Showrunners (Film Review)

Showrunners (Film Review)

There is a lot going on behind the scenes of your favorite television show.

Hundreds of people are required to do a myriad of different jobs, long before the highly paid actors ever stroll on to the set and start to act out the episode that you will see on air months later.

Showrunners: The Art of Running a TV Show is a fascinating documentary that takes us around Hollywood to see the people that truly are in control of shows, and some of the work that needs to go into the toughest job in television: running an entire show.

show2With a host of interesting and hard working show runners being interviewed, we are shown just how tough their job really is, how everything is questions that they must somehow come up with the answers for. From scripts to directing, plotting out episodes and seasons, casting, balancing their personal vision with that of the studios and networks…it is a ton. It truly is amazing the amount of time and effort that goes into bringing our favorite stories to life each week. And it is a miracle that there are still people out there who want to run their own shows.

The amount of stress on these people is incredible. And with such a quick-to-judge audience, even more so with social media picking at every move that is made on screen, the pressure to be successful, and remain that way, is enormous. Running one small scale show is an incredible balance. Seeing people like J.J. Abrams, who seems to be the executive producer for every show on television, the workload is unfathomable.

show3Showrunners is definitely interesting. While we are provided with behind-the-scenes information on actors and directors all of the time, and with a renewed focus on the writers of late, it is great to go behind even those important people to finally give some notice to the people who really make a show tick. Actors are famous. Some directors achieve a level of fame, and there are some writers who have truly made a name for themselves out there. But there is very little attention paid to the showrunners, and perhaps this documentary will give them some of their due. Seeing how they come up with ideas, and get scripts written (usually themselves) in a short time frame, going through re-writes, and the endless meetings with their teams, it kind of makes it amazing that TV shows are still done in this manner.

We get to see some of their ups and downs, from a hit series, to one that has run its course, to one that is flat out cancelled. How far should these people pursue their dreams? When do they know when it is time to give up, and if you are lucky enough to have a hit, what do you do next? (This last one is of particular interest for fans of the show Lost.) We are told about the debacles that can happen when a network becomes to involved with the vision of the writer, and that moment when they need to cave to get something done, or stand up for their beliefs, and scuttle something that they love just so it can be done in the way that they perceive as being right.

Definitely worth checking out, Showrunners will, if nothing else, provide you with some insight into TV, and give a new perspective and respect for those who care enough about an idea to try and make it happen week after week, season after season.

Long Way Down (TV Review)

Long Way Down (TV Review)

Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman are back for another incredible motorcycle trip in Long Way Down, the follow up to their incredibly successful, and amazingly watchable, Long Way Round. In this journey, the two friends decide to bike from the very northern tip of Scotland, all the way to the most southern point of South Africa, seeing as much as they can on the way down.

long3The series’ made by these two are so fun and interesting to watch, that I can only hope there are going to be more on the way. (There are talks that they are going to be making a third version of the series, another monster trip from the south of South America, up to Alaska, called, of course, Long Way Up.)

So many interesting things happen to these guys on their trips, and it is of course surrounded by incredible natural scenery, as they make their way through Europe and then criss-cross the African continent.

  • The friendship between McGregor and Boorman is what makes this show tick. They are very likable people, and they are endlessly watchable.
  • It is always cool to see a famous actor just being a regular person, and this very much is how McGregor is. He doesn’t play on his fame, and really does seem to be just a normal guy. He is funny, and relaxed, but gets worked up over the same things as anybody else would.
  • There is conflict in the series, just as there was on Round. Nothing while traveling is ever perfect, and disagreements happen. They are open to them.
  • They always stop to do charity work along the way. This is great to see, and gives their trip more than just the “rich actors wanting to do cool, crazy stuff” idea.
  • I love the planning episodes. It is like a travelers dream, to be pouring over maps like that.
  • Incredible scenery.
  • The chance to experience so many things. The people they meet along the way, the tiny villages they stay in, the local flavours of Africa. They aren’t just high-tailing it across a continent, they want to be able to experience it as much as humanly possible.
  • The riding itself looks incredible. They go from solid blacktop roads, to brutal deep sand. Even them, being very experienced riders, spend a lot of time falling off their bikes, but still pushing forward in fairly undriveable conditions.
  • Their love of motorbikes is infectious. It would be hard to watch their series without some part of you craving to get your licence, and start learning how to ride a bike, if you don’t know how already. It really does seem like complete freedom. The open road, the views, having your own thoughts all day. Incredible.
  • The human factor: our two main characters get tired, they get grouchy, they want to quit, they need a day off. All of these things happen on any kind of road trip, and they are not immune to it.
  • Respect: they are always respectful of their surroundings, and they don’t just come roaring into town expecting the best of everything because they are making a TV show. They are happy to be treated well, and are content with often meager amenities. Boorman and McGregor do not act like primadonnas, which is great.
  • Excellent camera work. With personal video diaries, helmet cams, and a couple of camera men along on their journey, it is captured and edited very well. Not much is missed, and it is put together in a nice, entertaining way.
  • For those who have also read the book that came out before the series, like Long Way Round, this is another great way to accompany it, with the visuals that go along with the descriptions in the book.

longFor travelogues, Long Way Down is top notch. Although I have never held a particular interest in Africa, seeing their adventures has definitely opened my eyes to how incredible the place can be. This is another fun show from these two guys, and would definitely recommend checking it out on Netflix.