THE OLD MILL STREAM

In another chapter of the continuing saga of how television is once again changing, another entry to the streaming wars recently made their mark.

NBCUniversal recently gave a name to their new streaming service that will open in the Spring of ’20. It’s calling itself Peacock, named after the bird that has been part of The National Broadcasting Company (NBC) since 1956 when it was in the process of introducing color TV, perhaps the most significant improvement of TV that became mainstream in the 20th century. (High definition, although being tested, didn’t become the standard until the middle 2000s i.e. the 21st Century!)

As of this writing, there will be a number of new and improved streaming services here and/or “coming soon” that will offer a vast selection of content; old, new, and new again. The new stuff will be programs never seen before. The old stuff will be time tested favorites that were created within the last thirty years. (Friends, The Office, Seinfeld, etc.) as well as a few remakes, or in better terms, reboots! Peacock will offer reboots of two other shows from the 1980s and 1990s; Saved By The Bell, and Punky Brewster. The former series is based on a live action series for youth that was once part of NBC’s Saturday morning lineup, while the latter series was a prime time sitcom whose namesake was supposedly named after a girl that NBC’s programming head at the time, Brandon Tartikoff once knew as a youth!

It really isn’t any surprise to figure out why streaming media is now part of the many new comings of TV. There are the many reasons behind that note. First, streaming media can be obtained through any electronic device that sports a screen and can be connected to the internet, wired or wireless. Second, the programs can be viewed whenever the viewer desires, rather than on let’s say Thursday nights at 8:30 PM. (7:30 PM Central and Mountain times.) And in most cases, one can watch one episode at a time, or become a video hog and view every episode one after another for hours at a time. This method of watching one episode after the other is called “binge watching”. However, some of the streaming services will only release a few episodes of a programs at a time in order to give the viewer a serialized feel to it by also giving a few cliffhanger aspects to it all. This is assuming that the series in question offers some kind of a story arc. But most programs, especially programs that are not sitcoms, to have that continuity to it all. This means that if one begins to watch the series starting on episode five, some content will be missing or it won’t make much sense! You’ve got to start on EP1!!

However, the real reason for streaming’s appeal was the monthly service price for a subscription. Most of the streaming channels are available a la carte, meaning one can get those channels one at a time and to their choosing. Some services are offering package deals, such as Disney is going for their Disney+ and ESPN programs at a package rate. This is totally different with cable TV where the service would be for so much per month, offering channels that the subscriber may view a few times or not at all while paying for the privilege.

To give you readers an idea to what we are commenting about, back in the 2000s, this writer knew of somebody who was paying $121.00 per month to their local CATV provider to only watch three channels: Bravo, The Discovery Channel, and A&E. This same subscriber has access to 110 active channels, 30 that were “reserved for future use”, and the rest were audio only channels that offered a selection of music based on genre. One the screen as the music played, a static photo of the artist performing the song was displayed or a stock photo of an image that would fit the mood of the song was on the screen if the artist photos were not available. The name of the song, the artist name, and the source to where the song came from was displayed on the lower right side of the screen–MTV style!

Each decade of the 21st century had some change or improvement when it comes to TV within this domestic landscape. The 2000s introduced high def TV signals while is ended standard resolution TV–the kind that’s been around since the 1940s, as well as antilog signals. It was saw the end of the traditional CRT TVs that featured a square screen made of glass, as well as the end of the VCR. The 2010s made high def the norm while sets became longer and flatter in size and scope. The 20’s may show the fading of cable TV as will as DVD media. However, not everything that can be viewed on a TV device will be available via streaming since it’s more of a legal thing that a technological aspect.

Because of this, DVDs are not necessarily going away for good., so don’t quite toss out that DVD machine yet! And if one is a real consigner of content, many titles that were once available on commercially released videotapes may no longer be available anymore! (It’s another legal thing!) And the only way to see some content that’s out of print (so to speak), one needs a VCR to view it back. Keep in mind that the video will be seen at around 240 scan lines, making the picture look washed out when viewed on a 4k set. However, unless some lawyers get their acts together, one is never going to see a specific movie, TV show, or some other content on any other medium for a while, if at all!

