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Editor's Pick: Friday, February 26th, 2021 - 'Gold Rush' Military Special

Written by 26 February, 2021

When it comes to non-scripted television, there are few franchises more reliable than Discovery's Gold Rush. It's not just that the main show has been cranking out fascinating seasons since sometime back in the 1970s (not really, but it seems that way). But the primary Gold Rush series has also spun-off a number of related specials and stand-alone series, including the current Discovery+ original Freddy Dodge's Mine Rescue.

Tonight, Discovery has a Gold Rush special that focuses on the all-military veteran team that mine boss Fred Lewis assembled. During the episode, fans will learn about their war injuries, paths to recover and how they got into gold mining. It also reveals that crewmember Kyle Pletzke is one of the nation’s many homeless veterans. The crew hasn't had a great season to far, as they've been struggling to get to the gold in the midst of so many setbacks.

Below, you'll find a clip giving you a bit of background about Fred Lewis and his efforts and honestly, it's pretty inspirational.

One note for people who want to specifically watch this special. Most listings I've seen (including the ones at Hulu and Philo) only give you the option of recording the entire 3+ hour Gold Rush block tonight in one piece. Which I suppose makes sense for fans, but if you want to specifically watch the special and you regularly record the series, you'll have to fast-forward through the two-hour Gold Rush episode to get to it.

Gold Rush airs tonight at 8 PM ET/PT on Discovery, followed by the military Gold Rush special at 10 PM ET/PT on Discovery. Fans can also binge all previous seasons of Gold Rush on discovery+.

Last modified on Friday, 26 February 2021 16:04

Compete For A Chance To Win Part Of A $55K Prize In Big Game #TumsWorthySweepstakes Bingo

Written by 04 February, 2021
Last modified on Thursday, 04 February 2021 11:17

10 Obscure Classic TV Shows You Can Watch On IMDb TV

There are niche streamers for nearly every imaginable niche, but so far no one has launched one that is devoted to the obscure and lesser known classic TV programs. There are a number of reasons for this - digitizing costs, complicated ownership issues, sync rights and more. But every time I begin to lost hope, I'm surprised to see a handful of truly offbeat programs pop up unexpectedly on some streaming service.

IMDbTV is a free, advertiser-supported streaming service that is owned by Amazon and is somewhat buried inside the innards of the world's clunkiest streaming interface: Amazon Prime Video. Like the larger Prime Video service, the search function is hit and miss and indeed the way you are most likely to run across lesser-known titles is by accident. I've found that looking at IMDbTV on a computer is a bit easier than via the Amazon Prime Video app. But just barely.

Here are some of the quirkier titles now streaming for free on IMDbTV. Some of the programs are really well made and others were just made. But regardless, if you are a fan of the golden-ish age of television, then you will find some stuff here that you won't believe:

Banacek (1972-1974) (2 Seasons)
This show aired two eight-episode seasons as part of the NBC Wednesday Night Mystery Movie anthology series. George Peppard played Thomas Banacek, a Polish American freelance insurance investigator based in Boston. He received ten percent of the value of any of the stolen goods he recovered and each episode featured him solving some seemingly impossible crime. Semi-regulars on the series included Murray Matheson, who played rare-bookstore owner and information source Felix Mulholland and Christine Belford, who was Banacek's insurance investigator rival and sometimes booty call, Carlie Kirkland. 

The crime-solving parts of the show are still first-rate, but some of the early 1970s breezy attitudes towards women can be cringey at times. But it's a fun show to watch and was reasonably popular at the time. So much so that the network ordered a third season but Peppard decided against it in order to prevent his ex-wife Elizabeth Ashley from receiving a larger percentage of his earnings as part of their divorce settlement. One fun piece of trivia: the show inspired a 2018 episode of The Simpsons entitled "Home Is Where The Heart Isn't."

Tenspeed And Brown Shoe (1980)
Based strictly on the pedigree of the people behind this detective series, it should have been a huge hit. It was the first series to come from Stephen J. Cannell Productions as an independent company and Cannell was coming off a hot streak. In the previous five years, he had created the hit shows Baretta & Baa Baa Black Sheep and had co-created The Rockford Files with Roy Huggins. In fact, writer/producers Juanita Bartlett, Gordon T. Dawson both came from The Rockford Files, which has just wrapped its last episode. Co-star Ben Vereen was a well-known performer and Jeff Goldblum was two years away from career-changing roles in the movies "The Big Chill" and "The Right Stuff."

The series was about two detectives who had their own L.A. detective agency in Los Angeles. Vereen played E. L. ("Early Leroy") "Tenspeed" Turner, a hustler who for some reason I suspect isn't quite legal worked as a detective to satisfy his parole requirements. His partner Lionel "Brownshoe" Whitney (Goldblum) was a slightly wimpy accountant, who had always wanted to be a 1940s-style P.I. A running joke involved him reading a series of hardboiled fictional crime novels, written by Stephen J. Cannell. But the series never caught on, although Cannell was fond enough of the premise that he later recycled it into the much more successful Hardcastle & McCormick.

