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SpoilerTV's Weekly Round Table: 74th Edition

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Hello and welcome to a new edition of SpoilerTV`s Weekly Round Table. Joining me this week is Mads, Ellys Cartin (EC), Jennise Hall (JH), Milo, Michele (MI) and me (Yon). You just have to sit back enjoy the read and join the discussion in the comment section down below.

DC Universe began the promo trail for Swamp Thing on the same day that reports started to leak out that production on the show has shut down and episodes being written in order to cut the episode order down. Given it is only available in the US and Disney+ recently successfully unveiled its plans for a rival platform, how can DC Universe expect to survive when it's only currently airing one hour of original programming each week and do you see Swamp Thing doing well?

Yon: I'm not sure which part I find more staggering; the fact DC Universe only has one hour of original programming each week or the fact people are actually paying for this one hour of programming. Yes the service contains DC's back catalogue, but it's still incredibly pathetic Doom Patrol is the only original programme it has available right now.

I don't think it's a co-incidence the promo trail for Swamp Thing began at the same time as the report leaked out, because it smells of damage control. However it's a damage control I'll take all day if it brings Crystal Reed back to my screen.

Mads: I think DC Universe slowing down is because Warner Bros. is investing more of their time into getting WarnerMedia up and running. I have a feeling that WarnerMedia will absorb DC Universe and honestly, that would probably be the smartest move. I don't know if they'll fold in the programming to their service or if DC Universe will be an add on with a small up-charge like Hulu does with premium cable channels like HBO, Showtime, etc. but it would be the smart business move for WB. That said, I've been DYING to see Swamp Thing ever since it was announced James Wan and Crystal Reed were going to be part of it. The episode cut is disappointing but I'm thankful we'll at least get one season. Right now I"m just going to hope they're able to end it in a satisfying way and pray we might get more seasons moving forward, even if it means they'll be on WarnerMedia instead.

EC: DC Universe, in my opinion, hoped that fans would come more for the back catalog of comics and shows than their original content. One hour of original programming can’t be expected to butter anybody’s bread. The original shows were clearly meant to be just a special feature. Perhaps plenty of people are accessing the other material and ignoring the shows. It could be that Swamp Thing wasn’t testing well with audiences. There haven’t been any rumors about Titans getting short-changed or Stargirl production being delayed. It’s too soon to tell if what happened to Swamp Thing is unique to that show or is symptomatic of a bigger issue.

I'm not sure it will survive. It may be that we're seeing the same thing that happened with the niche channels, except that it took longer for the niche cable channels to discover that they weren't going to survive if they stuck to their niche. Bravo (initial fine arts and film), A&E (cultural arts and movies), TLC (The Learning Channel), SyFy (science fiction) and others had to add reality programming even wrestling to survive. I don't see a way for DC Universe to broaden their appeal to bring in a broader spectrum of customers.

Add to that the fact that the addition of Disney+, Apple's channel are, IMHO, beginning to oversaturate the market. How many people are willing to pay for a general programming provider plus 2 or more streaming services? Already, I know people who subscribe to CBS, HBO, Starz or Showtime for the run of a new show and then cancel when the season is over. I just don't think there's going to be enough substantial growth for any of the new streaming services to last very long.

I have no idea how Swamp Thing will do. The writing of the DC Universe shows has been pretty good so far. I loved the 1990 show. Maybe some of those fans will check in.

Milo: Unfortunately, DC Universe doesn't seem like it's going to last the streaming wars, which is a shame as Titans is good and there are some shows that I can't wait to see more of. It seems like too small a market these days - even with all the comics that come with it - to draw in a wider audience to compete with the other streaming shows. And it doesn't have that in-built audience that say, CBS-All Access or Disney+ do. But the shows are improving and hopefully word of mouth will bring more people to the network. I wish they promoted their content overseas a bit better, there's no reason not to launch internationally when you own all the shows and comics on your service!

A long-standing rumor that continues to buzz around is Netflix airing a show for 3 seasons and then finishing so other shows can load up on the conveyor belt, and this week news started to spread about Santa Clarita Diet potentially being cancelled. Do you think this is smart business sense from Netflix, or should shows be allowed to carry on for as long as the writers can keep it fresh? Are you sad about Santa Clarita Diet potentially being cancelled? Do you think writers have a duty to its audience to wrap up arcs as much as they can, instead of leaving on a cliffhanger for hope of being renewed?

