By Kevin McDonough
Given the gravity of a global pandemic, the evolution of "entertainment" may not amount to a hill of beans. But you can feel the ground shifting under the business of show, leaving many confused about just what separates a …
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Given the gravity of a global pandemic, the evolution of "entertainment" may not amount to a hill of beans. But you can feel the ground shifting under the business of show, leaving many confused about just what separates a "movie" from something you stream on demand. Recently, the Academy Awards bowed to reality and declared that streamed content would be worthy of Oscar consideration. As if that matters in a world where nobody has gone to "the movies" in months.
Storytelling is changing in fascinating ways. Last year's "Irishman" was presented as an overlong movie that many, me included, thought might have worked better as a five-part miniseries. This year's outstanding "Unorthodox" was presented as a four-part series, but might have worked equally well as a stand-alone film.
Today, Netflix begins streaming the French series "The Eddy." Set in a Parisian jazz club, it meditates on the creation of a band, the blending of an ensemble, the reconciliation of a father and daughter and the owner's difficulties keeping a business running while facing mounting bills and outside mobsters with violent ways of making "collections."
Dazzling and cinematic, its fluid cinematography moves effortlessly from the stage to the kitchen and out to the streets as the music and sound shift accordingly. It's a wonder to behold, featuring a completely international cast blending French, fractured English and street slang as they work in musical mediums as different as straight-ahead jazz and North African hip-hop.
If this seems more like a "movie" than "TV," it's because "The Eddy" is directed by Damien Chazelle, best known for "La La Land" and "First Man." Much like the mixture of Yiddish and English heard in "Unorthodox," this eight-part series is not for those allergic to subtitles. But neither was "Parasite," winner of Best Picture for 2019. And now streaming on Hulu.
As stated above, you can feel the world of entertainment changing before our eyes, becoming more international, challenging and experimental. And rewarding.
• Hulu launches the eight-part cartoon comedy "Solar Opposites." Originally developed for Fox, it concerns a group of aliens who have been space shipwrecked on Earth, trying to "blend in" as best they can, while all the while conducting weird experiments and observations and breeding a larva-like baby that will grow to destroy and devour the Earth.
"Opposites" mines nervous laughter from their awkward observations. But mostly it's about the callous indifference of a superior intelligence for its new host planet. The show's liberation from network television allows the writers to pepper the script with obscenities, but it doesn't make it funnier. The absence of any adult women or "mom" figures in this alien family lets the comedy run riot with adolescent cruelty. It's about as funny as it sounds.
• Hulu begins streaming the 2020 documentary "Spaceship Earth" about the 1991 scientific experiment that saw eight intrepid souls quarantine themselves inside a self-contained environment named Biosphere 2.
The film documents how high hopes turned to bad feelings as interpersonal relationships devolved into cultlike domination and the atmosphere inside the greenhouse turned literally toxic. This misbegotten experiment was well covered at the time and inspired the 1996 comedy "Bio-Dome," starring Stephen Baldwin and Pauly Shore.
Is "Spaceship Earth" the movie of the moment? Or does it hit too close to home?
TONIGHT'S OTHER HIGHLIGHTS
• Unlikely kidnappers strike on "The Blacklist" (8 p.m., NBC, TV-14).
• Fallon's bachelorette party unravels on the season finale of "Dynasty" (9 p.m., CW, TV-14).
• People show how they are coping with the pandemic on the special "In This Together" (9 p.m., PBS, TV-PG, check local listings).
A Dallas TV reporter leaves a network job to pursue cosmic truths and political mysteries in the 1976 cult independent film "The Pyramid" (2:30 a.m., TCM, TV-14).
Jeri Ryan guest stars on "MacGyver" (8 p.m., CBS, TV-PG) * Garment industry innovations on "Shark Tank" (8 p.m., ABC, TV-PG) * Dean Cain hosts "Masters of Illusion: Impossible Escapes" (8 p.m., CW, TV-PG) * On two helpings of "Magnum P.I." (CBS, TV-14), splitsville (9 p.m.), double-crossed (10 p.m.).
Jimmy Fallon welcomes Mark Ruffalo, Guy Raz and Miranda Lambert on "The Tonight Show" (11:35 p.m., NBC) * Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D., N.Y.), James Taylor and Glen Sobel visit "Late Night With Seth Meyers" (12:35 a.m., NBC, r) * Ellen Pompeo, Mike Colter and Loud Luxury & Bryce Vine appear on "The Late Late Show With James Corden" (12:37 a.m., CBS).
© 2020, United Feature Syndicate
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