This week in TV news, Amazon streams free Orphan Black while Netflix offers up audio descriptions for Marvel’s Daredevil. Plus, Game of Thrones smashes ratings records, Orange Is the New Black promises another season, and NBC is off to Emerald City!
In celebration of the upcoming third season of BBC America’s Orphan Black, Amazon will stream the first season for free this Friday. The free day is open to all Amazon customers — not just Prime subscribers — and will be available on the Amazon Instant Video app for TVs, connected devices and mobile devices, or online at Amazon.com/OrphanBlack starting at 12:01 a.m. PT and concluding at 11:59 p.m. PT. Amazon saw a huge response when it ran a similar promotion for the full first season of Transparent earlier this year, and hopes that Orphan Black, already popular with Prime members, will entertain many new viewers. Orphan Black stars Tatiana Maslany as Sarah Manning, a tough, small-time grifter who finds herself embroiled in a cloning conspiracy. Season one is Certified Fresh at 92 percent and season three premieres this Saturday on BBC America at 9 p.m.
This week, Netflix announced plans to enhance a number of their original series by providing a special audio track for the visually impaired. Audio description — a narration track that describes what’s happening onscreen, including costumes, facial expressions, physical gestures, and scene changes — was added to Marvel’s Daredevil on Tuesday, and will be a feature on other Netflix original series like House of Cards, Orange Is the New Black, Marco Polo, and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, along with select movies in the Netflix catalog. “Netflix is actively committed to increasing the number of audio-visual translations for movies and shows in our English-language catalogues,” said director of content operations Tracy Wright. “We are also exploring adding audio description into other languages in the future.”
Game of Thrones returned to HBO for season five this week with a new ratings high, averaging just under 8 million. That’s a 1.4 million viewer increase since the 2014 season premiere, and 400,000 viewers more than the show’s previously highest viewed episode. Unlike other shows, however, that calculate viewers based on same-day ratings, HBO reports an aggregate of DVR, HBO Go, On Demand, and encore plays. Still, it’s Thrones‘ highest ratings yet and further proof that the show is only getting more popular, especially with the recent addition of HBO Now bolstering the offerings. Season five of Game of Thrones is currently Certified Fresh at 97 percent. Read reviews here.
No furlough for these ladies! Litchfield’s finest of Orange Is the New Black can expect to sit another year in stir — and season three hasn’t even started yet! The news is not too surprising, considering Orange‘s popularity and critical acclaim that includes three Emmy Awards, two GLAAD Media Awards, a Peabody Award, and a Television Critics’ Assn. Award. Season three of Orange Is the New Black will drop on Netflix on Jun. 12. Until then, enjoy the latest trailer here.
Emerald City, a series based on The Wizard of Oz, was in development last year when NBC pulled the plug. Now, the network announced this week that the idea will go straight to a 10-episode full season order with David Schulner (Do No Harm) executive producing. Pitched as “the fabled Land of Oz in a way you’ve never seen before, where wicked witches don’t stay dead for long and a young girl becomes a headstrong warrior who holds the fate of kingdoms in her hands,” Emerald City is one of two Oz-themed projects in NBC’s pipeline — the other is a live version of the Broadway musical The Wiz, which will most likely air during the holidays this year. The Emerald City version will feature a 20-year-old Dorothy Gale and her K9 police dog who are transported to another world far away after a tornado. The project is currently in development at NBC.