Yon: I think the 3 season and done policy very much depends on the show. Extremely popular shows such as Stranger Things are going to go on for as long as Netflix want them to, whilst unfortunately shows like One Day at a Time which gathers a cult following is going to get culled because critical praise doesn't necessarily translate into viewers. You've also got shows like Sabrina which have its shows broken down into two parts because Netflix isn't going to budge from its shortened season numbers which have made them so popular, and then there's the International shows which work under completely different modules where they're quietly renewed for multiple seasons. Santa Clarita Diet is a show I really tried to like but it just didn't work for me, and considering the two leads it has? Doesn't surprise me that Netflix even as powerful as they are can't keep the show running forever. I have always believed that showrunners have a responsibility to wrap up storylines at the end of each season. If you find it so difficult to wrap 95% of the arc to satisfy viewers but leave a few crumbs for where the show could potentially go, then quite simply you're not a capable writer. Part of the reason I was so glad Lucifer & Timeless were axed is because the showrunners knew the shows were on the bubble, and yet they still insisted on finishing on cliffhangers & then acted surprise by the position they found themselves in. It's just incredibly lazy writing that doesn't work in this day and age.

Mads: I think it's unfortunate that Netflix has been axing so many shows but the simple truth is there is TOO much television right now and it's not sustainable. I wrote a whole article about this recently but odds are, we'll be looking at many more cancellations moving forward.

That said, I've always thought writers needed to be better about providing closure to their storylines and not always leaning on shock value/cliche cliffhangers to pull audiences in for the next story. I think they should plan for the end but leave some openendedness to allow for potential story growth. Obviously it would be nice if writers had security to know they were going to get 3-5 seasons or whatever but I think big cliffhangers should be a thing of the past on finales. It's time to get over that gimmick and embrace shorter-form storytelling.

EC: I have no issue with 3 season shows. That can be more than enough time to tell an amazing story. In fact, more likely than not, most serial shows will show major signs of wear in their third season. So why not just announce a show will be only 3 seasons max? It could be that Netflix is concerned it won’t be able to get very good talent if people are looking to work on longer-running shows. In any case, I think that Netflix should give advance notice before planning starts that a show is going to end. Fans should know its the final season. Talent should know. Writers should know. If it’s not planned ahead of time and Netflix simply cancels show based on viewer data, they should start sharing that data. At some point, people will start getting hesitant and frustrated…..and with many of their outside content providers starting their own streaming services, Netflix will be left just with its originals…..and they need people to be confident the storytelling will reach a satisfying conclusion.

JH: It's hard to be a Monday morning quarterback on this issue because we don't know what's happening behind the scenes. Is it more expensive to front load the filming of a series before it's broadcast? They have a bizarre business model if you think about it. Broadcast networks make their money from advertising. Netflix has a relatively stable base of subscribers paying monthly fees. At this point in Netflix's lifespan are they growing subscribers at a rate comparable to a broadcast network show's rise in advertising rates?

As for a 3 season hard lifespan... I've seen great shows struggle painfully because they a network wouldn't cancel them when it should have. I can think of a couple of shows on the air now that haven't been fresh for more than 3 seasons. Personally, as long as a show's story is strong and compelling I will happily watch.

If I were going to assign a duty to anyone in this situation, I would assign it to the network to let the showrunners know the show's fate as soon as possible. Dangling cliffhangers exist because, for whatever reason, the showrunners had reason to believe they'd be picked up when they filmed the season finale. The network has to have a really good idea about what show's they're likely to drop before the last couple of episodes of the season are filmed. But as a viewer I do really appreciate it when the showrunners are considerate enough to end a season with a satisfactory period.

Milo: The rumour of Santa Clarita Diet being cancelled so soon after One Day at a Time shows how Netflix, despite trying to be relatable on social media platforms, is just another streaming service that doesn't care as much as it should. Losing two of their best shows is a choice, and not one that I'm happy with - given that they may be happy to bring back cancelled shows from other networks like Longmire and Lucifer it seems only fair that they should at least get their shows at least a shortened season to wrap up loose ends, and failing that, not actively prohibit them from going to be saved by other networks.

It was announced that Netflix's next big Spanish show Alta Mar will be launching on the 24th May, following in the path of Elite, Money Heist and Cable Girls. What have been some of your favourite Spanish dramas produced, and what sets them apart and makes them that little bit more addictive than English language programming?

Yon: Hahahahahaha, where do I even start with this?! Granted it finished a while ago, but I'd say that Grand Hotel is my favourite drama produced simply because it introduced me to Spanish dramas and a truly remarkable actor in Yon Gonzalez. Elite, Money Heist, Cable Girls, Alta Mar, El Ministerio Del Tiempo, Unauthorized Living, If I hadn't Met You, El Internado and Morocco Times of War are some of the many shows on my list to watch whilst films like Our Lovers, The Bar, Gun City, Who Would You Take To A Deserted Island and the upcoming Despite Everything are all movies on my list. The writing, acting, cinematography, directing and music are all major reasons why I prefer Spanish programming compared to English language. There's so much care and attention that goes into making every show & movie, along with the acting pool being so small the same actors always pop up which some may find boring, but for me personally it enables me to see how an actor evolves with their craft as time goes on. Shows like Riverdale claim to be salacious teen programming but when I look at the show and then look at Elite? Which has the same type of grown actors playing teenagers, but actually bothers to put them in uniforms, set the show in classrooms, and have them talk about school issues in amongst the OTT scandals and murder? It's not really hard to see why Netflix has become so invested in making foreign programming and I can only hope it's a trend that continued for a long time.

