Watch the first eight minutes of ‘Stranger Things’ season 4

Netflix is trying to build up hype for Stranger Things season 4 in a not-so-subtle way: by letting you watch a significant chunk of it. The service has shared the first eight minutes of the introductory episode in hopes you'll tune in for the rest. We won't spoil the finer points, but we will say that it's mostly a flashback that sets the stage for what's to come.

It's also clear just why the fourth season is split in two — some episodes are exceptionally long. Volume 1, premiering May 27th, includes seven episodes that are conventionally-sized apart from the last, which runs for an hour and 38 minutes. Volume 2, arriving July 1st, is another matter. It consists of just two lengthy episodes, with the last running for nearly two and a half hours. You're effectively watching a feature film.

There are reasons for the long runtime. The Duffer Brothers previously said they'd planned to finish the story in four or five seasons, and this fourth run is the start of that climax. The story is also far-reaching, with scenes in Hawkins, California, Russia and "elsewhere." It's a busy plot, and the creators are apparently determined to tie up every loose end.

Amazon’s latest stunt is beaming a new Prime Video sci-fi show into outer space

Amazon tried a novel marketing strategy to get more eyeballs (or eyestalks) on a new Prime Video show: it beamed the first episode of sci-fi series Night Sky out of Earth's atmosphere. The company pulled off the stunt earlier today for what it's calling "the first-ever intergalactic premiere for a TV series."

Satellite services companies SES and Intelsat used their ground stations and geostationary satellites to send the episode beyond the reach of our planet. Prime Video noted in a press release that the transmission won't be caught by broadcast satellites and sent back to terra firma, as is usually the case. "Theoretically, this makes the broadcast available to anyone open to receiving satellite signals 384,000 kilometers away from Earth and beyond — the equivalent distance from Earth to the Moon," it said.

Prime Video claims it's not only the first streaming service to send its content to space, but it marks the "farthest distance that a TV series has been intentionally distributed." The episode was transmitted using Ku- and C-band frequencies, which are often employed for satellite TV, media distribution and communications. So if there's anyone or anything out there with the right gear, they'll be able to catch the first episode of what sounds like an intriguing series.

Night Sky premiered on Prime Video today. It centers around a couple (played by Sissy Spacek and JK Simmons) who've been hiding a secret for years: there's a chamber buried in their backyard that links to a deserted planet. However, everything changes when a young man (who they believe may be an alien) enters their lives.

A new ‘Black Mirror’ season is in the works after a long hiatus

It seems Black Mirror is making a comeback. Three years after the fifth season of the sci-fi anthology series arrived, Variety reports that Netflix has greenlit a sixth season.

Details are scant for now, though it seems casting is in progress for a season that's expected to have more episodes than season five's three instalments. The new episodes are said to be even more cinematic in scope than previous ones as well.

Critics have suggested Black Mirror was running out of steam in later seasons, with its previously incisive criticism of where technology was headed perhaps waning. The long gap between seasons might have helped the creative team develop more impactful ideas and scripts.

The lengthy delay between seasons isn't only because of creative reasons, though (if that has indeed been a problem). Black Mirror has been held up due to a rights issue. In January 2020, creator Charlie Brooker and executive producer Annabel Jones left their production company House of Tomorrow, which had backing from Endemol.

The duo set up a new production company, Broke and Bones, which quickly struck a long-term deal with Netflix. However, Endemol retained the rights to Black Mirror, meaning Brooker and Jones were unable to produce more episodes until they or Netflix struck a deal with Endemol's new owner, Banijay Group.

In the meantime, Brooker and Jones have developed other projects for Netflix. They created a year-in-review special called Death to 2020 (a spin on Brooker's previous Wipe series), which had a sequel last year. Brooker was also behind an interactive animated project called Cat Burglar, which required players to get trivia questions correct to advance the story.

Netflix will surely be glad Brooker and Jones are working on Black Mirror again, however. The company scooped up the series, which debuted on the UK's Channel 4, in 2015. Since then, Black Mirror has won eight Emmys and a host of other awards, including for Bandersnatch, one of Netflix's first forays into interactive programming.

