The failure of ‘Gallipoli’ has more to do with the changing ways people watch television than Channel Nine’s promotional campaign

Australia has long been behind on the shifting nature of the ways that people watch television – Stan launched in January, and Netflix will arrive in March. That’s a long time to wait for streaming. I will admit I’m part of the problem, I haven’t watched a single second of Gallipoli, but I know it’s available on Stan whenever I want to watch it. My parents have recorded most of the programme (I don’t know if they did last week), and they still haven’t watched it. One of the main problems that they have with commercial television networks is that the ad breaks are taking up to half the running time of any given show, so they’d prefer to watch their programmes later, and without ads (they also do this with Downton Abbey). The other issue is that it isn’t on until 9 at night, which given that they wake up at 6 during the week, is just too late.

Last week, Channel Nine announced that they would be burning off the remaining episodes of Gallipoli with two on Monday nights instead of one, following declining ratings. The premiere had huge ratings of 1.104 million and last week dropped outside the top 20 free-to-air programmes for the night with 527,000 viewers. There’s always attrition in viewership after the premiere, but losing over half the audience over three weeks is rough.

The problem with the current ratings system is that it doesn’t reflect the changing ways that people are watching television. People are getting cable, watching things on streaming services (even though Netflix hasn’t launched in Australia, they’re using Netflix US through a proxy server), timeshifting, and of course downloading things illegally. Stan is a joint venture between the Nine Network and Fairfax Media, and the release of the entire series on Stan after the first episode has aired is at least a recognition that Netflix’s all-at-once release of its original series has been successful. We don’t know how successful, because Netflix isn’t required to share its numbers with anyone and keeps it all a secret.

What I’m saying is that Gallipoli won’t be a complete loss for Nine, given that it is available on their streaming service for which I am paying $10 a month. In addition, Fairfax announced that they expect the service will have 100,000 subscribers by March (tomorrow), which would be $1 million in revenue per month. I have no idea what their profit margin is because I don’t know how much it costs to buy streaming rights, but this is still promising. The recognition that streaming video is the future of television might just pay off.

The other aspect of Gallipoli’s falling ratings could easily just be timing. I understand Nine’s desire to promote Gallipoli as its flagship show and have it premiere at the beginning of the year, but even if the schedule had not been changed, the finale would have aired three weeks before ANZAC Day, the 100th anniversary of Australian and New Zealand soldiers landing at Gallipoli. It might have been more successful if it had aired closer to ANZAC Day, but we’ll never know. Either way, declining ratings for Australian dramas is something we should expect to continue in the near future unless the way we record ratings changes.

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Despite some clunky dialogue, “The 100” is a fantastic piece of post-apocalyptic science fiction

When it comes to science fiction, I have my biases. Mainly post-apocalyptic, dystopian science fiction that has a political element. Spaceship shows and movies are pretty much always better if there are politics involved, hence my love of Firefly and what I’ve seen of Battlestar Galactica. For me, the novels of George Orwell are the roadmap, but I like my sci-fi to be enjoyable as well as thought-provoking. We live in an age where, thanks to The Hunger Games (which I love), there is no shortage of post-apocalyptic fiction. The 100 reminds me of Lord of the Flies, which has teenagers attempting to create a society, as well as Hugh Howey’s Silo trilogy, which dealt with environmental destruction that made the Earth uninhabitable, so they moved underground, and had similar population problems. I’ve seen the first three episodes of the first season (it was a mistake to watch them just before I went to bed), and despite some clunky dialogue, I loved it.

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Podcasts! Or, I don’t have anything to review tonight.

I’ve been so bad at consuming popular culture this week (I’ve been having afternoon naps instead of watching television), so I don’t have anything to review. This weekend I’ll try to review a movie and some of The 100, but I don’t have anything to write about today, so I’m going to list some of my favourite podcasts, which are mostly television related, but there is also one about film, and Chat 10 Looks 3. There are other television podcasts I love, but they haven’t released episodes for at least six months, so they’re not included.

