from his seat, runs into the restroom, and vomits violently.

We don’t have to wait long to find out what disturbed him so much. Forest explains to him that indeed this quantum computer has proven that the entire universe is deterministic. Every event in the world is the inevitable consequence of chemistry and physics working on the conditions prior to that moment. Everything is total cause and effect. Essentially free will does not exist. Everything that we do is 100% the inevitable consequence of what has happened prior to that. So this computer has the ability to accurately predict the future as well as run the equations backwards and look into the past.

In subsequent episodes we see them looking in on the crucifixion of Jesus, the burning of Joan of Arc at the stake, and then more personal items such as Marilyn Monroe having sex with her husband Arthur Miller. The latter was done so in violation of company policy and earns the programmers a reprimand. One of the female scientists Katie played by Alison Pill bemoans “Why do male techs always feel the need to caricature themselves? Step one: Create a new technology that reinvents the nature of human existence. Step two: Use it for porn.” Personally I would’ve gone for Marilyn and JFK.

One of the other consequences of the revelation that the universe is completely out of our control means that the enigmatic CEO feels no sense of guilt over anything. If one is not responsible for one’s own actions then one can do whatever they want because that choice is not theirs. It is inevitable.

The main part of the story is Lily trying to uncover Sergei’s disappearance. She is shown a video of him committing suicide but she doesn’t believe it’s real. She comes to discover that he is in fact an industrial spy for Russia. She had no idea. This furthers her feelings that everything isn’t what it seems to be. I’ve only seen the first 3 out of 8 episodes sort remains to be seen how deep the conspiracy goes or where the story will turn after this.

The questions raised by this strange technology and the bizarre revelation that the universe is not what it seems to be along with the mystery of the boyfriend spy and a hidden agenda of the company make this very compelling viewing. As stated before it gets a rating of “I like it” and if you like creepy technology shows sort of like Black Mirror then I highly recommend it.

“Star Trek: Picard” Shows Great Promise

The much anticipated “Star Trek: Picard” premiered on streaming service CBS All Access today. Only the first episode is available and a total of 10 episodes will be released on a weekly basis. The story revolves around former Enterprise Capt. Jean-Luc Picard in his retirement from Starfleet.

There’s no way I can really describe what’s going to happen in future episodes without giving some major spoilers as to what happens in this opening episode. So if you don’t want to know what happens in the opening episode I will just say that I like what I’ve seen and if you are at all a Star Trek fan you definitely want to check it out. One suggestion I will leave you with is you should watch “Star Trek: Short Treks” season 2 episode 6 “Children of Mars” also available only on CBS All Access before watching this premier episode.

SPOILERS BELOW

 

 

 

 

 

The series takes place 14 years after Picard has left Starfleet. It opens with a dream sequence where he is playing poker with Cmdr. Data. Brent Spiner returns to play the role and somehow doesn’t look a day older than we last saw him years ago when he sacrificed his life to save Picard in the film “Star Trek: Nemesis“. One little bit of nitpicking, Data’s eyes didn’t look quite right to me. I don’t know if it’s the fact that we are seeing him in HD compared to the analog TV in “Star Trek: The Next Generation” or what the reason was. It just seemed that during the close-ups it was more obvious than usual that he was wearing yellow contact lenses.

The dream ends when they look out the window and you see the destruction of Mars. You might not immediately recognize it unless you’ve seen the Short Trek “Children of Mars” that I mentioned earlier. That short subject depicts an attack on Mars that devastates the planet but doesn’t really explain who is attacking or why.

Picard is living in a French château surrounded by vineyards that are being cared for by robotic machines. He’s accompanied by a pet bit bull which he affectionately refers to as “Number One”. He is tended to by what appeared to be a butler and maid who I initially thought were Vulcans but on further reflection they are probably Romulan. They show great affection for the retired admiral.

