Doctor Who is back, louder and more chaotic than before

Doctor Who is famous for constantly reinventing itself while remaining more or less exactly the same. The show has had a rough few years, which has led to some dramatic changes behind the scenes. Russell T. Davies, who was behind Doctor Who’s 2005 revival, has stepped in to rescue the show. What was historically an in-house BBC production is now being handled by a Sony-owned production company. And Disney has bankrolled it, with this new revival billed outside the UK as a Disney+ Original.

The dramatic behind-the-scenes changes prompted some fundamental questions about how Doctor Who would thrive in this new world. Would Davies be able to bring the show back from the brink a second time? And would the show appeal to Zoomers in the same way it found a devoted audience of Millennials? And would Doctor Who survive intact under Disney, which is used to obsessive levels of control?

It’s that last question I can already answer, having watched the first two episodes of this new eight-episode season: Doctor Who hasn’t been watered down to suit its new paymasters or the broad international audience who will see this show pop up every Friday. In fact, Who ‘24 has doubled down on being weird, avant-garde, difficult to handle and harder to pigeonhole. It’s a little punk and a little rough around the edges which makes it all the more interesting compared to, say, some other Disney+ series I could choose to mention.

I’m not allowed to share much of what I saw, but episode one, “Space Babies,” features the Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) visiting a space station crewed by babies. As you can see in the trailer, there’s liberal use of unconvincing and creepy CGI mouths for said rugrats. “The Devil’s Chord,” meanwhile, sees the TARDIS head to Abbey Road to meet the Beatles at the dawn of their careers.

If this is your first experience of Doctor Who, please start with the Christmas Day special “The Church on Ruby Road.” These first three episodes are the jumping-on point, and form Davies standard “Present,” “Future” and “Past” trilogy he uses to open his runs. All three are sold as fun romps, but there's a spikiness that stems from Davies’ underlying cynicism. As much as he may paint in primary colors, his worldview is a lot darker than some of his colleagues.

Davies is a strong advocate for better queer representation in film and TV and is arguably one of the most powerful gay men in media. Many of his shows, including Queer as Folk, Cucumber, A Very English Scandal and It’s a Sin center on queer narratives. Davies has made it clear he wants to foreground queer experiences in this season of Doctor Who and does so, proudly. He told Variety that the Doctor “chimes with queer energy” and that he’s not a “neutered Doctor.”

Some context: In 2021, Davies called out Disney+ for its lack of real representation in some of its other shows. During a virtual panel as reported by Pink News, he pointed at Loki’s single reference to the lead character’s fluid sexuality as a warning sign. “Loki makes one reference to being bisexual once and everyone’s like ‘oh my god, it’s like a pansexual show,” he said. Adding the single spoken reference was a “a ridiculous, craven, feeble gesture towards the vital politics and the stories that should be told.”

Davies returned to the job after the failure of his immediate predecessor, Chris Chibnall, who will likely go down in infamy. Chibnall inherited a successful show and opted to broaden its horizons by hiring a far more diverse crew both in front of and behind the camera. That included writers like Malorie Blackman and Vinay Patel and casting two women, Jodie Whittaker and Jo Martin, to play the Doctor. Chibnall also refused to bow down to culture war pressure when tedious people started screaming that the show had “gone woke.”

But for all of the goodwill the show had — and which Chibnall’s early decisions helped accrue — the showrunner quickly started to burn his own legacy as he built it. The quality of his episodes were never great and he wrote episodes that were incoherent, or said some pretty awful things by implication. He then started using the show as a vehicle for his own fan theories, re-litigating niche matters of continuity so nit-picky even I rolled my eyes so hard my skull caved in.

And then he created a secret origin story for the Doctor that essentially overwrote much of the previous 60 years’ worth of character development. He turned the Doctor into some sort of Space Jesus and then set about destroying a significant amount of the series’ fictional universe. Audiences were not thrilled: 8.2 million people watched Chibnall’s first regular-season episode but, by the end of his tenure, the figure had tumbled to 3.47 million.

