It’s kind of bonkers to me that we have two incredibly high-budget, brand-new series, premieres airing mid-November, and that plenty more brand-new high-budget TV has already, and will continue, to premiere all the way up through December. IT NEVER ENDS. This week, we finally take a look at some offerings from Disney+, as well as more stellar HBO and Hulu shows. Of all the weeks of trailers we have reviewed so far (see Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, and Part V), with early season follow up reviews from Tim (see Part I and Part II), this week's offerings may be the most positively received by both of your humble trailer-watchers yet (minus High School Musical - sorry High School Musical).
Cadence: Monkeys! Blimps! Giant bears! Lin Manuel Miranda! A multiverse! I didn't really follow the narrative of this complex trailer, but it certainly looked absurdly cool.
The Golden Compass - Part I of 'His Dark Materials' trilogy by Philip Pullman - was one of my favourite novels as a kid. It spoke to some serious social issues that a book for 12-year-olds wouldn't normally address (e.g., church corruption, child abuse), but still told a relatable coming-of-age story about a girl and her demon. I haven't read the trilogy since I was maybe 15, and I never watched the ill-fated Daniel Craig movie, so I genuinely don't know what's happening here. And yet, it's one of the few truly magical trailers I've watched this season. I'm in, no questions asked.
What about you Tim? Are you a fan of the novels? Did the trailer make sense to you?
Tim: I’m not a big reader, so I’m not a fan of the novels. I’m more of a visual connoisseur, and this show doesn’t look like it will disappoint! The trailer didn’t make much sense to me either, but it’s hard to show the whole scope of the show without it being a little confusing. I’ve seen the The Golden Compass movie and I loved it then, and I remember I was looking forward to the sequels that were supposed to follow. So when I found out about the show, I was so excited to see a fresh take on the movie. From the look of the trailer, the animals will play a big part of the show.
However, the central humans include Ruth Wilson (Luther, The Affair, Mrs Wilson), Will Keen (The Crown) and James McAvoy (Shameless). I’m looking forward to seeing how this show compares to the movie, but also how it expands and builds on it. I’m also interested to see the new actress who will play Lyra (Dafne Keen) because I remember Dakota Blue Richards (Beecham House), being so memorable in the original movie. I am so keen for this show, you have no idea.
Tim: It can’t be too surprising that I’m looking forward to this show. I mean, my first article was about Disney+, and this is the main show that makes me want to add it to my other streaming services. I’ve included both trailers because the first one sets up the show and the second shows all the action. I’ll pretty much watch anything from the Star Wars Universe; just everything about this show appeals to me - from the lightsaber battles to the overall tone of the show.
The trailers don’t show too much of the cast because that’s not what it’s about. It’s about the story, the heart of what makes Star Wars what it is. You do get a glimpse of Giancarlo Esposito (Godfather of Harlem, Jett, Better Call Saul), but, apart from him, you will have to wait until it starts to find out who voices the droids and other people. With a new Star Wars game, and another movie still to come, as well as a new LEGO Star Wars game next year, I’m just so excited. I love how George Lucas has passed the reins on to other filmmakers and we get to see different views of the Star Wars Universe. If it wasn’t obvious already, I’ll be checking out the Mandalorian, and look forward to the new adventures I’m sure we will see.
So Cadence, are you just as excited as I am for The Mandalorian ? Or have you had enough of the Star Wars Universe ?
Cadence: I wouldn’t say I’m the most rabid of Star Wars fans (I haven’t even seen Episode 8, eep), but I do genuinely like the universe. I watched the original trilogy as a kid with my dad, saw the prequel trilogy in theatres when I was 12 (the correct age at which to enjoy those films), and The Force Awakens may be my favourite Star Wars movie yet! All that to say, I don’t know if the trailer spoke to me specifically through the Star Wars fan lens, but it definitely looked cool. The SFX are truly stunning, apparently Disney spent $100 million on the 8-episode series - reaching The Crown or Game of Thrones levels of funding, and it shows. I wouldn’t say the narrative has me hooked (yet). I’ll definitely give this show a shot for the very expensive sci-fi action SFX alone. But, if I had to choose, His Dark Materials wins this week for me.