The Tim Conway Show (1980)
Ace Crawford, Private Eye (1983)
Like musicians, some comedians are just better in a group than they are in their own solo projects. That was certainly the case with Tim Conway, who found great success as part of the ensemble on shows such as McHale's Navy and The Carol Burnett Show. But his solo television projects were modest successes at best. The Tim Conway Show was the second series with that name and Conway's friends and co-workers did all they could to make it a success. Conway had recently come off of the success of the Burnett show and this variety series was produced by Burnett's husband, Joe Hamilton and like her show, featured a group of regular sketch performers and it also aired on Burnett's home network CBS. But the hour-long show was cut to 30 minutes after two months and despite adding familiar faces like fellow Burnett Show alum and comedic foil Harvey Korman, the series was gone after a season. But that's much longer than Conway's follow-up series Ace Crawford. That spoof of old film-noir detectives was pulled from the air after a month. Both shows are well worth watching if you're a Conway fan. But if you're not....viewer beware.

The David Steinberg Show (1976)
There was a time in the early-mid 1970s when Canadian comedian David Steinberg was the hottest young comic in America. He had famously helped contribute to the cancellation of the The Smothers Brothers Show by performing a mock sermon where he made fun of passages of the Bible. He was a frequent host of the ABC music series The Music Scene and in 1972 hosted a five-week summer replacement sketch comedy show. In 1975, he hosted a short-lived NBC talk show entitled Noonday. And the following year he returned to Canada to write and star in this faux talk show, which is essentially an early take on the talk show-within-a-talk show format that later became a success with The Larry Sanders Show. The ensemble included a number of familiar faces, including Martin Short, John Candy, Dave Thomas and Joe Flaherty. But while this series only lasted a season, those comedians were also working on their own series SCTV, which launched the same week as Steinberg's show and ended up running six seasons.

Decoy (1957)
The late 1950s were the heyday of the quick knock-off 30-minute cop show and most of them are forgettable. Decoy has a number of things going for it, including the fact that actress Beverly Garland was the first female lead in a television detective show. She played Patricia "Casey" Jones, a young police officer who frequently worked undercover. Given the 30-minute length, the stories aren't complicated. But Garland does a good job in the role and since the cast revolved from episode to episode and was shot in New York City..well, there is a lot of great shots of the vintage NYC street life and plenty of guest appearances by young actors on their way to better things. Guest stars include Ed Asner, Petr Falk, Larry Hagman, Suzanne Pleshette, Coleen Dewhurst and many more.

On Our Own (1977)
This one-season CBS comedy is more interesting for the cast than for what you'll see on the screen. Bess Armstrong and Lynnie Greene starred as Julia Peters and Maria Bonino, two employees in the Bedford Advertising Agency in New York City who also share an apartment. Gretchen Wyler played their boss and one of their co-workers was Dixie Carter. The show was taped live in front of a studio audience in NYC, which was unusual at the time. 

While the show aired on CBS, it was produced by Time-Life Television and distributed by Warner Brothers Television. Through a series of sales, the rights are now owned by HBO, which is owned by WarnerMedia. So why isn't this series streaming on HBO Max as part of a "classic TV" vertical? This is the type of thing I find frustrating.

Women Of The House (1995)
You would think a spin-off of the very successful Designing Women would have been a slam-dunk. But the series, starring Delta Burke as her familiar character Suzanne Sugarbaker, was a creative disaster from its earliest days. Burke had finally made-up with Designing Women head Linda Bloodworth-Thomason after a very nasty public fight. But things continued to be strained between the two and the premise of the show (Suzanne's most recent husband died and she took over his Congressional seat) felt cobbled together. There is also the unfortunate fact that Burke's character worked much better as part of an ensemble that would allow her to bounce jokes off of a straight man. The show did have a stellar cast, including Teri Garr, Patricia Heaton, Jonathan Banks and the off-camera guest voice of Bill Clinton. Ratings for the show slumped pretty quickly and CBS ended up pushing the final four episodes over to Lifetime.

Good Morning World (1967) 
Like a number of other shows on this list, this short-lived series had quite a comedy pedigree. It was created and produced by Carl Reiner, Sheldon Leonard, Bill Persky, and Sam Denoff, who in various combinations had been responsible for creating classic TV shows like The Dick Van Dyke Show, That Girl, The Danny Thomas Show, The Andy Griffith Show and Gomer Pyle U.S.M.C. The series starred Joby Baker and Ronnie Schell as Dave Lewis and Larry Clarke, morning drive time DJ's of the "Lewis and Clarke Show" on a small AM radio station in Los Angeles. Schell ended his three-year stint on Gomer Pyle to do this show (and he would return for that show's final season when this one tanked). Famed Los Angeles Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully even did voice-over narration on some of the episodes. But despite all of the comedic talent, the end result is a show that isn't very funny. But it did include Goldie Hawn in her first television role (playing Ronnie Schell's girlfriend Sandy).

Last modified on Sunday, 03 January 2021 02:13

Everyday Art: Classic Tin Lithograph Toys

Written by 19 December, 2020

Last modified on Saturday, 19 December 2020 14:23

Classic TV Flashback: 'Land Of The Giants'

Written by 12 December, 2020

Land Of The Giants was an Irwin Allen-produced series that aired for two seasons on ABC from 1968-1970. Set a years in the future - in 1983 - the premise was pretty simple. The series followed the adventures of the crew and the passengers of a sub-orbital plane named "Spindrift." While flying from Los Angeles to London, the ship entered a magnetic storm, which dragged it into a mysterious "space warp" to a planet where everyone was 12 times larger than they were on Earth.

The Spindrift crashed when it landed on the planet, and luckily the large inhabitants spoke English and seemed to live a life very similar to that on Earth. The bad news is the ship wasn't the first one to crash land on the planet. So the government was offering a reward for the capture of any "little people." Trying to get that reward by capturing one of the Spindrift's crew or passengers was pretty much the plot for every episode.

