Apple launches this Friday its video-on-demand service containing only original programs. We have watched them and our first impressions are mixed.
After Netflix, Prime Video, OCS and before Disney +, it is Apple's turn to join the long list of platforms offering an SVoD service (video on demand subscription). Available on the AppleTV app via the Apple TV's phones, tablets and computers, Apple TV + promises a catalog of series, movies and documentaries, all original.
On the occasion of the launch of the platform, friday, November 1, franceinfo watched the first two episodes of four of the new series. Here are our first impressions.
“The Morning Show”
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What does it talk about ? 3:30 in the morning. As every day, Alex Levy (Jennifer Aniston) begins his day with a Red Bull Light before getting ready to go to present “The Morning Show”, the morning of the great UBA American network. Except that today she learns when she arrives at the studios that her “television husband” for fifteen years, Mitch Kessler (Steve Carell) will not be by her side, thanked in the night after complaints of sexual harassment.
At the same time, in the depths of West Virginia, Bradley Jackson (Reese Witherspoon), a regional correspondent for the SENN channel, finds herself propelled social media star after a video showed her clinging with a protester while covering the reopening of a coal mine.
While the question of replacing Kessler agitates any UBA, the young woman is invited on the set of the “Morning Show” to explain his action. The confrontation between the two journalists is going badly, but the boss of the chain notices it and proposes to him to join the team of the morning. She finds herself unwittingly at the heart of the battle between Alex Levy and his bosses to designate the replacement of Kessler.
And it's worth it? With a budget of $ 15 million per episode (about 13.5 million euros, as much as an episode of the last season of Game Of Thronesaccording to RTL) and a cast of confirmed stars, The Morning Show is without a doubt the figurehead of Apple's launch in the SVoD. Created by Jay Carson (House of Cards) and inspired by the book Top of the Morning from American journalist Brian Stelter, the series plunges us into the heart of a major television channel in the middle of a crisis. And even if its creators forbid it, The Morning Show has a lot of similarities to the true story of presenter Matt Lauer, who arrived in November 2017 from the “Today Show”, which he had been presenting for twenty years, after being accused of “inappropriate sexual behavior”.
On the bottom of #MeToo movement, The Morning Show tells how the traditional American media have for some years gone through a major crisis that forces them to reinvent themselves in order to remain attractive in the face ofinfotainment, infotainment. An introspection embodied through the trajectories of two women journalists who oppose everything. One, TV star on the decline that cynicism has gradually gained. The other, a committed reporter whose outspokenness has prevented any career development.
Incarnated by two of the most American actresses, this confrontation with verbal jousting delivers some pretty enjoyable moments. Alchemy is at the rendezvous and we are delighted to have a new series that gives real beautiful roles to actresses.
Visually, it's very clean (licked, some say) thanks to the impeccable achievement of Mimi Leder (Emergency room, The Leftovers), overall well written and often very funny thanks to the talent of showrunneuse Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights, Bates Motel, Parenthood).
Only downside, one wonders how will evolve the case of sexual harassment of which the presenter is accused. In the first episodes, the character played by Steve Carell is portrayed as an egocentric victim who pities his fate and compares the #MeToo movement to McCarthyism. We now expect the perspective of victims or at least a perspective. And the fact that a regional journalist is propelled to such a position in a snap of fingers is puzzling. The most attentive note that there is a lot of iPhone on the screen (for those who have forgotten they are watching a series produced by Apple), but it would be a shame to stop at this and deprive oneself of a very good entertainment.
It's for you if … You like the five-star casting series. If you enjoyed the incursions of Aaron Sorkin (To the White House) in the world of the media (Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip then The Newsroom), but that you are not against entertaining yourself either. If you are looking for a good series of network as American television does not produce much, go for it.
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What does it talk about ? In the very distant future, humanity has become totally blind. The blame for a virus that has decimated the vast majority of the world's population, depriving survivors of the ability to see and condemn them to pass on this blindness from generation to generation. The two million people who now inhabit the planet are organized into tribes and struggle for survival in an ecosystem where nature has regained its rights. And after centuries of living in the dark, only heretics still think that vision has ever existed.
Baba Voss (Jason Momoa) is the leader of the Alkenny, a tribe that recently gathered Maghra, a pregnant young woman with a mysterious past that some consider a witch. Became the wife of Baba Voss, she is not long in giving birth to twins. But these children are as much feared as they are coveted …
And it's worth it? After Game Of Thrones and Aquaman, Jason Momoa shows once again his appetite for costumes that give you a stripped hair look (who said ridiculous?). But that's not the main problem. Directed by Francis Lawrence (the saga Hunger Games) and written by Steven Knight, the creator of Peaky Blinders, See surprising, but not necessarily in the good sense of the word.
If some good ideas emerge in this universe populated by blind people (braille has been replaced by knots tied on cords, humans use their other senses such as hearing and smell), other story-telling finds provoke real moments of laughable embarrassment, such as when Queen Kane prays while masturbating and listening to Lou Reed, or those scenes of violence and torture that remind us of all that we hated in Game Of Thrones.
