It s been a month since Apple TV+ launched – just ahead of rival Disney+ – and began to make its case for why you should subscribe to the tech company s streaming service. How successful has the case been? That s what we re looking at in this episode of Couch Tomatoes.We ve now had time for Apple s big launch shows – The Morning Show, See, Dickinson, For All Mankind – to hit their strides, and we ve just been hit with the service s most critically acclaimed series yet in M. Night Shyamalan s super-creepy Servant. Couch Tomatoes host Naz Perez is digging into each series with TV hosts Heather Gardner and Jackie Iadonisi, and IndieWire TV critic Ben Travers. Has The Morning Show delivered on the prestige TV promise of its cast and creators? Is Dickinson the modern-period mashup we ve been waiting for? And does Servant serve up the Shyamalan scares fans are hoping for? We ll tackle all those questions, as well as share what s on the horizon for the streaming service.Our guide to the Best Apple TV+ ShowsPlus, with each episode of Couch Tomatoes, we dig into a major series or event and provide Fresh picks of great shows to help you cut through the clutter and only binge the best.Apple TV+ is now available. Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
Toy Story 4 is nothing if not sincere. During a one-and-a-half-day visit to the Pixar campus in Emeryville – part of the California East Bay golden triangle of art-driven cities including Oakland and Berkeley – over a dozen supervisors, writers, and digital artisans hosted workshops and seminars about their upcoming June movie to answer the question that s on all our minds: Why? Why make another Toy Story? Especially when Toy Story 3 felt like the end; Andy passing his toys on to the next generation as he moves to college, the camera panning up to the sky, a bookend with the same clouds that opened the Toy Story back in 1995. Toy Story 3 delivered a mint-in-box rarity in today s world of tempting serialized storytelling and cinematic universes: A sense of finality, and closure. Why mess with that?Minor spoiler warning: This article describes the opening scene of Toy Story 4!It started in 2014.We re sitting in a board room with Pixar character modelers, directing animators, and story supervisors and artists. Like the rest of the world, they tell us, Pixar had moved on from Toy Story, not expecting to see the franchise s characters on the screen again, outside of shorts and television specials. Monsters University had just released. They were gearing up for the one-two punch of Inside Out and The Good Dinosaur in 2015. Amidst the streamlined chaos, an impossible idea persisted: That there was still more Toy Story to tell, and it deserved to be on the biggest screens possible across the world. The idea turned to talk, turned to pencil against paper, turned to cursors across monitors, turned into crews and planning and development, until Toy Story 4 moved into The Steve Jobs Building, the campus section where movies are officially in production.BO PEEP FINALLY GETS HER DUEPixar story supervisor Valerie LaPointe tells the room that there are people at Pixar who, as children, had their world expanded watching Toy Story in theaters in 1995, who now get to work on the fourth, and understand the legacy they re molding on their computers every day. To LaPointe s left are five women, who minutes before had each spoken about their role on TS4, nodding in agreement. They are a crucial creative force at Pixar, and instrumental in forging the emotional ace of the new movie: Bo Peep.The porcelain lamp with her flock of sheep (voiced, as always, by Annie Potts) had a minor but memorable role in the original Toy Story as Woody s flame, with less to do in Toy Story 2. And while the main characters got their glorious (seeming) sendoff in Toy Story 3, Bo wasn t there at all, having been reduced to a sacrificial plot point to motivate and illuminate her boyfriend s emotional pain. Clearly, there was more story to tell, because her story hadn t been told at all.Toy Story 4 opens with a flashback. It s nighttime at Andy s house, in the middle of a downpour, set a bit before Toy Story 3. R/C is outside caught in a gutter torrent, spinning his wheels to keep from getting sucked into a sewer drain. Bo and Woody, always the contingency planners, execute a rescue mission that saves R/C and leaves Woody momentarily underneath a car in the driveway. Everything looks photo-decadent: the rain, the lighting, the subtle scuff on Buzz s plastic armor plating. Pixar has found new vistas to paint once again.Then, the bombshell: Molly, Andy s sister, is growing up and Bo s watch has ended – she s being carried in a box to the car, and soon to be off into the great donated unknown. Bo has accepted her fate, having long since known a porcelain lamp doesn t have quite the shelf life of a talking cowboy or space commando. Woody