Chat 10 Looks 3: I was about to publish this post when I realised that I didn’t include my favourite podcast of 2014. Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, two of Australia’s best political journalists talk about books, food and occasionally television and film. They’ve only released one episode this year, but they went to see 50 Shades of Grey, because they decided the theme for the week should be doing something you wouldn’t normally do. From what I understand, they giggled through most of the film, and their review was delightful.

Firewall and Iceberg: Dan Feinberg and Alan Sepinwall of HitFix review new and returning television shows, and answer listener mail whenever there are interesting questions. This past week, they did a show dedicated to the Parks and Recreation finale, which I have not seen because I’m so behind on the show, as well as another podcast reviewing one of my least favourite shows, House of Cards and the US remake of the terrible Australian drama Secrets and Lies, as well as the upcoming crime procedural whose pilot was written by Vince Gilligan, Battle Creek, and Will Forte’s Last Man on Earth. When Breaking Bad was on, they dedicated a segment of their show to the episode that aired that week (I can’t remember if they discussed “Ozymandias” that week because Alan was in the hospital with appendicitis, and he reviewed the episode not long after his operation). They also discuss Game of Thrones at the end of each season; they don’t do more of it because Alan hasn’t read the books and has a history of being spoiled by his readers in the comments, by Twitter accounts designed to spoil people, and in emails from readers asking why the show didn’t do certain things. They also do a ‘Worst television of the year’ podcast, which is always entertaining.

Talking TV With Ryan and Ryan: Maureen Ryan of The Huffington Post, and Ryan McGee, who is a freelancer who has written for The A.V. Club, HitFix and Screencrush have been podcasting together for five years. Like Alan and Dan, they review upcoming shows, but what I love about them is that they also become obsessed with niche genre shows, like Spartacus and The 100, sometimes dedicating entire episodes to shows that don’t get a lot of critical attention.

The Station Agents: Joanna Robinson of Vanity Fair, Dustin Rowles of Pajiba and Josh Kurp of Uproxx talk about their favourite television shows of the past week. As much as I love the two podcasts mentioned above, there’s something nice about the way friends are sitting down and chatting about their favourite television of the week. They also came up with a spinoff of Suits called Skirts, which I really want to watch.

The /Filmcast: I had a lot of trouble trying to find a podcast dedicated to film that didn’t seem overwhelming, and since I had heard Dave Chen on other podcasts, I decided to give this one a try. He has a great dynamic with co-hosts Devindra Hardawar and Jeff Cannata, and I like the format of the show. They discuss what they’ve watched during the week, the film news of the week, then review one movie. Just one, which is why I like it. I don’t want to listen to a podcast about several films I haven’t seen, so this one is easier for me to listen to. There’s also a spoiler section after the review, which means that if I want to go and see a film based on the review, I can stop listening until after I’ve seen it.

Holler Back: This podcast about Justified is hosted by Joanna Robinson and Ryan McGee. Now that I’m writing about Justified, I really appreciate getting insight from other people about the show (the review over at The A.V. Club this week is really well written and gives some great insight into Raylan). Another great aspect of the podcast is how Jo and Ryan honour the fantastic dialogue in Justified and find a quotation from the show that they can use in real life.

A Cast of Kings: Dave Chen and Joanna Robinson began this Game of Thrones podcast during the show’s second season. Like The /Filmcast, it is hosted by /Film. Dave and Joanna have a great dynamic because Joanna has read the books and Dave hasn’t. This means that Joanna reads through all the emails so that Dave doesn’t read spoilers because she’s a good friend, and she also gets incredibly frustrated with him, which is amusing. It’s also really funny when Dave has his theories which are completely wrong.

General update (and my computer is connected to the internet again!)

I’ve been quite busy this week – choir has started back, which takes up my Thursday nights and some Sunday mornings, and because of my battle with the wifi, I haven’t had much time to watch anything outside Better Call Saul, Jane the Virgin, Justified and the Oscars. So today, because I’m making myself write every day, I’m just going to give a list of things I’m about to start watching or have recently begun watching again. I like being busy (it’s so much better than being unemployed, and I love choir), but sometimes it’s hard to find time for myself.

