Inside Streaming - December 10th, 2019

Inside Streaming (Dec 10th, 2019)

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1. The final 10 episodes of Netflix's comedy series "The Ranch" will hit the service on January 24. Billed as "Part 8," the episodes will formally complete the show's fourth 20-episode season. Ashton Kutcher starred in the series as a failed semi-pro football player who returns home to Colorado to help his mother (Debra Winger) and father (Sam Elliott) run the family ranching business. Elisha Cuthbert and Wendie Malick co-star in the final episodes. The show was Netflix's first comedy series to introduce 20-episode seasons, divided into 10-episode "Parts," a format now employed by a number of other programs. The previous batch, "Part 7," arrived back in September. – DEADLINE

2. The CW's "Crisis on Infinite Earths" featured the first-ever crossover between a broadcast network superhero series and a streaming series. During a Monday night episode of "Supergirl," characters from DC Universe's "Titans" briefly appeared on-screen in an alternate reality, known as "Earth-9." (The shots were re-used from a Season 2 episode of "Titans" and were not shot specifically for the crossover.) Marvel will have a TV and streaming crossover of its own, going in the opposite direction, in the coming weeks. Characters from "Cloak and Dagger," which aired on the TV cable network Freeform for two seasons, will guest star on an episode of Hulu's "Runaways." – INVERSE


MICHELLE WOLF: JOKE SHOW: The comedian's new Netflix special explores hot button topics like politics and gender, and questions if Americans are becoming too "woke." [Netflix]

OUTLANDER: The third season of Starz's historical sci-fi romance series -- based on the books by author Diana Gabaldon -- hits Netflix today. (Season 3 is based on the novel "Voyager.") Caitriona Balfe stars as a nurse from the year 1946 who finds herself transported back to Scotland in 1743. [Netflix]

BELICHICK & SABAN: THE ART OF COACHING: NFL Films documentarian Ken Rodgers directed this 75-minute profile of football coaches Bill Belichick (New England Patriots) and Nick Saban (U of Alabama), built around a recorded conversation between the two long-time friends. Liev Schreiber provides narration. [HBO]

The following films are now available to rent or buy on VOD services such as iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, and Vudu.

JUDY: Renée Zellweger stars as stage and screen icon Judy Garland in this acclaimed 2019 biopic, set in London during the winter of 1968. [VOD]

IN FABRIC: Writer/director Peter Strickland's horror-comedy follows a cursed dress as it's passed between victims. [VOD]

4. HBO ordered a full first season of the still-untitled show about the 1980s Los Angeles Lakers from producer Adam McKay. The series is based on the book "Showtime: Magic, Kareem, Riley, and the Los Angeles Lakers Dynasty of the 1980s" by Jeff Pearlman, and will star John C. Reilly as Jerry Buss, Jason Clarke as Jerry West, Quincy Isaiah as Magic Johnson, Solomon Hughes as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and Gaby Hoffmann as Claire Rothman. McKay will direct the pilot, while "Godzilla" and "Kong: Skull Island" writer Max Borenstein will script the episodes. The project will be the first for McKay as part of his five-year first-look development deal with HBO and HBO Max. He also executive produces "Succession" for the network. – DEADLINE


Filmmaker Werner Herzog and his frequent collaborator, André Singer, originally produced this feature-length documentary for A&E's History network, but it's just become available on Hulu, and I highly recommend it. Over six months, Herzog sat down for three lengthy interviews with former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who oversaw the dissolution of the USSR; the film itself is split between clips from these discussions, interviews with Gorbachev's colleagues and fellow world leaders of the era, and more general musings about the end of the Cold War.

Now, I understand that the idea of a documentary being narrated by Werner Herzog carries with it certain expectations. Many of his films, like "Grizzly Man" or "Encounters at the End of the World," contain a lot of deep and dark ruminations and esoteric language. So much so, that he's become a popular target for impressions and parody. "Meeting Gorbachev" contains a few of these kinds of sequences, where Herzog discusses historical events in a particularly personal or contemplative way. (The film spends a lot of time on German Reunification, a topic that's likely unfamiliar to many Americans but of central interest to the filmmaker.) But for the most part, the tone here is more briskly informative than philosophical. Much of the film would not feel out of place among the History Channel's regular primetime line-up.

