Steven Soderbergh’s ‘Command Z’

Command Z is an eight-episode sci-fi time-travel parody directed by Steven Soderbergh, and distributed on its own website. It costs $8, and all proceeds are going to charity. It feels fair to describe it as a Soderbergh-ian take on Idiocracy. It debuted yesterday, 17 July 2023, which is cleverly meta insofar as that’s the date the characters in the movie travel back in time to.

I enjoyed it — it was easily worth $8. It’s lighthearted and well-cast, with some very funny throwaway jokes about the future the characters live in. But because it’s only available through its own website, the only way to watch Command Z on a TV is via AirPlay, and that kind of sucks for something this long. Pause for too long and you can’t just un-pause, you need to open your phone and start the AirPlay connection all over again. And even if you watch straight through without pausing, you need to fiddle with your phone between episodes. For watching on a phone, it’s probably good that it’s broken up into 8 short episodes, but for watching on TV via AirPlay, it’d be much better if you could just watch it straight through like a movie. The eight episodes vary in length from 7–20 minutes, but with a total running time of about 95 minutes, you can think of it as an eight-chapter movie.

I’d love to see more filmmakers shoot micro-budget indie projects like this, but there ought to be a better way to distribute them for consumption on TVs.

Update: I noticed, of course, that the series is titled Command Z, not Control Z. They even use the “⌘” glyph in the logotype. But while of course a man of Soderbergh’s refined taste is a long-time Mac user, the fact that it’s not Control Z is yet another sign that the Windows hegemony is over.

Tuesday, 18 July 2023