Television:

Alias: Last Saturday I spent most of the morning driving, so when I was home alone, I decided to get back on the Alias train. (Spoiler alert for episodes that aired 12 years ago). When it turned out that Sloane and Sark provided Sydney and the CIA with the information they needed to bring down SD6, I had a suspicion that Sloane had either been working with Irina, especially when it turned out that he hadn’t killed Emily. I don’t know if it was when he learned he had to kill his own wife, but he lost faith in SD6, and his obsession with Rambaldi mirrored Irina’s; since Sark blackmailed Sydney into helping him murder Sloane (why are they all S names?), it seemed to make sense as part of a master plan. But I haven’t gotten past Irina’s escape from the CIA yet, so I don’t know.

The 100: Mo Ryan and Ryan McGee have been talking about how much they love this show, so when I saw that JB Hi-Fi had a ‘buy a first season, get another first season free’ (which turned out to not be my favourite sale they’ve ever had, because I have most of the first seasons that I want), it seemed like the logical choice to get this. The DVD only arrived today, so I have yet to watch it, but I’m looking forward to it.

Spartacus: This was the other show I got as part of the JB Hi-Fi sale, and the day after I bought it, Stan sent me an email telling me that it was going to be part of their library beginning this week. I was slightly annoyed, but I did get the DVD for free, and I just did a search on Stan, and  Spartacus hasn’t been uploaded just yet.

Books:

Wolf Hall: I think I’m going to start reading this one tonight before I go to bed (I really want to read it before the television show starts). The English reformation is one of the most fascinating periods in history, and learning that Wolf Hall is about Thomas Cromwell is what made me want to read it. I was going to take it on the train to work, but it’s so thick it wouldn’t fit in my bag.

Bad Feminist: My sister gave this to my mum for her birthday, and since they love it so much, I decided I’d read it. I heard that Roxanne Gay writes about pop culture a lot, so it seems right up my alley to read essays about feminism and The Hunger Games.

Film:

I don’t really have many plans to see any films any time soon, but I’ll probably go and see one this weekend if I find that I have a lot of time on my hands. As I said last weekend, I’m sick of seeing the trailer for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, but that was released today, so maybe I won’t have to watch the trailer any more. I’d like to see Wild, A Most Violent Year, and Rosewater, which I’ll probably see at the Nova, since I have a voucher for their cinemas. If I’m going to the Nova, I want to see something that isn’t on anywhere else. I also want to see Inherent Vice at the Astor because they have it in 70mm, but their schedule and the upcoming renovation of the theatre might mean I’ll have to see it elsewhere.

Justified, Season 6 Episode 6: “Alive Day”

These guys know killing, but they don’t know crime

The Choo Choo train has stopped. Once again I’m writing on my phone, so it’s going to be short until I can get to a computer with a working internet connection to edit it. Despite the fact that Raylan has Ava back on board as an informant, and ud between the Crowders and the Randolphs appears to have been resolved, things aren’t going too well for our favourite characters on  Justified.

This week we pick up immediately where we left off; Raylan has been to see Ava and kissed her. We don’t know if anything else has happened, bit it might have (in my opinion it would be a shame to deprive the audience of a shirtless Timothy Olyphant). Then Boyd comes home! I was immediately worried that Ava’s cover had been blown or that they’d be caught in bed, but Raylan is just hanging out in the kitchen and claims to be looking for Dewey Crowe, which is a relief. Over at the Marshal’s office, Rachel had been tracking Ava and Raylan’s phones  so she suspects that Ava tried to run and also they might be sleeping together. She says as much to Art, who then reveals why he gives Raylan so much leeway: it’s either get the bad guy out compromise the investigation to save your ass. These people may seem like sticklers, but they’re more like Cedric Daniels than Bill Rawls.