Despite having a massive (for the time) budget of $250,000 per episode, Allen was always looking for ways to save money, given the high cost of the over-sized props. That included using footage and props from Allen's Lost In Space or re-using stock footage from 20th Century Fox's film library. 

Sadly, the series ended without a resolution, stranding the survivors on planet extra-large. After years of being out of syndication, Land Of The Giants now airs on MeTV on Saturday and Sunday nights, along with the Irwin Allen shows The Time Tunnel, Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea and Lost In Space.

The cast of Land Of The Giants:

Gary Conway as Captain Steve Burton
Don Matheson as Mark Wilson
Stefan Arngrim as Barry Lockridge
Don Marshall as Dan Erickson
Deanna Lund as Valerie Scott
Heather Young as Betty Hamilton
Kurt Kasznar as Alexander Fitzhugh

Last modified on Saturday, 12 December 2020 14:45

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020

Written by 02 December, 2020

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, December 2nd, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by watered-down coffee and mini-pretzels.

Maybe three years ago an engineer at Philo gave me a rundown of an integrated social sharing tool they were experimenting with in-house. You could share programming suggestions with friends, connect with people who shared your love of a show and create viewing lists you could share publicly or privately. The plan was eventually to offer networks the opportunity to send direct messages about shows to viewers who opted in. According to the engineer, the features had been very popular internally. But it hadn't been rolled out to the public, because it required a large subscriber base in order to scale correctly.

"Social" is a very mushy term, but in the content of SVODs, it really is about sharing your viewing experiences. Sometimes the sharing is direct - think the various experimentations with watch parties. But the very nature of the way a SVOD works (and various content restrictions) makes those types of sharing difficult to bring to scale. But there are ways of creating a social experience that don't require actual direct social interaction.

Spotify announced yesterday that it is introducing new features for their annual "unwrapped" lists. At the end of the year, Spotify typically creates individual lists that show the songs you listened to most throughout the year and the most popular artists for that specific subscriber. The lists are fun to share and they pop up a lot on social media in December. But they are also thought-provoking. I guarantee that when you see your lists, you'll be surprised at some of the songs on it.

The new features Spotify is rolling out this year expand the social aspects of the lists by allowing subscribers to earn badges for things such as creating popular playlists or be a very early listener to a song that later becomes very popular. There are also new personalized playlists, including one called "Missed Hits," which includes song similar to ones you listened to that you missed throughout the year.

All of this is lightweight fun and while it isn't for everyone, it does create a faux-social experience that is different from what users will find on Amazon or Apple Music. And it got me to thinking that this is type of feature I'd love to see Hulu or Netflix roll out in the future. 

While it's not a minor engineering project, it would be fun for Hulu or Netflix to create lists such as "Your Most Watched Shows." These features also could provide a way to glean more specific demographic details from the subset of subscribers willing to provide it in exchange for increasingly helpful content filtering. Asking users to volunteer their sex, ten-year wide age range and state where they are located wouldn't sound too obtrusive to many subscribers. But it would allow services to create content recommendation lists based on what other subscribers in those categories were watching. And from a business standpoint, it would build better demographic info for advertisers, even if only a subset of subscribers agreed to participate.

I think eventually an SVOD like Hulu or Netflix is going to offer features closer to what I saw in that Philo presentation. But in the meantime, even baby steps in the creation of social sharing features would be worthwhile to see.

r/StarWarsLeaks - The Mandalorian in Fortnite Official Loading Screen Art Leaked
Fortnite introduced a new chapter to its current season last night and for people who don't play the game, that means an update to the game map, new characters and changes in every other aspect of the game. The chapter was kicked off with a special one-time only event that allowed players to join together to defeat Galactus. After the ten-minute event ended, there was a short tease for the new chapter, the second part of season five. This season has allowed players to fight and play as a number of familiar Marvel characters, as well as purchase Marvel-related skins and items. It was really an impressive integration and I'd argue it might be the best use ever of the MCU in a gaming environment. Fortnite execs report the special event had 15.3 million concurrent players, with another 3.4 million people watching live on YouTube Games and Twitch.

Fortnite was dark for seven hours, then returned with an altered world map and another round of new Disney-owned characters and new quests to complete. The game has added Disney+ characters The Mandalorian and Baby Yoda (or Grogu), as well as several Star Wars-related weapons. There are new map locations and the addition of gold bars, a new in-game currency that allows users to do everything from weapons upgrades to even hiring a bodyguard to help out during missions.

Whether or not you're into Fortnite or gaming in general, you should be paying attention to how Epic Games (creator of Fortnite) continues to use change and surprise as a way to retain users. 

Alison Herman at The Ringer has a look at HBO Max and she argues that new shows such as The Flight Attendant and I Hate Suzie point to the streaming service working towards targeting a specific audience: young, professional women on the market for distraction:

In practice, the two shows have wildly different tones: The Flight Attendant is a zippy, espionage-adjacent farce packed with scenery porn; I Hate Suzie is a harrowing, chaotic rabbit hole its cocreator and star has readily compared to a panic attack. But on paper, they clearly share some DNA. Both are limited series built around a central performance by an underappreciated actress. Both combine elements of drama and comedy. And both follow their antiheroines as their lives spiral out of control from a single traumatic event. Paired so close together, they’re ideally positioned for a back-to-back binge, a weekend’s worth of entertainment conveniently packaged by a single provider.