It would have been smart to ditch all of this and declare a fresh start but Davies took a different approach. He has opted to Yes-And Chibnall’s hamfistedness, incorporating the catastrophic events of the last season as a new backdrop for the series. The universe is now "knackered," which has led to the show’s fictional reality warping in new, weirder and more whimsical directions. Whereas before Doctor Who sat at the crossroads of science and fantasy, it has now become a soft fantasy show. Villains like the Toymaker and the Goblin King push the Doctor into a more mythic register than ever before.

The Doctor (Ncuti Gatwa) and Ruby (Millie Gibson) examine a space station full of babies in 'Space Babies'
BBC / Disney+

CGI baby mouths aside, Doctor Who’s slick production values don’t work unless they're tied to great writing and great acting. Ncuti Gatwa had already become a superstar thanks to his work on Sex Education and Barbie and is a magnetic presence on screen. I struggle to take your eyes off him, but he’s clearly willing to cede space and time to his co-stars. Millie Gibson has the harder role as Ruby Sunday, having to keep her character grounded and believable in this fantastic world. The role of the Doctor’s traveling companion has minted many British A-listers since the show’s return and Gibson is clearly destined for big things.

If there’s one thing that comes across too much in these opening episodes, it’s that Doctor Who isn’t the same show from one week to the next. It revels in being chaotic, freewheeling through genres and styles with the freedom its lead character so relishes. So, if this is your first time on board the TARDIS, welcome, and strap yourselves in for some silly and serious fun.

Oh, and they fixed the title sequence.

The first two episodes of Doctor Who arrive globally on Disney+ on Friday, May 10 at 7:00pm ET and in the UK on BBC iPlayer at midnight on Saturday, May 11. One episode will arrive at the same time for the following six weeks.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/doctor-who-is-back-louder-and-more-chaotic-than-before-130041838.html?src=rss

Overlay next-gen home display wants to skim down multiple display demands with one AR Screen

Thanks to smart home technology integration, we have become dependent on digital displays for communication, infotainment, and even for preparing culinary bites in the kitchen. This means we need multiple displays: one in the family room for entertainment, another in the bathroom to read news and weather updates, one in the study for working from home, and if you’re not a Michelin chef yourself, a display in the kitchen to run the recipe guide for help!

Investing in all such displays, and still having them suffice for only one purpose at one place doesn’t really add up in 2024. If you’re in the same league of thought, Overlay – designed for Samsung – is the “Next Home Display” that wants to skim down the multiple display demand and fill it with one wholesome unit that has mobile roots.

Designers: Susanna Kim

More than an adjustable, mobile display, the Overlay is a sensor-enabled contraption that can move about the house – on preset commands or on call – to suffice a multitude of infotainment objectives and more. The onboard mapping sensors allow the mobile display to map the space and divide it into understandable zones. Users can pin the desired location on the map and set content (entertainment, information, etc) for each pin with a time. For instance, “the user” can pin the dining “table area to watch Netflix” while dining.

When it is time for dinner, the Overlay will automatically arrive at the table and turn on Netflix, as advised. The user can adjust the height of the display to their liking and watch the movie on Netflix without additional setup requirements (it has an integrated speaker system). In case you are too lazy to adjust the height, Overlay is designed to do that automatically for you. Auto height adjusting display rests on a solid base which is equipped with small radius omni-wheels for smooth maneuvering within the mapped space.

It can be teamed up with the TV or other devices in the house as an enlarged display for them. The unit can overlay more information about what you’re watching on TV or stand by the washing machine and give you a heads-up about when it’s time to take them to the dryers. It comes with an AI assistant to take voice commands and has a transparent screen to display match or player statistics when you’re watching a game of football on TV for instance.

Alongside being an omnipresent mobile display, the Overlay comes with motion sensors and LiDAR camera that provide it the ability to identify objects and perhaps provide plant and pet care tips to the user. Over and above monitoring the condition of plants in its mapped space, it can even regulate watering for personalized, automated care. All this functionality demands great power, for which the Overlay is pretty self-sufficient as well. It is powered by a rechargeable battery that it juices up by heading straight to the charging dock when the power is running low (no human intervention required here either). Capable of bringing MR experience to the home, the Overlay is designed in four distinct colors that should complement any home effortlessly.

