Television

Prepare Yourselves Now for a Miserable Fall Television Rollout

Two mediocre movies highlight what little there is to look forward to.

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Behold your future. With the coronavirus crippling TV production, this fall's broadcast-TV rollout is shaping up to be the worst since sometime in the early 1950s: Reality shows; stuff that was shot a couple of years ago but deemed not good enough to make the final cut; and programs that aren't really new at all but copped from obscure cable channels the networks hope you never even heard of, much less watch.

So Hulu's slobby high-school comedy The Binge and IFC Midnight's immersion in survivalist tedium Centigrade are not just TV movies. They are your destiny. They are the viewing experiences your children will bitterly recriminate you with as they withhold your nursing-home pudding half a century from now. They are the brutal visions that will flash before your flaming eyes in the final moments before the Sweet Meteor of Death.

Well, OK, it's possible I'm exaggerating in the case of the The Binge, which isn't that bad but certainly isn't that good either. It is the sort of movie in which, for better and often very much for worse, a mother will guilt-trip an errant teenage by screaming, in front of his friends, what she sacrificed to give him birth: "I spent 18 years in a Bangkok prison hanging upside down from my labia!"

It's a send-up, of sorts, of the mindlessly gory Purge family of splatter films and TV shows, in which an otherwise law-and-order government one night a year encourages every American to rape and murder his head off without penalty. In The Binge, by contrast, all drugs and alcohol have been outlawed except for one night when everybody gets shit-in-your-hat loaded.

Into this tautly sociological landscape we follow three dorky teenaged boys in quest of their first high and their first chicks, not necessarily in that order. Griffin (Skyler Gisondo, Santa Clarita Diet) is determined to ask his long-time secret crush Lena (Grace Van Dien, Greenhouse Academy) to the prom. And his pals Hags (Dexter Darden, Making Moves) and Andrew (Eduardo Franco, American Vandal) are along as his wholly dysfunctional wingmen.

What follows is an orgy of eyebrow amputations, penis-puncturing darts, runaway limos, cow homicides, world-class puking, and adventures in texting auto-correct. (You'd be surprised how much mischief can result in altering "I'm just getting you presents because I'm a Virgo" to "I'm going to get you pregnant because I'm a virgin." Well, maybe not.) There's even a non sequitur song-and-dance number that starts off with the immortal lyrics, Why are we singing? What the fuck is happening? No coherent answer is forthcoming.

Some of this is funny, but a lot of it is more like dangling upside down by your labia in a Bangkok prison. Director Jeremy Garelick and screenwriter Jordan VanDina have clearly watched the American Pie movies a few thousand times too many and, before they hurt themselves, probably need to be counterprogrammed with a few viewings (at 127 excruciating minutes each, it won't take many) of Centigrade.

If The Binge practically gives itself a stroke trying to be funny, there's no chance of that with Centigrade. The closest thing I had to a laugh came at the beginning, with the claim that it's "based on true events." Yes, in the same way a Joe Biden campaign speech is.

In Centigrade's first scene, based-on-true characters Naomi (Genesi Rodriguez, What To Expect When You're Expecting), a failing novelist, and Matt (Vincent Piazza, Boardwalk Empire's Lucky Luciano), a failing doofus, wake up after deciding to whimsically take a roadside nap during an ice storm high in the mountains of Norway. Uh-oh! The car is buried under who-knows-how-many feet of snow.

Oh, did I mention that the doors are frozen shut? Or that their cell phone is dead? Or that Naomi is eight months pregnant? Or that what they lack in intelligence they really lack in personality? Naomi's first words upon discovering they're entombed: "I knew we should have kept on driving." Matt, moments later, after lighting a candle: "This is good. It means we have air!" (The previous clue, that they're breathing, escaped his notice.)

The air holding out, unfortunately, there's about another 125 minutes of bitching and backbiting, which mercifully comes to an end when they hear scraping noises on the roof. Brainsucking zombies escaped from a cave full of old Nazi mad scientists!

Just kidding. Centigrade has much more—much, much more—to say on the subject of being trapped in a car between jackasses, including the answer to the age-old question of how a lady pees in there. Don't worry, I won't spoil it for you, except to say there's no mention of doing the even more imponderable No. 2. Come on, ya gotta save something for the sequel.

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  1. >>The Binge

    don’t even bother with a title anymore?

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  2. People still watch tv?

    1. Not much else to do when you’re locked down for six months.

  3. Glenn, I watched The Sleepover. I was disappointed, so I have my eye on you. You’re on probation. I was kind of hoping for a tighter silly comedy with real laughs and… while assuming the plot would be “ridiculous”, it would at least hold itself up marginally within the scope in which it was defined. A movie like Game Night fit into that category, for example.