Concept LG Display appears like a scroll, looks great in matte finish

LG Display Scroll Display Sample

Concept displays will continue to be designed and introduced as technology advances. In the past few years, we have seen flexible displays implemented on smartphones. The rise of foldable phones has started years ago, and soon, we may see bigger projects with rollable or flexible screens like a door, cabinet, or a window.

The recent OLEDsGo competition is about to conclude. Several groups have shared their designs, including the Totem Rollable OLED Display. Another project presented by Studio Booboon is the Scroll, but it’s an old design. This one is a transparent OLED television that can fit most homes. It’s not exactly a flexible display but the shelf shows a curved design.

Designer: Studio Booboon

LG Display Scroll Display Sample

LG Display Scroll Display Sample

The Scroll transforms into a shelf when not in use. Once it is turned off, it becomes a shelf that can carry your stuff. The Scroll appears like a scroll with its curved portion at the bottom of the screen. The display device’s shelf is made of weighted metal pipe don’t put anything too heavy on top.

It’s mainly a TV, but it looks nothing like a boring TV. It features an elegant and clean look in different color options: Gray, White, and Pink. It seems more like a furniture item than a gadget. It can match most interiors with its minimalist style.

LG Display Scroll Display Sample

LG Display Scroll Display Design

The project Scroll was awarded first place in the OLEDsGo! Competition 2021. It showed an almost bezel-less curving display. It may remind you of an iMac with its smooth finish and super slim display. It doesn’t have any speakers, unlike the LG Totem with Soundbar. The TV can be placed on the wall or the floor as it can stand on its own.

The name Scroll is obviously after a scroll that curves and scrolls out. The shelf portion is one end of the scroll that offers high-resolution images. It can also work as a digital photo frame or a digital painting. Just share your photos and view them on the TV or simply watch your favorite TV series or movie.

The concept LG Display is expected to also offer an enhanced viewing display experience like the Totem Rollable OLED Display. It could have been better with a soundbar but it’s already a great design on its own. The design team has also previously come up with other interesting designs like the Sombrero Table Light which looks like a hat and functions as either ambient light or focused light.

LG Display Scroll Display Flexible

LG Display Scroll Display Features

LG Display Scroll Display Details

The post Concept LG Display appears like a scroll, looks great in matte finish first appeared on Yanko Design.

‘Star Trek: Picard’ could only exist on a streaming service

The following contains mild spoilers for the finale episode of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ season two.

Picard has always been an outlier in the Star Trek franchise. It’s not a show about a particular ship and its crew; the title indicates that at its heart, it’s about this one character and any unresolved issues he may have had with his life. It hasn’t been the most compelling premise, and its output so far has been divisive among fans. But as the series finishes up its second year and rolls into its third and final season, its ultimate purpose has become more clear, a purpose that wouldn’t have worked for a broadcast show but fits right in with the more intimate confines of a streaming service.

In its first two seasons, Picard has felt rather directionless. Season one was about artificial life, while season two decided to delve into time travel and emotional trauma. It may be a serialized program, but the plotlines and tone have gone all over the place (mostly notably in “Stardust City Rag,” which starts off with a gory torture scene but by the halfway mark the crew is all wearing silly disguises). But between the departures of cast members at the end of season two and the announcement that The Next Generation crew would be appearing in the series in its last season, however, a clear pathway for the program seems to have emerged from the fog.

Pictured: Michelle Hurd as Raffi and Jeri Ryan as Seven of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.
CBS

The final TNG movie (Nemesis) is generally considered to be awful, with a weak nonsensical plot, some out-of-character moments and just a bad sendoff for fan favorite characters like Data. Picard has sought to heal some of those wounds by giving Data a proper death, Troi and Riker a proper family, and Jean-Luc himself some needed character growth. That last one was a particular sticking point since the finale of the show, “All Good Things,” ended with a message that Picard needs to grow as a person. And then in the films… he just didn’t.