Art is over at the office so that he can get out of the house (he says he’s on the way to the shooting range) so that he can ask Rachel about the Hale case, the first big case she worked on. There was a wiretap, but they never got Katherine because she never used a phone. At asks Rachel about a snitch, but Rachel was completely unaware that there was one, it seems. Over at Katherine’s hotel room, Avery Markham proposes, which absolutely floors her, and then asks if she was the snitch, which makes him second guess her assumption that Markham got her husband killed. If it wasn’t Markham, Katherine has no reason to steal his money and then kill him. She talks to Wynn Duffy, who tells her maybe it was a clever play on Markham’s part, intentionally throwing off her suspicions. Over at Markham’s base, we have the issue of Choo Choo accidentally killing the person they were trying to get information from. It turns out they’re not very good at hiding the body, and it’s found very quickly. Raylan also figures out who killed Buddy, so they head over to the pizza parlour.

One thing I love about Justified is its sense of dramatic irony. Markham orders his team to kill Choo Choo for his mistakes, but they’re hesitant. Raylan and Tim follow Sea Bass out to where Choo Choo has Buddy Garrity’s ‘girl’, and ambush them before they have a chance to kill him. There’s an ensuing firefight where no one seems to get hurt, and Choo Choo manages to get away somehow. When he was driving along, I thought Choo Choo was trying to commit suicide by train, based on his name, but the train managed to stop in time and it turned out that our new favourite character (since Buddy Garrity died last week) was already dead, and spent his final moments on the train tracks anyway.

The most fascinating storyline this week was the Crowder/Randolph feud, which seems to have resolved (or at least there’s a truce) when Zachariah talks to Ava before heading down the mineshaft with Boyd. Then we learn that Zachariah actually tampered with the hole Boyd fell down. He must have made the trap when he told Boyd that they would have to wait before they went down the mine. What I want to know is why he saved Boyd. Is it for Ava or because he had to save face? What he doesn’t know is that if Boyd had died, Ava would have been better off, especially now that Limehouse has ratted her out to her fiancé. I can’t see that things are going to end well for the Crowders.

Other thoughts:

  • The past few reviews have been heavily recap-y, and the only way I’ve been able to edit these posts is by using the computer at work once I’ve finished everything I need to do. Hopefully I’ll be able to sort out my internet issues soon.
  • I hope we get Raylan and Boyd in a burning house soon.
  • There were another two people added to the body count this week, and each of the three sides has suffered a setback.

Better Call Saul, Season 1 Episode 5: “Hero”

Local lawyer, local hero

I work with someone who lives puns, and I know he would have loved the origin story of Saul Goodman’s name (I actually just asked him about it, and he said the first time he heard the name Saul Goodman, he wondered if it was a play on words). I heard it and wondered why I’d never thought of it before. Just a heads up, I’m writing this on my phone again, so it’s going to be rough, with several strange words in here courtesy of autocorrect. I realised just now that the flashbacks to Slippin’ Jimmy are structured similarly to those in Jane the Virgin, but provide the audience with insight into Jimmy’s personality, whereas Jane’s flashbacks ate odd formative moments in her life. The difference is small, but it’s there.

This week’s flashback is of Jimmy and a friend, who pretends to be dead, fleecing some poor idiot out of money by taking the money out of his wallet and lifting a fake Rolex from his wrist. Jinny then fleeces the guy or of more money and the other guy runs away with a fake watch. We need to know how Jimmy’s cons work so that we’re not too surprised when the billboard thing is a stunt. I should have figured it out when Jimmy kept insisting that both he and the billboard are in the frame, but I was taken unawares, probably because I had to so the episode so many times. There are two people who aren’t convinced by Jimmy’s hero act: his brother, and Hamlin, who has asked Jimmy to use a different name for his practice. Now Jimmy has started a war with his brother’s law partner, who knows how far this will go.

What we know about Jimmy McGill is that he used to con people for money, and then he got his act together after he was arrested. Since then, he’s tried to make his name as a public defender, but what he really wants to do is start his own practice. The problem? “You look like a lawyer that guilty people hire.” This is what Mrs Kettleman tells Jimmy after he finds them camping in the woods to run away from their crime – they even have the 1.6 million they stole in a duffel bag but maintain their innocence, because Mr Kettleman never got paid for the overtime he did. Then they paid him a bribe. I wasn’t aware that he even took the bribe until he started buying the expensive suit. That billboard gag was great (why would anyone wear a woollen tie?).

