Final eps of Netflix mega hit delayed
And Marvel movie halts production too
What to know
Stranger Things final season delayed due to writers strike… Some blockbuster shows and movies are moving ahead with production despite not having writers on set. The Duffer brothers “have opted to instead postpone production.” Not only is that a smart move that will protect the integrity of their show, it’s showing the whole town that writers are integral to production. “Writing does not stop when filming begins,” the Stranger Things writers tweeted. While a delay might disappoint fans in the short term, and also mean that the show’s rapidly aging cast will look even older in the final episodes, it hopefully will keep the show good and allow the Duffers to stick the landing. This is a good thing long term and we should be encouraged not disheartened by this news. 👏
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Marvel hits pause on Blade due to the writers strike… The Mahershala Ali-led vampire pic was set to roll next month in Atlanta, but after recently hiring Nic Pizzolatto to rewrite the movie, THR reports that “time simply ran out.” The Blade movie seems particularly cursed, as this isn’t the first time it’s been delayed. One has to wonder what this thing will look like when it eventually comes out. Forget vampires, we could be looking at a Frankenstein. In fact, not having writers on set could have a big effect on all Marvel projects. According to THR, Marvel likes to retool their scripts throughout production and often has the writer available to help with changes. Deadpool 3 and Thunderbolts will still roll before cameras this year, as will a number of the studio’s TV shows. I wonder how the strike will affect their quality? 🧛🏿♀️
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 nets $118M opening weekend, the lowest of any Disney-era Marvel summer-starter… It did good not great, basically meeting the estimates. The movie is good, so maybe word of mouth will give it a long tail. Yet, it seems there really could be a waning interest in new Marvel movies, maybe due to the studio’s lingering over saturation problem, or the quality being hit and miss recently, or just super hero fatigue in general. Will The Marvels be able to pull the house that Feige built out of this negative narrative? 🦝
Elizabeth Olsen says Doctor Strange 2 writers hadn’t seen WandaVision… Which explains why the movie rehashed the emotional journey Wanda had already been through in WandaVision. This type of mismanagement of one character across different movies and TV shows seems to be a problem Marvel is/was aware of with phase 4 and is attempting to correct. Having your new writers watch the character’s last appearance seems like good practice to me. 🤔
CBS cancels S.W.A.T. despite ratings resurgence… After a new licensing deal couldn’t be made with producer Sony TV. The broadcast nets are not interested or able to financially support such expensive shows anymore, especially those that are made by an outside studio and thus come with high licensing fees. 🚨
Matthew McConaughey teaming with Vast of Night director Andrew Paterson on The Rivals of Amziah King… “A deeply atmospheric, character-focused crime thriller” set in remote Oklahoma. If you’ve seen Vast of Night, you know that “atmospheric” is probably an understatement. 👍
Nicolas Cage and Andrew Niccol making Lord of War sequel… That’s random! I love Niccol’s science fiction work, and kinda wish he’d make more high concept stuff, but I’ll take this too. 🎥
THR rounds up Hollywood executives’ salaries into sickening infographic… A handful of CEOs make millions while writers get squeezed and thousands get laid off. 👀
The Super Mario Bros. Movie hits on demand May 16… That’s a pretty short window considering how well it’s doing in theaters, but I’m not complaining! 🍄
Yahoo once considered acquiring Netflix, but bought Tumblr instead… Coulda woulda shoulda. 😅
Brendan Fraser is being very picky about his next move after Oscar win… As he should be. 🏆
WBD reveals first look at HBO Max replacement app Max… Which looks a lot like HBO Max. 🧑🏻💻
Picketing writers disrupt Loot, Billions, Daredevil, and Severance sets… Make them hear you. 🪧
The Bear season 2 hits Hulu on June 22… Yes chef! 🔪
There’s a new trailer for Oppenheimer… tick tick tick. 💣
Hannah Gadsby: Something Special — May 9 | Netflix stand up | 🍅
Class of ‘09 — May 10 | Hulu/FX drama series | 🍅 71%
The Muppets Mayhem — May 10 | Disney+ comedy series | 🍅
Queen Cleopatra — May 10 | Netflix documentary series | 🍅
City on Fire — May 12 | Apple mystery thriller series | 🍅
Sill: A Michael J. Fox Movie — May 12 | Apple documentary | 🍅 98%
BlackBerry — May 12 | Drama film in limited theaters | 🍅 97%
Book Club: The Next Chapter — May 12 | Comedy in theaters | 🍅 57%
Returning: The Great s3, Queer Eye s7, RuPaul’s All Stars Drag Race s8, Fear the Walking Dead s8
What to watch
Jury Duty is the surprise joy of the year. Created by Lee Eisenberg and Gene Stupnitsky (The Office, Good Boys), this new Amazon Freevee show is like Parks and Rec meets The Truman Show meets Candid Camera. It’s a mockumentary series about a trial, in which everyone in the courtroom is an actor, except for one guy, who thinks he’s serving on a real jury. That one guy is Ronald Gladden, a kind-hearted Home Depot project manager who just became America’s sweetheart (middle row, right side above).
While Gladden believes he’s in a documentary about the justice system, the entire show is really about him and how he reacts to being unwittingly dropped into a sitcom. And make no mistake, this is a sitcom. The characters around him are broad and hilarious, brilliantly played with remarkable commitment by an ensemble of improv actors, some of whom used to be actual lawyers! The icing on the cake: Actor James Marsden plays an exaggerated version of himself in one of his best performances in years. You might also recognize Kirk Fox (Reservation Dogs) as one of the jurors, while Ike Barinholtz’s father Alan plays the judge. Like the ensembles of The Office or Parks, Jury Duty features a deep bench of comedic assassins.
The show’s writers then concoct hysterical scenarios and plot lines, feeding off Gladden’s real behavior. As the season goes on, these stories get more and more heightened and absurd. Multiple times throughout the 8 episodes Gladden remarks on how crazy things keep happening — but he never really catches on thanks to the herculean efforts made behind the scenes to pull the whole thing off. And as we find out, it took an astonishing amount of planning, coordination, and perfect timing to execute this show. The producers, writers, and crew deserve as much credit in nailing this enormously tricky gambit. There’s a reason The Truman Show is fiction, because it would be damn near impossible to make happen in real life.
But the show’s real triumph is in the casting of its hero. Behind the scenes, the makers of the show referred to Gladden as “hero,” but by the end of the season, he has become one. Gladden is the perfect lead. He’s basically Jim Halpert come to life. He is kind, patient, intelligent, and a natural leader. He is the ultimate straight man because he sees the goodness in others, is affected when they act cruelly or unjustly, but still encourages those around him to be themselves. He does it all with a sense of humor and natural awareness of the world around him. The show works because of his decency and might not have been successful if it was cast in any other way. Miraculously, the show is never mean or cruel to him. You never feel that he is the butt of the joke, but rather the star of an elaborate, ultimately uplifting fiction.
Jury Duty is proof that despite a fractured and over loaded television landscape, the cream can still rise to the top — even if it’s a little comedy reality project on Amazon Freevee with only one recognizable star. Because a unique premise and a creative execution will always win out. Do not miss it.
For all past ‘what to watch’ recommendations, see the full list here!