It’s hard to imagine creating a network television show just to fix some problems with a series of films made twenty years ago, which is why Picard is most definitely a product of the streaming model. I’ve talked before how streaming affects the creative development of shows in both good and bad ways. A streaming program is given a full season order before it starts, meaning that creators know they have at least six or 10 or 13 episodes to play with. It’s a big part of why serialized storytelling is even possible, since showrunners no longer fear being cut off in the middle of an ongoing story (like the recently canceled Legends of Tomorrow on the CW, which ended on a big cliffhanger).

Pictured: Santiago Cabrera as Rios of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.
CBS

There are also some drawbacks, to be sure; without audience feedback, it means a creator can’t fine-tune a show as it goes along. They can’t make changes at all until the new season starts production. And if the show hasn’t been renewed for another season, they can’t seed plot points in the current season and be sure they’ll pay off. At least with broadcast shows, they may hear of their renewal while still in production, allowing them to add in some hook for the next season.

But as I said, Picard doesn’t have to worry about any of this. The show was intended to be three seasons and no more, and they’ve already shot the entire thing. Many lapsed fans have publicly stated they intend to jump on board merely for the presence of their TNG faves, meaning Paramount+’s streaming strategy does seem to be working in this case.

Pictured: Steve Gutierrez as Ricardo, Santiago Cabrera as Rios, Sol Rodriguez as Dr. Teresa Ramirez, Michelle Hurd as Raffi, and Jeri Ryan as Seven of the Paramount+ original series STAR TREK: PICARD. Photo Cr: Trae Patton/Paramount+ ©2022 ViacomCBS. All Rights Reserved.
CBS

And it’s because the show has such a limited life span, because it’s ending up to be less a tentpole than it is a nice little coda for long-time fans, I find it easier to make peace with the show’s existence. Like many viewers I’ve had problems with Picard, some I’ve written about. The same goes for Discovery. But as the Star Trek universe expands and more options become available, each show has a lot less weight to carry.

They no longer have to try to meet every expectation; instead fans have a fuller menu to choose from. Discovery can be for those who like a quirkier Trek with a progressive cast, Picard is for TNG diehards, Lower Decks is for fans who like the sillier aspects of the franchise, Prodigy is for kids and Strange New Worlds is trying to be an old-fashioned-style Trek for fans who literally hated everything else on this list. And I don’t think any of this would have been possible without the streaming model. There may be too many shows to keep up with, but at least it’s easier to find something that fits your unique taste. Whether the growth of streaming is sustainable is yet to be seen (RIP CNN+) but for now, we can enjoy the plethora of options at the buffet.

‘Star Trek: Strange New Worlds’ has promise, and the usual frustrations

There are reasons that Star Trek: Strange New Worlds exists beyond the need to keep the Trek content pumping so nobody thinks too hard about canceling Paramount+. It’s designed to quell some of the discontent in Star Trek's vast and vocal fanbase about the direction the live-action shows have traveled under the stewardship of uber-producer Alex Kurtzman. It’s also a slightly bewildered response to the criticism of its predecessors, Discovery and Picard, made by the same people behind those two shows. In short, it’s designed to appeal to people who, when asked what their favorite live-action Trek show is, unironically say The Orville.

We open on Christopher Pike (Anson Mount), the once-and-future captain of the Enterprise after his sojourn leading Discovery in its second season. There, a magic time crystal told him that, in less than a decade, he’ll be non-fatally blown up in a training accident. Armed with a standard-issue Grief Beard™, he refuses the call to return to the stars until the siren song of non-serialized space adventure becomes too great. It isn’t long before he and Spock are reunited to rescue Rebecca Romijn’s Number One from a spy mission on a pre-warp planet gone wrong. Sadly, Paramount’s restrictive embargo on discussing the first few episodes forbids me from discussing much of what I've seen, so things will get vaguer from here on out.

