Apple launched their VoD service recently here in Spain, with four original series that stand out for featuring well-known names both in front of and behind the camera. So, the question is, do they reach the mark? Is it worth shelling out for the service?
The first series from Apple TV + pack visual punch and feature some acting heavyweights, the fruit of significant investment by the service
The Morning Show and undeniably, the platforms flagship, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell. The series explores network TV program power struggles and lays bare the hypocrisy of the small screen. The spark that ignites the flame is a case of inappropriate sexual behavior that begins with a severe problem of perspective in 2019: the victims have virtually no voice in the series (except in episode four) and there’s way too much validation of the abuser’s point of view and attacks on the #MeToo movement. The actors do however pull the coals from the fire on numerous occasions, while the writing works best when it’s not trying to resemble an Aaron Sorkin show. Entertaining, ‘in spite of ourselves…’
See. The farfetched storyline undermines this series about a tribe of blind (yes, blind!) warriors led by Jason Momoa, comfortable in his role as primal boss Khal Drogo. Once you stop asking yourself whether it’s actually possible for blind people to do everything we see them doing in the show, then it’s no longer an unwitting comedy and has some genuinely intense moments. If you can get over your astonishment, you might even enjoy the battles, and more than one fan of epic fantasy will be delighted with the universe unfolding in the series. It’s not screenwriter Steven Knight’s best work, but then maybe our expectations were too high after Peaky Blinders and Taboo.
Dickinson. This biography of poet Emily Dickinson is intentionally anachronistic and therein lies its appeal. The character, played by Hailee Steinfeld, moves and talks like a modern-day teen while the soundtrack rocks viewers with themes from Billie Eilish, Ecca Vandal and even Steinfeld herself. The result is much less interesting than the creator, Alena Smith, seems to believe. Because, beyond the clash between period drama and teenage comedy, the series is not particularly funny or risqué in its connections between what it means to be young today and what it was in the 19th century. Ok, so it works if you only focus on its use as a vehicle to ensure a new batch of teenagers get their hooks into in the work of Emily Dickinson.
For All Mankind. In this, the 50th anniversary of man reaching the Moon, this series created by Ronald D. Moore floats the following hypothesis: what if instead of the Americans reaching the Moon first, the Russians had done it? Although the starting point might look juicy, the opening bars of this alternate tune are a recurrence of chorus lines form other space-race themed shows (From the Earth to the Moon). It isn’t until the third episode, when a group of female astronauts are catapulted centre stage, that the hypothesis pitches us an alternative scenario. In spite of everything, it’s not enough to sustain interest and we are left with Sonya Walger’s interpretation as the project’s highlight.
So, to sum up, the first series from Apple TV + pack visual punch and feature some acting heavyweights, the fruit of significant investment by the service. However, they are low-risk productions that may serve as complementary sparring fodder for Apple customers, but not enough to justify yours truly coughing up for another subscription. Firstly, because it’s a conservative selection devoid of personality, but let’s see whether this remains the flavor of the day as they incorporate new shows (coming soon, M. Night Shyamalan’s Servant), or if they can surprise us with some truly essential and original content.