Yours truly has been asked a number of times on what kind of programs I take a look at existing on the TV universe. I really never made any real comments toward this question. However, yours truly will give a reply to that time tested inquiry in a future issue of ALO-L.

So as they would say on TV, stay tuned!!
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NEWS AND REVIEWS

Continuing its limited run at The Zephyr Theatre on Melrose is Karen Lukesh’s new play DO US PART, a mini melodrama of a soon to be divorced couple having what appears to be their final stand.

Karen Kukesh and Scott Speiser are Dee and Nick. They have just completed their 11th (and final) year as husband and wife. Now in the final process of dissolving their marriage for keeps, they are packing their respectable goods from the home that was once theirs. Their meeting seems to be rather stilted as they still continue to dish out their faults. Although they both admit that they are beginning to “see” other people, they still desire to have they last minute say with each other. It’s not as easy to call it quits after a decade plus. But can they really end it all? Better still, is there hope for Nick and Dee, even though their attitudes may say otherwise?

This one act play written, directed, and co-starring Karen Kukesh, is a piece that can be lifted from what is known as “real life”. It’s generally a play that takes upon a comical look of a couple that thought they had it all, but it appears that the “all” wasn’t as cracked up as it could. The dialogue between the two is fast paced, cocky at times, while it holds some hints of sweetness to it all. They both come to their own conclusions within its sixty or so minute running time–something that a real life situation could really use.

What makes this play as charming as it is in spite of its theme of a marriage gone to pot, is the fact that it holds simplicity. Its stage set just consists of a few scattered cardboard boxes full of clothing, paperback books, CDs, along with an oversized wedding album that is now all for naught. These props represent a few of the things that are just reminders of a domestic life that is no more.

For those that desire a classic case of less-is-more theater, DO US PART fits that bill. It’s a comedy that tests if a marriage can really last through personal choice, or through dumb luck.

DO US PART, performs at The Zephyr Theatre, 7456 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, until October 24th. Showtimes are Thursday nights at 8:00 PM. For ticket reservations, call (800) 838-3006, or via online at https://douspart.brownpapertickets.com
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Art Shulman’s CHAMP AND HIS FOUR WOMEN, a comedy-drama about a man who juggles a quartet of women that are part of his life while one dwells in the afterlife, makes its world premier at North Hollywood’s T.U. Studios.

Anthony Backman is Richard, who goes by his nickname “Champ”. He was once married to Susie (Rebecca Westberg), who Champ called “Princess”. It’s been a year since she passed away, yet her spirit is present within Champ’s humble condo home. Although he is alone in his condo, it seems that living there isn’t as feasible for him. (Besides, he could use the money for its sale!) So he uses the services of a real estate agent he first met at his gym, Cheryl (Caroline Westheimer). She is there as a professional, but as someone who may act as his companion. Adding to this mix is Esther (Leah Bass), a neighbor who does Champ’s laundry if not dispensing her spin on advice, and Annie (Shelby Janes), who works at the deli that makes his favorite sandwiches he partakes in!

This comic drama (or dramatic comedy) by regional playwright Art Shulman is a tale that focuses upon one’s personal conflict between the notion of letting go and moving on within one’s personal life. The cast that appear in this production are rather appealing. Anthony Backman as Champ is portrayed as a humble sole with shades of a person with hopelessly romantic traits, yet keeps on with his comical allure. (He can tell jokes, even if those jokes fall flat!) Leah Bass as Esther serves as the neighbor who is a bit on the nosy side, yet still keeps her heart of gold. Caroline Westheimer as Cheryl is straight forward in her line of work, yet gets along with Champ’s ideal. Shelby Janes as Annie is just as charming and perhaps can be the right person for Champ, outside of creating his sandwiches the way he likes ‘em! Rounding out the cast is Rebecca Westberg as Susie a.k.a. Princess, Champ’s real love of his life. Princess remains as a ghost that gave him her final (and written) notes for him just before she was sent to the afterlife.

