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New Escapist Video! On How the Streaming Era Has a Writers’ Problem…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will typically be separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at one of the more under-explored and unspoken issues facing the so-called “streaming age.” In an era where there is so much content, and so much content derived from intellectual property that major corporations protect so severely, where are these studios going to find the writers and storytellers to guide these series? One of the more interesting shifts in television over the past decade has been a slow creep away from the idea of it as a writers’ medium, but that shift comes with a surprisingly high cost.

The Mondaylorians – “Andor Episode 4: Mrs Doubtfire in Space!”

This week, I had the pleasure of stopping by the podcast The Mondaylorians, hosted by Niall Glynn. I was thrilling to get to talk about the fourth episode of Andor, Aldhani.

It’s a broad and fun discussion, one full of tangents that place Andor in the context of the larger Star Wars franchise and pop culture in general. What is it that makes Andor stand out from shows like Obi-Wan Kenobi and The Book of Boba Fett, comparable to She-Hulk and Moon Knight. We also talk about the way in which Andor harks back to George Lucas’ original idea for Star Wars, pasting a science-fantasy veneer over both a loving homage to the pop culture of his youth and a biting piece of social commentary. It’s a good chat.

You can listen below, click the screenshot, listen directly at this link or even listen to back-episodes of The Mondaylorians here.

New Escapist Video! On How Streaming and the Algorithm are Shaping Modern Franchises…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

This week, we took a look at a broader cultural trend: the way in which streaming services and the algorithms that drive them are reshaping modern franchise media in a way that makes them more aesthetically conservative. When the algorithm drives studios to push towards recycling familiar ideas and iconography, it discourages any attempt to do something new or interesting with these long-lasting properties. As a result, many of the larger franchises have become hollowed versions of their past glories.

New Escapist Column! On “Obi-Wan Kenobi” as a Brand Management Checklist…

I published a new piece at The Escapist this evening. With the broadcast of the final episode of Obi-Wan Kenobi this week, it seemed like an opportunity to take a look back at the show.

Despite a promising start, Obi-Wan Kenobi descended into a mess of content. The final episode was not a story so much as a collection of demands compiled from what the studio assumed that the internet might want. There were gratuitous callbacks to memetic lines. There were largely redundant cameos. There were battles that just ended in stalement because of the understanding of what had to follow. There was the return of characters who last appeared in the premiere, with the assumption that audiences would care about them because they were “important.”

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Video! On How “Star Wars” Learned the Wrong Lessons from Solo…

We’re thrilled to be launching a fortnightly video companion piece to In the Frame at The Escapist. The video will typically launch every second Monday, and be released on the magazine’s YouTube channel. And the video will be completely separate from the written content. This is kinda cool, because we’re helping relaunch the magazine’s film content – so if you can throw a subscription our way, it would mean a lot.

With the arrival of Obi-Wan Kenobi on streaming, it seems like a good time to take a look back over Disney’s ownership and management of the Star Wars brand. In particular, Solo: A Star Wars Story, which was the moment where everything seemed to go wrong for the company’s vision of the larger franchise. It should be possible to learn from past mistakes, and Solo certainly provides an ample amount of education material, but can Disney learn the right lessons?

New Irish Independent Column! On the Rehabilitation of the “Star Wars” Prequels…

I published a new piece at The Irish Independent this evening. With the release of Obi-Wan Kenobi next week, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the slow and steady rehabilitation of the Star Wars prequels.

To a certain generation of Star Wars fans, the prequels will always be an abomination. Over the years, the three films have become a punchline to a joke that nobody began, an impression reinforced through popular culture. However, recent years have seen an appreciable shift in how the prequels are portrayed, with fans seeming to come around on the films and Disney seeming to fold them into the larger marketting of the brand. It’s interesting to look at how (and why) that happened.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Column! On “Obi-Wan Kenobi” and Why It’s Okay for Pop Media to Be Dark…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the first trailer and initial press for Obi-Wan Kenobi, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at the troubled production.

In January 2020, it was announced that filming on Obi-Wan Kenobi had been delayed at the last minute, with the season’s scripts thrown out and a new showrunner brought in. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kathleen Kennedy confirmed that this was the case, that the initial scripts had been junked because they contrasted with the hopeful and uplifting tone that Disney wanted for the show. However, it’s interesting to wonder whether a show like Obi-Wan Kenobi really must be optimistic and uplifting, or whether it is sometimes okay for populist entertainment to strike a tone that suits its story.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – In the Name of Honour”

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering the season finale, In the Name of Honour.

In the Name of Honour is big. In the Name of Honour is bombastic. In the Name of Honour looks like people spent a lot of money on it. Unfortunately, In the Name of Honour is curiously hollow. It’s a season finale that bungles most of the season’s strongest thematic and character arcs, often descending into a chaotic mess of “stuff happening.” It’s a finale that has nothing of substance to say about its characters, the larger show or even the world that it depicts. It is spectacle, though.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

 

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – From the Desert Comes a Stranger”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering From the Desert Comes a Stranger.

Following on from Return of the Mandalorian, From the Desert Comes a Stranger is another episode of The Book of Boba Fett that is surprisingly uninterested in Boba Fett himself. It’s an hour of television that splits its time across two significant plot threads, and the differences between the two are instructive. One of those threads is at least basically functional, if largely unremarkable. The other thread exerts a much stronger gravity, and perhaps demonstrates the worst tendencies of modern Star Wars.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.

New Escapist Review! “The Book of Boba Fett – Return of the Mandalorian”…

I published a new review at The Escapist today. I’m reviewing new episodes of The Book of Boba Fett weekly, so this week I’m covering Return of the Mandalorian.

Return of the Mandalorian is an odd episode, in large part because it feels like an episode of a different show. Not in an abstract or metaphorical way, but in a very direct and literal way. Return of the Mandalorian feels like a lost episode of The Mandalorian, following that show’s title character in the gap between the second and third seasons. The episode isn’t bad. In fact, it’s arguably the strongest episode of The Book of Boba Fett to date. However, when the strongest episode of a first season feels like an episode of another show, that perhaps suggests more fundamental underlying problems.

You can read the piece here, or click the picture below.