2023 has been a weird year. Not just for TV and film but just in general. Honestly, 2023 happened to me; I glided through it without engaging with it, if you can understand that. I’m glad it’s over!
Anyway, in the spirit of Babylon 5, here’s a look back at some of the events that I did engage with in 2023.
It was the year of fire
In her book, “Burn It Down: Power, Complicity, and a Call for Change in Hollywood,” journalist Maureen Ryan opened the lid on Hollywood. Leveraging her extensive background, Ryan connects the dots to expose the underlying factors perpetuating Hollywood’s toxic environment. Her investigative work highlights troubling issues within organisations like Lucasfilm and on productions such as Lost, Saturday Night Live, The Goldbergs, Sleepy Hollow, and Curb Your Enthusiasm, among others.
The book features interviews with notable figures like Evan Rachel Wood, Harold Perrineau, Damon Lindelof, and Orlando Jones. Ryan methodically deconstructs the myths perpetuated by the entertainment industry — myths about meritocracy, creativity, the worth of human dignity, and more — which have enabled abusers to flourish and the industry to evade responsibility.
The year of destruction
In 2023, several films and TV shows were shelved by studios as tax write-offs. This strategy has been particularly notable within major companies like Warner Bros. Discovery and Disney.
In 2022, Warner Bros. Discovery shelved Batgirl, describing the film’s cancellation as just the “tip of the iceberg” in a broader range of content being written off by the company. This move was part of an extensive restructuring effort, where the company reportedly took between $3.2-$4.3 billion in charges. In 2023, they’ve continued the trend.
Here’s a summary of a few notable write-offs:
Warner Bros. Discovery’s Coyote vs. Acme: This was a completed film featuring a mix of live-action and animation starring John Cena, Will Forte, and Lana Condor. Despite its completion, Warner Bros. Discovery decided to shelve Coyote vs. Acme and take it as a tax write-off. The decision was part of a larger trend of restructuring within the company, indicating a significant shift in its content strategy and financial management.
Disney’s Content Write-Offs: Disney also took substantial write-offs in 2023, removing various movies and TV shows from its lineup and taking a $1.5 billion content write-off. This decision reflects a broader trend within the industry where studios reassess their portfolios and often remove content that may no longer align with their strategic or financial goals.
These examples indicate a more significant trend within the entertainment industry, where studios are increasingly willing to shelve completed or near-completed projects as part of their financial and strategic restructuring. This destructive approach impacts the creators and actors involved in these projects and shapes the landscape of available entertainment.
It was the year of rebirth
In 2023, several films and television shows were reborn or rebooted to use industry speak. These included:
- Goosebumps – A revival of R.L. Stine’s horror series, focusing on a group of high school kids facing paranormal activities.
- My Adventures with Superman – An anime-influenced cartoon series featuring the Man of Steel.
- Haunted Mansion – Based on the Disney theme park ride and a 2003 film featuring a star-studded cast.
- Evil Dead Rise – A continuation within the Evil Dead series focused on battling Deadites.
- Party Down – A revival of the catering company sitcom from Starz.
- That ’90s Show – A sequel to That ’70s Show focusing on a new generation of teenagers.
- Frasier – The comeback of the popular sitcom featuring Frasier Crane in new life adventures.
- Night Court – A revival of the 1984 sitcom with a new judge, Abby Stone, taking over.
- History of the World, Part II – A continuation of Mel Brooks’s parody films in a limited series format.
- Spy Kids: Armageddon – A reboot of the Spy Kids franchise with a new group of children spies.
- The Full Monty – A TV series continuation of the 1997 film about a group of men turning to exotic dancing.
- Teen Wolf: The Movie – Continues the story from the Teen Wolf series with familiar faces returning.
- Children of the Corn – A reboot of the horror franchise about demonic kids on a rampage.
- The Little Mermaid – A live-action adaptation of the 1989 Disney animated film.
- Peter Pan & Wendy – A Disney+ movie revisiting the classic tale of Peter Pan.
- White Men Can’t Jump – A remake of the 1992 basketball comedy classic.
- True Lies – A CBS series based on the 1994 film exploring a couple’s life after the wife discovers her husband is a spy.
The year of great sadness
We lost a lot of icons in 2023. Music icons including Tina Turner, Sinead O’Connor, Harry Belafonte, Pogues frontman Shane MacGowan and Burt Bacharach are among the famous entertainers who sadly died in 2023, along with stage and screen actors such as Raquel Welch, Matthew Perry and Sir Michael Gambon. Here’s a small list of other notable celebrities that passed in 2023.
Julian Sands gained recognition for his performances in movies such as A Room With A View, Arachnophobia, Leaving Las Vegas, and Warlock, along with television roles in 24, Smallville, and Stargate.
Annie Wersching, best known for playing FBI agent Renee Walker in the series 24, had many notable appearances in other TV shows, including recurring roles in The Vampire Diaries, Marvel’s Runaways, and, most recently, the second season of Star Trek: Picard as the Borg Queen.
