Friday, May 22, 2020

Fri-Yay: Will HBO Max Work?; ABC Announces 2020-21 Season Programming

It's time for another edition of Fri-Yay! That means we will take a look back on some sitcom happenings in recent days or weeks or other fun sitcomy stuff. It's a sitcom lover's paradise! Happy Fri-Yay!

HBO Max

by Vincent

Next week is the official launch of HBO Max, the latest in a rapidly increasing streaming service wars that's emerging between the major media companies. HBO Max enters a market already pretty crowded by Netflix, Disney+, Hulu, and Amazon, along with other recent launches like Apple TV, not to mention HBO's own HBO Go (which isn't going away despite the launch of HBO Max, somewhat confusingly.) But can HBO Max carve out its own niche in an increasingly crowded streaming market? It is debuting with a pretty impressive line-up, with shows with large established fanbases like Friends, The Big Bang Theory, Doctor Who, South Park and Rick and Morty soon to call the streamer home, along with upcoming originals such as the third season of Search Party (moving over from TBS following two critically acclaimed seasons), a handful of upcoming DC superhero-based projects (an area Netflix couldn't quite make work with its Marvel agreement ending after just a few years). Still, I have some reservations about HBO Max's success.

HBO Max, in a lot of ways, seems like a direct competitor to Netflix, seeming to aim for their mix of high-brow series with mainstream fare. That's different than something like Disney+, which was purely aimed at families and younger audience and has done a good job cornering that demographic. But there's really nothing separating HBO Max from the already-established trilogy of streamers other than their streaming library. Having Friends especially is an admittedly a big get. There's also not a clear brand for HBO Max, and the marketing has been slightly confusing. A lot of people might simply assume HBO Max is some sort of HBO Go extension, but there's really nothing particularly "HBO" about HBO Max other than the fact that you can get it through an HBO Go subscription. Still, in the increasingly competitive streaming wars, a brand for a service is very important. Netflix's brand has basically become "the streaming service" (it's widely the most used and being on Netflix almost gives way to a popularity boost in and of itself). Disney+ has a very strong brand thanks to its Disney content and its family-friendly approach. Hulu (which is now owned by Disney) is becoming Disney+'s more mature and experimental cousin (sort of what FX is to Fox). Amazon and Apple TV+ don't have great brands either, but they're also owned by billion-dollar conglomerates and are treated more as side projects of those mega corporations. But what is HBO Max? The branding so far seems to be "where you can watch Friends," which honestly might be enough given the popularity of Friends, but I remain skeptical. At the highest price point of any streamer ($14.99 a month following the initial $11.99 early deal puts it slightly above Netflix and ad-free Hulu, and well above Disney+'s $4.99 a month and Hulu Basic's $5.99 a month), it's hard for me to see too many people who aren't giant Friends or Big Bang Theory fans rushing to sign up for a subscription. Still, having two of the biggest sitcoms of the past 30 years on your service could be enough to buy the service time to carve a niche for itself. Whatever happens, these are interesting times for streaming services. With this and the launch of NBCUniversal's Peacock later this year, it'll be very interesting to see whether consumers are okay with throwing more money at an increasingly number of streaming services, or if they're okay sacrificing some of their favorite shows and movies for a smaller streaming bill at the end of the month.


ABC

Having just solidified its position as the No. 1 network in entertainment among Adults 18-49 for the first time in four years, ABC is announcing its 2020-2021 programming slate, which includes renewals for 19 series and two straight-to-series orders from its current crop of pilots – David E. Kelley's thriller Big Sky and the multi-camera comedy Call Your Mother (formerly My Village) from Kari Lizer (The New Adventures of Old Christine) – as well as the previously announced alternative series Supermarket Sweep with Leslie Jones. Nineteen series were renewed yesterday: American Housewife, The Bachelor, black-ish, The Conners, Dancing with the Stars, The Goldbergs, A Million Little Things, mixed-ish, The Rookie, Shark Tank, Stumptown, 20/20 and Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. They join previously announced renewals of America's Funniest Home Videos, American Idol, The Bachelorette, The Good Doctor, Grey’s Anatomy, Station 19 and the series order of Supermarket Sweep. Schedule to be announced at a later date.

Series that didn't make the cut for 2020-21 were Emergence, Bless This Mess, Single Parents, Schooled and Kids Say The Darndest Things. As for the new series pick-ups (so far): From visionary storyteller David E. Kelley comes Big Sky, a thriller created by Kelley, who will write multiple episodes and serve as showrunner in its premiere season. Private detectives Cassie Dewell (Kylie Bunbury) and Cody Hoyt (Ryan Phillippe) join forces with his estranged wife and ex-cop Jenny Hoyt (Katheryn Winnick) to search for two sisters who have been kidnapped by a truck driver on a remote highway in Montana. But when they discover that these are not the only girls who have disappeared in the area, they must race against the clock to stop the killer before another woman is taken. Natalie Alyn Lind and John Carroll Lynch also star. In the comedy, Call Your Mother from Kari Lizer, this multicamera comedy follows an empty-nester mom who wonders how she ended up alone while her children live their best lives thousands of miles away. She decides her place is with her family and as she reinserts herself into their lives, her kids realize they might actually need her more than they thought. Kyra Sedgwick stars.