Picard is about to be interviewed for a news program and through the course of this interview we get a lot of back story about what has happened in the days since we last saw him. In short, the Romulan sun was going to go supernova. Picard persuaded Starfleet to help with a mass evacuation of the entire planet before it was destroyed. This was despite the fact that the Romulans were a long time enemy of Starfleet. Picard makes it clear he was there to save lives… the fact that they were Romulan lives was immaterial.

The rescue effort was aborted when Mars colony was attacked by so-called “synthetics” which are apparently androids. The reporter points out that Mars is still burning yet to this day. The end result is that synthetic life forms have been completely banned and all research into creating them has been terminated. By interplanetary treaty they are forbidden.

Intercut with Picard’s story we meet a young woman named Dahj played by Isa Briones. She is celebrating with her boyfriend that she has been accepted to a position at the Daystrom Institute in Okinawa to do artificial intelligence research. Suddenly three black clad assassins transport into her apartment, murder her boyfriend, and try to take her captive saying along the way “She hasn’t activated yet”. Suddenly she does “activate” and despite having a hood placed over her head she quickly attacks the three assassins and with almost superhuman moves ends up killing them all. It is obvious she has no idea how she obtained the skills to save her own life and kill these three assassins. As she wanders the streets in a daze, she sees Picard being interviewed on TV and is irresistibly drawn to seek him out.

Picard does not know the woman and has no idea why she would come to him even after she recounts the story of the attack and her unusual ability to easily dispatch her attackers. Through a series of events, Picard concludes that not only is she an android despite the fact she appears completely human (she bleeds real blood), he also theorizes that she is somehow the daughter of Cmdr. Data. Data had once painted a portrait of a woman exactly resembling her and titled the painting “Daughter”.

There are a couple of plot twists I have not revealed. So I didn’t completely spoil the story. I hope I just set it up for you to anticipate what comes in future episodes. The rest of the series will cover Picard trying to figure out who this woman is. Unfortunately (sorry spoiling) she is killed in a subsequent attack by more assassins who are revealed to be Romulan. Picard then goes on a quest to go in search of her twin sister.

Previews for upcoming episodes reveal that we will see Jonathan Frakes reprise his role as Cmdr. Riker a.k.a. Number One and his wife Deanna Troy played by Marina Sirtis. Although these will only appear in a single episode, it doesn’t appear that this is a flashback or dream sequence. Frakes is also listed as the director of 3 of the episodes. We will also see Jeri Ryan reprise her role as former Borg “Seven of Nine” from the TV series “Star Trek: Voyager“. Unfortunately IMDb.com does not yet list her as part of the cast so we don’t know how big her role will be. But the previews indicate it might be significant. There may be other cameo appearances from other previous Star Trek series.

Overall Patrick Stewart credibly re-creates an older version of his most famous character. We also look forward to seeing more of Alison Pill in her role as an artificial intelligence researcher named Dr. Agnes Jurati. I’ve been a big fan of hers ever since her role in “The Newsroom“. Apparently Picard will spend the next episode recruiting a crew and a ship for his quest so we will have new characters introduced soon.

With the exception of one brief shot, the special effects are state-of-the-art. The stunts and action sequences were well done. The plot has great promise leaving many mysteries to be solved over the course of 10 episodes. The show has already been approved for season 2 as well. What is the origin of these extremely human looking androids? Why did the androids attack Mars? And what are the surviving Romulans up to?

I’m sure somewhere along the way Star Trek fans will nitpick a variety of issues. I’ve loved every episode of “Star Trek: Discovery” for the past 2 seasons on CBS All Access but some fans say it’s terrible. I seriously disagree.

I’m giving it a strong rating of “I Really like It” and suggest you check it out. Together with the third season of “Star Trek: Discovery” and the excellent series “The Good Fight” CBS All Access is well worth the money. I’ve also been using it to watch current episodes of CBS programs because I am typically many weeks behind and I don’t have room on my DVR to record them all. Although I’m endorsing the service, of course I have no financial connection to it and the opinions are all my own.