Actor Lance Reddick renowned for his portrayal in the crime series The Wire was featured in the John Wick” movie series with Keanu Reeves and the TV series Bosch. My favourite character he played will always be both versions of Philip Broyles in Fringe.
David McCallum, who got his big break when he was cast as secret agent Illya Kuryakin in the TV series The Man From UNCLE, will be fondly remembered for his role as Dr Donald “Ducky” Mallard in NCIS.
Norman Lear was the legendary television producer and philanthropist behind All in the Family, The Jeffersons, and One Day at a Time.
Ron Cephas Jones was a prolific stage and screen actor best known for his role as William Hill on the hit NBC family drama This Is Us.
Richard Roundtree is best known for his role as private detective John Shaft in the 1971 thriller that made him a star.
British poet, writer and actor Benjamin Zephaniah had 14 collections of poetry and five novels published throughout his career. He also was an actor, playing the role of Jeremiah Jesus in the hit series Peaky Blinders.
Lee Sun-kyun was best known for his role in the Oscar-winning Parasite, which made history when it became the first foreign language film to be named best picture in 2020.
And finally, Mark Margolis, best known for his captivating performance as Hector “Tio” Salamanca on Breaking Bad and Better Call Saul.
This list is not exhaustive. We lost a lot of stars in 2023.
The year of pain
Our wallets took a hit as streaming services put their prices up.
Streaming giants like Disney, NBCUniversal, Paramount, Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Warner Bros. Discovery strategically push subscribers toward ad-supported tiers to boost profitability. This trend involves increasing prices for ad-free options while making ad-supported plans more appealing and cost-effective. Industry experts noted these plans are more lucrative, generating higher total revenue per user. Research shows consumers are willing to accept ads for lower costs, valuing the choice between different service tiers. Surely, there will come a point when we say enough is enough and go back to cable.
The year of joy
The Star Trek franchise took some hits in 2023, with Star Trek: Picard airing its final season and Star Trek: Prodigy, the beloved animated series aimed at younger viewers, unexpectedly cancelled by Paramount+. It was also announced that season five of Star Trek: Discovery would be the last.
However, there was good news when it was announced that Star Trek Prodigy would find a new home on Netflix.
In other good news, 2023 saw the release of the Babylon 5 animated movie, with many of the cast returning to voice their characters.
It was a new age
In 2023, the entertainment industry faced significant disruptions due to strikes from the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild‐American Federation of Television and Radio Artists. The WGA, representing 11,500 screenwriters, initiated a strike on May 2 against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers. This strike arose over labour disputes and underscored the writers’ grievances in a rapidly changing entertainment landscape, especially with the rise of streaming services.
Simultaneously, actors were also on strike, marking a significant period of unrest in Hollywood. This collective action was part of a broader pushback against studio practices and contracts deemed unfair in the modern entertainment context.
Eventually, both strikes concluded with tentative agreements. The Hollywood actors reached a deal with the major studios on November 9, 2023, ending the second of the two strikes that had significantly impacted the industry. Despite the resolution, the economic impact of these strikes was considerable, affecting a wide range of industry workers, from crew members to caterers. The financial toll was part of a broader conversation about the future of the industry and the need for substantial changes to accommodate the evolving landscape of entertainment production and distribution.
It was the end of history
After ten years of hit-and-miss films, the DC Extended Universe has ended with Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom being the final film. Unlike the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which had more hits than misses, DC never reached the heights fans hoped for.
It was the year everything changed
The more things change, the more they stay the same, so the saying goes. But Star Trek: Strange New Worlds certainly shook things up in 2023. First, they had the crossover episode with the animated Trek series Lower Decks. A mix of animation and live-action is nothing new, but what was great about the episode, Those Old Scientists, was that Tawny Newsome and Jack Quaid, the actors who voice Mariner and Boimer, appeared as their live-action counterparts. It was a fun episode.
They say there’s nothing new under the sun, and Strange New Worlds proved this by giving us a musical episode. The cast members were allowed to exercise their vocal cords in the musical episode Subspace Raposody. Singing in a Trek episode isn’t new, but the whole cast breaking into song certainly is. Good times!
And finally, a change is as good as a rest, but the Whoniverse decided we definitely needed more David Tennant on our TV screens. Doctor Who returned to our screens with three specials to celebrate the show’s 60th anniversary. Fan favourites Catherine Tate and David Tennant returned to round off New Who. We were introduced to Ncuti Gatwa as the fifteenth Doctor, who will kick off his proper stint as the Doctor in May 2024.
Under the BBC and Disney Plus banner, Doctor Who has changed the numbering and naming scheme. Series 14 has been rebranded as Doctor Who 2023, Season 1. No doubt many fans will continue to call it series 14.
If you are an avid Babylon 5 fan and you’ve been keeping up, you’ll notice that I didn’t have anything filed under this:
The year we took back what was ours
That’s because I couldn’t come up with anything in the short time I gave myself. If you can look back at 2023 and come up with something for this category, drop your ideas in the comments below.