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    2. “A movie like Game Night fit into that category, for example.”

      That movie really exceeded my expectations. I love the scene where he tries to get the bullet out

      1. That movie was awesome. It was a classic example of the straightforward, two-dimensional comedy that was executed with a high degree if skill, and benefited in no small part from the skill of its cast and writing.

        The comic timing and delivery from the actors was top-notch and again, the plot was “believable” within its defined scope.

  4. Netflix is expecting declining subscribers, too, as people burn through their content at a faster rate. The figure I saw (from memory) said that where the average Netflix user was watching some 30 hours of Netflix a month before the pandemic is now watching 50 hours a month. If they’re burning through content 67% faster than they were before, then Netflix needs to churn out new content at a 67% faster pace to maintain those subscriptions. And with the pandemic having squeezed production, we’re likely to see a tremendous amount of half-baked content . . .

    They should probably start offering annual subscriptions for less.

    I can’t imagine reality shows will fare much better. How do you shoot a pandemic compliant version of Inkmaster or a home improvement show like Fixer Upper? I bet the whole Magnolia Network roll out is delayed.

    XBox Series X and PlayStation 5 sales should go through the roof this fall. And the AT&T retards at HBOMax, who refuse to release versions for Roku and Firestick, are retards for being so retarded.

    1. >>burn through their content at a faster rate

      watched 6 seasons of Vikings because Prime hasn’t put anything worth watching out since the last Jack Ryan.

    2. I still use Netflix DVD. Which has content. Steaming services have such miniscule content it’s bizarre. Not just Netflix, all of them.

    3. Speaking of Netflix, if you have an account I recommend checking out Cobra Kai. It started out as an original series on Youtube TV. I randomly saw the first 2 episodes on regular Youtube a couple of years ago and liked it well enough to go ahead and sign up for their premium service since I needed a live TV cord cutting option anyway. They moved over to Netflix since Youtube is getting out of the original scripted content game.

      It’s basically the Karate Kid set 30 something years after the events of the first movie, which sounds horrible but I was pleasantly surprised.

      1. Cobra Kai is way better than it has any right to be.

    4. They should probably start offering annual subscriptions for less.

      In the middle of a demand surge, you don’t lower prices.

    5. I think animations might be the answer. Although it does take production, it’s less than using actors. Been watching Star Trek Lower Decks, not great but better than Discovery. And it’s new (and it’s Trek).

      1. And also pokes fun at Trek, but not quite as well done as The Orville or Galaxy Quest at doing this. It definitely takes on some of the Trek universe Cliches.

  5. Watch Japanese cartoons, Korean Dramas, Turkish Soaps, Russian Game Shows.
    There’s an entire universe of amazing television that isn’t predicated on arrogant contempt for it’s own viewers like the vast majority of anglosphere stuff.

    1. >>Japanese cartoons

      Star Blazers. wave-motion gun.

      1. Have you watched the Space Battleship Yamato sequels? They’re pretty good.

        1. no but i’m going to now. i looooooved Star Blazers

    2. Where do you watch these shows?

      1. There’s loads of different English sites around the web that stream or torrent them.

  6. It’s a send-up, of sorts, of the mindlessly gory Purge family

    AKA, the BLM/ANTIFA riots.

  7. Please Netflix save us! How about a wax museum somewhere in flyover country owned by a guy named Wayne. Wayne, being a born again fundamentalist who’s antagonist is a satanist out to melt Wayne into financial ruin. The show could be called Waxing and Wayning

  8. Is Netflix still paying the Obama’s to pretend to come up with programming ideas?

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  10. When I get tired of what is on Netflix or Prime I just go to Youtube, there is some great stuff on there if you look around. There is The History Guy, I like that he highlights people and events that are skipped over by the big players. If more mainstream is your thing than Biographics and Geographics is also good, think History Channel in the 90s and early 2000s before they became another Bravo. There is Technology Connections, he really gets in depth on how devices worked or work. And of course there is always Joe Rogan.

  11. Seems like production on cartoons could continue in the age of the ‘rona. I’m surprised there aren’t more in the schedule.

    1. I suspect that the real log jam is in script generation and approval, not production: Not only do they have to make sure everything is politically correct, it’s a moving target, a rapidly moving target.

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  14. When does the movie “Ass” premiere?

  15. Hopefully “The Mandalorian” is coming back on Disney +
    It is everything “StarWars” should have been.
    And with baby Yoda!

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