A-Z of stuff to watch in 2016 – Part 1

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*** I was making notes to appear on a radio show on UCC 98.3FM / Cork Campus Radio for an A-Z of things to watch in 2016, and as the notes got more detailed I decided to turn into an article – hope it’s of use to you. If you enjoy it share it please, all feedback welcome. ***

Here is the 50ish minute recording if you’d prefer to not read this whole thing.

From A – M

A – Additions To Viewing Options

At the moment Netflix is the ‘Hoover’ to on-demand streaming media’s ‘Vacuum Cleaner’, but this coming year their Irish/UK market dominance will have to deal with the anticipated growth of Apple TV and Amazon Prime Instant Video, currently not available in Ireland but surely it will be sooner rather than later.

Variety reports that Apple are exploring creating their own original content but Amazon have already nailed their colours to the mast with several different original shows, ‘The Man In The High Castle’…

…’Hand Of God’…


… have received generally good reviews but the jewel in their crown is the splendid ‘Transparent’.

Any show that can distill it’s main theme into a one word pun gets 1000 brownie points from me, but the whole production is just fantastic. Taking the classic “parents with adult children who rarely all get along at the same time” idea and throwing all manner of stories into the mix, taking strands of them in isolation makes it sound oh-so-millenial, but when followed as a tapestry the family’s course and those involved in their various ripples is incredibly subtle and engaging.

‘Subtle’ and ‘Engaging’, two words I fear I won’t be able to use for Amazon’s upcoming blockbuster show, currentlly listed as ‘Untitled Amazon motoring show from W. Chump & Sons’, it is of course the new vehicle [I could have resisted that gag, but I didn’t] for former Top Gearers Jeremy Clarkson, James May & Richard Hammond. Estimated by the Financial Times to be worth about £160m, it will certainly cover having 24/7 hot food catering as it is “one of the largest ever agreed by a digital streaming group”, more than double the amount Netflix paid for two seasons of House of Cards.

We can only guess what the nitty gritty of the show will be but we can safely rule out things like mindfulness, tolerance and nuance. According to Clarkson’s own twitter account, it will be shot in 4G which is the newest top of the range ultra-high-definition video, so new I only just found out about it.

Finally it’s also worth noting that Amazon also announced they are developing a series based on the 1999 cult sci-fi comedy film ‘Galaxy Quest’.

Since the film was based on a fictional television show, we might end up with a ‘show within a show’, err, show.

 

B – Blunt Talk

A sitcom from the STARZ network, it’s main onscreen talent is Patrick Stewart – who play William Blunt [taken from the minor character Sir Walter Blunt in William Shakespeare‘s Henry IV, Part 1, which was Stewart’s first role with the Royal Shakespeare Company], a successful British television news anchor who moves to Los Angeles to have a crack at the American market. 

It is a role for which he has been nominated as ‘Best Actor in a Television Series – Musical or Comedy’ for this year’s Golden Globes, which will be held on Jan 10. Would he get my pick? ‘Ard to call between him and the afore mentioned Jeffrey Tambor in ‘Transparent’. 
It was created by Jonathan Ames, best known in the television field for Bored to Death on HBO… 

… and produced by Seth MacFarlane, of Family Guy etc.


C – Catastrophe

A top-notch gem of a sitcom on Channel 4 written by and starring the duo of Sharon Horgan and Rob Delaney, they debuted their first season in January 2015 and managed to write, film and edit the second season for broadcast about 9 months later, which, is a ha-ha-handy angle to explain that it’s a show covering the joys of a couple thrust together to raise an unexpected baby after thrusting together in a much more casual way.

Irish-raised-but-London-living Sharon Horgan plays the character of Irish-raised-but-London-living Sharon, and American-but-now-residing-in-London Rob Delaney plays the role of American-but-now-residing-in-London Rob. It’s the right side of caustic and bang in the middle of hilarious, it’s the best sitcom I’ve seen since ‘The Trip’.

Available on 4OD and Amazon Prime

 

D – Divorce

No Trailer Yet – but here’s a brief chat about it

One half of the ‘Catastrophe’ team, Sharon Horgan is also the creator and executive producer of this new HBO show which is due out later this year, it’s the return of arguably HBO’s biggest ever Female Star, Sarah Jessica Parker from ‘Sex And The City’…


… who has taken this on as her first television role since that iconic role ended 12 years ago. Funnily enough she is back in New York City playing Frances, described by Variety as “a woman going through a very, very long divorce, who suddenly begins to reassess her life and her marriage and finds that making a clean break and a fresh start is harder than she thought.”

Notable omission – BBC’s ‘The Detectorists’…

… a treasure from Mackenzie Crook – hopefully we will see a series 3 in 2016.

 

E – Election

Not the interesting 1999 film featuring Matthew Broderick…

… but instead the upcoming Irish General Election, a lot has changed in the Irish media landscape since the last election [you could argue a lot more than Irish politics has changed], for instance The Journal.ie [I picked this clip as it was the highest watched one with an Irish politician who won’t be running in 2016]…

… hosts regular video interviews, broken into segments, on their site which many  watch in bursts on their smart phones; those users aren’t exactly the same kind of voters who would get their opinions via the RTE news etc. 

Also with the rise of citizen journalism with camera phones, will we see a lot more content being shared/taken from Youtube and used on the national broadcasters etc?

Finally will the churlish refusal of Michael Noonan and Enda Kenny etc to go on TV3’s ‘Tonight With Vincent Brown’…

… spread out to other politicians who don’t fancy a grilling thus giving more air time to the candidates who aren’t from the main parties?