Stan Mazin directs this play that is more melodramatic that comical, although it doesn’t get overly serious. It’s also talky, meaning that there are a lot of issues noted. Those plot elements just brings the backstory up front for the audience to follow up to.

CHAMP AND HIS FOUR WOMAN is a appealing play that serves its purpose, reminding those that one is never totally gone, let alone forgotten. It also shows how life can become a wonder as well.

CHAMP AND HIS FOUR WOMEN, performs at the T.U. Studios, 10943 Camarillo Street (at Lankershim Blvd. and Vineland Avenue), North Hollywood, until November 24th. Showtimes are Friday and Saturday nights at 8:00 PM, and Sunday afternoons at 2:00 PM. For reservations and further information, call (818) 646-0007, or online at
http://www.ChampsWomen.com
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MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL (Disney) stars Angelina Jolie as the title character. Elle Fanning is her goddaughter Aurora as the hailing Queen of the Moors, the mythical land that harks fairies and other fantasy-type creatures. Harris Dickinson is Prince Phillip, son of King John (Robert Lindsay) and Queen Ingrith (Michelle Pfeiffer) who rule the neighboring kingdom of Ulstead. When Phillip asks Aurora’s hand in marriage, the task of the two families soon to be united in marriage lean toward the arrangement of a formal dinner party at the castle of the king and queen to commerate the celebration. It first appears that this dinner meeting may hold some complications. Malificent agrees to meet the future in-laws, even getting some training in royal etiquette through her assistant and companion, her raven Diaval (Sam Riley), who appears in human form when desired. At the dinner party, what begins as simple small talk conversation unfolds into something bigger. This leads Maleicent to place a curse of King John, putting him into a deep sleep. Will a kiss break the spell, or is there more into a once peaceful kingdom getting inside of a conflict between the citizens of Ulstead and the creatures within the Moors?

This feature film is a sequel of sorts from the 2014 release Maleficent from The Walt Disney Company which in turn, was extracted from the 1959 animated release Sleeping Beauty. The current release, as well as its follow up, is another take of Disney making “live action” versions of stories taken from “cartoon” editions.

As to what this title provides, it features not only a slew of special effects (of course), but it adds more depth to all of the characters that appear throughout. Angelina Jolie as the evil Maleficent (as the title of this flick suggests) is evil by way of her stern looks and through the curse that starts the film’s plot points. Elle Fanning as Aurora isn’t the sweet and syrupy princess as Disney tends to market her as, but holds a firm caricature of her self. Although the studio uses their princess “collection” as a major source of income, they are obligated to tone down the innocence just a bit to fit the current standards of total girly-dom.

There is plenty of action and conflict to view, as this movie is as expected as pure fantasy. There are a few other charactors of note that are featured to make the fantasy quite possible. Chiwetle Ejiofor appears as Conall, a winged creature who befriends Maleficent as a dark fairy. Ditto for Borra, as played by Ed Skrein, another dark fairy is desires more war than peace. These characters are just as macabre and scary looking through the tone of the screenplay as written by Linda Woolverton and Nora Harpster & Micah Fitzerman-Blue. The darkness angle depicted is more akin to a Grimm’s Fairy Tale of yore than standard Disney fodder. However, there isn’t any gore or bloodshed depicted. (After all, it is a Disney title!) But even with its “PG” rating, it’s a movie that isn’t meant for all kids–perhaps from age ten and up at the very least! However, since kids age ten and less makes up Disney’s core fan base (along with its major source of money making income), perhaps the studio is selling itself short!

Directed by Joachim Ronning, MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL is an adult fantasy piece that is more Disney-esque than let’s say, a super hero action picture! (And never mind the fact that the Marvel super heroes is owned and operated by the same management!) It’s not as family friendly as Disney’s other “live action” version of a former traditional cartoons such as last summer’s The Lion King, but still holds plenty of attention! For those that seek more “live” versions of their cartoon features, check out the upcoming Lady and the Tramp, soon to appear on the Disney+ streaming service. However, LATT is a TV movie. M:MOE is a theatrical vehicle! So there!

MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL, now appearing at all multiplexes nationwide.
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