The post Overlay next-gen home display wants to skim down multiple display demands with one AR Screen first appeared on Yanko Design.

PBS Retro is a new FAST channel playing just the classics

Parents throughout the country just breathed a sigh of relief at the prospect of allowing more screen time for their kids that doesn’t revolve around some really loud and annoying YouTube dude. PBS just launched a new free ad-supported channel called PBS Retro, as reported by The Wrap. As the name suggests, this is a repository for all of your favorite edutainment classics from the 1980s, 1990s and beyond. The nostalgia is strong with this one.

PBS Retro is available via The Roku Channel, which is a streaming service on smart TVs and, of course, Roku devices. The 24/7 channel airs all of the shows you’re likely picturing right now, including Reading Rainbow and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. You’ll also be able to introduce your kids to Thomas and Friends, Zoboomafoo and Kratt's Creatures, among others. It’s a collection of old-school classics.

This isn’t the only PBS-adjacent channel available on Roku’s platform. It’s home to other ad-supported channels like PBS Antiques Roadshow, Antiques Road Trip, PBS Food, Julia Child and PBS Nature. There are also plenty of PBS-related channels available via subscription, including PBS Masterpiece, PBS Kids, PBS Living, PBS Documentaries and PBS America. Some of these are available on Hulu+ Live TV.

PBS may become an even bigger fixture in the free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) space in the future. The organization says it's in the “early days of experimentation” with a goal of making PBS content “available in new places.” It will “continue to consider additional opportunities” if these FAST channels increase revenue and brand awareness. In the meantime, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood makes for some mighty fine ASMR.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/pbs-retro-is-a-new-fast-channel-playing-just-the-classics-173125500.html?src=rss

What we watched: Bluey’s joyful finales

It’s never good to recommend a comedy by saying it makes you weep, but somehow Bluey, a comedy for kids, feels more real and more truthful than anything else on TV. I see so much of myself in Bandit’s triumphs and failures as he tries to parent his two daughters. I nod along to all of his unsuccessful parenting tactics that, I’ll admit, I’ve also tried on my own two kids. And then, at the end of so many episodes, I’ll realize that the front of my t-shirt is wet with tears because I've been crying.

There can’t be many people unfamiliar with Bluey, the biggest kids’ TV series on the planet, if not the biggest series overall. Each seven-minute episode is a slice-of-life sitcom about the Heelers, a family of anthropomorphic dogs living in Brisbane, Australia. Bluey and her younger sister Bingo live with parents Bandit and Chilli. The show started out focused on the playtimes the kids would have with each other or their parents. But it quickly sprawled out to create a rich world in the vein of The Simpsons, with a whole city’s worth of storylines. It can now regularly relegate the Heelers to the background to focus on the show’s deep cast of characters.

It closed out its third season with last Sunday's “The Sign,” a (comparatively) epic 28-minute episode and this week with “Surprise,” a sweet little postscript. The former’s long running time was described as a dry-run for any potential Bluey movie, wrapping up a number of the show’s storylines. It focuses on a wedding taking place at the Heeler’s home in the shadow of the family’s plan to relocate to another city. I won’t spoil too much beyond saying “The Sign” is a story about the bigness of change and how that affects parents and kids alike. Much of it focused on Bandit’s decision to move for a better-paid job and the way that impacted Chilli and the two girls. It’s a complicated issue, especially because it highlights that parents often just want to do what’s best for the kids.

This is a screencap from 'Ghostbasket' but there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to post a picture of Bluey and Bingo as their granny characters.
Ludo Studio

“Surprise,” meanwhile, focuses more on the mundane struggle of Bandit trying to play two different games with his daughters at the same time. Much as Bluey wants to be just seven minutes of silly fun, it can’t quite help but be honest about the emotional and physical labor of parenting. All Bandit wants to do is sit down and watch sport on the TV but his daughters won’t allow him that luxury. He’s chased around the house, forced to pretend to teach a tennis ball to ride a bike and then pelted with ping pong balls fired from a toy launcher. (Bluey’s happy to highlight how often Bandit will get hit in the groin as a consequence of whatever game the girls are playing.)