Now, I am not convinced at all that this is intent of HBO Max executives. This Ringer piece is more of a speculative theory and it fall apart pretty quickly once you give it some serious examination. And I would more willing to consider her theory if she hadn't begun the piece by completely misrepresenting a recent New Yorker piece on "ambient TV."

Still, it's an interesting take & it's a reminder of how users can see a service in ways that are very different than executives might have planned.

The Athletic's Daniel Kaplan writes about the 49ers-Cardinals game that is exclusive to Amazon and Twitch (subscription required). It's the first digital-exclusive NFL game since 2017 and it points towards the increasing likelihood that the NFL will carve out a digital-only game package in the next round of negotiations. 

SEAL Team Showrunner Steps Down After CBS Investigation Ahead Of Season 3 -  CINEMABLEND
Here is a rundown of the paltry number of new television programs premiering today:

1) Alien Worlds (Netflix)
Applying the laws of life on Earth to the rest of the galaxy, this series blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets.

2) Ari Eldjárn: Pardon My Icelandic (Netflix)
Applying the laws of life on Earth to the rest of the galaxy, this series blends science fact and fiction to imagine alien life on other planets.

3) Baby God (HBO Max)
When retired detective Wendi Babst decides to explore her ancestry through home DNA testing, she makes a stunning discovery. The quest to find the truth about her biological father takes her down a rabbit-hole of furtive medical procedures and unsuspecting women… leading to one man: Dr. Quincy Fortier.

4) Court Cam Season Premiere (A&E)
Join host, Dan Abrams, to find out what really happens inside courtrooms, and to hear the full story from those who were there.

5) Fierce (Netflix)
A gifted young singer becomes an instant sensation on a popular talent show. But her real goal is earning the love of her father, a member of the jury.

6) Hazel Brugger: Tropical (Netflix)
In this stand-up special, comedian Hazel Brugger offers her breezy takes on unruly geese, chatty gynecologists, German bank loans and more.

7) Rescue Cam Season Premiere (A&E)
Hosted by Matt Iseman, Rescue Cam is an incredible, no holds barred look at some of the most shocking and intense, life-or-death rescues, standoffs, animal saves and close calls from across the country and beyond.

8) SEAL Team Season Premiere (CBS)
Bravo Team enters enemy territory in the snowy Spin Ghar Mountain Range to capture Al-Hazred, the leader of a terrorist group and son of the terrorist leader that Jason took down early in his career and made him Bravo One. When they are attacked, Jason and Cerberus, Bravo’s canine member, are separated from the team.

9) Trafficked With Mariana van Zeller Series Premiere (NatGeo)
This new series takes viewers on a journey inside the most dangerous black markets on the planet. Each investigation in the eight-part series embeds with Peabody and duPont Award-winning journalist Mariana van Zeller as she explores the complex and often violent inner workings of a smuggling network. While she dives deeper and deeper into these underworlds, Mariana reveals — with characteristic boldness and empathy — that the people operating these trafficking rings are often a lot more like us than we realize.

This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Wednesday, 02 December 2020 13:41

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, December 1st, 2020

Written by 01 December, 2020

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, December 1st, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by iced tea and Nerds Gummy Clusters.

I have spent a lot of time in this newsletter pointing out just how terrible a user experience it is to try and use Amazon Prime Video's app. Free video available with your Prime membership are intertwined with stuff you can rent or buy. The search function spits out erratic results, the attempts to curate content are laughable and the integration of outside content through  Amazon Channels can be more frustrating than entertaining.

Now, it's not as if the folks at Amazon don't realize their app is a disaster. There have been number of efforts internally to update it and back in 2018, there were reports that one might be close to being released to the public. Although the only meaningful change in the past two years has been the addition of the ability to create profiles.

Apparently my non-stop complaints about the UI have been noticed, because I have recently heard from two people at Amazon who offered to walk me through the reasons why the interface functions as it does. I was told upfront they couldn't discuss whether or not there were any current plans underway to change the UI and they declined to answer a bunch of other questions I had during the discussions. But it was still an interesting conversation. Even if it reinforced my speculations that sales and marketing efforts were the cause of many of the UI's worst problems.

One of the first things that was brought up was that anytime you try and juggle free and paid content, there are going to be conflicts. And it's true that most of the problems I have with Apple TV relate to their similar integration challenges. That's a valid point, although I'd argue that Apple does a much better job of delineating the two barrels of content.

At one point. Amazon apparently tested a stripped-down Prime video app that only included free content, but the feedback was that users felt there wasn't enough depth in the content offerings. And a small team put together a version of the UI that allowed users to switch various categories of content on and off. For instance, you could make all paid content or sports teases invisible. But the fear was that enough people would take advantage of the option to significantly impact revenue.

One of my biggest frustrations is that the current makes it so difficult to find less popular content in IMDB TV or in networks you subscribe to through Amazon Channels. In both cases, users are limited to a few rows of content collected under general categories such as "new" or "popular. But it's difficult to search IMDB TV for every TV show currently available. Or Showtime for movies that are older or less popular.

I never received a reasonable explanation for why the UI functions in that matter. There was some talk that most users were happy with "curation" and that you could still find the content if you searched by title. But if you don't know what's available, how do you know what to search for?

There was a lot of discussion about IMDB TV and an awareness that it would make more sense in the abstract to have it exist as a standalone AVOD rather than this service awkwardly integrated into the main Amazon Video UI. This is one of those decisions that has a lot of complex reasons behind it, some of which I can't talk about here. But the feeling is that having IMDB TV exist by itself would require Amazon having to give up some things to get it placed on Roku and Apple devices. And the feeling is that the trade-off isn't worth it right now.