What we have in Jimmy McGill is not the Walter White to Heisenberg transformation, but it seems that James McGill the lawyer is a departure from Jimmy’s true nature. He was Slippin’ Jimmy back in Illinois, and when we see him on Breaking Bad, Saul Goodman isn’t that different to Jimmy McGill. We learn about Walter White’s inner darkness throughout Breaking Bad as it manifests itself, but Better Call Saul is a different beast. Vince Gilligan and Peter Gould have a difficult task in creating a prequel; we already know how Saul Goodman ended up in Nebraska, but we didn’t know how he became Saul Goodman. The answer is that Slippin’ Jimmy is Saul Goodman, but in trying to build up his reputation as a lawyer, Jimmy McGill wants to cultivate a certain image – I wonder how long it will be until he realises that being the kind of lawyer guilty people hire isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Jane the Virgin, “Chapter Twelve”: we learn about forgiveness, and also the identity of Sin Rostro!

You are my flesh and blood. I will always forgive you. – Alba Villanueva

I don’t know what to say, I’m as surprised as you are. – Latin Lover Narrator

I saw the last half hour of the Oscars when I got home from work, and then I watched the previous three hours, give or take an “Everything is Awesome” and “Best Documentary Feature” award. But I feel like there are enough thinkpieces about Birdman for tonight (this one by Alex Abad-Santos and Todd VanDerWerff is particularly good), and I enjoyed watching Jane the Virgin much more than I enjoyed watching the Academy Awards. There’s something great about a show that is really good and also just fun to watch (I don’t think that Breaking Bad was fun to watch by its end, it was just so grim). What I like about Jane the Virgin is that the characters and their relationships are so well established that the telenovela aspect of it just makes it fun.

This week focused on family and forgiveness; when Jane borrowed and lost her Abuela’s favourite earrings, she was worried that what she did was unforgivable. However her Abuela says: “You are my flesh and blood, I will always forgive you.” The themes of forgiveness and family run through The Passions of Santos, as well as the relationships between Luisa and Rafael, and Petra and her mother (I still don’t know her mother’s name, which isn’t great, but if she was a more interesting character I might make an effort).

We’ll deal with the Petra storyline first, because it’s the one that’s least connected to the other characters this week, aside from the moment that Petra confesses everything to Jane in the stairwell. Rafael goes to Petra, who is terrified of Milos coming because Lachlan set it up (at least her mother has figured out not to trust Lachlan), because she hasn’t been doing her job. So, Petra goes down to the lobby, where she meets Milos! It turns out that Milos never meant to throw acid at Petra, but at her mother:

Is that supposed to make you feel better? That you meant to throw acid at my mother?

Despite the horrible things that Milos did, I think he’s just as interesting as Petra, and I’d watch a version of this show where they take over the Solano business, they’re two crafty people. Milos insists that it was Petra’s mother that drove them apart, hence the acid, but Petra doesn’t believe him. So they set a trap. Milos pretends to slit Petra’s throat (I didn’t put the Chekhov’s fake blood together until just now, but I knew she couldn’t be dead), and Petra learns that her mother lied to her about not being able to walk. Jane eventually forgave Xo for lying about who her father was, but does Petra have Jane’s capacity for forgiveness?

The best part about Petra and Milos’ trap for Petra’s mother is the way the show cut between their fake fight and Rogelio’s death scene (complete with the line: “And now back to our other telenovela”). This is masterful writing and editing, as the words Jane wrote for her father are mirrored by the words that Milos speaks before he “kills” Petra. And then Santos actually dies. We know that Rogelio is not actually going to die, but we don’t yet know what Petra’s fate will be, so there’s a lot of tension in that scene.

