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New Escapist Column! On “Andor” as the Most Consistent “Star Wars”…

I am doing weekly reviews of Andor at The Escapist. They’ll be dropping every Wednesday evening while the show is on, looking at the Rogue One prequel as it progresses from one episode to the next.

Rix Road brings the first season of Andor to an end, closing the cricle by bringing the primary cast back to where it all began. It’s a fascinating and compelling way to close out the season, underscoring how much these characters have changed by bringing them back to their starting position. Rix Road is a breathtaking and impressive season finale to what has been the most consistent run of Star Wars ever produced.

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

New Escapist Column! On “1899” and the Problems of Abstraction…

I published a new piece at The Escapist over the weekend. Last week saw the release of Netflix’s 1899, a surreal mystery thriller from the creative minds behind Dark.

1899 is an impressive show in many ways, a multilingual series with a diverse cast, that is also the most expensive television show ever made in Germany. It is packed with big ideas, and grapples with heady themes, without ever stopping to apologise for itself or condescend to its audience. There’s undoubtedly something appealing in that. However, there’s a strange coldness to the show, a detachment that makes it very hard to emotionally invest in the series as anything more than an intellectual exercise.

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

New Escapist Column! On “Better Call Saul”, “Andor” and Slow-Burn Classics…

I published a new piece at The Escapist earlier this week. As Andor winds down its first season, garnering rave reviews but not attracting as strong an audience as its predecessors, comparisons come to mind concerning Better Call Saul, which has quietly become one of the best television shows of the decade despite never reaching the same level of popularity as its predecessor.

What do Better Call Saul and Andor have in common? What is it that makes both shows so compelling, but which also makes them a tougher sell to audiences than what came before? Are they both just out of step with the zeitgeist, reflecting a mode of television production that doesn’t have the same cultural cachet that it once did? And, most importantly, does any of that matter if they are both creative triumphs? It’s interesting to explore and unpack.

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

New Escapist Column! On “The English” as a Love Letter to Sergio Leone…

I published a new piece at The Escapist yesterday. This week marks the premiere of The English, a co-production between the BBC and Amazon.

The English is effectively a spaghetti western with a very British sensibility. It is written and directed by Hugo Blick. It stars Emily Blunt, and its supporting cast is populated with British and Irish character actors like Ciarán Hinds, Toby Jones, Rafe Spall and Stephen Rea. However, it is a thoughtful exploration of the genre, and an obvious love letter to the exploitation movies of the sixties and seventies. The show is occasionally a little to reverent to its inspirations, but it is beautifully shot and deeply moving, anchored in two great central performances from Chaske Spencer and Emily Blunt.

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

New Escapist Column! On How the Future of Streaming Looks a Lot Like Old-Fashioned Television…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the recent launch of Netflix’s ad-supported tier, it seemed as good a time as any to take a look at the larger trends in contemporary streaming.

Streaming services have moved away from the binge model. They have become more transparent in their ratings. They have begun scheduling the release of particular episodes across various days of the week. They have even begun releasing some episodes in prime time. The plotting on these shows has become a lot more reminiscent of turn of the millennium zeitgeisty mystery box shows than early streaming stories. All of this is to suggest that the future of streaming seems to look a lot like old-fashioned television.

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

New Podcast! The Recap – “We Finally Got Some Real Action and Answers in The Rings of Power…”

We’re thrilled to be launching a weekly multimedia podcast at The Escapist, called The Recap. I’m hoping to be a regular fixture of it, stremaing live every Tuesday evening. 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 the splurge of recent news from Marvel Studios, including new trailers, new writer announcements, the first big reveals about Deadpool 3, directorial departures, and streaming shows that are becoming movies. We also caught up with our opinions on Rings of Power, House of the Dragon and Andor. It’s a fun discussion. Check it out.

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 Column! On “The Rings of Power” and Post-Golden Age Television…

I published a new In the Frame piece at The Escapist this evening. With the release of The Rings of Power this weekend, it seemed like a good opportunity to take a look at what is effectively the biggest television show in the world, and what it says about the current state of television.

For the past twenty years, American television has gone through an era described as “the Golden Age”, one rooted in moral ambiguity and uncertainty in shows like The Sopranos, Breaking Bad and The Shield. These were morally complex stories about difficult protagonists that invited the audience into murky liminal spaces. As such, it is interesting that The Rings of Power exists in marked contrast to that paradigm. Instead, it offers a very clear-cut black-and-white worldview.

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

New Escapist Video! On What the Cancellation of “Batgirl” Means for the Future of Streaming…

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 the recent cancellation of Batgirl, following the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery Media. There has been a lot of noise and shouting about the decision from various angry corners of the internet, but what does it actually mean? And what does that cancellation mean in the context of the larger streaming landscape, which has become an incredibly volatile space within the last six months?