Paramount+ Launches on March 4th

Launches is not quite the right way to describe what we’ll get on the 4th, as it’s CBS All Access expanding to become a more of a competitor in the streaming wars, with Viacom/CBS rebranding All Acces to be Paramount+

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CBS AllAccess launched all the way back in 2014, but didn’t start picking up steam until they launched some original programming, specifically their revival of the Star Trek franchise on TV with Discovery in 2017 and Jordan Peele’s approach to Twilight Zone in 2019. With the re-merge of Viacom and CBS in 2019, as well as all the major studios gunning for a piece of the streaming pie, it was only a matter of time before they pushed to have the entire catalogue under one branded umbrella.

And as glad as I am they are doing this, as there is a lot of content to be enjoyed under this banner, really Viacom/CBS? Paramount+? Like… Disney already had “+”. Technically Hulu had it when they had their first premium iteration, but since Hulu and Disney+ are both Disney platforms (Comcast/NBC/Universal still has like a 30% non-controlling stake, FTR). But Disney+, and Discovery+ just launched on January 4th.

My hope is that we’ll see them really fill out some of their problem areas. Currently, CBS AllAccess has a smattering of various back catalogues, and some of the shows they have are missing episodes. A lot of episodes. By focusing on a robust content library, I think they can really be a modest player in the streaming landscape to set themselves apart. And they do have a very key segment they can lock in with a full library: 90s/early 00s nostalgia.

Late Gen-X, Millennials, and early Gen-Z. Specifically with their Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, and MTV properties. If they can build that out, they can get some of the younger crowd to their platform. They’ll get the older crowd with their deep well of NCIS/CSI/JAG shows. But tap into that 90s nostalgia. The 2020 documentary The Orange Years already got that ball rolling for you.

What gives me pause are three big properties Paramount has that are showing up elsewhere right when it would be beneficial to have them in their arsenal. I won’t pretend to know the intricate ins and outs of licensing and distribution and all that. But cult fave TV show Freaks & Geeks is going to Hulu, with its music rights intact, which is a huge win for fans of the Paramount produced show. That show did air on NBC, so maybe it’s a distribution issue, and with the music rights in play, maybe Hulu was the best option. I don’t know. But that would have been a good selling point for Paramount+.

As would the delayed theatrical releases of Coming 2 America, the long gestating sequel to the 1988 Eddie Murphy classic, and Without Remorse, the Jack Ryan-adjacent Tom Clancy film starring Michael B. Jordan. Both would have been solid theatrical successes had 2020 not happened, and both would have been good launch content for Paramount+, had they not auctioned the distribution rights to Amazon Prime.

Freaks & Geeks heads to Hulu on January 25th, while Coming 2 America and Without Remorse head to Amazon in February. Again, I won’t pretend to know the ins and outs of distribution rights and streaming rights, and there are probably bigger things at play preventing those properties heading to Paramount+, but it just feels like missed opportunities for Viacom/CBS to launch Paramount+, and doesn’t fill me with much confidence on their library going forward.

Courtesy CBS AllAccess on Twitter

I’m already a subscriber to CBS AllAccess, so not much will change for me. I do it to support Star Trek. I will sing its praises if they invest in and fill out their Nick, MTV and Comedy Central libraries. That and Paramount Picture’s 110 year history of cinematic excellence that includes The Godfather films, Forrest Gump, Titanic (with Fox, so Disney has that, too), Marx Brothers films, Hope/Crosby’s Road To… series, (some of) Friday the 13th. If they highlight that and their TV properties, they can be a contender, following a similar path to success Warner has with HBOMax. Paramount even has Showtime, so a well known, well respected premium cable brand is in their back pocket, too.

Viacom/CBS may not have the most exciting launch of a branded streaming platform, as they’ve just completely dragged their feet to the finish line. But they do have an impressive catalogue if they can just make effective use of it. As an elder millennial, I’m anxiously awaiting the chance to deep dive 90s era Nickelodeon. Been far too long without Hey Dude or Salute Your Shorts in my life.

Where A Tarantino Star Trek Could Go

The rumor that Quentin Tarantino is developing a Star Trek film is gaining traction again, now with reports that he’s met with J.J. Abrams and Paramount to work on a script, but It’s all still in super early stages. I have some ideas on what it could lead to, and also a few misgivings on Tarantino taking on a Star Trek film. And do note that I’m a massive fan of both Tarantino and Star Trek.

Continue reading “Where A Tarantino Star Trek Could Go”

First Trailer for Star Trek: Discovery- I’m Excited & Nervous

Star Trek: Discovery, starring Sonequa Martin Green, Michelle Yeoh, Jason Isaacs, Doug Jones, Shazad Latif & Anthony Rapp.