The payoff to all of that effort comes in the final half minute of the episode, which is when I started sobbing. As much as it may be pitched as a palate cleanser after the scale and emotional heft of the previous episode, the final moments offer a real (if pleasant) punch to the gut. I can’t help but feel plenty of parallels in Bluey’s life and that of my own (similarly-aged) daughter, and feel a lot of kinship with Bandit as well. If I’m one one-hundredth as good a parent as this silly cartoon dog who often gets it wrong, then I’ll feel like I’ve done a good job.

There’s been speculation that this third season may be the end for Bluey. Bloomberg reported the uncertainty around creator Joe Brumm’s future with the show, although producer Sam Moor has said it will continue in some form. Any delay would also risk that the child actors – who remain anonymous for their own safety — will age out of being able to play their roles. But in many ways, Bluey can’t not continue given the show is now a multi-billion dollar cash cow for the BBC, which owns a big chunk of the show’s rights.

I don’t want to say goodbye to Bluey and the Heelers, and I’d prefer they kept the cast as-is and let them grow up alongside Bandit and Chilli. That, to me, would be an honest thing to do, rather than indulging in the fakery that dogs so many TV shows which face this problem. But if they have to go, I’ll choose to remember Bluey’s three perfect seasons through the highs and lows of parenting.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/what-we-watched-blueys-joyful-finales-161527282.html?src=rss

What we watched: Bluey’s joyful finales

It’s never good to recommend a comedy by saying it makes you weep, but somehow Bluey, a comedy for kids, feels more real and more truthful than anything else on TV. I see so much of myself in Bandit’s triumphs and failures as he tries to parent his two daughters. I nod along to all of his unsuccessful parenting tactics that, I’ll admit, I’ve also tried on my own two kids. And then, at the end of so many episodes, I’ll realize that the front of my t-shirt is wet with tears because I've been crying.

There can’t be many people unfamiliar with Bluey, the biggest kids’ TV series on the planet, if not the biggest series overall. Each seven-minute episode is a slice-of-life sitcom about the Heelers, a family of anthropomorphic dogs living in Brisbane, Australia. Bluey and her younger sister Bingo live with parents Bandit and Chilli. The show started out focused on the playtimes the kids would have with each other or their parents. But it quickly sprawled out to create a rich world in the vein of The Simpsons, with a whole city’s worth of storylines. It can now regularly relegate the Heelers to the background to focus on the show’s deep cast of characters.

It closed out its third season with last Sunday's “The Sign,” a (comparatively) epic 28-minute episode and this week with “Surprise,” a sweet little postscript. The former’s long running time was described as a dry-run for any potential Bluey movie, wrapping up a number of the show’s storylines. It focuses on a wedding taking place at the Heeler’s home in the shadow of the family’s plan to relocate to another city. I won’t spoil too much beyond saying “The Sign” is a story about the bigness of change and how that affects parents and kids alike. Much of it focused on Bandit’s decision to move for a better-paid job and the way that impacted Chilli and the two girls. It’s a complicated issue, especially because it highlights that parents often just want to do what’s best for the kids.

This is a screencap from 'Ghostbasket' but there was no way I was going to pass up an opportunity to post a picture of Bluey and Bingo as their granny characters.
Ludo Studio

“Surprise,” meanwhile, focuses more on the mundane struggle of Bandit trying to play two different games with his daughters at the same time. Much as Bluey wants to be just seven minutes of silly fun, it can’t quite help but be honest about the emotional and physical labor of parenting. All Bandit wants to do is sit down and watch sport on the TV but his daughters won’t allow him that luxury. He’s chased around the house, forced to pretend to teach a tennis ball to ride a bike and then pelted with ping pong balls fired from a toy launcher. (Bluey’s happy to highlight how often Bandit will get hit in the groin as a consequence of whatever game the girls are playing.)

