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Inside Streaming (Nov 24th, 2017)

The end of net neutrality regulations could mean that you have to pay more for streaming services like Netflix, or suffer slow buffering speeds. The FCC has unveiled a plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules, which limit the power of internet service providers (ISPs) to - for example - serve certain kinds of content at faster speeds than others, or block certain websites or content types altogether. This could potentially introduce a system such as the one in Portugal and Spain, where ISPs offer packages of data types - email, music, streaming video, etc. - to which internet consumers subscribe for an additional charge. Alternately, it could lead to ISPs only granting speedy access to particular content providers with which they have special arrangements. For example, should AT&T's merger with Time Warner go through, they could offer preferential service to HBO subscribers over Netflix. Writer Brian Feldman suggests that Americans may be in for a lot of small inconveniences rather than a sudden interruption of service to major streaming providers. – NYMAG

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Netflix has renewed its revival of "Mystery Science Theater 3000" for a second season, or the long-running sci-fi comedy's 12th season overall. "Mystery Science Theater 3000," in which a trio of comedians riff on terrible movies, originally aired on a Minneapolis UHF station before moving to Comedy Central and, later, the Sci-Fi Channel. The show returned to Netflix following a successful Kickstarter campaign, backed by original creator Joel Hodgson. The new cast from Netflix's "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Return" - including Jonah Ray, Baron Vaughn, Hampton Yount, Felicia Day and Patton Oswalt - are expected to return for the new episodes. – VARIETY

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Warner Bros. will produce an original animated TV series centering around the Harley Quinn character for their forthcoming DC Comics-branded streaming platform. The half-hour animated action comedy series will be aimed at adults, and will center on Harley - freed from her relationship with The Joker - making her own way in Gotham City's criminal underground. Deadline reported that Warner Bros. is interested in having Margot Robbie, who portrayed Harley Quinn in "Suicide Squad," reprise the role and provide the character's voice for the series. The show, which will apparently feature other notable characters from around the DC Universe, is the third original series to be greenlit for the DC streaming service. The cancelled animated series "Young Justice" will return for new episodes, and Greg Berlanti of "The Flash" and "Arrow" will produce a new live action show based on the Teen Titans. – DEADLINE

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A number of disability rights groups have filed suit against Hulu for not offering audio tracks for blind or visually impaired subscribers. The federal lawsuit claims that Hulu's failure to provide tools allowing the blind to enjoy its content violates the Americans with Disabilities Act. The suit claims that Hulu has been repeatedly asked to provide these services by blind customers and their advocates, but the company has refused. The audio tracks would include descriptions of visual elements, including the setting, facial expressions of actors and basic on-screen action. Many such tracks are already available for content that has been posted to Hulu, such as films produced by major movie studios. Netflix reached a settlement with the American Council of the Blind to begin providing similar audio description services in 2016, following an outcry over the inability of blind audiences to watch the company's blind superhero series "Daredevil." – WAPO

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A third accuser has come forward claiming to have been sexually harassed by "Transparent" star Jeffrey Tambor. Tamara Delbridge, who was working as a makeup assistant on a set with Tambor in 2001, has reported that the actor forcibly kissed her on the lips. Tambor responded by claiming that he did not remember the incident with Delbridge, and suggested that any kiss was likely meant as "an enthusiastic farewell and gratitude for a job well done." Tambor had already announced before Delbridge's accusation that he would leave the role of Maura Pfefferman on the acclaimed Amazon series following accusations of sexual misconduct by personal assistant Van Barnes and transgender actresses Trace Lysette. Four seasons of "Transparent" featuring Tambor are currently available on Amazon; a fifth is still expected for 2018. – DEADLINE

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Netflix will produce its first original Colombian series, to debut in 2019. The still-untitled series will follow a homicide investigation happening in the Amazon rainforest, near the Brazil-Colombia border, which comes to involve a mysterious indigenous tribe. Oscar-nominated writer and director Ciro Guerra will executive produce the series for the production company Dynamo, which also developed "Narcos" and "El Chapo" for Netflix. – VARIETY