It looks like it was August 2020 when Alex Kurtzman said that the show would be episodic rather than serialized. This was a way to address the criticism of the heavily serialized, go-nowhere, do-nothing grimdark mystery box stories that sucked so much of the joy from Discovery and Picard. Strange New Worlds is, instead, a deliberate throwback in the style of The Original Series, albeit with serialized character stories. So while we visit a new planet each week, characters still retain the scars, and lessons learned, from their experiences.

There are more refreshed Original Series characters than just Pike, Spock and Number One along for the ride. Babs Olusanmokun is playing a more fleshed-out version of Dr. M’Benga, while Jess Bush takes over for Christine Chapel. André Dae Kim is the new Chief Kyle, who has been promoted from intermittent extra to transporter chief. Then there’s Celia Rose Gooding as Cadet Uhura, whose semi-canonical backstory is now firmly enshrined as a Dead Parent / Troubled Childhood narrative. Uhura aside, most of these roles were so under-developed in the ‘60s that they’re effectively blank slates for the reboot. Oh, except that everyone is now Hot and Horny, because this isn’t just Star Trek, it’s Star Trek that isn’t afraid to show characters in bed with other people.

Rounding out the cast is Christina Chong as security chief La’an Noonien-Singh, a descendant of Khaaaaan! himself, Trek’s in-series Hitler analog. From what we learn of her so far, she also gets saddled with a Troubled Childhood / Dead Parent narrative, as well as a case of the nasties. I expect her character will soften further over time, but right now she’s officially the least fun character to spend time with. Of more interest is Melissa Navia’s hotshot pilot Erica Ortegas who can launch the odd quip into the mix when called upon, and Hemmer. Hemmer is a telepathic Aenar (a type of Androian first introduced in Enterprise) played by Bruce Horak. Horak plays Hemmer as an old-fashioned lovable grump and mentor figure for some of the other characters and will clearly become a fan-favorite.

And having now seen the first half of the first season (a second is already in production) I can say that Strange New Worlds will be a frustrating watch for fans. Frustrating because there are the bones of a really fun, interesting Star Trek series buried deep inside Strange New Worlds. Sadly, it’s trapped in the usual mix of faux-melodrama, clanging dialogue and dodgy plotting with the usual lapses in logic. Many writers are blind to their own flaws, which is why it’s so amusing that this is what Kurtzman and co. feel is a radical departure from their own work.

Maybe I’m being unfair, but this is the seventh season of live-action Star Trek released under Kurtzman’s purview. The three lead characters all had a full season of Discovery to bed in, too, so it’s not as if everyone’s starting from cold. But despite the gentlest of starts, the show still manages to stumble out of the gate, trying to do too much and not enough at the same time. The first four episodes, especially, feel as if someone’s trying to speed-read you through a whole season’s worth of plot in a bunch of partly-disconnected episodes.

An aside: Ever since the mid ‘80s, Paramount was desperate to reboot Star Trek with a younger cast to cash-in on that Kirk/Spock brand awareness. It eventually happened, but only in 2009 with J.J. Abrams’ not-entirely-successful attempt to reboot the series in cinemas. While a Young Kirk movie made sense in the ‘80s, mining that seam for nostalgia today seems very weird indeed. After all, most people under the age of 50 will likely associate TNG as the One True Star Trek. The fact that not-so-closet Trek fan Rihanna’s favorite character is Geordi La Forge speaks volumes about where millennial love lies. But I’d imagine a La Forge spin-off series was never going to fly with any generation of Paramount executives.

Now let’s talk about that emotional continuity, because while people will take their experiences with them, little effort has been made to pre-seed conflicts before they erupt. Arguably the weakest episode of the bunch tries to cram four (4!) A-plots into its slender runtime. One of which is a coming out narrative for one crewmember – and once they’ve come out, another character reveals a deep-seated antipathy toward that group. It would be nice, if we could have let this particular battle brew, but it’s introduced about 25 minutes in and resolved with a punchfight by minute 40. We’re not shown the person wrestling with the decision to come out and risk their professional and personal relationships beforehand, either. Just… punchfight.

