Don’t look now, but Hulu (and Hulu Plus) is aiming to become a legitimate force in new and exclusive programming. I’m not a subscriber, but given the dearth of summer viewing options, I may need to subscribe to find out if any of the many shows that Hulu has on tap for this summer end up being any good.
The new summer slate is headlined by Kevin Smith’s new talk show, “Spoilers,” which I’m not that keen on. It basically involves Kevin Smith doing what he does best — shooting the sh*t — as he interviews filmmakers and celebrities and “gushes” over the best films of the summer. I do like Kevin Smith, but there’s only so many ways to repackage what is basically Smith smoking up and rambling about whatever it is that is on his mind. This particular show seems like the answer to his hatred of movie critics, a free-flowing, non-critical discussion among fanboys about summer blockbusters, an nice idea that I’d rather see someone like Nick Frost or Edgar Wright tackle.
Richard Linklater’s travel show, “Up to Speed,” sounds more promising. It involves following a tour guide, Timothy “Speed” Levitch, as he explores “monumentally-ignored monuments” of the United States, like the “luckiest subway grate in New York City.”
In addition to another original series, “We Got Next” (which sounds kind of like “The League” with a pick-up basketball team), Hulu has exclusive rights to air a few British and Canadian series, as well as a neat sounding series directed by Adam Arkin. It’s hard to make much of a determination based on a press release, but the trailer for “Pramface” at least looks decent, like another iteration of “The Inbetweeners.”
We’ll keep you posted whether any of these shows are worth a Hulu subscription, but in the meantime, here’s the full write-ups of their summer slate.
“Spoilers” — Premieres: June 4, 2012. Kevin Smith’s Movie “Revue” – This multi-act film extravaganza mixes lively group chats, interviews with movie and pop culture icons and animated shorts. Each week, Kevin, special guests and movie lovers passionately sound off on the year’s most anticipated summer blockbusters, gushing over their favorite scenes and debating the details frame by frame.
“Up To Speed” — Premieres: August 2012. A Travel Show About The Road Less Traveled – This new travel series was created by filmmaker Richard Linklater (“Bernie,” “Dazed and Confused”) and represents his first foray into episodic TV storytelling. Each week “Up to Speed” follows tour guide, historian and flaneur Timothy “Speed” Levitch (“The Cruise”) as he visits the monumentally-ignored monuments of America’s cities, from the shoe gardens of San Francisco to the luckiest subway grate in New York City.
“We Got Next” — Premieres: August 2012. A Bro-mantic Comedy – “We Got Next” is a raunchy, sarcastic and out-of-bounds half-hour show about a pick-up basketball team of four guys who should never have been friends in the first place. Each week, the guys’ courtside banter consistently escalates into a run of terrible advice and poor decision-making. Cast includes Paul Bartholomew (“Paul The Male Matchmaker”), Lance Barber (“Big Bang Theory”), Bumper Robinson (“The Game”) and Bill Fagerbakke (“Coach”).
“Rev.” — Premieres: June 3, 2012. Meet The Rev. Adam Smallbone. From a sleepy, rural parish, the newly promoted vicar has moved to the busy, inner-city world of St. Saviour’s in East London. It’s a world in which he has little experience, and it shows. It really shows. “Rev.” is a contemporary sitcom about the enormous daily frustrations and moral conflicts of an inner-city vicar. Cast includes Tom Hollander (“Pirates of the Caribbean”), Olivia Colman, Steve Evets, Miles Jupp, Lucy Liemann, Simon McBurney and Ellen Thomas. Originally broadcast on BBC Two in the U.K., the show has received widespread critical acclaim, winning the 2011 BAFTA’s “Best Sitcom,” and nominated for the 2012 BAFTA’s “Best Sitcom,” and Hollander receiving a nod for “Best Male Performance in a Comedy Program.”
“The Yard” — Premieres: June 7, 2012. A mockumentary miniseries that originally aired on HBO Canada, “The Yard” offers a bizarre juxtaposition of two rival cliques of elementary school children, where tension develops much like the quintessential crime-family thriller. The show has comically been referred to by Canadian television critics as “‘The Wire’ and ‘The Sopranos’ with kids.” The cast and crew have respectively been nominated for the 2012 Young Artist Award and the 2011 Directors Guild of Canada Award.
“Derren Brown: Inside Your Mind” — Premieres: July 7, 2012. Derren Brown is a performer like none other in the world. He uses psychology, magic, showmanship and suggestion to achieve things that for anyone else would be impossible. In the U.K., he is multi-award winning performer and has done a variety of huge and baffling stunts including predicting the national lottery and playing Russian roulette on live TV. Brown brings his elaborate feats to U.S. audiences in this specially shot compilation. His technique challenges traditional preconceptions of magic in the grand tradition of Houdini and modern performers such as Penn & Teller, David Blaine and Criss Angel. However, Brown’s mind-reading of unsuspecting, everyday people gives magic a new angle that never ceases to amaze.
“The Booth at the End” (Season Two) — Premieres: July 2012. Xander Berkeley, best known for his roles as “George Mason” in FOX’s “24” and “Percy” in The CW’s “Nikita,” stars as an enigmatic man occupying the corner booth of a diner. He possesses the power to grant desires, contingent upon recipients performing mysterious tasks. This half-hour psychological thriller begs the question: “How far would you go to get what you want?” Directed by Adam Arkin (“Justified,” “Grey’s Anatomy”).
“Pramface” — Premieres: July 19, 2012. Jamie and Laura are two young, free and single teenagers who, after hooking up at a party, soon find they have a very big complication on their hands. Laura is pregnant. So even though they barely know each other, they now have one thing in common – and it’s getting bigger. “Pramface” brings humor and heart to a tricky subject, following these two unexpected parents-to-be as they try, and frequently fail, to negotiate family, sex and what happens once nine months is up.
“The Promise” — Premieres: August 11, 2012. With nearly a decade of extensive field research on the part of award-winning writer and director Peter Kosminsky, “The Promise” is a BAFTA-nominated, four-part political thriller and love story. The serial drama examines the origins of the Middle East conflict in events that took place under British rule sixty years ago. The bold and honest series cuts between the life of Erin, an 18-year old Londoner in present day Israel and Gaza, and that of her military grandfather who was part of the British peace-keeping force in Palestine at the end of the second World War. The miniseries garnered widespread critical acclaim upon its airing in the U.K. and was subsequently nominated for “Best Drama Serial” by both BAFTA and Royal Television Society.
“Little Mosque” — Premieres: June 28, 2012. “Little Mosque” is a light-hearted and comedic fish-out-of-water tale about a small Muslim community that rents the parish hall of a small town church to use as a mosque. The multi award-winning, half-hour series features a cast of both Muslims and non-Muslims in storylines that the New York Times says “explore the funny side of an often misunderstood life.” “Little Mosque” has received awards from around the world including the prestigious “Search for Common Ground Award” for promoting cross-cultural understanding. It has been lauded for its frank and authentic portrayal of real issues within the Muslim community as well as its delicate balance of the irreverent with the reverent. “Little Mosque” is available in 90 countries including Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, United Arab Emirates and Turkey.