The payoff to all of that effort comes in the final half minute of the episode, which is when I started sobbing. As much as it may be pitched as a palate cleanser after the scale and emotional heft of the previous episode, the final moments offer a real (if pleasant) punch to the gut. I can’t help but feel plenty of parallels in Bluey’s life and that of my own (similarly-aged) daughter, and feel a lot of kinship with Bandit as well. If I’m one one-hundredth as good a parent as this silly cartoon dog who often gets it wrong, then I’ll feel like I’ve done a good job.

There’s been speculation that this third season may be the end for Bluey. Bloomberg reported the uncertainty around creator Joe Brumm’s future with the show, although producer Sam Moor has said it will continue in some form. Any delay would also risk that the child actors – who remain anonymous for their own safety — will age out of being able to play their roles. But in many ways, Bluey can’t not continue given the show is now a multi-billion dollar cash cow for the BBC, which owns a big chunk of the show’s rights.

I don’t want to say goodbye to Bluey and the Heelers, and I’d prefer they kept the cast as-is and let them grow up alongside Bandit and Chilli. That, to me, would be an honest thing to do, rather than indulging in the fakery that dogs so many TV shows which face this problem. But if they have to go, I’ll choose to remember Bluey’s three perfect seasons through the highs and lows of parenting.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/what-we-watched-blueys-joyful-finales-161527282.html?src=rss

Netflix will stop tossing coins to The Witcher after season five

Netflix has renewed The Witcher for a fifth season, but the company says that will bring the series to an end. The final season will be shot back-to-back with the fourth season, which has just started production. The two seasons will cover the events of the last three books in the series: Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow and Lady of the Lake. The show is a direct adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, but it does occasionally take inspiration from CD Projekt Red's game adaptations (and vice versa).

The fourth season will mark a significant change for The Witcher, as Liam Hemsworth is replacing Henry Cavill in the lead role. This time around, Geralt of Rivia will find a new family in the Hanza, who will help him track down Yennefer and Ciri after the trio is separated. New cast members who are joining for the fourth season include Laurence Fishburne, Sharlto Copley and James Purefoy.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/netflix-will-stop-tossing-coins-to-the-witcher-after-season-five-171500284.html?src=rss

Netflix will stop tossing coins to The Witcher after season five

Netflix has renewed The Witcher for a fifth season, but the company says that will bring the series to an end. The final season will be shot back-to-back with the fourth season, which has just started production. The two seasons will cover the events of the last three books in the series: Baptism of Fire, The Tower of the Swallow and Lady of the Lake. The show is a direct adaptation of Andrzej Sapkowski’s novels, but it does occasionally take inspiration from CD Projekt Red's game adaptations (and vice versa).

The fourth season will mark a significant change for The Witcher, as Liam Hemsworth is replacing Henry Cavill in the lead role. This time around, Geralt of Rivia will find a new family in the Hanza, who will help him track down Yennefer and Ciri after the trio is separated. New cast members who are joining for the fourth season include Laurence Fishburne, Sharlto Copley and James Purefoy.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/netflix-will-stop-tossing-coins-to-the-witcher-after-season-five-171500284.html?src=rss

Apple renews For All Mankind and announces a spinoff series set in the Soviet Union

For All Mankind is coming back for a fifth season of space-based alt-history hijinks on Apple TV+. This is unsurprising news, given the near-universal critical acclaim heaped on season four. However, the company also surprise-announced a spinoff series called Star City that will follow the Russian space program.

Original series creators Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi are all onboard for Star City, though there’s no cast yet. The plot synopsis calls it a “robust expansion” of the universe and refers to it as a “propulsive, paranoid thriller.” It also looks to be taking viewers back to the events of season one of For All Mankind, chronicling the Russian moon landing that started the story.

“This time, we explore the story from behind the Iron Curtain, showing the lives of the cosmonauts, the engineers and the intelligence officers embedded among them in the Soviet space program, and the risks they all took to propel humanity forward,” Apple wrote in a press release.