F – Fargo

Along with ‘How To Make A Murderer’…

… this is the word of mouth show from the last few few months for me, I’ve only seen one episode [season 2] and it does look good to me, I just want to catch up on the other things I’ve started before I start another series, but those two shows are my new resolutions.

 

G  – Game Of Thrones

The first big hitter of this list, by now you must have heard of it and have your mind made up about it, but on a personal note I find it intriguing about how it’s creator George RR Martin announced two weeks ago that this season will be finished before the book on which it is theoretically based on is published which reminds me of how the world of The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy split between it’s radio and book incarnations which were both ‘live projects’ at the same time.


H – Hit/Record

A site/online community that was developed Joseph Gordon-Levitt and his brother Dan, I only heard of it last  year via the work of David Nelligan – this is a content creation site as well as a simple out and out show [see above] running on Pivot in the US and Netflix too. The overall concept of this site is exciting, inspiring and full of potential. Anyone who watches/reads/hears something and thinks “I could do that myself” or even “I could do better than that myself” then this is the gauntlet thrown down or else the opportunity you’ve been waiting for [pick which ever phrase you want depending on needing a stick or a carrot].



I  – Insight.TV

An online TV station which streams live, also accessible via Satellite in Europe, in HD & UHD but also in 4k which is a technology that is very new to me – essentially it is the standard in the movie projection industry, which gives you an idea of high the image resolution is – much higher than HD anyway.

This station/site [is that a sitation or a state?] creates a lot of original content with the overall motto of “Learn More, Know More”, the two programmes that brought me to the site both feature the magician Pete Heat…

… he will be in the second season of World In 80 Tricks …

… and a new show, currently in production, Secrets Of The Brain

His personality, insight and knowledge all point to things taking a big step up for him in 2016, and hopefully this channel will grow with him.

J – Jennifer Reeder

This list has been small screen based so far and while we are in a ‘golden age of television’, cinema is not to be overlooked – while Hollywood is increasingly Blockbuster led,  it’s a ‘Marvel’ where they get all their ideas – independent cinema is also in a great position.

While financial resources are as tight as ever, the increased accessibility of high end production equipment has meant talent has the opportunity to flourish, one of those talents is a prodigious film maker called Jennifer Reeder. Her own bio says “she constructs personal films about relationships, trauma and coping. Her award-winning narratives are innovative and borrow from a range of forms including after school specials, amateur music videos and magical realism. These films have shown consistently around the world, including the Sundance Film Festival, The Berlin Film Festival and The Venice Biennale”.

Here is the trailer for her 2014 short ‘A Million Miles Away’…

… while music and albums are a recurring theme in her work, that short does not contain this song from Rory Gallagher.

Back to Jennifer, she has two feature films in production, a teen feature length film set in Rural Kentucky called ‘As With Knives And Skin’, here is a WIP presentation about it by the film maker itself…

… and also a speculative fictional take on Hansel and Gretel called ‘All Small Bodies’.

Keep an eye out for her work, – follow her at https://twitter.com/jenniferreeder – both upcoming and her short films at various festival which brings me to…

K – Internationales* Kurz Film Festival 

or, en anglais, The Hamburg International Short Film Festival

Although I’d seen the work of Jennifer Reeder in IndieCork and Glasgow Short Film Festival before, the first time I got to hear her speak was at last year’s Short Film Festival in Hamburg.

I always urge people to think about having a city break when there’s a film festival on there, especially if they are thinking of going to one of not-Capitals. While there’s generally lots on in lots of those cities, why not go when there’s a festival on too? At worst, it’s one more option  for something to go to, and by virtue of it you get to tap into a local creative scene/community; you get to be introduced to 100’s of pieces of work and occasionally get to discuss it with the people who made it.

In my case Hamburg is a city I adore anyway, and the festival’s time of year suits me as it’s the June Bank Holiday, the festival has a social hub [cheap bar, loads of bike parking options, good DJs] where a lot of screenings are held but they also put on site specific events around the city so you get to see places and ideas that wouldn’t be in the Rough Guide etc, in my next blog I will be mentioning A Wall Is A Screen which calls Hamburg home, by which date they might have dates for 2016 up on their site.

*The hilarious irony of me breaking an established and organised alphabetical list to mention a German thing is not lost on me, but like ‘The’ being ignored in the iTunes library when alphabeticising, I’m not pushed with using the International in festival names when putting them in order.

L – Library

It’s all well and good throwing around all these lists, but of course Streaming services, Satellite Channels & Broadband all cost money, which find hard to justify at moment, well may I suggest your local library, in my case it’s Cork City Library – many do not realise that it’s not just books they offer but CDs & DVDS – they also do e-Books which I can’t fathom borrowing! In Cork you may use your Library Card to borrow items in any of their seven libraries.  You may borrow up to ten items — books, CDs, DVDs — at one time, for a period of three weeks.

How much does it cost?

As of Jan 1 2016, it is absolutely FREE.

And in a great ‘what-a-link!-this-guy-makes-it-look-like-he-knows-what-he’s-doing’ style The Music Library on Grand Parade is named after Rory Gallagher, whose video is just a few inches up your screen.

M – Mr Robot

The final suggestion of the first half of this list is Mr. Robot

Made for the USA TV network in Americaland, and on Amazon Prime worldwide, this show is a drama set around one key character Elliot, a cybersecurity boffin, and hacktivism – both his gravitating towards it and it’s impact/reasoning in general. It’s quite an addictive show, and pertinent about where is the internet going, like for instance this blog I don’t want just anyone reading it, I want EVERYBODY reading it!

 

See you next week for the second half of this list, please share this about if you enjoyed, and all comments welcome.

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