is frantic, and he attempts to get her out of the box. Bo does the opposite, offering a place beside her. Just as Bo knows her destination, Woody knows his is entwined with Andy, and as the car peels off, he s left in the driveway splintered by the rain. It s not quite Up territory in terms of Pixar opening-scene tearjerkers, but considering we ve known these characters for nearly 25 years, it s damn close.EYES PEELED FOR PLENTY OF PIXAR EASTER EGGSFor eagle-eyed viewers, something may catch your attention: The car s license plate – always cinematic fertile ground for easter eggs, especially in Pixar films. RMR F97, the plates read. But what does it mean? It is an easter egg! director Josh Cooley laughed during our press conference. On Toy Story 2, there was someone who worked on the show that accidentally deleted the movie from the render farm, producer Mark Nielsen said, who worked modeling and shading on Toy Story 2. That was the command on the computer that deleted the film. Galyn Susman, who was an early producer on this film, was on maternity leave and had a backup of the movie at her house, and brought it back to Pixar and restored it, added producer Jonas Rivera. It felt appropriate that the license plate on the car that takes Bo away would be the same that killed Toy Story 2. From the filmmakers words and the footage and material shown, it becomes apparent Toy Story 4 will probably become the most easter egg-laden movie the studio has ever produced. At one point, Woody and Forky – a spork with googly eyes and pipe-cleaner arms come to life, who exists as his own existential quandary – end up in an antique store. Full of neat knick-knacks and weathered baubles, it s a set piece that puts Pixar s detailed creativity on full display, not to mention plenty of references to their past.Look for a sign that says Papa Rivera s, a reference to the aforementioned producer. The Eggman Movers truck, around since the first Toy Story, makes a comeback, long known to be tied to art director Ralph Eggleston. From Finding Nemo, you can see the tiki heads from the fish tank on some shelves.There s steel decoration for Catmull s Brews, named after Ed Catmull, who s been with the company since the beginning and is retiring the month after Toy Story 4 is released. The Catmull sign hangs over a pinball machine whose interior has been turned into a miniature nightclub; Tinny, from the 1988 short Tin Toy, is the bouncer. (And for you pinheads out there, the machine was modeled after Bally s 1977 Black Jack – and we saw that tucked away in a room at Pixar HQ when we were doing a workshop making our own Forkys.)A FEMALE VILLAIN, FULL-ON BODY HORROR, AND BOO?Elsewhere in the antique store, Woody and Forky meet Gabby-Gabby, an angelic 50s doll and the first female antagonist of the series. Gabby Gabby commands a league of dapper and wholly unsettling ventriloquist dummies who do her bidding, like trying to rip out Woody s voice box to replace her own broken one. To set the body horror mood, Gabby Gabby puts on a record playing music from Coco, the vinyl pressed on the prestigious Chalupa Records.And that s not the only Coco reference. Part of the road trip includes visiting a carnival fair across the street from the antique store, which is where Woody reunites with Bo, who has been leading a joyous, independent, if not occasionally challenging life as a lost toy. One of the carnival game prizes is the guitar from Coco. And who s joined in among the festivities? A teenage Boo from Monsters, Inc, who appears to have not changed her style since 2001. Hey, purple shirts and scrunchies are eternal!And all those easter eggs were from less than 30 minutes of footage.As Toy Story 4 has been in the works for the last five years, the studio has seen some major changes. Ed Catmull is retiring. Beloved animator Bud Luckey passed away (he was all over the classic Boundin short). And founder John Lasseter left in scandal. It’s been a different time from their heyday, when Pixar racked up 11 Certified Fresh movies between Toy Story and 3; then a record, now overtaken by Marvel Studios current 14. During the visit, it s clear here was a movie being made by people both filmmaker and fan, who see this as a continuation of the golden age. Maybe they re always like this with their movies.For anyone born after 2010, this is the first chance to watch a new Toy Story on the big screen. It could even be their first movie theater experience ever. That s quite the gift. It s the same one Pixar offered in 1995, and many people who took it back then, grew up, got a job there, made Toy Story 4, talked to a bunch of press, and now get to offer it up to a new generation. Returning to the toy cowboy who s devoted to the joy of others, Pixar has become the studio it always was: A house of toil and dream, where old things find new life.Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.