Herzog is clearly a fan, and excited for a chance to meet a personal hero, and his enthusiasm drives the whole movie forward. (He didn't smile nearly this much while looking at the cave paintings.) Honestly, not a lot of added insight or fanfare is required to make Gorbachev himself an interesting subject, or his life a compelling narrative. He was an extremely unlikely politician, a farmer's son from a remote, rural corner of his country who'd trained as a lawyer. As well, he had an extremely unlikely journey, from die-hard lifelong Communist (in the film, he notes that he joined the Party on his first day of high school) to the leader whose legacy would be the dismantling of the Eastern Bloc. The film does an excellent job of putting this grand story into context and filling in all sorts of small, human details. It's even occasionally funny.

Title: "Meeting Gorbachev"
Where to Watch: Hulu
Running time: 91 minutes

6. Paul McCartney will co-produce an animated film based on his children's novel "High in the Clouds" for Netflix. The story follows a rebellious teenage squirrel named Wirral, who's forced to live with his friends high up in the trees to avoid an angry owl whom he has wronged. McCartney created the book, which was released back in 2003, along with writer Philip Ardagh and illustrator Geoff Dunbar. A film adaptation, for which McCartney has apparently written several original songs, was first announced in 2013. (It's been confirmed by Netflix that the current project will feature new McCartney songs, but it's unclear if they are these same songs from 2013, one of which featured Lady Gaga.) "The Star" helmer Timothy Reckart will direct the adaptation, while "Paddington 2" writer Jon Croker will handle the script. – RS

7. Author Michael Chabon will adapt his 2000 novel "The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay" into a miniseries for Showtime, along with his wife, writer Ayelet Waldman. The project will be the first for Chabon and Waldman under their recent deal with CBS TV Studios. Chabon earned a Pulitzer Prize for the novel in 2001; it's about a Jewish refugee who arrives in New York in the 1930s and, along with a cousin, creates one of the first comic book superheroes. Chabon and Waldman will write the adaptation, and Chabon will serve as showrunner on the series. He was also showrunner and head writer for the first season of the CBS All Access sci-fi drama "Picard," but will transition out of some of these duties ahead of that show's second season. Numerous film and TV adaptations of "Kavalier and Clay" have been developed in the past, only to ultimately fall apart prior to production. – THR

8. HBO Max ordered a first season of the single-camera comedy series "1% Happy," from actor/writer Dani Fernandez. Fernandez will star in the series, as a woman with clinical depression who moves back in with her estranged father and agrees to attend weekly therapy sessions. She'll also executive-produce, along with former "Daily Show" correspondent Roy Wood Jr. – DEADLINE

[FULL DISCLOSURE: Dani is a friend of mine, and we've worked together on several projects. But this is big news, so of course, I included it. - Lon]

9. Curiosity Stream, the education-oriented streaming service from Discovery Channel founder John Hendricks, announced that it has more than 10.5 million subscribers worldwide. Curiosity Stream features a curated selection of documentaries, along with nature, science, arts, and history programming. It's available as a standalone service, for a $3 monthly subscription, but Curiosity Stream has largely spread through bundling deals with international cable providers, who offer the service via set-top boxes. About half of the company's subscribers are currently outside the US, and Curiosity Stream is preparing to launch in nine additional Latin American countries. Hendricks launched Discovery Channel in 1985; today, it's the third most widely distributed cable channel in the US, behind only TBS and the Weather Channel. – VARIETY

10. Amazon closed a deal to stream Tuesday night Champions League soccer matches in Germany during the 2021-2022 season. The move will further boost Amazon's football coverage; the company also has deals with the English Premier League and Germany's Bundesliga league to stream selected matches. Currently, exclusive rights to Champions League matches in Germany are held by Comcast's Sky. – REUTERS

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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