2015 has been already become a monumental year for streaming original content. Streaming media has long since taken over as the new brand of cable, and the brands that run the streaming platforms are coming into their own; learning just how much they can bring to the world. Throughout the various sites, new original content is released almost weekly, with Netflix leading the way. This summer it seemed as if Netflix released a new show, season of a pre-existing show, documentary, or comedy special so often that it would be difficult to see everything that they did. This all culminated with the release of their first original feature film, Beasts of No Nation, which is getting early Oscar buzz. Even if it doesn’t win any Academy Awards, if the film even gets nominated then it will be a potential game changer to the film industry as a whole – companies like Netflix are willing to pay top dollar to acquire the rights to a show or film for their platform. While Netflix is certainly setting the curve right now, the other streaming brands are going to start to play catch-up. Amazon Prime and Hulu are the other most popular subscription based options; and their streaming content is also increasing in size proportionate the public interest. As great as 2015 has been, trends show that we should be optimistic that 2016 will be even better – even more monumental, and it should offer even more content.
That is where this blog comes in. There are many blogs that cover the industries of television and/or film. This blog will focus solely on the streaming aspect of the industry. The purpose of this blog will be to chronicle the rise of streaming media, as the brands start to throw more and more stuff at the wall. This blog will offer reviews of new shows as they premier, news about upcoming shows, reflections, recommendations for movies that are released to stream, occasional lists, and much more.
The Reviewing Process
In a recent interview, The Hateful Eight, the ever-candid Quentin Tarantino discussed his problems with television criticism. In sum, he complains that critics pass judgment on an entire series based off of the pilot. In a rush to be the first to produce a review (and perhaps because that is all critics are given), this is all that there is time for. Tarantino feels that this is unfair, because judgment is being passed on one hour of a potentially 12+ hour program.
I find his complaint to be valid, but illegitimate. It is valid criticism of the model – most everyone agrees that pilots for shows usually are not strong indicators of the quality of the show. Netflix recently conducted research on how many episodes a viewer of a show needed to watch in order to be “hooked”. It typically is further into the series than one episode. However, the complaint doesn’t hold water in that it holds journalism to a standard that is impossible in the internet age – to sacrifice being one of the first to release a review in order to watch the show in its entirety, as it airs. For better or worse, our news consumption is simply way too immediate to follow that model.
For this blog, I plan to write reviews with Tarantino’s critique in mind. Most of the time, I won’t write reviews just on the pilot. However, time probably won’t permit me to watch an entire season of television and get out a review, let alone my sanity. Binge-watching culture is a thing of the present, but I find that going anything further than a few episodes at a time leaves one’s brain stir-fried. What I will do for reviews is watch 3 episodes. I believe that three episodes is enough to get a pulse of a show – characters are typically established by this point, and there is probably even an ongoing plotline. Seasons that go to streaming websites typically range from 10-13 episodes, so watching 3 episodes before a review means that I will have seen roughly 25-30% of the season. But most importantly, it will help me to keep timely reviews. Of course, this only matters for the shows that follow the Netflix model of releasing all the episodes at once – for the companies that slow roll them weekly, I will probably just review the pilot the old-fashioned way.