The 2021 Boom in TV & Film - Plus how binge-worthy shows up the screen-time ante
With COVID-19, Albertans are spending more time than ever in front of screens. And even as restrictions slowly begin to lift again, it’s safe to say binge-worthy entertainment is here to stay. And just in case you ever feel guilty for sitting around watching TV all day – you’re helping keep one of Canada’s biggest up-and-coming industries busy.
Former Fort McMurray resident Jasmine Chaos has been a part of the Vancouver film industry for five years. She said the nickname of Hollywood North is more fitting than ever.
“This is the busiest I’ve ever seen the B.C. film industry. We have over seventy productions going on right now,” Chaos said. “We have lower COVID-case numbers than New York, and L.A. which combined with the tax breaks makes us really attractive for filmmakers.”
And while many entertainment industries such as live events have ground to a halt, the film industry has persevered.
“With COVID, there are more jobs than ever,” Chaos claimed. “We have an entire unionized crew of assistants who make sure procedures are being followed plus cleaning teams working around the clock to keep the actors and crew safe.”
With the recent launch of the channel Star on Disney+ which features more mature shows including Big Sky, which Chaos currently works on as a Production Assistant/Locations Representative, we have even more choices than before.
Let’s find out the best of the best from each of the apps, so you can decide which one is best for you (or if you’re like me and want them all to manage your time efficiently!).
$9.99/month with additional “family” plans also available
Binge-worthy Shows: Netflix has a little bit of everything from hard-hitting dramas like Sons of Anarchy, action-packed Sci-Fis like The Umbrella Academy and laugh-out-loud comedies like Shameless. If you’re looking for Canadian content, you’ll find the award-winning Schitt’s Creek and the recently released Netflix original Ginny and Georgia, which features Westwood High School graduate Humberly Gonzalez in a recurring role!
Stand-out Features: Stand Up Comedy. Perhaps no streaming service ever has had the back catalogue of stand-up that Netflix has, and it continues to release new star-studded specials from the likes of Dave Chapelle and Kevin Hart – even during the COVID-19 pandemic!
Coming Soon: Expect a new season of Stranger Things, The Witcher and Peaky Blinders over the next few months. Following along the lines of great original film releases like The Trial of the Chicago Seven – Lin Manuel- Miranda directs Tick, Tick… Boom! A musical re-telling of Rent creator Jonathan Larson is due out this year.
$9.99/month - additional plans available, including new HBO content
Binge-worthy Shows: One of Crave’s strongest suits lies in its collection of TV shows and mini-series. If you missed Jeff Daniels’ performance in the timely and thrilling The Comey Rule, it’s here for you. Likewise with Bryan Cranston’s return to gritty television in Your Honor. If you’ve never experienced Larry David’s brilliant tour de “farce” of Curb Your Enthusiasm or the groundbreaking series that took HBO to a whole new level in The Sopranos, you’ll find a home for both of them here. Arguably, Crave’s most popular series stems from right here in Canada – the hilarious and endlessly quotable LetterKenny.
Stand-out Features: In addition to the HBO library, Crave tends to get a lot of the newest movies first. 2021 Blockbusters like The Suicide Squad, Dune, The Matrix 4, Godzilla vs King Kong and Space Jam: A New Legacy will all make their Canadian debut on Crave after their theatrical run is completed.
$7.99/month - additional channels available, also comes with Prime shipping
Binge-worthy Shows: As the cheapest of the streaming services, Amazon Prime may not have as big of a selection on paper as the other three, but what it lacks in quantity, it more than makes up for in quality. First up, the R-rated Superhero series The Boys is exclusive to Prime and epic. Three of my personal favourites from the last year are also exclusive to Prime.
Firstly, The Goes Wrong Show from the creators of The Play That Goes Wrong. If you’re even the slightest fan of farce and British comedy, these six 30-minute episodes are a must-watch. One of the most talked-about series of the year is Yellowstone and the first three seasons (with the fourth set to air this summer) are on Prime. And on a similar level, don’t miss Tin Star, a British show starring Tim Roth as a police officer, who enters the witness protection program with his family and gets stationed in the Rocky Mountains in Alberta.
Stand-out Features: For additional fees, there are dozens of channels here catering to specific fans. Bollywood, British comedy, Horror – you name it! Most channels offer a complimentary 30 day trilogy.
Coming Soon: Coming 2 America; the sequel to the great 1980’s classic, which reunites Eddie Murphy and Arsenio Hall, is out now, but a lot of buzz surrounds the epic Lord of the Rings series currently being filmed in New Zealand.
$11.99/month for new subscribers
Binge-worthy Shows: Disney+ has been knocking it out of the park in this category. The Mandalorian just wrapped its second season with an outstanding show that made every episode feel like a full-length movie. They continued their success with WandaVision, which admittedly had a quite weird start, but those who stuck around grew to love it.
Stand-out Features: In one word: Nostalgia. All the classic Disney movies are here. And the Star catalogue tends to skew a little bit older than the other streaming apps meaning you’re bound to find some great forgotten epics from the ’80s and ’90s. Speaking of the 90’s you’ll happily find Goof Troop and The Mighty Ducks trilogy still holds up, while the less said about Dinosaurs, the better. (Did we find that funny back in the day?)
Coming Soon: Star Wars fans will be getting a new season of The Mandalorian and a brand new series focusing on Obi-Wan Kenobi (with Ewan Macgregor back in the robe for the first time since 2005) and Bobba Fett! Marvel fans, meanwhile, have tons of great series to look forward to, like The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and Loki later this year, with future releases set to focus on everyone from Hawkeye to Groot!
$5.99/month - plus the opportunity to bundle with Apple Music, and other Apple subscription features
Binge-worthy Shows: With only a handful of original series, so far as Apple TV+ is still in its infancy. But all are great in their own right. The Morning Show explores the Me Too movement and stars Steve Carell and Jennifer Aniston, while the hilarious Ted Lasso recently won a Golden Globe for Jason Sudeikis. Fresh off the presses is For All Mankind from Ronald D. Moore, who brought us the early 2000s revamping of Battlestar Galactica.
Stand-out Features: Apple TV+ is still the new kid on the block, and right now, its best selling feature is its low cost. Also, if you’ve recently purchased a new iPhone and iPad, you’ll most likely receive a free year! Apple TV+ is also a convenient place to access your former iTunes purchases from days past.
Coming Soon: Apple TV+ has tons of great content coming soon, like the Tom Holland film Cherry, a new series hosted by Oprah Winfrey and a relaunching of the great Fraggle Rock, which is currently being produced in Calgary!
Photo: Former Fort McMurray resident Jasmine Chaos works as a production assistant and locations representative on Big Sky in Vancouver, also known as Hollywood North. Photo supplied