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Inside Streaming (Sep 6th, 2019)

NOTE: Sadly, there won't be any new editions of Inside Streaming next week. I'm taking a trip to the East Coast to visit family and won't have time to file daily newsletters from the road. On Monday morning, I'm going to post the new release calendar for the full week, and that'll be that. But we'll be back here with daily newsletters once more starting on Monday, September 16. See you all then, and thanks for reading! - Lon

1. Entertainment Weekly's new cover story on "The Mandalorian" teases some more details about the first-ever live-action "Star Wars" series. The Disney+ series takes place during the chaotic period after the fall of the Empire in "The Return of the Jedi," but before the rise of the First Order in "The Force Awakens." (History-minded showrunner Jon Favreau compares the setting to the lawless frontier of the Wild West, Japan without a shogun, or the Mediterranean after the fall of Rome.) The first season apparently contains no legacy "Star Wars" characters, but will instead feature Pedro Pascal's titular bounty hunter jumping between planets, getting into outlaw-themed adventures and apparently, keeping his mask on most of the time. The series will also feature Gina Carano as the mercenary Cara Dune; Carl Weathers as bounty hunter guildmaster Greef Carga; and "Breaking Bad" vet Giancarlo Esposito as Moff Gideon, a former Imperial official who lost everything with the destruction of the second Death Star. "The Mandalorian" will debut along with the Disney+ streaming service on November 12. – EW

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2. FOLLOW FRIDAY: THE MALTINS! LEONARD (@LEONARDMALTIN) AND JESSIE (@JESSIEMALTIN)

Award season is just around the corner when the industry and movie fans' focus turns to toward the Oscar race and the year's best cinematic releases. So what better time to follow a legend in American film criticism, the great Leonard Maltin, and his partner-in-crime, co-podcaster and daughter, Jessie? There is none. There is no better time. You should follow them now.

Leonard, of course, is best remembered -- to movie fans of a certain age -- for his annual Movie Guide, which was basically IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes together, but all written by a single person and contained within a bound volume. Maltin embarked on the publishing project in 1969, and it only wrapped up in 2015! With a movie guide that was over 1,600 pages and featured nearly 16,000 paragraph-long film reviews. 

These days, the Matlins are focused on their podcast, "Maltin on Movies," where the co-hosts welcome really top-flight, impressive guests from across the world of films and filmmaking. Recent episodes featured iconic documentarian Ken Burns; actor and author Simon Callow; master cinematographer Caleb Deschanel (yes, the father of Emily and Zooey); comic actor and voice man Phil LaMarr; and "When They See Us" director Ava DuVernay. Leonard and Jessie also host cool events in and around Los Angeles; back in May, the duo hosted their first-ever film festival, "Maltin Fest," at LA's historic Egyptian Theater. (It included a screening of Bela Lugosi's personal print of "Bela Lugosi Meets the Brooklyn Gorilla," because of course, it did.)

Quick reminder that I've added the Maltins to our ongoing Twitter List of essential follows from the world of streaming entertainment. Check it out, give it a follow, and hit me up with any additional suggestions by clicking REPLY on this very email. - Lon

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3. WHAT'S NEW ON STREAMING TODAY?

TITANS: The live-action superhero series based on DC's Teen Titans comics returns for a second season, adding "Game of Thrones" vet Iain Glen to the cast as billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne. [DC Universe]

THE SPY: Six-part miniseries from creator/director Gideon Raff starring Sacha Baron Cohen as real-life Mossad spy Eli Cohen, who worked undercover in Syria in the 1960s. (The Cohens are not related.) Previously, Raff created the original Israeli series that inspired Showtime's "Homeland." [Netflix]

ARCHIBALD'S NEXT BIG THING: Animated series from DreamWorks based on the children's book of the same title by "Veep" star Tony Hale. It's about a carefree chicken named Archibald Strutter (voiced by Hale) who goes with the flow. Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Adam Pally, Rosamund Pike, RuPaul, and Casey Wilson also provide voices. [Netflix]

JACK WHITEHALL: TRAVELS WITH MY FATHER: The humorous British travel series really does feature comedian Jack Whitehall touring the world with his father, Michael. The brand-new third season will bring the Whitehalls to the US. [Netflix]

HIP-HOP EVOLUTION: The Peabody Award-winning documentary series -- which originally debuted on HBO Canada in 2016 -- returns for a new third season on Netflix. The series features interviews with influential rappers, DJs and others, and traces the history of hip-hop music from the 1970s onward. [Netflix]

ÉLITE: The Spanish-language teen drama -- about the violent clash between working-class and wealthy students at a Madrid private school -- returns for a second season. [Netflix]

ARTICLE 15: Hindi-language drama, inspired by a number of real-life caste-based crimes, about a police investigation into the disappearance of three teenage girls from a small village. The title refers to Article 15 of India's Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of religion, race, caste, sex, or place of birth. [Netflix]

COUPLES THERAPY: Showtime's new fly-on-the-wall weekly documentary series is shot during real therapy sessions with Dr. Orna Guralnik and four couples. It was created by Josh Kriegman, Elyste Steinberg and Eli Despres, who produced Anthony Weiner campaign doc "Weiner." [Showtime]

LATE NIGHT: Writer/star Mindy Kaling's comedy-drama about the collaboration between a green staff writer (Kaling) and a veteran TV host (Emma Thompson) was a hit at Sundance but struggled to find an audience in theaters this summer. [Amazon Prime]

NIKO AND THE SWORD OF LIGHT: Original animated series -- based on a comic book -- about a 10-year-old named Niko on a journey to bring light back to his homeland. The new episodes make up the second half of the show's second season, and also serve as a series finale, wrapping up the storyline. [Amazon Prime]