Right up top, it’s getting a 15 episode order instead of 13. That’s good. That cast. Also very good.

The thing that’s bugged me since they first announced we’re going to barely pre-Kirk era Starfleet, is that we haven’t had a Trek take place in the in-universe future since 2002, when Nemesis came out. Everything since, from Enterprise, to Kelvin-verse (official name for the Abrams films), and now back to Trek-prime with Discovery is all prequel based. For a series, a franchise, that was so forward focused, so progressive, it’s a difficult pill to swallow seeing it so regressive. DS9 and Voyager handed the franchise the Gamma and Delta quadrants to explore, Voyager gave us the 29th century’s Temporal Integrity Commission to to explore, basically handing us 400 years worth of space exploration left untouched. Think about everything that’s happened since 1617. All the discoveries and exploration that was done. And we keep getting, “Yeah, Ferdinand Magellan was awesome, so was this other guy who was Magellan adjacent. By the way, we eventually go to the moon, but how ’bout that Magellan guy, huh?! HUH?! Sailing and shit.”

Continue reading “First Trailer for Star Trek: Discovery- I’m Excited & Nervous”

Stuff That’s Streaming: Star Trek and Lots Of It

Similar to last week’s entry regarding The X-Files and my trip down memory lane, this is about another revisit of my youth, this time in the form of high nerdery, the wonderful mythos that is Star Trek.

I originally conceived the idea of going on a Star Trek binge and watching all the TV Shows and Movies in as short a time span as possible way back when I was unemployed and had literally nothing else to do (aside from job hunting). Disregarding the animated series, if you were to watch every episode of every series, and every movie, in the in-universe chronological order (Enterprise through Deep Space 9), I figured it would take roughly 22.8 days of non-stop viewing. I wouldn’t be able to do that then, nor now, but it was an idea I kicked around, but never fulfilled.

Then a few months ago the wonderful documentary The Captains showed up in my Netflix recommendations, I watched it, and decided to get started on watching Star Trek. Though I broke from the original idea by starting with The Next Generation, instead of Enterprise. The titles and images are clickable links to the Netflix stream.

The Captains

The Captains
All the Star Trek Captains, excluding Pike.

The pop-cultural significance of this piece of film should not go unnoticed at all. It’s nothing fancy. Just the Original Series Captain, Kirk, William Shatner, taking a film crew and discussing Star Trek, one of the biggest franchises in history, with all of the other Trek Captains – TNG‘s Picard (Patrick Stewart), DS9‘s Sisko (Avery Brooks); Voyager‘s Janeway (Kate Mulgrew); Enterprise‘s Archer (Scott Bakula); and new, young Kirk from the reboot movie, Chris Pine.

It’s truly fascinating to see these 6 people together on film, though unfortunately not all at the same time. You get a behind the curtain look at what it was like (for most of them, excluding Shatner, obviously) to enter this phenomenon of a TV/Movie series, coming from their varied backgrounds, and how it impacted their careers. It’s a fun sit-down and chat style interview between director Shatner and his 5 successors (or, predecessor, technically, in Bakula’s case) to the Captain’s Chair. Shatner does focus on himself quite a bit, as he tends to do, and is more than allowed to do. As someone who grew up on Trek, I watched from beginning to end with eager ears to hear the charming stories each would tell from their time in Starfleet.

You can catch the entire film here on Netflix, and I highly recommend it for anyone who’s had even a passing interest in Star Trek at some point in their lives.

Star Trek (all of them)

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation

And then there’s of course what led me directly to that: the shows. I grew up on first The Next Generation, moving straight into DS9 and Voyager. I of course caught reruns of The Original Series back when SyFy was Sci-Fi, and actually showed Sci-Fi. I never watched Enterprise, which is surprising to even me considering I’m a big fan of both Star Trek and Bakula’s previous series, Quantum Leap. But I’ve recently started reliving my time with TNG, even tweeting about (#RelivingTNG). I finally got over the Tasha Yar/Beardless Riker hump and I’m at the point where it’s starting to get good. I’m probably going to keep pushing through TNG, taking each series at a time, and if you want to check out Star Trek, either again, or for the first time, do it.

All 3 seasons of The Original Series are streaming here.

All 7 seasons of The Next Generation are streaming here.

All 7 seasons of Deep Space Nine are streaming here.

All 7 seasons of Voyager are streaming here.

All 4 seasons of Enterprise are streaming here.

