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Apple TV – it’s 1st Oscar and a bag full of Emmy Nominations

The award ceremony for this year’s Emmy Awards will be held this autumn, and looks like Apple TV is the hot ticket

Apple TV & Black Bird
image courtesy of author

They came from nowhere

Apple TV is a youngster when it comes to TV networks – it is not quite three years old, but already, it is a big player in the streaming network scene. Their initial creative budget was estimated to be around $6 billion for original TV show content & documentary series.

Unlike Netflix, which secured much of their budget by licensing popular shows such as The Office and Friends, Apple instead decided they would focus on entirely original content.

The budgets involved are eye-watering, with each episode of the excellent Morning Show and See, for instance, costing Apple a reported $15 million – per episode! From day one, that was putting their spend on a par with Game of Thrones.

As you’d expect, they backed themselves to win the war of the streaming services, and so far, the omens are looking good. They beat Netflix in the OSCARS war, in winning this year’s best picture award with CODA. But, that was just the first step on their way to creating an award-winning service, with some remarkable, original content.

It helped that they had an almost ready-made network, as the service was natively available on over 1 billion screens & devices. Considering that we are including iPhones, iPad’s and Mac’s, that estimate may actually be on the conservative side.

Forget sport

Even putting to one side the live, Major League Baseball which is streamed every Friday night, and the soccer deal they have recently announced, Apple TV is on fire currently. With some amazing content, and a brace of award nominations to match, Apple TV is my go-to service most evenings now.

Clearly, Apple’s press releases and me, are not alone in that thought either, with this year’s Emmy nominations having just been announced.

More booty for Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso was one of the first programmes that gained serious attention for Apple TV, although it is one series I have not watched – oddly. Sometimes, you just miss the boat, and I think that was the case for me & Lasso. In only its second year of Emmy eligibility, though, Ted Lasso actually broke records by becoming the most nominated freshman comedy series in Emmy history…and all this from a newby studio!

For the second year running, the comedy series has been nominated for 20 nominations. And, it’s far from being alone in scooping up nomination after nomination. The widely celebrated drama, Severance, made its Emmy debut this year with 14 nominations, scoring the first Outstanding Drama Series nomination for Apple TV+.

Other Apple TV shows also garnered multi-awards, including Schmigadoon landing four, and The Problem with Jon Stewart & Foundation, both receiving two nominations a-piece.

And for the actors…

The shows are not the only winners, either, with many of the shows stars, also being nominated.

Lasso in itself has ten acting nominations. Reese Witherspoon landed her first nomination for The Morning Show in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category. Also, from the Morning Show, Billy Crudup, is recognised with a nomination for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, and Marcia Gay Harden secured a nomination for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series. Surprisingly, though, no nomination for the other lead actress, Jennifer Aniston!

Jamie Erlicht, Apple’s head of Worldwide Video, has said in reaction to this year’s nominations, “We are immensely proud of the broad selection of Apple Original programming recognised by the Television Academy. These series have captivated audiences, and we greatly admire all of these incredibly talented storytellers and congratulate them on their nominations for the dynamic stories they bring to life.” Said in true Apple Press Release parlance!

In total this year, Apple scored 52 Emmy Award nominations. They have already won in the Drama & Comedy categories, so that really only leaves nominations & wins in the Limited or Anthology Series category to have a clean sweep.

About those limited series

Apple are not dragging their heels on that front, either. In these days of everything being available immediately, I love that they have returned to the once a week format for new releases.

There have been several series I have got into this year, including Slow Horses, where it gets to the end of an episode, and I am left waiting a week for more. It’s old school, but it works.

Some other series to look out for

Black Bird

One of my hot picks of the moment has to be Black Bird. Based on a true story, we are currently up to episode 4, and it is about to get dark – I can just feel it. Based on actual facts, it stars Taron Egerton as Jimmy Keene, a former high school football hero and decorated policeman’s son.

Due to a drug deal that goes wrong, he ends up facing 10 years in a minimum security prison with no parole, until, that is, he is given the choice of a lifetime! He has to befriend suspected serial killer Larry Hall (the brilliant Paul Walter Hauser), and gain his trust inside a maximum-security prison for the criminally insane.

His deal, and immediate freedom, centres around Jimmy eliciting from Larry where the bodies of several missing girls are, that Larry is suspected to have murdered. Trouble is, Larry is also a serial liar!

From the first moment, of the first episode, it grips you. Pathos, dark humour, brilliantly shot & produced. Apple TV at it’s very best. A must-see.

Five Days at Memorial

Once again, based on actual events and on the book by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Sheri Fink, Five Days at Memorial shows us the effect that Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath had on members of the local community. In particular, it focuses on the staff of a local hospital. It chronicles, not only the effects it had on the staff at the time, but also for years to come. From the ABC Studio, its executive producer is John Ridley. It is already being spoken of as a likely nominee for next year’s Emmy Awards. Its release date is 12th August.

Bad Sisters

I know one of the foley technicians from this series, and it sounds like another not-to-be-missed series. A dark comedy thriller, Bad Sisters is all about the lives of the Garvey girls. They are bound together by the premature death of their parents and a promise to always protect one another. Featuring an ensemble cast, it is the work of award-winning creator Sharon Horgan, and again, is highly anticipated. Its release date is one week later on 19th August.

And they have more in store

So far, we have only focused on their speedy march in to the worlds of film, drama, and documentaries, such as They Call Me Magic. But Apple has not forgotten about their roots and heritage in the world of music.

In May, a new live series of gigs kicked off.

Called Apple Music Live, Harry Styles was the first in a number of live-streaming concerts from major artists. The company says the idea behind it is to “give the biggest stars in music the biggest possible platform to flaunt how they connect with audiences and how their songs translate to live performance.”

Effectively, it was a release party for Styles, whose third album, Harry’s House, came out on the same day.

That said, it does seem like a smart way for artists to promote new releases and give people a taster of what their live shows are all about. The show was streamed live to over 160 countries, and was available to watch free of charge. Apple had previously tested the live-streaming waters as early as 2007 with the iTunes Festival, which went on to be known as the Apple Music Festival.

One to watch

We know Apple well enough, that what they want, they generally get.

Of course, it helped they had deep pockets and an almost un-ending budget to throw at the Apple TV concept, but even with all the money in the world, it still takes vision and talent.

Bringing on-side heavy-hitters such as David Attenborough, John Ridley, Jennifer Aniston and Jon Stewart, clearly helped, but the sheer volume of quality shows they now produce, in such short time, is staggering.

Not only is the content top-notch, but the filming, lighting and production, makes you almost think you are in a movie theatre. Each show is an event. I am lucky enough to watch through an Apple 4K TV. If at all possible, I’d encourage you to do the same – on a decent panel, and with AirPod Pro, watching these programmes elevates them to another level.

Not even three years old, and already they have a Best Picture OSCAR under their belts and endless Emmy Award gongs and nominations.

You gotta say, the future looks pretty damned bright for this TV start-up from Cupertino.

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