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SpoilerTV's Writers Round Table: 98th Edition

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Hello and welcome to a new edition of SpoilerTV's Monthly Round Table! Joining us this time is Chris Chedrawi (CW), Giulia Del Buono (GB), Ben Larrivee (BV), Rianne Demmers (RD), Lexi Fanty (LF), Lisa Macklem (LM), and myself (ZF). You just have to sit back enjoy the read and join the discussion in the comment section down below.

September and October saw the return of some of our favourite shows! What seasons have had the strongest start thus far? Which are disappointing you?

CW: Ghosts has had one of the strongest returns so far, in my opinion. It solidified its position as one of the best new comedies on television now, right alongside Abbott Elementary. If anything, it is just relieving to see both shows doing so well after gaining so much attention over the last year. So very well deserved!

GB: Abbott Elementary and Ghosts are the only two shows I've been watching regularly and they both had stellar start to their sophomore seasons. They're both well written and acting beautifully, with a strong attention to details in terms of themes and character stories. It wasn't easy to top their perfect first seasons, but both shows did great. I can't wait to see what it's coming.

BV: I thought 9-1-1 did a good job coming out of the gate. Several of their seasons started with a major disaster arc such as an earthquake, tsunami, or cyberattack. Not to mention 9-1-1: Lone Star and that very long blizzard arc. So I was a little worried they might try to go big and just go way over the top. We still had excitement, but nothing overblown. I love how they dealt with Hen so far, we got see her realize her limitation while at the same time showing her commitment to her dreams and her family.

RD:  Grey's Anatomy surprised me, didn’t expect that ‘going back to the beginning’ would be so refreshing. Was debating on quitting watching it but now I think I will stick with it for a little longer.

LF: I think Chicago P.D. is off to a strong start in its tenth season which will also include their milestone 200th episode. There has been a mix of personal storylines and interesting cases so far and I'm looking forward to seeing how this multi-episode arc pans out involving the new chief's son. There's a new member of Intelligence, Dante Torres, and I'm already a huge fan of his character and can't wait to see how he continues to find his place within the unit. Burzek shippers are happy and feeling in a good spot at the moment with Kim finally accepting Adam's offer to move in together with Makayla.

Warner Bros. Discovery has been making a lot of changes to their platforms, including the removal of certain shows and movies from HBO Max, after their release. Now, some of this removed is completely wiped from the internet. Many have been talking about the volatility of streaming media. Do you think the world of streaming will change? Do you believe there should be more measures to protect creators' works?

CW: It’s hard to tell whether all the Warner Bros. Discovery controversies will have any actual, long-lasting change, but I do think it’s making people realize just how fragile the world of streaming media really is. I'm still genuinely upset that we can never see Leslie Grace’s Batgirl movie come to the big screen let alone the small screen, and shows like Final Space that deserve a continuation just got axed unfairly. If anything, I’m hoping people start to give network television another chance or two again, knowing that there might be a bit more stability there for creators and audiences alike, and shows like Abbott Elementary are proof that streaming isn’t the only way to get people’s attention nowadays. 

As for whether there should be measures to protect creators’ works: yes, absolutely, no doubt. Not only should creators have a little more visibility over this (vs just finding out your show is canceled on Twitter), but also their work should never be exploited. It’s been heartbreaking reading animated creators talk about how a lot of their work has just completely disappeared from the internet now, and that is beyond terrifying.

RD: Streaming will definitely change since every almost every network has it own service content will be spread widely around the internet. With HBO removing their movies and shows after their release it creates more urgency to watch something especially when it creates a hype. Wasn’t the quick release something that happened because of COVID, with quitting that people will be forced to visit a movie theatre more often, which earns those companies more money. Same goes for network television as well. That doesn’t mean something should be wiped completely from the internet, but the ‘old’ traditional ways to watch shows and movies are creating a different experience for both creators and audience.