The episodes are linked and we oscillate between boredom and unease, astonished to discover that three episodes cover already almost eighteen years of history (at this rate, Jason Momoa should be more than a century at the end of the season), and a little sorry that an idea that seemed interesting on paper does not come to fruition, despite a Pharaonic budget (equivalent to that of The Morning Show, according to The Hollywood Reporter). That said, See could have the potential to become a somewhat shameful cult object, kind of Game Of Thrones nanar version.
It's for you if … You are in a panic in front of Jason Momoa's athletic body or if you are looking for a completely unlikely dystopia to watch with friends, like Eurovision, more to make fun of than for the love of the song.
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What does it talk about ? Born in 1830, raised in a wealthy middle class family in Massachusetts, Emily Dickinson (Hailee Steinfeld) dreams of a much less conventional life than she is predestined for. Her mother (Jane Krakowski) has only one obsession, to marry her quickly since she is of no use at home. Except that Emily does not hear it like this, by refusal of conventions, but mostly because she is in love with Sue Gilbert (Ella Hunt), her best friend. For his part, his father lawyer (Toby Huss) is less in a hurry than his favorite daughter goes away, although his escapades and his aspirations make him regularly get out of his hinges. Because if Emilie hates household chores above all else, she has a passion that, for a young woman of the time, is unsavory: poetry.
And it's worth it? No doubt possible, with Dickinson, Apple intends to dust off the life of the American poet whose genius was revealed only after his death in 1886. Under the impulse of Alena Smith, creator of the series, the girl introverted and tormented becomes a rebellious teenager who does not hesitate to twerker and take opium to spice up an existence too dreary.
Worn by a soundtrack that connects the tubes of the moment (Billie Eilish, Lizzo, Mitski, etc.), Dickinson is clearly intended to seduce millennials who will be able to discover some of the poems of the famous autrice, regularly inlaid on the screen, new gimmick which creators of TV series now love to abuse.
Especially since these episodes have a short format of about thirty minutes, easily “bingewatchable” as desired by their creator, recently interviewed by the American site Slate (in English). Purists will be offended by this anachronistic treatment reserved for one of the greatest American poets. Others will rejoice that the younger generation can hear about it.
It's for you if … You were born before 1995 and the poetry that you were taught in high school left you with a rather mixed memory. Others will turn to The White Lady, the fictionalized biography of the poetess, signed Christian Bobin (Gallimard, 2007). For those interested in nineteenth century homosexuality, take a look at Gentleman Jack (available on OCS) which tells the story of the British Anne Lister, described as “first modern lesbian”.
“For All Mankind”
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What does it talk about ? Summer 1969. All of America is in front of the television to see the first steps of the man on the Moon. Except that we are June 26, not July 21, and this man is Russian and his name is Alexei Leonov. For the members of NASA, especially astronaut Edward Baldwin (Joel Kinnaman) who was part of the Apollo 10 mission, it is a huge blow to have been thus capped on the pole.
America is humiliated, the CIA disavowed, and for Richard Nixon, it's time for revenge. The US president intends to strike hard and now wants the Americans to be the first to establish a military base on the moon.
And it's worth it? And if … The story string is known, but this new uchronie that imagines a world in which the Americans have been dubbed in the race for the Moon by their enemies of the moment has something to intrigue. Created by Ronald D. Moore (Battlestar Galactica), Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi (executive producers of the series Fargo) For All Mankind reinvents a cold war story through stories of astronauts, astronaut women and NASA employees.
The authors multiply the characters and the associated story lines, at the risk of considerably slowing down the plot. Few punctuated episodes suffer especially from a major problem. The postulate of departure implicitly promises a break in the history of our world as we know it. But here, nothing spectacular. The series is certainly much more subtle than The Man in the High Castle (which depicts the United States divided into three zones after Nazi Germany and Japan won the Second World War), but we expect much more changes than what is presented to us on the screen .
Especially since many elements of history are also described and unless you know the conquest of space at your fingertips, it is difficult to separate things from what actually happened (like questioning the involvement of Wernher von Braun, a German engineer from NASA, in the Nazi regime) and fiction.
It's for you if … The space conquest fascinates you and that the idea of watching a long film of ten hours does not put off you (you will have to wait a little because only the first three episodes will be available at launch, the following ones put on line every Friday, like the most Apple TV + series).
Note also that the platform will also launch, on November 28, a 30-minute, 30-minute thriller by Mr. Night Shyamalan (Split, Sixth Sense), that the American director would like to extend the time of six seasons, reports the site indiewire (article in English). Will follow the drama Truth Be Told December 6, with Octavia Spencer (The colour of feelings), Aaron Paul (breaking Bad) and Lizzy Caplan (Masters of Sex). Apple has announced that new programs will expand the catalog every month. It remains to be seen how much and if they will be attractive enough to generate subscriptions.