Top 10 Films of 2009

I had to hold off a bit wait to catch up with the limited releases to finally make their way up to Marquette, and I knew there were a couple flicks coming to DVD in early January that I wanted to see, so I waited to complete the list. But I think that I’ve seen all I’m going to see of 2009 for a while, so I’ll go ahead and lock in my Top 10 of 09 now. In order, 10 to 1:

Sam Rockwell in Moon10) Moon

Moon encapsulates what I envision to be “adult sci-fi.” Sure, there is something to be said about the big action adventure sci-fi that dominates the box office. But while those films put the heavy focus on the fiction half, Moon and films like it (recently Children of Men and Sunshine) never forget the science half. And Duncan Jones (son of David Bowie) in his directorial gives us a riveting, minimalist psychological thriller. Sam Rockwell delivers one of the best performances of the year.

9) Where The Wild Things AreWhere The Wild Things Are

Spike Jonze’s take on Maurice Sendak’s classic book is gloriously realized love story with childhood. He perfectly captures what it’s like to be a kid, and how an active imagination is how they (we) cope with things we’re not fully ready to cope with. Max Records’ performance is one of the finest given by such a young performer.

Zach Galifianakis, Ed Helms and Bradley Cooper in The Hangover8 ) The Hangover

The Hangover was a movie where it was a group of very funny and very talented people got together and made a solidly funny movie that connected with people. It didn’t rely on marquee names or some kind of gimmick. It was enough to just be funny. It’s turned Zach Galifianakis into one of the most in demand comics and Bradley Cooper into a household name.

7) ZombielandThe cast of Zombieland

Zombieland was an exercise in entertainment. It was a genuinely funny film with a cast that fit together perfectly. You’re not going to find a message in the film. But you will find a point. That point? Have a good time. Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisinberg and Emma Stone are pitch perfect, the cameo from Bill Murray is an unexpected delight, and the film finds that perfect blend of action, horror and comedy.

Carl Frederickson of the movie Up6) Up

If someone were to come back from the future and tell me that eventually, Pixar makes a bad film, I wouldn’t believe them at all. When you go to a Pixar film, you know you’re getting quality animation, a well told story, and a joy ride of entertainment, and Up is no different. Five minutes in, I’m in tears. On an animated flick. The folks at Pixar are master storytellers.


5) Inglourious BasterdsChristoph Waltz as Hans Landa in Inglourious Basterds

While Abrams’ Star Trek wasn’t fully deserving of the “slick” label, Quentin Tarantino’s Inglourious Basterds certainly is. I said in my original review that I would have been more likely to pay attention in eleventh grade history class had Tarantino written the textbook. It’s pure escapism with a knowing hint of schlock, but that’s what makes it so good. And German actor Christoph Waltz, as the pure evil SS Col. Hans Landa, gives one of the top 10 performances of the decade.

An bomb tech hurled from an explosion in The Hurt Locker4) The Hurt Locker

Not just in reality, but in the movies, the Iraq War hasn’t been the success people were hoping. It’s failed to catch on with movie audiences the way Vietnam and WWII did. But it just need that one film to really pull into focus. Leave the politics aside, and just show the war. The combat. The bomb techs. And Kathryn Bigelow perfectly captured it. It’s one of the most intense cinematic experiences of the year. Jeremy Renner’s star making performance as SSgt. William James, a bomb tech in Iraq is full of the machismo we’ve come to expect in war movies, but there’s a subtlety to him that won’t hit you till the end.

3) Star TrekKirk, Scotty, McCoy, Sulu and Uhura of Star Trek

Whoever said mainstream, big budget adventure flicks can’t be good, J.J. Abrams has something to say. Abrams acknowledges and respects the legacy of the Star Trek franchise, and gives it an update for the dawning of a new generation. I wouldn’t say it’s a “slick update,” but more of just an update. He brings the old school adventure spirit into the new and evolved world of sci-fi, translating it perfectly. And above everyone else, the young, mostly green, cast had the daunting task of filling the shoes of these iconic characters and the icons who originally played them. And once the dust settled, Chris Pine is Kirk.

George Clooney and Anna Kendrick in 'Up In The Air'2) Up In The Air

At times both comical and poignant. Jason Reitman’s best film to date is an amazing showcase for what highly talented people can do when they come together to make  a film that is just all around good. George Clooney has never been better, Vera Farmiga shows that when given the chance, she can shine, and Anna Kendrick gives a breakthrough performance that should earn her an Oscar nomination and more film offers for a good several years. Jason Reitman is becoming the Pixar of well scripted dramadies, can he make a bad movie?

1) District 9District 9

When I first saw the trailer for District 9, I was hooked, but I didn’t know it was to become the film that I ended up loving so much. It was such an intelligent film that looked at an otherwise standard sci-fi plot device (aliens come to Earth) through a more pragmatic and realistic lens. Newcomer Sharlto Copley gives one of the most engaging performances, of any genre, of the year, and Neill Blomkamp set himself up as one of the premiere sci-fi auteurs of the generation.

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