Sitcoms Airing Tonight

Monday, April 19

The Neighborhood - "Welcome to the Hero" (CBS, 8:00PM ET/PT)
Dave earns Calvin’s respect when he thwarts a robbery at the barbershop, until the recognition goes to his head and he starts exaggerating the truth. Also, Marty invites an anxious Gemma to give his new stress-busting hobby a try.

Bob Hearts Abishola - "A Tough Old Bird" (CBS, 8:30PM ET/PT)
Bob and Abishola try to help a sad and volatile Kemi who, after being dumped by Chukwuemeka, struggles with the possibility that her happiest days might be behind her.

Breeders - "No Choice" (FX, 10:00PM ET/PT)
Ally is under huge pressure, but no one seems to want to listen to her; Jim and Jackie are excited about a possible move to the coast and, much to Paul's surprise, so is he.

Complete TV Listings


Sitcom Stars on Talk Shows (Week of April 19)

Monday, April 19

  • Michael Strahan (Brothers) - Watch Michael on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Tig Notaro (One Mississippi) - Tig appears on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon at 11:35pm on NBC.
  • Ron Funches (Hoops/Final Space/Powerless/Undateable) - Ron is a guest on The Late Late Show with James Corden at 12:37am on CBS.
  • Nick Offerman (Parks and Recreation) - Nick will be on A Little Late with Lilly Singh at 1:35am on NBC.
  • Ted Danson (Mr. Mayor/The Good Place/Help Me Help You/Becker/Cheers) - Ted appears on a repeat of Conan at 11pm on TBS.
  • Debi Mazar (Younger/Entourage/Working) - Debi talks about the final season of Younger on LIVE! with Kelly and Ryan, so check your listings.
  • Olivia Holt (I Didn't Do It/Kickin' It) - Olivia will be on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Michelle Buteau (First Wives Club) - Michelle appears on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, so check your local listings.
  • Kenan Thompson (Kenan/Kenan & Kel) - Kenan is a guest on The Real, so check your local listings.
  • John Stamos (Fuller House/Grandfathered/Jake in Progress/Full House/You Again?) - John will be on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Cristin Milioti (Made for Love/A to Z/How I Met Your Mother) - Cristin appears on The Kelly Clarkson Show, so check your local listings.
  • Terry Crews (Brooklyn Nine-Nine/Are We There Yet?/Everybody Hates Chris) - Terry and his wife Rebecca discuss their memoir detailing secrets of their marriage, Stronger Together, on The Drew Barrymore Show, so check your local listings.
  • Danica McKellar (The Wonder Years) - Danica discusses her new Hallmark Channel movie Matchmaker Mysteries: The Art of the Kill on Home & Family on Hallmark Channel at 11am ET/PT.
  • Ed Helms (Rutherford Falls/The Office) - Ed talks about Peacock's Rutherford Falls on NBC's Today in the 9am hour.


New on DVD/Blu-ray (January-April)

Corporate - Season 2 Fam - The Complete Series Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series Happy Together - The Complete Series Til Death - The Complete Series

01/22 - Corporate - Season 2
01/22 - Corporate - Season 3
02/02 - Rowan & Martin's Laugh-In - The Complete Series (2021 Retail Release)
02/16 - Fam - The Complete Series
02/23 - Betty White's Pet Set - The Complete Series
03/02 - Blue Mountain State - The Complete Series
03/02 - Happy Together - The Complete Series
03/02 - Rick and Morty - The Complete Seasons 1-4 (DVD) (Blu-ray)
04/20 - 'Til Death - The Complete Series

More TV DVD Releases / DVD Reviews Archive / SitcomsOnline Digest


Recent SitcomsOnline.com News Blog Posts

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04/14 - Superstore Star Lauren Ash Signs Development Deal with NBCUniversal; Jenna Dewan Joins New CBS Dance Series
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04/09 - Fri-Yay: Fox Cancels Bless the Harts, Leaving Questions About Animated Block; Variety and Lifetime Presents Power of Women Comedians
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04/01 - CSI Revived by CBS for Sequel Series in 2021-22 Season; NBC Orders Ordinary Joe for Next Season
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03/24 - Remembering George Segal, Pops from The Goldbergs; HBO Max Comedy Series Made for Love Drops April 1
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03/22 - NBC Puts Meghan Trainor Comedy in Development; Apple TV+ Straight to Series Comedy with Maya Rudolph
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03/19 - Fri-Yay: Evaluating the 2020-2021 Freshman Sitcom Class; Damon Wayans Jr. to Star in TBS Pilot Kill the Orange-Faced Bear
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