Heroes and others entertain viewers at home during pandemic; some shows have local connections
Editor’s note: This is the first in an occasional series on streaming.
While you wait for the world to reopen, you can travel through outer space, meet Her Majesty or watch justice unfold in drama-packed courtrooms. Move over, Perry Mason.
The adventures on and off Earth are on your screens, from the big one in your living room to the smartphone in your hand.
The COVID-19 pandemic started after the number of streaming services grew and added original programming. Amazon Prime, CBS All Access, Hulu, Disney+, Netflix and others are shown they’re more than a collection of old TV shows and movies. They’re producing their original shows and movies.
And with movie theaters closed, streaming services have become a venue for seeing films that were originally meant for the biggest screens in town.
Services such as CBS All Access have demonstrated they can think outside the box, or the transporter room, or the judge’s chambers. For example, CBS’ All Access has presented “Star Trek: Discovery,” which will start its third season this year, and “Star Trek: Picard.” The latter includes footage filmed at Sunstone Winery in Santa Ynez. An area near the Chumash Casino & Resort became Jean-Luc Picard’s Chateau Picard in La Barre, France.
“Star Trek: Picard,” which completed its 10-episode first season with plot surprises, exceeded many fans’ expectations. It followed the moral question of respecting the rights of artificial life forms, which meant, of course, a connection with Data. Brent Spiner returned to play the popular android, along with other actors reprising their “Star Trek: The Next Generation” roles.
Another CBS All Access series, “Star Trek: Discovery,” which didn’t win fans over with its first dark season, more than redeemed itself with a second season that featured Capt. Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) of the USS Enterprise.
“Discovery,” originally a “Star Trek” prequel series, is now a sequel. The main characters, including the lead character of Cmdr. Michael Burnham (Sonequa Martin-Green), have jumped far into the future for its upcoming third season. But CBS All Access hasn’t forgotten Pike, Spock (Ethan Peck) and Number One ( Rebecca Romijn) left behind in the 23rd Century. The streaming service has announced plans for “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” which will continue the USS Enterprise’s adventures before Capt. Kirk takes over the ship.
“These iconic characters have a deep history in ‘Star Trek’ canon, yet so much of their stories have yet to be told,” Executive Producer Alex Kurtzman said in a CBS news release.
Also coming up is the animated “Star Trek: Lower Decks.”
And for dedicated fans, CBS All Access features every episode of every “Star Trek” series. All 700-plus of them, without you having to say, “Beam them down, Scotty!”
For those who prefer “Star Wars,” all of the movies and the various TV series, including “The Mandalorian,” are on Disney+. Besides “Star Wars,” the streaming service features Disney movies from all eras, everything from “The Love Bug” (1969) to the latest Disney and Disney-Pixar films.
Disney+’s original programming features everything from behind-the-scenes stories on Disney Imagineering (i.e. “The Imagineering Story,” a documentary series) to “Pixar in Real Life,” live-action shorts in which Pixar characters interact with people in hidden camera settings. In one, the robotic star of “WALL-E” (2008) rolled out onto an urban sidewalk. Passersby were surprised.
Disney+ also features Marvel series and movies, including the latest “Avengers” films, as well as behind-the-scene documentaries. If Marvel co-creator and publisher Stan Lee were alive today, he would respond to all that with his favorite word: “Excelsior!”
Not a Marvel fan? You’ll find DC Comics superheroes on The CW, which streams its TV programs for free for anyone with internet access. They include “The Flash,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” “Batwoman,” “Arrow,” “Black Lightning,” last winter’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” miniseries (crossover episodes of the various shows) and a show that premiered this week: “Stargirl.” The newest series follows Stargirl, who gets her powers of flight and more from a cosmic staff. The character was inspired by Starman, a hero with the first superhero team in comic books history: the Justice Society of America.
You’ll also find shows such as “The Doom Patrol” and “Young Justice: Outsiders” at DCuniverse.com.
Heroes come in all forms, including the lawyers trying to fight “The Good Fight.” It’s another original CBS All Access series with a Santa Barbara County connection.
For its third season, “The Good Fight” has dealt with everything from an alternate reality to the impact of the mysterious memo 618. Diana Lockhart (screen and stage star Christine Baranski) and her fellow lawyers are fighting for justice even as a memo frightens judges from doing the right thing.
Here’s the local connection. Executive producers Robert and Michelle King live in Santa Barbara.
Also on CBS All Access, “Why Women Kill” has captured viewers’ attention with its focus on different time periods in the same house. The couples from the different eras share something in common. The women are dealing with unfaithful husbands. Stars include Lucy Liu (CBS’ “Elementary”).
Other original programming explores historical figures, such as Queen Elizabeth II on Amazon Prime’s “The Crown.” Olive Coleman is starring as Her Majesty on the show, now in its third season.
And viewers will find new movies originally intended to debut in theaters. “Scoob!,” the latest adventure for Scooby Doo and his friends, is now on Amazon Prime (amazon.com.)
And Disney-Plus+ plans to present “Artemis Fowl,” adapted from the books about a 12-year-old criminal mastermind, on June 12.
All of this, of course, is just a small chunk of the endless amount of content on streaming services.
Some trends, though, have prevailed during the COVID-19 pandemic. A Hulu representative told the News-Press that viewers have turned to comfort shows, such as the streaming service’s classic sitcoms. Among them is “The Golden Girls,” a 1985-92 NBC favorite starring Betty White, Bea Arthur and Rue McClanahan.
At a time like this, we need the show’s theme song: “Thank You for Being a Friend.”