LM: I will preface my remarks by saying that I have a JD with a concentration in Intellectual Property and an LLM in Entertainment and Media Law (earned in LA, with many of my professors employed by the likes of Warner Bros). If you think many creators have any say over their work, let me dispel the myth. The big names do get some small say, but in general, the only way a studio will produce something is by the creator giving them the exclusive copyright (ownership) to the work. Creators get royalties after the fact - and paid up front for the exclusive license. In the end, the studio is taking the risk on putting millions of dollars into a project - the big profits they make on a House of the Dragon balances the big losses they take on things that flop - or aren't ever released - eg Batgirl. By removing shows, they are creating scarcity - the way copyright has most often been monetized in the past. Streaming started as a way to see your favorite shows more cheaply than cable, but now the streamers are so plentiful that it costs MORE than cable to watch everything you might want to. Streaming is going to become less and less profitable, so I would wait to see the return of DVDs. If Apple taught us anything, it should have taught us how quickly our playlists can disappear - I still own hundreds of CDs... and I'm super glad I do. Ask me about my Blu-ray and DVD collection... I'm pretty happy with that too... As for losing access to culture, well, that's the subject of my PhD dissertation... I'll let you know when that's published...

The Rings of Power and House of the Dragon are two fantasy shows that are prequels to other huge media. Both of their finales aired this month. Going in, which one were you more excited for? Which one surprised you the most? With the finale, which one left you wanting more? Do you think both or either did justice in comparison to Lord of the Rings/Game of Thrones?

CW: I was definitely more excited for The Rings of Power finale myself because the season overall was much more exciting and consistent for me (an opinion I realize most of Twitter does not agree with, but alas). I’ve always been a bigger Game of Thrones fan than I was a Lord of the Rings fan, so I think I surprised myself with how I ended up enjoying the latter more.

With that said, I will have to admit that House of the Dragon had an excellent finale. It felt like a spectacular payoff to so many plotlines from the entire season, and it’s certainly left me wanting more. Maybe less incest though? Or is that too much to ask for?

I think they both did justice to their respective source material in different ways, and I appreciated their different takes on the “high fantasy sequel” genre.

BV: I was excited about Lord of the Rings. I’m aware the argument that it’s slow but I honestly thought that was one of it’s main strengths. I think the finale had some really powerful notes and set us up for a good sophomore season. As for House of Dragons, well I’ve really only seen a few episodes and while they were interesting and I’m aware of the storyline it’s kind of on my backburner of shows to watch. That said, from what I’ve seen and read I agree with Sara Hess, how is Daemon the internet’s boyfriend? Matt Smith was great in what I saw but I wouldn’t want his character within a few miles of my sister.

ZF: I think both are very separate entities and both were wonderful shows in their own right. That being said, I have been anticipating The Rings of Power since they first announced it (years ago, I believe) and it certainly lived up to my expectations. Beautiful show, and despite what many gripe about, I found the storyline extremely intriguing and had some cool callbacks to the original source material.

House of the Dragon was more of a surprise win for me. I wasn't even sure if I would watch it, given how Game of Thrones ended, but after being present at the SDCC Hall H panel and seeing the previews, I decided to give the premiere a try and got hooked ever since. I certainly hope to see Milly Alcock in more things pronto!

Netflix's Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story has been stirring up a lot of controversy as of late. Families of victims have spoken out. Some fans have begun to "stan" the murderer. Just recently, Jeffrey Dahmer's father said he may sue Netflix for glorifying it. Yet, many believe that we should learn more about these cases. Do you believe the show could've been better handled? Or do you believe it should've never been made at all?

CW: I have not watched Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, and I have no intention of watching it, ever. With Apple TV’s Black Bird, I realized I am done with serial killer stories. They have been done to death, for years, and it’s getting old, and I’m saying this as someone who adored every single minute of Black Bird. So without having watched the Dahmer show, but having read so many reactions from families of victims, the only thing I can say is that it shouldn’t have existed the way it is. If the intention of the show is to bring awareness about this notorious serial killer who was known for targeting the LGBTQ+ community, then this could have been a documentary. That’s how you make an impact without glorifying serial killers.

BV: I have not watched Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dalmer Story and to be frank, I have no plans to. I remember a few years back I watched the first episode of season two of American Crime Story and I was left feeling both angered and sickened. The serial killer Cunanan was active when I was a kid and I vividly remember him being on almost every channel for days. He became the ultimate serial killer celebrity. I felt the show was trying to make me feel something for the guy who should be remembered as little more than a murderer. I think the simple fact that the families of the victims are pissed off shows the lack of tact in even making a show about Dahmer.

RD: I have not watches Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, probably won’t watch it either, since it is not something I like to watch.

