One of the features of Series Mania at ACMI is that there are moderated sessions with the creators and stars of shows after their screening. I didn’t get to the Patrick Melrose Q&A because I went to an encore screening, and I ran out of my Harem screening (I left Patrick Melrose early to see this one) before the Q&A so I could get to Dead Lucky. If I’m only going to be at a festival for one afternoon, I’m going to pack in as much content as possible. ACMI recorded all of these sessions, which may appear on their podcast at a later date, but I don’t work there so all of this is guesswork. The Dead Lucky screening consisted of the premiere, followed by a Q&A featuring star Rachel Griffiths, creators and showrunners Ellie Beaumont and Drew Proffitt, and was hosted by Tara Lomax. I took notes during the session, and I’m writing them up here.
One of the shows screened at ACMI as part of Series Mania was the premiere of SBS’ Dead Lucky, which premieres tonight at 9:30 on SBS and SBS OnDemand. A moderated Q&A with writers Ellie Beauchamp and Drew Proffitt was held immediately following the screening, and I’ll be posting a write-up of that session after the first episode has aired. For now, here’s a short review.
Last weekend I attended Series Mania at ACMI, where I saw the first two episodes of Below the Surface, a Danish thriller from the people behind Borgen and The Killing. The entire series is about to premiere on SBS OnDemand as part of its Crime Time collection. A couple of notes: this is a brief review – I’ve only seen the first two episodes, and I don’t want to spoil anything, but I also don’t know if the show sticks the landing. The other is that I didn’t take note of the actors’ names, so I’ll be going by character names when I remember them. I didn’t take any notes until the Q&A with Kasper Barfoed after the show. On with the review!
Thanks to the Emerging Writers Festival newsletter, I learned that ACMI is hosting Series Mania Melbourne | A Free Festival of New TV this weekend. It started today (Thursday), and ACMI is hosting a series of free screenings for upcoming shows, as well as a keynote talk with Vince Gilligan, which had sold out by the time I’d learned that the festival was even on.
A note about the screenings: You can make some educated guesses (and I have a bunch of press releases and a giant spreadsheet), but it’s not clear. Also before you get too excited, Get Krack!n by Kates McLennan and McCarthy of The Katering Show is also sold out. It will be on ABC later this year.
I’d never heard of Series Mania, but it’s a French festival that aims to be television’s answer to Cannes. It began in Paris, and is moving to Lille next year. Series Mania has been brought to Melbourne by Forum des Images, and is sponsored by ACMI and film Victoria, as reported by Variety. It’s the first time Series Mania has been to another country, and I hope it continues to both expand and return to Melbourne.
Now that we’ve reached July, the streaming is slowing down a bit. Thank goodness. I finished Better Call Saul last weekend (it was really good!), and iZombie had its third season finale on Wednesday. There are a few shows starting up, but since it’s a long weekend in the United States, most ongoing shows are taking a week off, which provides some much needed catch-up time. (American Gods, GLOW, Kimmy Schmidt and Terrace House: Aloha State to name a few). I watched the first two episodes of Gypsy, which I didn’t mind, but based on very minimal chatter I’ve seen/heard around the internet, there are a lot of problems. Since there’s less TV, it also gives me a chance to write about films I like, and I’m looking forward to that. August is already shaping up to be quite busy – Netflix and Amazon both have some big titles dropping.
(Stan is dropping the 1990 film of The Handmaid’s Tale three days before SBS drops the series.)
The Handmaid’s Tale is my most anticipated television show for 2017. I didn’t know it was going to be a show until January, but upon hearing the news I was thrilled. I did searches every few days to check if Australia had a distributor, and I participated in more than one Twitter discussion about its Australian home. There was a general agreement (as much as there can be on Twitter) that it should end up on Stan, which has built its brand on fast-tracking shows from the United States.
As the premiere date passed, there was still no news. Someone asked me if it could end up on Amazon, and I said maybe. Prime Video carries Hulu’s cult drama The Path, and they have worldwide distribution for American Gods. My next reply was something along the lines of “I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up on SBS,” which is exactly what happened. This was followed by the news that we would have to wait until July to watch any of it, which is when this piece started forming in my mind. SBS isn’t the only network that’s doing this sort of thing: Ten gets some attention in the piece, and Foxtel waited nearly three months to start airing the latest season of The Americans. It seemed things were going really well for a couple of years in terms of access, and they’ve dropped back now that the television landscape is becoming more crowded. There’s more competition in the marketplace, so television stations need to convince people that they’re worth watching. Making them wait a coupld of months for one of the year’s most highly anticipated shows isn’t the way to to do that.
I’ve made some changes to the streaming guide! Stan has been fast-tracking shows from the U.S. for two years now, and Netflix is doing the same with CW shows and Designated Survivor. SBS OnDemand and iview have been doing this with specific shows for a while now, namely Orphan Black and Doctor Who. As streaming grows in Australia, I’ve added more columns to my spreadsheet, and the list of titles gets longer most weeks. I’ve added a section for shows with weekly episodes. Designated Survivor and Underground both return next Thursday (I wanted to watch them yesterday because I’m thinking a week ahead when I write the guides), and Foxtel Play has replaced Presto, which means there are weekly episodes of Big Little Lies and Girls, as well as Foxtel originals including the local Real Housewives franchise. Plus Angie Tribeca, iZombie and Better Call Saul are returning in March, all of which I’m looking forward to to various degrees.
I don’t highlight everything I want to – Designated Survivor is a show that’s more fun than it has any right to be, and Greenleaf is an import from the Oprah Winfrey Network about a family that runs a Megachurch, which sounds like the perfect spiritual successor to Big Love (Bill Paxton, you are missed). Also The People Vs O.J. Simpson is on Netflix as of Monday – it’s a really good week and you can’t include everything. Until next week!
I almost forgot – Donald Glover’s Atlanta has finally come to Australia, and you can watch all of it now on SBS OnDemand. If you prefer the traditional method, two episodes air every Tuesday on SBS Viceland.