Last week the new streaming platform Peacock opted for a soft launch with an exclusive, VIP guest list of Comcast Xfinity subscribers getting access to their platform first. The rest of us sloppy-mouthed plebes will get to check out Peacock on July 15, but thanks to the worldwide disruption of COVID-19, what’s available to Xfinity customers now and what will be available to everyone else later is pretty much the same. Peacock’s summer drop date was based on launching with exclusive Olympics coverage, but the Olympics have been rescheduled to 2021. This should be an exclusive period for Xfinity customers—who get early access because they’re already paying NBCUniversal via their cable bills—but because of the industry-wide production shutdown, most of Peacock’s original programming is now expected later in the year or even next year, when everyone has access. That being the case, Peacock should go ahead and let new customers join, but I guess they don’t want to take advantage of the demand for entertainment consumption seizing the world right now. So what can we expect from Peacock when we can all check it out in July? Well, besides NBC’s library including The Office, Parks & Rec, 30 Rock, and Law & Order, Peacock is offering a slate of originals.
Tina Fey is producing a series called Girls5Eva about a 1990s one hit wonder girl group that reunites for a second chance at fame. Given the craze for reboot shows and reunion tours, there is a lot of meta potential. Sam Esmail is executive producing a new series based on Battlestar Galactica, which is not, despite early reporting, a reboot. Norman Lear is producing a series starring Laverne Cox, and Will Forte is reviving MacGruber as a comedy series. Amber Ruffin will have a weekly late-night show, and Peacock landed the adaptation of Wondery’s Dr. Death podcast, which will star Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin, and Jamie Dornan. And here are a few things they actually have teasers for, aka the stuff we might get to see sometime this year.
Emmy Rossum stars as Angelyne, the pink loving LA billboard icon whose identity was revealed in an in-depth profile in The Hollywood Reporter. I don’t think the teaser makes a good case for what is special about Angelyne’s story—a lot of people stunt in LA, but not everyone becomes a symbol that endures for decades. Hopefully follow-up trailers give us more to work with, because Angelyne’s story is a perfect B-movie tale that wouldn’t be out of place in a John Waters movie.
Brave New World
Bouncing back from Solo¸ Alden Ehrenreich stars in a new adaptation of Brave New World. It looks decent enough, but I don’t expect this to make any more waves than Michael B. Jordan’s adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 or George Clooney’s Catch-22 did. Dystopias are only fun to visit when you’re not living in one.
Tapping into the rich vein of nostalgia, Peacock is bringing back some past sitcoms, too. Punky Brewster finds the indomitable teen now an indomitable adult, a single mom who doesn’t let adulting get in the way of her wacky hijinks. I honestly do not know who is missing this particular strain of overly obvious 1980s schmaltz. Audiences are WAY more sophisticated than anything in this teaser. I am, however, happy to see a now silver foxed Freddie Prinze, Jr. back on the screen.
Saved by the Bell
I am slightly too young for Saved by the Bell, but I do remember that Very Special Episode where Jessie Spano was hooked on speed. (I did eat at The Max pop-up restaurant once: the burger was mediocre, the milkshake was good.) This sequel series teaser seems to capture the boppy tone of the original while also reminding us that Saved by the Bell was super cheesy. Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Tiffani Thiessen are not included in this first look, because they had not yet shot their scenes when production shut down due to the pandemic, but the teaser does feature Mac Morris—we’re not even trying with these names—the son of Zac Morris and Kelly Kapowski. In this sequel, Zac is the governor of California and Jessie Spano is…? Unclear. She better be an astronaut or a CEO or similar. I’m not an expert on SBTB, but I remember enough to know that Jessie should be like, the president.