(Photo by New Line Cinema)During the casting for A Nightmare on Elm Street, director Wes Craven thought he needed a “big man.” After all, it was going to be a horror movie about an evil, dream-haunting psychopath who slaughters kids with a glove fitted with knives. In his mind, Craven was following the precedent set by Tobe Hooper in 1974 and John Carpenter in 1978 – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Halloween both featured hulking, unstoppable man-monsters. Craven even interviewed Kane Hodder – the man who would wear the hockey mask once Jason Voorhees took center stage in the Friday the 13th series – for the part.But a skinny, young actor named Robert Englund thought that most child abusers were weasels and creeps, not hulks. So he offered a different take on the lecherous Freddy Krueger, and not only would Nightmare take off because of it, but horror movies themselves would be changed forever.Released 35 years ago this week, A Nightmare on Elm Street took the concept of the bad guy as the marquee character – the one people not only came to see, but to actively cheer on – to whole new levels. The faceless, voiceless, mask-obscured killing machines that preceded Nightmare had to make way for a mugging, self-referential, hammy villain-hero.The Diva Who Shunned the MaskIn the end credits of Halloween, the character of Michael Myers isn’t even listed by name. He’s called “The Shape.” This is significant because Michael isn’t meant to be anyone. The whole point is that he just is, a silent menace in the periphery as the movie focuses on the guilt-ridden Dr. Loomis (Donald Pleasence) and high school good girl Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis). With his slow movement, white, expressionless face, and complete silence, Michael is a terrifying blank slate.A few years later, Friday the 13th would completely obscure its main villain until the very end – revealing at last that the murders were committed by a revenge-obsessed woman scarred by the apparent death of her son, Jason, many years before. When Jason himself took the spotlight in the next few installments, he, too, was a silent, expressionless entity who at first wears a nondescript bag over his head before he even gets his signature goalie mask (in Part III).And yet, by 1986’s Friday the 13th Part 6: Jason Lives, we saw the movie literally opening with a tongue-in-cheek James Bond parody:What happened? Freddy happened.A Nightmare on Elm Street had the same bland, suburban setting as Halloween and a similar gang of horny teens as the Friday films, but there was a key difference. Freddy wasn t just scary, he was darkly witty. He was creative. He was, well, a thousand times more interesting than anyone he killed.Sure, people went to horror movies for the killer or the monster – this had been true since the 1950s. You went to see The Blob because you wanted to see the blob. But this was different. Audiences liked Freddy. He was the star, not just the threat, and things only got hammier as the franchise went along. It was because, rather than going with yet another “big man” monster, Craven and Englund delivered a performance. Freddy was a theatrical diva.Would any other slasher work so well in a Fresh Prince video?The other competitors had no choice but to follow suit. Although somewhat hamstrung by their lack of personality, Jason and Michael still went through increasingly bizarre and laughable incarnations in an effort to keep up with Freddy. This is why we eventually got cyborg space-Jason and Busta Rhymes electrocuting Michael Myers in the crotch after he shouts, “Trick or treat, motherf er!”Post-Nightmare, movie slashers had to be more than just killers. They needed to be in the spotlight, not the shadows. One-liners, theatricality, and insane death scenarios all became requirements. We’d never have IT’s Pennywise or Scream’s Ghostface without Freddy.So to celebrate the mugging, one-liner-spewing dream-weaver on his 35th anniversary, let’s run down his greatest hits.The Five Best Freddy Kills1) A Nightmare on Elm Street: “Watch this.”Freddy’s first outing really sets the tone, and this scene has it all. Rather than simply stalking and killing Tina (Amanda Wyss), he toys with her, throwing out one-liners and a few party tricks as he leads her to an overly elaborate demise. Freddy is playing to the crowd.2) Nightmare On Elm Street 4: The Dream Master: “Wanna suck face?”Freddy kills an asthmatic girl by dropping this one-liner before literally sucking the air out of her lungs and leaving her a deflated corpse.3) Freddy’s Dead: The Final Nightmare: “Let’s trip out.”Freddy s satirical take on the “This is your brain…” PSAs from the 80s and 90s – complete with a cameo from former Freddy victim Johnny Depp – and an extended Super Mario Bros.-inspired kill is all the proof you need that he was a frustrated comedian.4) A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child: “Bon Appétit!”Dressing up as a chef and strapping a girl with an eating disorder into a high chair for the sole purpose of force-feeding her to death in front of her overbearing mother? Can you imagine Leatherface putting in this kind of multi-layered effort?5) A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors: “Welcome to prime time, b h!”A scene that begins with former talk show host Dick Cavett turning into Freddy before killing Zsa Zsa Gabor can’t possibly get any more insane, can it? Oh, yes. Freddy literally pops out of the TV and pulls Jennifer (Penelope Sudrow) face-first into the set with his mechanical TV arms. With an applause-baiting one-liner, of course.A Nightmare on Elm Street went into wide release on November 16, 1984.