The company didn’t say if the show would rely on frequent time jumps, like its forebear. To that end, Apple hasn't released any casting information for season five of For All Mankind. Given the show’s propensity toward expansive time skips, it’s highly possible series regulars like Joel Kinnaman and Krys Marshall are on their way out. After all, their characters were really getting up there in age and stretching credulity in season four. 

Joel Kinnaman looking old in a spaceship.
Apple TV+

This is some seriously good news for sci-fi fans, but still doesn’t take away the brutal sting of Star Trek: Lower Decks getting canceled. Paramount should probably just sell Star Trek to Apple already, since the latter actually seems to care about science fiction.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-renews-for-all-mankind-and-announces-a-spinoff-series-set-in-the-soviet-union-173950761.html?src=rss

Apple renews For All Mankind and announces a spinoff series set in the Soviet Union

For All Mankind is coming back for a fifth season of space-based alt-history hijinks on Apple TV+. This is unsurprising news, given the near-universal critical acclaim heaped on season four. However, the company also surprise-announced a spinoff series called Star City that will follow the Russian space program.

Original series creators Ronald D. Moore, Matt Wolpert and Ben Nedivi are all onboard for Star City, though there’s no cast yet. The plot synopsis calls it a “robust expansion” of the universe and refers to it as a “propulsive, paranoid thriller.” It also looks to be taking viewers back to the events of season one of For All Mankind, chronicling the Russian moon landing that started the story.

“This time, we explore the story from behind the Iron Curtain, showing the lives of the cosmonauts, the engineers and the intelligence officers embedded among them in the Soviet space program, and the risks they all took to propel humanity forward,” Apple wrote in a press release.

The company didn’t say if the show would rely on frequent time jumps, like its forebear. To that end, Apple hasn't released any casting information for season five of For All Mankind. Given the show’s propensity toward expansive time skips, it’s highly possible series regulars like Joel Kinnaman and Krys Marshall are on their way out. After all, their characters were really getting up there in age and stretching credulity in season four. 

Joel Kinnaman looking old in a spaceship.
Apple TV+

This is some seriously good news for sci-fi fans, but still doesn’t take away the brutal sting of Star Trek: Lower Decks getting canceled. Paramount should probably just sell Star Trek to Apple already, since the latter actually seems to care about science fiction.

This article originally appeared on Engadget at https://www.engadget.com/apple-renews-for-all-mankind-and-announces-a-spinoff-series-set-in-the-soviet-union-173950761.html?src=rss

LG Flow TV concept with detachable speakers for modern dwellers who love the freedom of movable platforms

The trend for single-person households is catching up in the urban landscape, and so is the need for modern electronics that come with the freedom of a movable platform. The reason is, that Gen-Z and single-person households don’t want the hassle of wall-mounted TVs when frequently changing bases. Solution, the LG Flow concept that comes with detachable speakers.

The proposed concept by GDM+ designers allows the user to enjoy 360-degree spatial audio anywhere. The whole TV frame can be rotated in any direction and the detachable wireless speaker module at the bottom of the display gives modern users more freedom when shifting bases or even rearranging their apartment. Big displays with permanent brackets on the wall or even in the stand format isn’t appealing enough for such users.

Designer: KDM+

This frame-like display is designed keeping in mind the harmony of the interior space like your living room or bedroom. The outer frame houses the display that can be rotated in a horizontal or vertical orientation with the push of the button on the provided remote control. In the vertical mode, the back legs are lean against the wall while in the horizontal mode, the long legs are tilted back to adjust to adjust the user’s eye level. The detachable speakers automatically adjust to the placement position to beam 360 degrees of omnidirectional sound for multimedia viewing. When you detach them, the position of the individual speakers is automatically gauged and ambient sound is adjusted according to the sitting position of listeners.

When you’re not watching any content on the TV, it doubles as a beautiful artwork piece to enhance the interior space. You can set it to display famous paintings, your memorable pictures, or anything random that makes you feel good.

 

 

The post LG Flow TV concept with detachable speakers for modern dwellers who love the freedom of movable platforms first appeared on Yanko Design.