I have a lot of sympathy for the plight of engineers trying to design a product while still serving the needs of several masters with very different needs. That being said, even after these discussions, I still think the company could do a better job with the UI without giving up too much on the sales and marketing side of the business.

I'm still getting up to speed, but here are links to some of the pieces that been posted at AllYourScreens in the past 24 hours or so:

Halsey Accuses Grammy Officials Of Taking 'Bribes' For Nominations

HBO Max Acquires Exclusive SVOD Streaming Rights To 'The Middle'

New On IMDB TV: December 2020

Pluto Adds New Showtime Selects, The Price Is Right: The Barker Era, QVC, HSN Channels

Three Celebrity Couples Announced For BBC One's 'Miranda’s Games With Showbiz Names'

Catfish: The TV Show
Here is a rundown of the paltry number of new television programs premiering today:

1) Angela's Christmas Wish (Netflix)
A determined Angela makes a wish to reunite her family in time for Christmas, then launches a plan to find her way from Ireland to Australia.

2) Atlas Of Cursed Places Series Premiere (NatGeo)
Author and adventurer Sam Sheridan travels the globe in search of the most cursed places on Earth. Entrenching himself in macabre modern day culture, Sheridan explores regional history and folklore, employs cutting-edge science to illuminate the dangers of the curse, and paints a new and revealing portrait of a doomed place and the people who live there in the process.

3) Catfish: The TV Show Season Premiere (MTV)
Why is that person lying to you on the Internet?

4) Mighty Cruise Ships Season Premiere (Smithsonian)
A 180-pasenger Viking longship built to "duck" under low bridges and a 5,550-passenger mega-ship delivering over-the-top adventures. A liner that offers rugged hiking trails and another that offers opulence and the finest tastes. This season, we travel the globe aboard the most dynamic passenger ships in the world and meet the dedicated teams that keep their vessels running and their passengers entertained. From Norwegian fjords to Bavarian castles to an up-close look at Stonehenge, it's a wild and breathtaking six-part voyage.

5) Natalie Palamides: Nate - A One Man Show (Netflix)
Meet Nate - Your stereotypical masculine man just trying to be better. Executive produced by Amy Poehler and directed by Philip Burgers, Natalie Palamides: Nate - One Man Show follows an alpha male, portrayed by Natalie Palamides, learning to express emotion and understand the rules of consent.

6) Our Own Christmas (OWN)
The one-hour special will feature uplifting holiday moments, surprise acts of giving as well as festive performances by iconic Grammy Award-winning gospel singers Kierra Sheard, Erica Campbell, Tasha Cobbs-Leonard and Le'Andria Johnson, legendary award-winning gospel group The Clark Sisters, and many more.

7) The Holiday Movies That Made Us (Netflix)
Unwrap the real stories behind these iconic Christmas blockbusters, thanks to insider interviews and behind-the-scenes peeks.

8) The Witmans (Investigation Discovery)
In 1998, 13-year-old Greg Witman stepped off the school bus and 11 minutes later, Greg’s older brother Zach frantically called 911 to report that he had found Greg lying in a pool of blood. 15-year-old Zach went into shock – and then was taken into custody as the police’s only lead. What followed Greg’s murder is a harrowing decades-long journey of one family trapped in a double tragedy - a cruel intersection of small-town panic, media frenzy, and a fractured criminal justice system.

This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Tuesday, 01 December 2020 14:34

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Wednesday, November 25th, 2020

Written by 25 November, 2020

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Wednesday, November 25th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by almonds and a strawberry soda.

Just a reminder that I am taking a long weekend to celebrate Thanksgiving and recharge my batteries. I'll be back with a new daily newsletter on Monday, November 30th.

And speaking of Thanksgiving, a sincere thank you to all of you who have subscribed to this newsletter and/or visited the web site. I appreciate the support.

Saqib Shah from S&P Global Market Intelligence has spotted a Netflix test of a Top 50 list. He spotted it on a PS4 in the UK, but didn't see it on the web. A Netlflix spokesperson confirmed the test, telling him that "As we have seen with the Top 10, members like to know what’s popular when picking what to watch. We’re testing if showing an expanded list of popular titles around the globe will be helpful. As with all our tests, we will only roll [it] out if members find it useful."

Shah said there was an overall Top 50 list on the front page, as well as Top 50 TV and Movie lists in those individual sections.


Brandon Katz from The Observer has an interesting look at Netflix original movies and whether they're cost is really worth it once you figure out some probable viewership and impact in the market:

In 2018, Netflix original movie head Scott Stuber teased a “cinematic onslaught” from the company complete with 90 original films per year ranging from $20 million indies to $200 million blockbusters. Last year, the company released 72 original features; 2020 will see more than 120 original films released when all is said and done. Clearly, the streamer has made original movies a top priority, which coincides with an explosion in the company’s annual content budget. (A January forecast from BMO Capital Markets projected that Netflix will spend $26 billion per year on content by 2028, or more than the annual GDPs of countries like Iceland, El Salvador, Senegal and many more.)

Yet original films that premiere on Netflix generate the majority of viewership within the first week or weekend. In fact, Netflix original films rarely maintain a tangible top-tier grip on consumers beyond two weeks, which refutes Sarandos’s claim that they have the same cultural impact as a $1 billion blockbuster. The Entertainment Strategy Guy, using Nielsen data from March 30th to October 18th that measures viewing time, revealed a significant decay rate for Netflix original films. As seen below, there are steep drop offs in hours watched from Week 1 to Week3.