Which brings us to the end of Rogelio’s career on The Passions of Santos. It turns out that the writers were buttering Jane up because Carla from Scrubs and Rogelio’s assistant had been scheming to get Rogelio fired so that he could be replaced by his assistant, who played his son. I don’t know a world where the writers (who aren’t also the executive producers) just get to decide that an actor is fired because they don’t like him, whereas (SPOILER ALERT), Joss Carter’s death on Person of Interest makes sense for the narrative and the character. But I also don’t know anything about telenovelas, and Jane the Virgin exists in a heightened universe, so I can accept it. Jane doesn’t want to write her father’s death scene, but Rogelio insists that she does, and that she also writes him the best death scene ever. She’s stuck, but then Alba comes up to her, wearing the earrings that Jane gave her to make up for the lost earrings. Then Jane realises that Abuela’s words, “You are my flesh and blood, I will always forgive you,” are the perfect ending to Rogelio’s time on The Passions of Santos. And when Rogelio is given a round of applause after his death scene, he thanks the crew, including the guys in cargo shorts. Then Jane called him ‘dad’ and I teared up, but I wasn’t crying as much as I was during the performance of “Glory” at the Oscars.

The remaining storylines are intertwined: the identity of Sin Rostro, and the ongoing feud between Rafael and Luisa. Luisa invites Rafael and Jane to attend a therapy session, but Rafael doesn’t want to go, but Jane talks him into it. The session goes exactly how Rafael expects it to, but then Luisa tells him that his decision to commit her hurt. Given that Luisa was wrongfully committed, this is fair, but we also learn more of why; their mother had a psychotic episode and killed herself. Then Luisa finds out that a bellboy was killed by a corkscrew, so she writes a letter to Rose saying that her father must have been the murderer, and asks Jane to pass it on. But then Rafael holds onto it, and only reads it after Jane tells him that Luisa’s mistake gave her the two most important things in her life. What I love about this show is that it doesn’t feel the need to underline what those two things are, it just trusts the audience to get it.

So, Luisa’s letter intimates that she’s scared of her father (it was probably his idea to commit her, so that’s fair enough), and given that Rose has been planting the seed that Emilio is Sin Rostro, Rafael has made up his mind when he reads the letter. Rafael also doesn’t seem to concerned that Luisa talks about being in the hotel room with Rose, given that she had to tell him that she made the Rose thing up. Michael, after getting suspended and having a fight with Nadine, who reported him because she thought it was the right thing to do, but he’s decided she’s jealous of Jane (classic telenovela), is also on the Emilio train. How does Michael get there? He pretends to be a patient of the plastic surgeon who was supposedly giving facelifts to criminals, and then gets his brother to call up pretending to be another patient who is really nervous about his surgery, so that he can check the surgeon’s computer. What Michael found is large transfers of money from an account in Emilio’s name to the plastic surgeon (I was also just really impressed with Michael’s plan). But Emilio isn’t Sin Rostro. Rose is. And she kills her husband by encasing him in cement because she’s awesome.

Other thoughts:

  • The Latin Lover Narrator on Sin Rostro: “No one knows who he is, but they know he’s really bad”
  • Rogelio made a vision board about his future relationship with Jane: “I made a vision board, but I didn’t think it would manifest so quickly”
  • Rafael was actually investigating the possibility that his father was Sin Rostro, and seemed to be doing more proper detective work than Michael. Wait, why didn’t the police just obtain a warrant for the Solanos’ books?
  • Gina Rodriguez is really committed to her part in her physicality. When she talks to Petra, she makes an effort to sit and moves the way a pregnant woman would.
  • Rogelio: “If you don’t mind, I need a moment to prepare for my death. Please”
  • The Latin Lover Narrator, reading Luisa’s letter: “Wait, what am I doing? Luisa should be the one reading this!”
  • There was also some really great typewriter work this week, as Jane read the storyline for the episode, and the text depicting Rogelio’s death showed up on the screen. Then, when Jane said “Wait, what?” the text showed up on the screen again as Jane was rereading it. This show is great.
  • Because of the weird stuff with Petra being called Natalia on the same night that Zazzo died, I thought that Milos was Sin Rostro. I couldn’t be happier to be wrong.