A lot of these episodes don’t properly resolve themselves either, which is the standard problem for any 50-minute TV show. It’s hard to build a new world, flesh out new characters, establish and resolve their problems in the space of two episodes of Brooklyn Nine-Nine. But at least three episodes feature conclusions that either aren’t clear or take place entirely off screen, explained away with a line of dialogue. I don’t know if it was a production problem, or if a majority of the show’s 22 (yes, twenty-two) credited producers signed off on it, but it feels a hell of a lot like cheating. It's almost as if the writers wanted to provoke surprise in the subsequent scene — how did this get resolved!? — over concocting a satisfying emotional and narrative catharsis on-screen. 

In fact, I’m going to harp on about this one particular episode because it’s not content with just dropping one major character revelation. The episode basically stops 10 minutes early in order to – shock horror – drop another Kinda Dark Secret About A Crewmember You Barely Know. One thing I said when Discovery started was that if you never get to know the characters in their default state, it’s not valuable to see their bizarro-world counterparts straight away. It’s the same here, Strange New Worlds refuses to do the painstaking work of filling in these characters before they start changing as a result of their experiences together.

The cast is all solid, and clearly working hard to elevate the material they’ve been given, because the dialogue here is so rough that I think they all deserve danger money. Now, nü-Trek dialog has always been awkward and/or impenetrable, but it’s beyond dreadful here. Kurtzman and co. forgot the whole “show, don’t tell” nature of screenwriting, and so characters just stand there and tell you everything, constantly. This is made worse because rather than giving space for these talented, well-paid actors to act, they’re instead forced to say what they’re feeling.

Here’s an example of that: In one episode, a character is trying (and failing) to remember a key memory from a traumatic experience in childhood that holds the key to saving the day. But rather than use the performer to convey that, they have the actor in question stand there, blank-faced, and say “I am trauma blocked.” Then there are scenes in which two characters describe what’s happening in front of them with the sort of faux-gravitas that only Adam West could pull off.

Remember when I said there was promise? There really is, and you feel like if the writers could get out of their own way, things could improve massively. There’s one episode you could easily describe as the (actually fun) comedy romp of the season and it’s great. Every Trek fan knows that The One With The Whales is the most financially successful Trek property ever made. And yet whenever a new Trek property is made, it’s always with the promise of more grimness, more darkness, more grit, more realism. Yet here we are, with the fun episode reminding you why you watch Star Trek in the first place, and making the characters fun people to hang out with. If the series could continue in that slightly slower, more relaxed groove, then Strange New Worlds could be brilliant.

I haven’t talked much about the production design or effects, both of which are great – this new Enterprise is gorgeous inside and out. Nor the series music, with Nami Melumad’s score being smart, subtle and lush in all of the right places. That’s a compliment not shared with Jeff Russo’s now standard fare, which neither matches the delicacy of a good prestige drama intro nor the soaring bombast associated with Star Trek. The best and worst thing I can say about the intro theme is that it sounds like it came from one of Interplay’s mid ‘90s CD-ROM games.

Fundamentally, I can only really damn Strange New Worlds with the faintest of praise – it can be fun, every now and again. I would imagine, and hope, that things will improve as time goes on, and the show’s makers won’t indulge their worst impulses. Given that I walked away from Picard after the end of its first dreary-as-hell run, the fact I’m at least prepared to stick around here speaks volumes.

JoyCon-shaped TV cabinets attach to the sides of your television, turning it into a massive Nintendo Switch!

Sure, you can cast your Nintendo Switch onto a TV, but can you turn your TV into a Nintendo Switch??

Rather succinctly named the Nintendo Switch TV Cabinets, these little storage units attach to the sides of your TV, turning it into a massive wall-mounted Nintendo Switch replica. Designed and built by WishIWoodWorkshop, the cabinets come built-to-order, designed to match your TV’s size. They’re made from a combination of wood, plywood, and MDF, and get finished with a coat of paint to make them look exactly like the JoyCons, complete with the joystick and buttons!