EC: There was a time when I never thought I would care to watch a show in another language. Then along came Cable Girls. Now I am more likely to be excited by a new Spanish drama than I am anything else. Particularly a period drama. In the US and the UK, there are period dramas now and then but they can be very serious. Spanish and Brazilian series, the ones I have watched, aren’t afraid to go over-the-top and take creative risks. They seem more focused on telling an enthralling story. There is also decidedly more passion...not just when it comes to romance but also when it comes to working and living….the characters are just much more full of life. I am excited to try Most Beautiful Thing (Portuguese: Coisa Mais Linda) next and Alta Mar when it premieres.

Milo: I don't watch anywhere near as many Spanish shows as I should but the two that have stood out for me so far are Money Heist and The Ministry of Time. For the latter, it's cool to see time travel shows that aren't UK or USA-centric, and the dynamic of the cast is the main draw for me.

I've only seen the first episode of Money Heist - but it's impressive stuff, unique enough to stand on its own in an overcrowded genre and craft its own distinctive voice.

Netflix has spoken on how their viewing data is based on 70% of one episode of a show being watched, which seems to suggest the numbers released are people sampling a show's first episode. Which Netflix shows have you sampled but not finished yet or just decided not to continue, and why? What's the quickest show you've gotten through and what's been the longest, with the biggest break between the premiere and season finale?

Yon: I think 95% of my Netflix list is made up of shows that I think look interesting but just don't have the time to watch. It's over 3yrs later and I'm still struggling to get through El Internado and El Ministerio Del Tiempo because the episodes are so long, then there's the 2nd season of On My Block which is really good and episodes quite short but again! Not enough hours in the day. Jessica Jones took me a year and a half to get through the first season because I found it a bit heavy in places, Daredevil first season I watched in a couple of months but dropped the show when it was axed. Cable Girls I initially dropped but then gave another go and binged the 3rd season in a day and a half, likewise with Elite which I got through in 2 days. It just depends on the type of genre the show belongs to, episode lengths and how busy I am. Considering Netflix is so selective with its data though, I don't actually believe the figures they give out. We have no way of knowing how they gather the information or the duration of time it's based on.

EC: Netflix’s viewing data is sketchy. There’s no other word for it. Do I believe 45 million people watched part of an Umbrella Academy episode? Yes, yes I do. Netflix has 139 milllion subscribers, give or take a few million, around the world. It’s not unlikely that a third of them would click on a predominantly displayed new show and check it out. However, that doesn’t tell us how many people liked it enough to keep watching and liked it enough to eventually finish it. They might all have finished it. But Netflix isn’t releasing those numbers. One show I started when it first came out was Lost in Space. Guess when I finished Lost in Space. This February. Over a year later. It’s a good show. I have yet to finish shows like Dark, and I probably never will finish that one. I didn’t watch the second season of 13 Reasons Why. And the list could go on. If Netflix has a threshhold for how many viewers a show needs to get and when it needs to get them by, they should be honest about that. It’s only fair to viewers and the people who make the show.

JH: My biggest problem with watching shows on Netflix (until Dish made it available through their receivers) was that I would have to watch on my computer instead of my TV screen. Not particularly comfortable, and not as nice a screen as my TV so, I'd watch a bit of Netflix and wander away (for months sometimes) until it was once again comfortable or necessary to watch on my computer screen.

Sense8 one of the shows I had to watch the second it was made available. It took a while to get through Haunting of Hill House, Sabrina and Lost in Space, but I finished them. I still haven't finished Longmire or Bodyguard. I know there are quite a few others but I can't remember which ones.

Milo: I'm currently catching up on Queer Eye, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina and Santa Clarita Diet Season 3 at the moment - with Money Heist on the backburner to eventually get around to before its new season like She-Ra. There's also One Day at a Time Season 3 that I need to watch but can't bring myself to do so yet, as I just know it'll be the last episodes that I'll get to watch of this wonderful show and I'm not read to say goodbye just yet. The quickest I've probably gotten through something is something like Line of Duty - I prefer to binge individual seasons rather than whole series, but I sped through this wonderful series.

MI: It's an unpopular opinion I know, but I only could get through episode one of Umbrella Academy. It was all over the place and the mood was quite dark; I just couldn't get into it. On the flip side, I think my quickest binge has to have been The Office. I was sadly very late to catch on to it's brilliance and only got into the show a few years ago. I probably binged the all nine seasons within 2 weeks. Game of Thrones would have come in a close second. I got through the first seven seasons in about three weeks, just in time to watch the season 7 finale live.

That's a wrap on things this week. Leave your thoughts in the comments below and adios until we read again....

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