Cadence: High School Musical: The Musical: The Series has the kind of weird meta-premise I typically get super excited about. It’s a scripted dramedy about the school where the original movie was filmed putting on the movie’s musical for the first time ever. Honestly, that title itself may be the single funniest I’ve ever seen. And also, it has musical-style singing, which I love! And somehow it might be a bit of a mockumentary? Unclear, but still very funny. So, does the trailer meet those expectations?
No! Not at all!
It turns out, at least based on the trailer’s narrative framing, that it’s actually a super earnest teen drama. Yes, one with an inherently funny premise, but mostly one that features serious love triangles and coming-of-age discomfort with little humour. It could have been Awkward or early seasons of Glee, but it looks more like Degrassi or later seasons of Glee. I will not watch this, though, again, I have little need need for teen dramas, so your mileage may vary. Still, I’ll wait for the reviews to come in and who knows, I might watch it a little bit.
So, what do you think Tim? Were you expecting something funnier, or is this about what you expected of a high-school based teen drama?
Tim: It was a real struggle for me to watch the trailer, because I have no interest whatsoever in the show. I mean the name of the show, for starters, just throws me off completely. Like, is the show trying to be a mockumentary like The Office, Arrested Development or Trial & Error? I think the show is trying to do too much, trying to be like High School Musical, and not be like it. I didn’t find this show funny at all. Most high-school based teen dramas are a lot better than this show. I will definitely not be tuning in, and if I had my way I would be removing it from Disney+.
35) Dollface - Hulu - Nov 15
Tim: Now this show had me at Kat Dennings, who I’ve been looking forward to seeing since 2 Broke Girls finished up. This show looks so quirky it kinda gives me Man Seeking Woman vibes. It just looks like it’s going to be a whole lot of fun, and is begging to be binged. I'm liking the banter between Dennings character and her friends, who she abandoned.
Her hopefully soon-to-be friends again are played by Brenda Song (Pure Genius) and Shay Mitchell (YOU, Pretty Little Liars). The show looks like what happens when you put your all into a relationship, and what happens when that ends and you have no one to turn to. Also, the fact that Margot Robbie is one of the executive producers is interesting. She got her start in Australian indie movies and also acted on television in Australia (Neighbours)! So, I’ll be watching this show and I hope it’s as good as the trailer conveys.
So are you a fan of Dennings? Is this show too weird for you, Cadence, or is this show right up your alley?
Cadence: I wouldn't say that Dennings herself is the biggest draw for me (I liked her in 'Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist'; I absolutely despised 2 Broke Girls), but I do truly love weird and surreal comedy. I agree completely that this show bears more than a passing resemblance to Man Seeking Woman, a radical niche show that took genuine dating and relationship problems to their most absurd literal extremes (i.e., going to your ex's destination wedding in literal Hell, or dealing with how your ex's new boyfriend is literally Hitler). Ultimately, Dollface looks kind of like a woman-centered take on Man Seeking Woman’s premise. I absolutely plan to watch, if only because inventive strangeness in television comedy is exactly my jam, but I’ll also be looking out for how this show can stand apart or distinguish itself from its spiritual predecessor. Will the gender swap be enough to make the idea novel again? Will it have a different overall tone? Tune in to find out!
We’ll be taking three weeks off this time, but we’ll be back on November 25th for what will likely be our final set of trailer reviews for the season. As always, let us know if you agree or disagree with our trailer reactions - as well as which trailers excite you most, in the comments. And let us know if you’ve been enjoying these reactions. Should we continue them in the New Year?
Written by TimDavidCasey on Nov 4, 2019