Designer: WishIWoodWorkshop

The cabinets come in two styles – with a hinged door on the front (shown above), and with drawers and shelves (shown below). You provide your choice of style (along with your TV’s dimensions) while placing an order. The Nintendo Switch TV Cabinets don’t come cheap, though. Clearly more of a vanity purchase than a practical piece of furniture, each pair of cabinets can set you back $750 plus shipping.

The post JoyCon-shaped TV cabinets attach to the sides of your television, turning it into a massive Nintendo Switch! first appeared on Yanko Design.

CNN+ is shutting down just weeks after launching

Just three weeks after the streaming service launched, Warner Bros. Discovery announced it is shutting down CNN+. Variety broke the news. The service will cease operations on April 30th, according to multiple reports, meaning it will close after just 32 days. 

CNBC reported last week that CNN+ was pulling in just 10,000 daily users who were willing to pay $6 per month for exclusive live, on-demand and interactive news-driven programming. New CNN president Chris Licht, who was appointed after WarnerMedia and Discovery merged earlier this month, reportedly made the recommendation to kill CNN+. 

Andrew Morse, the executive vice president who was running CNN+, is expected to leave Warner Bros. Discovery after a transition period. Reports suggest there may be hundreds of related job cuts. 

It seems some CNN+ programming could be bound for HBO Max. CNN itself noted that Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav wants to combine the company's content into a single streaming service. That tracks with the plan to eventually merge HBO Max and Discovery+.

CNN had high hopes for the project. It invested hundreds of millions of dollars into the streaming service and recruited talent from other networks (such as Kasie Hunt from NBC and Chris Wallace from Fox News) to host CNN+ shows. However, Warner Bros. Discovery executives quickly pulled the plug after CNN+ failed to gain much traction. 

For what it's worth, CNN+ crashed and burned even harder than Quibi. The short-form streaming service launched in April 2020 and shut down that December. Warner Bros. Discovery might take a little solace in the fact that Quibi blew nearly $2 billion instead of a relatively meager nine-figure sum.

Season 3 of ‘For All Mankind’ is coming to Apple TV+ on June 10th

The alt-history space race drama For All Mankind is headed to Mars for its third season. Apple unveiled a trailer today for the upcoming season, set to debut on June 10th. While the second season depicted a turf war on the moon between the US and the Soviets set in the eighties, the newest season fast-forwards to 1995. The US is vying to be the first country on Earth to colonize Mars.

Fans of the show can expect to see a mix of familiar faces and new ones. Last season's finale depicted the untimely demise of Gordo Stevens (Michael Dorman) and Tracy Stevens (Sarah Jones). Sonya Walger is returning as Molly Cobb, despite being exposed to (at least what seemed) like a fatal dose of radiation during her walk on the Moon. Returning cast members include Joel Kinnaman (Ed Baldin), Shantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodi Balfour (Ellen Wilson) and Cynthy Wu (Kelly Baldwin). Also due back are Coral Peña as Aleida Rosales and Casey W. Johnson as Danny Stevens.

You can watch the new (albeit, frustratingly brief) teaser below.

Season 3 of ‘For All Mankind’ is coming to Apple TV+ on June 10th

The alt-history space race drama For All Mankind is headed to Mars for its third season. Apple unveiled a trailer today for the upcoming season, set to debut on June 10th. While the second season depicted a turf war on the moon between the US and the Soviets set in the eighties, the newest season fast-forwards to 1995. The US is vying to be the first country on Earth to colonize Mars.

Fans of the show can expect to see a mix of familiar faces and new ones. Last season's finale depicted the untimely demise of Gordo Stevens (Michael Dorman) and Tracy Stevens (Sarah Jones). Sonya Walger is returning as Molly Cobb, despite being exposed to (at least what seemed) like a fatal dose of radiation during her walk on the Moon. Returning cast members include Joel Kinnaman (Ed Baldin), Shantel VanSanten (Karen Baldwin), Jodi Balfour (Ellen Wilson) and Cynthy Wu (Kelly Baldwin). Also due back are Coral Peña as Aleida Rosales and Casey W. Johnson as Danny Stevens.

You can watch the new (albeit, frustratingly brief) teaser below.