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Amazon will release the sci-fi anthology series "Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams" for US Prime Video subscribers on January 12. The series began airing in the UK on Channel 4 back in October. The co-production was originally going to air in the US on AMC, but after the cable network pulled out of the development process, Amazon stepped in to secure the US distribution rights. Each episode of the show, from executive producers including Bryan Cranston and Ronald D. Moore ("Battlestar Galactica"), is based on a different short story by author Philip K. Dick, whose work has already inspired a number of films, including "Blade Runner," "Total Recall" and "Minority Report." – DEADLINE

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RECOMMENDED: "SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT" ON NETFLIX

Fort Greene, Brooklyn has changed a great deal since Spike Lee first depicted it in 1986's "She's Gotta Have It," his debut film. In many ways, the Netflix series rebooting Lee's breakthrough hit is about the nature of these changes. This time around, fiercely independent Nola Darling doesn't just struggle against the expectations and limitations of the men in her life, but the gentrification of her neighborhood and constant cultural attempts to co-opt her identity. It's not a coincidence that, in the original film, Nola's artistic ambitions take a backseat, while they become a key part of the Netflix show's narrative. It's been 30 years and the scope of Lee's vision has expanded over time.

He's also found a superlative new Nola in actress DeWanda Wise, the singular voice around which these 10 episodes pivot. Nola has about 5 times more dialogue than any other character in "She's Gotta Have It," much of it delivered straight to camera as part of Lee's singular, confrontational style. There's not a ton of plot driving "She's Gotta Have It," particularly when compared to other binge-happy Netflix content. If viewers are going to stay tuned for the first season's full 5 hour runtime, it will be because of Wise's confident delivery and energy. Even when she's not speaking, this Nola is thinking and puzzling things out and making bold decisions; it's all in the eyes.

Like the film, Nola starts off the series splitting focus between her art and the three men in her life. Lyriq Bent takes over the role of the wealthy (and married) Jamie Overstreet, Cleo Anthony plays the narcissistic photographer Greer Childs and, in a daring performance that I sense a lot of agents probably would have steered clients away from, Anthony Ramos steps in to the Mars Blackmon role. This was, of course, a character made not just famous but iconic in the 1980s by Spike Lee himself. ("It's gotta be the shoes!") 

The new series has transformed Mars into a half-black/half-Puerto Rican hipster (he's still a motormouth), and Ramos dives in to the recreation and never looks back. He mostly pulls it off (even when recalling the "please baby baby please baby" bit from the movie), but modeling so much of his look and personal style on the original Mars may be more distracting than completely reinventing the guy from the ground up. Still, it's bold, and you have to respect the generosity of Lee turning over the bit that made him famous to another performer.

A few more quick pieces of praise for Spike Lee, who directs every episode of the series, and his team.

- He doesn't really treat this like TV. Episodes have their own structure, but there's a looseness to the storytelling that more closely resembles a Spike Lee film, especially a later, more experimental Spike Lee film. The show's visually dynamic, and Lee takes full advantage of the freedom allowed by Netflix. If he wants to pause the story for a bit and take in a burlesque performance, or cut away to a montage of Nola trying out questionable holistic medicine purveyors, he goes for it. It's refreshing.

- Nola is a film buff, and usually when characters on TV drop a lot of movie references, they're either show-off obscure or thuddingly obvious to everyone. But Lee, a cinephile himself, consistently nails these interludes. Nola sounds like a real film geek. And the brazenness of having characters debate the Oscar-worthiness of your OWN movies in the PILOT for your Netflix show! That's why he's Spike Lee.

- Lee directs, but he brought in a number of women writers to work on the individual episodes, and what a revelation it is. The series tackles a lot of Hot Button 2017 Issues - from catcalling to sexual assault to representation in art to surgical enhancement - but never feels like an After-School Special or a Very Special Episode, and there's a directness and an honesty and an anger to the series that's unlike anything else on TV right now. It doesn't sound, and I recognize I'm a white guy saying this, but it doesn't sound like it was written by a well-intentional male writer approximating how women might discuss these topics, and then congratulating himself afterwards. Even in 2017, that's still kind of a big deal.

THE BASICS

Title: "She's Gotta Have It"
Where to Watch: Netflix
Episodes: 10 (1 season)
Running time: About 30 minutes each
Genre: Comedy-drama

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