As time goes on, streaming is dominating the scripted industry, yet certain network shows are proving to beat the odds. Abbott Elementary is the only non-premium network scripted show to win an Emmy this year. What do you think is the recipe to success on network TV in this day and age?

CW: I think first and foremost, the recipe to success is for a show to be good. Simple as that, but Abbott Elementary would not have gained the attention and won the awards it did if it wasn’t a well-written, meticulously executed show. Of course, that’s not always enough because there have been plenty of network shows in the past of high quality but very low impact, so I believe that being culturally and time-relevant is as important as anything else in this day and age. Knowing how to incorporate discussions that mimic the real world we live in now is no easy feat, but it could be significantly important for network television; that can be done by being more diverse and inclusive (in a way that makes sense and not just a box you are checking off a list). At the same time, I don’t think there are a lot of Gen Z’s out there that are watching network TV (that’s a whole other problem), so knowing your audience is also crucial when crafting art.

GB: I think it all starts on the page. Good writing is at the base of a successful show, but it's not the only reason why it's successful. Shows like Abbott or Ghosts have great casts with incredible chemistry and audiences can relate to that. I think network shows struggle more because of a money issue. Streaming giants have plenty of money to give to creators and to create more jobs, of course. I'm thinking about Apple or Amazon, that started by being giants in other industries and entering the entertainment industry with their money. Network TV seems to be focusing itself on profit rather than quality and ratings play a huge part in developing or renewing a show. Critically acclaimed shows bring more eyeballs and more eyeballs means more sponsors and more sponsors means more money. I'm glad that shows like Abbott are helping network TV to be more on the map in terms of audience numbers and general conversation.

RD: The recipe to success has to have a good story, need to be able to keep one’s attention and has some elements of surprise. But also filming needs to be good to deliver the story. With more content coming in general and most of it from streaming services which often are more daring and intriguing than network tv, it is no surprise that streaming is domination the scripted industry.

LF: I think it takes a good script, elements of surprise, and a talented cast. There are fantastic shows on network TV that aren't even given a fair chance by some viewers because streaming is the "cool" thing. With a lot of the network shows now being added to streaming platforms like Peacock and Paramount+, maybe the streaming audience will now tune in. I personally am not a fan of streaming shows as I prefer the weekly release and none really peak my interest.

ZF: I think network TV needs to learn how to adapt. They cancel shows with numbers that are bound to be much lower due to the shift to streaming. Some networks are great at counting the streaming numbers as well, others depend solely on live numbers. So many people aren't about the commercials and are willing to pay to be able to enjoy their shows without them. I think if networks play their cards right, they have the potential to rebound and retake streaming. The doubt with streaming already exists, especially within the Warner Bros. Discovery changes -- viewers just need a better alternative.

What are you looking forward to most in November?

CW: So excited for season 2 of The White Lotus in November, as well as Randall Park and Melissa Fumero’s Blockbuster on Netflix! Also looking forward to new seasons of The Crown (this should be hella interesting this year) and Dead to Me (one of the biggest surprise renewals I’ve heard of in a while). On the non-scripted front, I’m also very excited to watch a new drag-filled season of We’re Here on HBO Max mid-November.

GB: The Crown, The Crown, The Crown and have I mentioned The Crown? Also, Dangerous Liasons seems pretty cool and interesting!

BV: A few things, first off Willow! Look forward to my reviews! I’ve also been surprised to realize I’m looking forward to seeing Wednesday. I wasn’t sure how to feel about it when I first heard about it. I loved watching the amazing Raul Julia, Anjelica Huston, Christopher Lloyd, and Christina Ricci in the film when I was a little kid. And some of the old episodes of the original show starring John Astin and Carolyn Jones were awesome. I was wary that a darker modern take could never measure up but the trailers have made me curious. Jenny Ortega looks potentially solid in the titular role and with the backing of Catherine Zeta-Jones, Christina Ricci, Fred Armisen, and Luis Guzman, well it could be interesting. Finally, BlockbusterBrooklyn Nine-Nine made me a fan of Melissa Fumero, so I’m interested to see her bring that energy to a new comedy.

RD: Looking forward to Manifest season 4 part 1 next week and Dead to Me later this month.

ZF: Really looking forward to Manifest and Blockbuster! And not a TV show, but Enola Holmes 2 seems like good fun.

You can email if you have any question suggestions.

That wraps up another round table! Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments below. See you next week!

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