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Daily Reads: The Best TV Shows Never Made, Hating the Way We Watch Trailers and More

Daily Reads: The Best TV Shows Never Made, Hating the Way We Watch Trailers and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. The Best TV Shows Never Made. Maybe you’re a Jonathan Franzen fan disappointed that “The Corrections” never made it to HBO. Or maybe you’re still saddened that we’ll likely never see the Philip Seymour Hoffman show “Happyish.” Either way, there are plenty of TV shows that almost were, and Rolling Stone’s Logan Hill went through the history of some of the most intriguing.

“How and Why,” FX.  In the half-hour single-cam pilot that Charlie Kaufman (screenwriter of “Being John Malkovich,” “Adaptation” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) shot for FX, the brilliant John Hawkes plays a TV host who loses his gig and has to move to a smaller market, where he works for a younger guy (Michael Cera) and with a new crew. Sally Hawkins played his wife, and Catherine Keener was set to guest-star. Trade website Deadline Hollywood reported that FX didn’t appreciate its unusual tone and felt it “would not mesh well with the rest of the lineup.” Kaufman is rumored to be shopping the show to other networks. Read more.

2. Failure and Madness in “The King of Comedy.” Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy” has gone from a critical and commercial failure to one of the best-regarded films by Scorsese fans, and it plays as a spiritual cousin to his earlier triumph “Taxi Driver.” Writing as a part of Reverse Shot’s Scorsese Symposium, Nick Pinkerton notes “King” protagonist’s similarities to Taxi Driver’s” warped Travis Bickle, as well as the different ways the films treat their embarrassments. Where “Taxi Driver” famously pivoted away from Bickle’s rejection via phone because it was too embarrassing, “The King of Comedy” displays Pupkin’s failures in all of their awkward glory.

In “The King of Comedy,” however, the camera never looks away from the protagonist’s failures—even when (quite frequently) we wish it would. Its sights are fixed on a deeply discomfiting performance. Even when in intimate situations, such as his first date with Rita, Pupkin is incapable of human interaction on a person-to-person scale. His broad gestures are meant to register with the back row of a studio audience. Contrary to Jerry’s earlier advice about the importance of a relaxed delivery, Pupkin doesn’t deliver his punchlines so much as pounce on them. When he gives his “Every king needs a queen” proposal to Rita, he isn’t speaking to her but to an invisible camera just behind her, and to a nonexistent army of armchair spectators beyond it. Read more.

3. “Transparent” and Seeing Yourself on Screen. Writing about a scene in the new Amazon series “Transparent,” Alyssa Rosenberg of the Washington Post wrote about how a specific moment made her recall an experience with her father. There’s something inherently moving about seeing something that recalls a specific moment or experience of your life, and Rosenberg notes that how “Transparent” might do that both on an individual level and, in terms of its depiction of the transgender experience, a much larger one.

If a big entertainment company is going to spend millions of dollars producing a television show or movie about you, and then many more dollars distributing and advertising it, that means you and your community have the economic clout to make such a product viable. A show like “Transparent” or a movie like the arch campus race comedy “Dear White People” exist because both transgender people and black college students and the people who are interested the stories and experiences of those communities have a certain pool of money that command the entertainment industry’s attention. Read more.

4. The Trouble with Archiving Digital. As digital has become the regular format and DCP the projection of choice at most multiplexes, it’s become essential to preserve digital along with celluloid. But there are new challenges to archiving digital media, from budgetary concerns to technical ones. Vicky Gan of Washingtonian investigates:

Anyone who has abandoned brittle, yellowing photo albums in favor of iPhones or the cloud might consider the film-to-digital shift a no-brainer. But for archivists, digital storage is a logistical headache. Once reduced to bits and bytes, information requires constant migration to keep pace with advances in technology, which tend to last no more than a few years. Lose the trail of upgrades and a film librarian, managing thousands of newsreels, shorts, and one-of-a-kind snippets, could lose access to an artifact entirely. Add to this the fact that no one has come up with a satisfactory equivalent to old-fashioned film, which is a more robust, tangible medium than anything in the digital world. Read more.

5. Don’t Hate Movie Trailers – Hate the Way We Watch Them. Earlier this week, the trailer for Paul Thomas Anderson’s “Inherent Vice” was finally released. While most were thrilled at a sneak peek at the film, Criticwire’s own Sam Adams noted that he wasn’t going to watch the trailer, adn that he felt trailers lessen the experience of watching movies. Mike Ryan of ScreenCrush respectably disagrees, saying that it’s the way we watch trailers that’s the problem. When seeing a trailer in the theater, Ryan argues, there’s a fun anticipation in wondering what it’s going to be…

But trailers are now kind of made for the Internet. I remember this started about the time that the ‘Attack of the Clones’ trailer was released. (I distinctly remember trying to download this trailer on a 56K modem the day it was released, which took about three hours. It was worse than when a new Apple iOS is released.) I suspect more and more of the best moments are put into the trailer so that they will be talked about online. It’s basically a cinematic version of a You Won’t Believe What Happens In This Movie! headline. And there are so many of them! It seems like every day the Trailer You Have To See premieres as my Twitter feed lights up with tweet after tweet promoting the same thing. Read more.

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