The piece sparked a long Twitter thread of back-and-forth that touched on everything from the future of Bright 2 to whether "cultural impact" is a metric we should worry about. Check out the entire thread here.

I mentioned Hulu Basic's Black Friday deal yesterday and today I wanted to pass along one from Peacock. For a limited time, you can get a full year of Peacock Premium for just $39.99 (normally $50) or Peacock Premium Plus (ad-free) for just $89.99 (normally $100). Visit this page to get the special 20% off discount deal.

Cast | Good Morning Christmas!

Here is a rundown of the paltry number of new television programs premiering today:

1) Folklore: The Long Pond Studio Sessions (Disney+)
Taylor Swift and a few friends sing every track from her new album and talk about how the songs came together.

2) Good Morning Christmas (Hallmark)
Two competing TV hosts are sent to a festive small town over Christmas. While pretending to get along for the sake of appearances, they discover that there’s more to each other than they thought.

3) Great Pretender Season Two Premiere (Netflix)
After their string of successful cons, Makoto leaves Laurent's team. But the web of deceit binding them together goes farther back than he knows.

4) Happiest Season (Hulu)
This new holiday movie is a holiday romantic comedy that hilariously captures the range of emotions tied to wanting your family's acceptance, being true to yourself, and trying not to ruin Christmas.

5) Nature: Santa's Wild Home (PBS)
In this new documentary, get an intimate look at the wildlife of Lapland, a region in northern Finland. It's the fabled home of Santa Claus and actual home of reindeer, great gray owls, wolverines, eagles, wolves, musk oxen, brown bears and more.

6) Nova: Saving Notre Dame (PBS)
The film explores the intricacies of Notre Dame’s architecture and the medieval craftsmanship that created the iconic structure. One year after a powerful fire ravaged its timber and lead roof, the structure is still perilously close to a collapse. The special gives viewers an inside look at the fire itself and the incredible effort to stabilize the teetering walls. Once they’re secured, a restoration project begins: Teams prepare to rebuild the oak roof and fallen spire and save the centuries-old stained glass, all while preventing rain from pouring in through gaping holes in the limestone vaulting—and working amid the toxic lead contaminating the site and 550 tons of melted scaffolding threatening to collapse at any moment. NOVA joins scientists as they determine their reconstruction plans and whether the key to a successful restoration lies within the structure of the cathedral itself.

7) Saved By The Bell Revival Series Premiere (Peacock)
When California governor Zack Morris gets into hot water for closing too many underfunded high schools, he proposes they send the affected students to the most well-funded schools in the state – including Bayside High. The influx of new students gives the privileged Bayside kids (who never have a problem that can't be solved in twenty-two minutes) a much-needed dose of reality.

8) The Mystery Of D.B. Cooper (HBO)
Directed by John Dower, this documentary brings to life the stories of four people believed by their family and friends to be “DB Cooper” a man who hijacked a 727 flying out of Seattle and jumped from the plane over the wilds of Washington State with a parachute and $200,000, never to be heard from again.

9) The Christmas Chronicles 2 (Netflix)
It’s been two years since siblings Kate (Darby Camp) and Teddy Pierce (Judah Lewis) saved Christmas, and a lot has changed. Kate, now a cynical teenager, is reluctantly spending Christmas in Cancun with her mom’s new boyfriend and his son Jack (Jahzir Bruno). Unwilling to accept this new version of her family, Kate decides to run away. But when a mysterious, magical troublemaker named Belsnickel threatens to destroy the North Pole and end Christmas for good, Kate and Jack are unexpectedly pulled into a new adventure with Santa Claus (Kurt Russell).

This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Wednesday, 25 November 2020 14:01

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Tuesday, November 24th, 2020

Written by 24 November, 2020

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Tuesday, November 24th, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by leftover chili and lukewarm coffee.

Today's newsletter is a short one. I am buried in other television-related duties, including interviews and writing four reviews by the close of business today. Back to normal tomorrow.

This is bit off-topic from television and the media, but it is a perfect distillation of what is wrong with national journalism generally. Whether we are talking politics, the media or trends in journalism, news only seems to matter if it is happening to someone who has a well-known national platform and/or name recognition. Something can be taking place across the country, but until it affects someone whom the national news gatekeepers recognize, it might as well be taking place in Mongolia.

Take, for instance, the recent explosion in stories about journalism driven by news that a number of nationally recognized writers are leaving their traditional digital media jobs to write a column for Substack and/or launch their own website. And because it involves familiar media names, major news outlets treat it as a recent development that has seemingly come out of nowhere:

That is fine with Andrew Sullivan, who joined Substack in the summer after years at New York magazine, where his contrarian essays led to criticism from its liberal readers and a tense relationship with its editors. “There’s something wonderful about writing just for readers,” he said. “Because your people are there, you have to be accountable, but it’s a very pure relationship. It reminds me of the wonderful old days of the blogosphere.”

Edith Zimmerman, a former editor of The Hairpin, whose Substack newsletter, Drawing Links, features slice-of-life comics, also noted the similarity between Substack writers and bloggers of yore. “They seemed to be having fun in a way I hadn’t seen in a while,” she said. “People were creating these spaces for themselves to be goofy and a little protected from the turbulence of just throwing yourself at the entire internet.”

