TV Drama: Editor’s Note

I am quite used to experiencing uncomfortable stress levels while watching the news or listening to true-crime podcasts (one too many stories about people disappearing without a trace, and you start to get paranoid). I wasn’t expecting that level of anxiety when I sat down to watch Black Mirror: Bandersnatch, Netflix’s brilliant but entirely discomfiting interactive film. First, I had to hold the remote control for the entire time. Not relaxing. And then, having to make selections gave me agita because I wanted to know where the other option would take me. So, I watched it over and over again until I had seen all the major endings. Lean-forward entertainment is exhausting.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m all for being invested in and committed to a show, whether that means getting teary-eyed during an emotional scene in A Million Little Things, anxious over Killing Eve’s thrilling cat-and-mouse game or maddeningly confused about Game of Thrones’ million-and-one storylines and characters. I’ll take a layered, complex serialized drama over an episodic procedural every time. But there is something to be said for relaxing, lean-back storytelling that doesn’t require a massive investment of time. That’s why Jeffrey Katzenberg has lined up a $1 billion war chest to spend on “quick bites” of entertainment for the new streaming service Quibi. Sam Raimi and Guillermo del Toro are said to be working on projects for the new platform. It is expected to be another game-changing development in a genre that has seen unprecedented levels of innovation and investment over the last few years.

This edition of TV Drama explores two areas of the scripted space that are making a lot of noise today. First, we analyze the booming European drama market, spotlighting creativity from Spain, Scandinavia, Germany, France, Russia and Turkey. Next, we dive into the genre space, looking at sci-fi, fantasy and horror shows being produced around the world. Speaking of fantasy, arguably one of the most highly anticipated shows this year is Amazon and BBC’s Good Omens. Its stars, Michael Sheen and David Tennant, talk about working together on the adaptation of the beloved Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett novel. We also hear from Walter Iuzzolino, co-founder and curator of Walter Presents, on how the acclaimed foreign-language drama service has evolved and expanded since its launch.