The Watchman: Light at ‘The End’ of The Tunnel on Showtime; ‘Ultra’-Offbeat Animated Show on AMC Plus

The End on Showtime
'The End' on Showtime (Image credit: Showtime)

Dark comedy The End premieres on Showtime July 18. Frances O’Connor plays a doctor in Australia, and Harriet Walter (pictured) portrays her mother, who arrives from England after a scary incident to be closer to family. She’s put up in a village for old folks, and does not want to be there. 

Creator Samantha Strauss describes The End as “three generations of people who are trying to figure out who they are and who they want to be.” 

At its core, it’s a “mother and daughter story.”

Euthanasia is a major theme of the series. “All of us deal with death in private and behind closed doors, and we don’t often find the space to talk about it with other people,” Strauss said. “Hopefully there’s a spirit underneath the series that is life-affirming.”

The End is listed as a comedy, but features just as much drama, whether between Kate and her mother Edie, or Kate and her children, Oberon, who is trans, and Persephone. Asked whether The End is a comedy or drama, Strauss said, “It’s hard for me to make that distinction. Hopefully it does both.”

Ultra City Smiths on AMC

Ultra City Smiths on AMC Plus (Image credit: AMC)

Ultra City Smiths premieres on AMC Plus July 22. It comes from Steve Conrad, creator of short-lived but super-fun Patriot on Amazon Prime, and reunites much of the cast from that quirky drama. 

AMC calls Ultra City Smiths a “stop-motion, animated baby doll series.” Kristen Bell, Dax Shepard and John C. Reilly are in the voice cast, along with Patriot alums Chris Conrad, Kurtwood Smith, Terry O’Quinn and Debra Winger. 

Ultra City has giant crime and corruption issues. The series centers on the disappearance of its biggest magnate. A pair of detectives hustles to track down the guilty party. 

A funky mix of stop motion and film noir, Ultra City Smiths was “eight years in the offing,” according to Conrad. “It took a while but we sure wound up in the right place.”

It will air on AMC linear in the fall. 

Singer Tom Waits sent an encouraging note to Conrad years ago about Patriot, which “meant a great, great deal to me,” he related. 

Conrad reached out to see if Waits wanted to be a part of Ultra City Smiths. Waits is the narrator, an “omniscient guide to Ultra City and its many dark corners and alleyways and dead-end streets,” said Conrad. 

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.