To be honest, if your last experience with reading journalists having fun is the "golden age of blogging" (a mystical time that seems to have ended once today's media stars stopped doing it), then you're just not reading enough journalists outside the NYC/DC/LA axis. Journalists like myself have been slogging away in the hinterlands and the national press could care less. But when a couple writers from Vulture or Slate decide to launch their own newsletter, it spawns vast think pieces about the "creative economy" and how journalism is now moving to a more personality-centric model.

I don't begrudge any of those journalists their success or media fame. But it does drive me nuts that there are plenty of journalists like myself, working outside the media spotlight and as far as the national press is concerned, we mostly don't exist. Many of us have substantial audiences and have influence inside out industry. But when it comes to press coverage of our efforts, we are mostly invisible.

Now back to our regular programming.

Beginning at midnight on Thanksgiving Day (11/26), new and eligible returning subscribers can sign-up for Hulu's ad-supported plan for just $2 per month for one year. The offer is good through 11:59 PM PT on Cyber Monday.

An FIR (first information report) has been filed in India against Netflix over allegations that the BBC adaptation of Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy has "hurt religious sentiments." The FIR was filed today by a BJP youth leader, who claimed a scene promoted "love jihad" - a right-wing conspiracy theory about relationships between Muslim men and Hindu women:

Gaurav Tiwari, the National Secretary of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), has demanded an apology and the removal of "objectionable scenes" that "encourage love jihad".

"Kissing scenes (filmed) inside a temple of Lord Maheshwar (a historic town located on the banks of Narmada) have hurt sentiments of Hindus. This is also encouraging 'love jihad'," Mr Tiwari said.

The complaint names Netflix Vice President of Content Monika Shergill and Netflix Director of Public Policies Ambika Khurana.

Here is a rundown of the paltry number of new television programs premiering today:

1) A Christmas Tree Grows In Colorado (Hallmark)
Erin is planning the town’s Christmas celebration and must win over firefighter Kevin in order to obtain the beautiful spruce tree on his property for the celebration.

2) Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders: Making the Team (CMT)
They're dancers. They want to make the team.

3) Dragons: Rescue Riders: Huttsgalor Holiday (Netflix)
Huttsgalor's favorite winter festival is finally here! But will some ice-breathing dragons put a frost on everyone’s fun.

4) Hillbilly Elegy (Netflix)
Based on the bestselling memoir by J.D. Vance, this is a modern exploration of the American Dream and three generations of an Appalachian family as told by its youngest member, a Yale Law student forced to return to his hometown.

5) Jennifer Aniston: More Than Friends (Reelz)
She's an award winning sitcom star, movie star, producer and philanthropist. There are many levels to global superstar actress Jennifer Aniston who became a fan favorite on the 10-season hit TV series Friends before transitioning her career to star in successful movies and returning to TV on a popular streaming service. But the road to success did not come without challenges. Learn about her four failed TV series that preceded Friends. Explore her inner struggle to find lasting love with facing very public divorces from Brad Pitt and Justin Theroux.

6) Moonshiners Season Premiere (Discovery)
How do moonshiners deal with a pandemic. Apparently by making more moonshine.

7) Notes For My Son (Netflix)
Facing a terminal disease, a mother decides to use her unwavering optimism and sarcastic humor to make sure her 4-year-old son remembers her.

8) The Informer Series Premiere (MHz Choice)
Berlin law student Aylin (Aylin Tezel) knows exactly what she wants: to become a lawyer. To finance her studies, she works as an escort. Because she had to defend herself against an intrusive businessman, she now faces five years in prison. Immediately after her sentencing, Special Agent Jan (Ken Duken) walks up to make an offer

9) Wonderoos (Netflix)
An adventurous and lovable team of young animals from all over the world play, laugh, sing and learn together to solve relatable preschool firsts.

This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Tuesday, 24 November 2020 14:23

Too Much TV: Your TV Talking Points For Monday, November 23rd, 2020

Written by 23 November, 2020

Here's everything you need to know about the world of television for Monday, November 23rd, 2020. I'm writing this from the Twin Cities suburbs, where AllYourScreens HQ is powered by baked potatoes and iced tea.

There is some video circulating today that is supposedly some of what will be announced during Disney upcoming investors meeting on December 10th. It certainly feels real, based on the look and the overall parameters of the details. But as you might expect, Disney has declined to discuss the video or whether it is legitimate. 

According to the video, Disney+ is creating a new tier called "Disney 18+," which would be the home for more adult fare from 20th Century Fox and Disney. It would include movies such as Deadpool, Shape Of Water and Logan. It also appears that there will a Disney+ premium tier of some sort, which could be the home for movies that skip theatrical release as well as a stop for movies between a theatrical release and PVOD. This move fits with recent rumors that Disney is skipping the theatrical release for some of its films such as Cruella, Pinocchio and Peter Pan. Somewhat expectedly, it appears to show Black Widow heading to the premiere tier in April and Falcon & Winter Soldier in August.

The video also shows Disney+ adding more adult current programming, including shows such as The Good Doctor and Modern Family.

If true, all of this sparks a number of questions we don't yet have the answer for yet. What impact does this have on Hulu? Is this just a domestic plan? International only? What would the various tiers cost? It's a bold plan and I really hope it's real. But it looks as if we won't know for sure for a few weeks. 