INTO THE DARK: PURE: The 12th entry in Blumhouse and Hulu's anthology of satirical horror films closes out the first season. (It's already been renewed for a second.) The new episode, "Pure," was inspired by Daughter's Day, and follows a group of teen girls at a Purity Retreat who contact a supernatural entity. [Hulu]

MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS: Saoirse Ronan stars as Mary alongside Margot Robbie as her cousin, Queen Elizabeth I, in director Josie Rourke's historical drama, based on John Guy's biography. The film was nominated for two Oscars, for its Costume Design and Makeup. [HBO, Saturday]

GARY OWEN: #DoinWhatIDo: In his fourth Showtime comedy special, Owen talks about his early days as a wrestler, cautions against oversharing on social media and reveals what it's like to be friends with Kevin Hart. [Showtime, Saturday]

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4. The second season of Amazon's political thriller series "Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan" has a new trailer. Season 2 brings the action of Venezuela, where CIA officer Ryan (John Krasinski) is investigating potential illegal arms sales to a brutal regime. Wendell Pierce returns from Season 1 as Ryan's boss, James Greer, while Noomi Rapace and "House of Cards" vet Michael Kelly join the cast as new characters. Season 2 of "Jack Ryan" will debut on Amazon Prime Video on November 1. – COLLIDER

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FICTIONAL FRIDAY: "CARNIVAL ROW" ON AMAZON PRIME VIDEO

Screenwriter Travis Beacham first sold his spec script, "A Killing on Carnival Row," to New Line Cinema in 2005. It bounced around in various stages of film development for years; at one point, Guillermo del Toro was in talks to direct. Finally, Amazon got their hands on it and, in collaboration with Beacham, blew it up into a full-blown TV series. So, "Carnival Row" and its world have existed in Beacham's mind for well over 15 years, at this point, in some form or another. And it shows.

This is a massive series, in both scale and scope. The eight-episode first season is a love story and a war epic, and an immigration allegory, and a murder mystery, plus it's set in an original fantasy universe with lore and backstory to spare. It FEELS like a story that the storyteller has been waiting decades to finally get a chance to tell, and even though I don't think everything quite works perfectly, you have to admire the ambition of the undertaking. As well, the production design, sets, costumes, and special effects are all first-rate, conjuring a richly-detailed alternate reality that genuinely feels like it extends beyond the edges of the frame.

The action largely takes place in a powerful Victorian London-esque city-state known as The Burge. They're locked in an intractable conflict with the other major human empire of this world, the villainous Pact. I say "human" because the world of "Carnival Row" is also populated by any number of species that remain purely mythological in our world: fairies, trolls, fauns, centaurs and so on. The Burge vs. Pact conflict has turned the homelands of these creatures (known dismissively as "critches" to their human oppressors) into colonies and even battlegrounds, creating a massive refugee population.

And this is where the show begins, with Burgish veteran and police inspector Rycroft Philostrate (Orlando Bloom) reuniting with his wartime girlfriend, the fairy refugee and resistance fighter Vignette Stonemoss (Cara Delevingne), and looking into a string of brutal murders.

But there are also a number of subplots, designed to give us a broad cross-section of Burgish society. So we follow the high-profile kidnapping of the son of Chancellor Absalom Breakspear (Jared Harris), the clash between a snobby socialite (Tamzin Merchant) and the wealthy faun (David Gyasi) who moves into her tony neighborhood, the day-to-day goings-on in a fairy brothel, the dark prophecies of the watch known as Haruspex, and on and on. Beachem and co-creator/showrunner René Echevarria seem to have every corner of the "Carnival Row"-verse mapped out, with enough storylines and ideas to keep them going for 10 seasons.

Much of it works, and it all looks great, but I can't help but feel the show would have benefitted from a bit more focus on character development and a LOT more personality. "Carnival Row" certainly touches on issues like immigration, and the evils of imperialist wars, but it doesn't really have much to SAY, at least, not much to say that we haven't seen and heard dozens of other times in other films and TV shows. There's a lot of detail here, and a ton of worldbuilding, but not a tremendous amount of insight. Which is okay! But also means there isn't a need for such a self-serious tone. If "Carnival Row" were a bit more broad, with a little bit more self-awareness about being kind of bizarre and campy, it might actually be fun. But I'll settle for immersive and wildly ambitious, I suppose.

THE BASICS

Title: "Carnival Row"
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video
Episodes: 8 (1 season)
Running time: 50-67 minutes each
Genre: Fantasy drama

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6. Israel's prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, called for a boycott of the Israeli TV network Keshet for co-producing the miniseries "Our Boys" along with HBO. The series -- from a group including both Israeli and Palestinian creators and filmmakers -- looks at the violent events that led to the June 2014 Israel-Gaza conflict. Netanyahu called the series "anti-Semitic," and claimed that it "soils Israel’s reputation," while its defenders have accused him of shutting down "self-reflection" and valid discussion. "Our Boys" is currently available to stream on HBO. – NBCNEWS

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7. NBC News reported that HBO Max could cost $14.99 per month, around the same price as a current regular HBO subscription. The report also indicated that the service will likely launch in April of 2020. 

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8. Filmmaker Patty Jenkins ("Wonder Woman," "Monster") signed a multi-year deal to develop new series for Netflix. Jenkins has previously collaborated on a number of TV projects, including TNT's "I Am the Night" and AMC's "The Killing."

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Lon Harris is the writer and editor of Inside Streaming, and was the very first person to ever write an Inside newsletter. He lives in Los Angeles, California, and also writes about TV and film for Fandom, Screen Junkies, Rotten Tomatoes, Gamma Ray and others. He competes on The Movie Trivia Schmoedown as "The Professor." You can follow him on Twitter @lons

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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