Netflix sent out a press release this morning announcing that its original series The Queen's Gambit is the streaming services' "biggest limited scripted series ever," with more than 62 million viewers. There are plenty of reasons why that mushy viewing number is interesting but not especially helpful. But the release did spark some conversation online about the importance of a series that is by its very nature a one-off. For instance, Andrew Rosen argued that despite its success, it's not a "franchise IP" that you can build on for the future

While that is true, people tend to forget that "franchise IP" is so valuable because it is near-unicorn rare. If you're lucky, you can create a franchise every decade or so. And it's instructive that when you look at the last fifty years worth of content that is represented on Disney+, you have three true examples of franchise IP: Star Wars, Marvel and The Simpsons. And all three of those were acquired from the outside. Yes, there are plenty of examples of successful Disney IP. But it is also IP that falls more into the category of a double or triple than a home run.

And that's fine. Launching home run-level IP is near impossible. What separates the winners from the losers is how any studio, network or streaming service manages the rest of the portfolio. Which most importantly includes creating a steady stream of doubles and triples to stay relevant from year-to-year.

BTW, this is also what makes the possible Disney+ Premium idea I discussed earlier so interesting. It's not a place you would send the home runs. But it's a tier for those doubles and triples that fall in the value chain between the home runs and the movies that can go straight to Disney+.

If you spend any time watching Netflix's Top Ten lists, you'll notice that it's common to see weird and sometimes obscure movies suddenly appear on the lists. Some random Adam Sandler or Mark Wahlberg film will unexpectedly be the 3rd most-watched film and there is often no discernable reason for it to happen. It's clear Netflix's suggestion engines are surfacing the title for users. But why?

Stereogum has a really fascinating look at Spotify's recommendation engine and the story starts with a simple question: The Brighten The Corners album outtake "Harness Your Hopes" is the #1 song on Pavement's Spotify page, with over 29 million plays to date, eight million more than "Cut Your Hair," a legitimate and enduring '90s hit. Quickly, and without any obvious reason, it stopped being a rarity and started to become a standard. So how did this happen, exactly?

Online, people have been casually wondering this on places like Reddit and Twitter, with a prevailing theory being that the song must have been featured on a prominent Spotify playlist, and then simply snowballed from there. Malkmus himself was under this impression, too: “I heard it was on a playlist or something,” he says, nonchalant. “I’m not an expert on Spotify but, you know, one of those ‘Monday Moods’ or whatever the fuck they do.”

It’s a reasonable enough explanation. But looking at a similar situation of his own, Damon Krukowski wasn’t so sure. The musician and writer was fascinated with the question of how “Strange” became his former band Galaxie 500’s top Spotify track — by a significant margin — even though it was not a single, was never particularly popular in the past, and wasn’t being picked up on any prominent playlists. In June of 2018, Krukowski laid out the conundrum on his blog, and soon he received a possible explanation from a Spotify employee.

Glenn McDonald, who holds the title of “data alchemist” at Spotify, had taken an interest in the case, and decided to look into it. What he found is that the sudden jump in plays for “Strange” began in January of 2017, which was “the same time Spotify switched the ‘Autoplay’ preset in every listener’s preference panel from off, to on,” as Krukowski recounted on a follow-up blog post. McDonald explained to Krukowski that the Autoplay feature actually cues up music that “resembles” what you’ve just been listening to, based on a series of sonic signifiers too complex to describe. In this case, “Strange” had been algorithmically determined to sound similar to a lot of other music, and was frequently being Autoplayed to the point that it took on a life of its own, and eventually eclipsed the band’s other tracks. It continues to do so to this day.

It's well-worth reading the entire piece and while Spotify refuses to discuss the issue, it's probably not a coincidence the service is beginning to allow bands to select which songs get chosen for this unintentional attention. 

This is the type of insight you can only get from inside the company and Netflix is notoriously shy about discussing its internal recommendation engines. But this Spotify story makes a lot of sense when you put it in the context of Netflix. These lesser, often obscure movies are being recommended not because they are great, but because they are bland enough to match up closely with other popular movies subscribers have previously viewed.

We tend to think of recommendation engines as being complex, manipulative creations that are driven entirely by design. But as this Spotify story illustrates, even the most carefully designed piece of software can produce unintended consequences.

Sky has acquired the Judi Dench/Leslie Mann movie Blythe Spirit and will release it simultaneously in theaters and on Sky Cinema in the UK and Ireland on January 15th.

What says 2020 more than a Baby Yoda Chia Pet?

Black Narcissus' review: Mountains elevate nuns' anxieties in striking FX  show - Chicago Sun-Times

Here is a rundown of the paltry number of new television programs premiering today:

1) Black Narcissus (FX)
Black Narcissus is an FX limited series based on the best-selling novel by Rumer Godden. Mopu, Himalayas, 1934. A remote clifftop palace once known as the 'House of Women' holds many dark secrets. When the young nuns of St. Faith attempt to establish a mission there, its haunting mysteries awaken forbidden desires that seem destined to repeat a terrible tragedy.

2) Shawn Mendes: In Wonder (Netflix)
Over the course of a world tour, this unguarded documentary follows Shawn Mendes as he makes sense of his stardom, relationships and musical future.

This newsletter is called "Too Much TV" because....well, it's hard to keep track of all the new television premiering everyday. To help you prioritize your viewing, click here to see our list of more than 400 upcoming television premieres, movies and finales. You'll find listings from more than 70 networks, as well as streaming services and web shows.

If you'd like to get this daily feature as an email, subscribe to our free daily "Too Much TV" newsletter here.

I'll be back with another one tomorrow. If you have any feedback, send it along to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and follow me on Twitter @aysrick.

Last modified on Monday, 23 November 2020 14:37
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