Syfy Insider Exclusive

Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, sweepstakes, and more!

Sign Up For Free to View

WIRE Buzz: HBO Max gets to Sesame Street; a look at how BB-8 works; more

By Benjamin Bullard
Star Wars BB 8 in the workshop on Star Wars Galactic Builders

With most of the Star Wars featurettes we’ve seen so far, BB-8’s roly-poly behind-the-scenes magic comes off as decidedly controlled. The poor little guy’s always tethered to a boom arm, or being propped up in constricting green-screen environments that limit what we know he might be capable of. If only somebody would turn the sphere-shaped orange fella loose! 

Well, now somebody finally has. In a cool new episode of Star Wars: Galactic Builders, Poe Dameron’s best buddy is off the leash, showing off a surprising amount of real-world autonomy and true technological wizardry that makes us hopeful for the day in the not-too-distant future when Planet Earth may have a real use — even if it’s just for a self-powered sidekick — for a diminutive droid from a galaxy far, far away.

He really rolls! Not only can BB-8 stay upright thanks to a low-slung weight mechanism that makes full use of gyroscopic tech; he also keeps his head on straight with a magnetic system that does more than simply hold his noggin’ on tight — it even functions as a wireless pass-through for electricity, letting his peepers light up at full attention (so long as no one swipes his head for parts). 

BB-8’s appearance in the new Galactic Builders episode also gives a handful of budding young robotics engineers a chance to show off some cool creations of their own, so it may be one of these kids who ends up bringing the next generation of real-world Star Wars tech to life. In the meantime, we’ll force ourselves to wait for the next Star Wars movie: Episode IX — The Rise of Skywalker rolls into theaters on Dec. 20.

If you need more than one way to get to Sesame Street, it won’t be long before HBO Max can point the way. Under a newly-announced agreement with the soon-to-launch streaming platform, Grover, Cookie Monster and the gang will soon be teaching us ABCs and life lessons on demand on the super-sized streaming service.

HBO Max is partnering with Sesame Workshop for four new series and five new seasons of Sesame Street destined for the streaming platform, alongside a string of annual specials and, of course, the show’s 50-year library of classic episodes. Starting with season 51 (wow, that’s a lot of seasons), the classic original kids' series will be available on HBO Max while continuing to air for free on PBS KIDS (with a months-long delay for new episodes), as HBO recently revealed in a press release.

The new arrangement would overflow Oscar’s garbage can with content: In addition to all the above, we can also look forward to a whole alphabet’s worth of new stuff, including:

  • Five new 35-episode seasons of Sesame Street.
  • New annual Sesame Street specials, beginning with The Monster at the End of This Show — an animated version of the acclaimed The Monster at the End of this Book.
  • A family-centric live-action take on a late-night talk show, The Not Too Late Show with Elmo — where the great red one will be interviewing all his Sesame Street celebrity friends.
  • A new season of the award-winning animated Esme & Roy, as well as the previous season.
  • Two new animated series: A Sesame Street spin-off featuring favorite characters as heroes in a robot-animation style called Mecha Builders (so far a working title, according to HBO); and a second series that’ll be announced at a later date.
  • A new docu-series that explores “key issues for kids and families, building off Sesame Workshop’s expertise in tackling difficult issues from a child’s perspective.”
  • A Sesame Street hub that aims to help families and fans conveniently locate all the digital Sesame Street goodies throughout the platform.
  • British Sesame Street spinoff The Furchester Hotel, which got its start back in 2014 on Britain’s pre-school-focused network CBeebies. 

Whew…After sifting through a list of stuff that long, it’s nap time! But we'll be wide awake by the time it all arrives at HBO Max, when the new digital platform launches sometime next spring.

Short-form digital platform Quibi just keeps racking up the star power. Already a new digital creative playground for everyone from Steven Spielberg to Jason Blum to Guillermo del Toro, the previously-announced, horror-themed Quibi short series from Sam Raimi has now reportedly landed a trio of big names for its cast.

THR reports that Christina Ricci (Black Snake Moan, Wayward Pines), Rachel Brosnahan (The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel), and Travis Fimmel (Vikings) have all boarded Raimi’s 50 Shades of Fright horror project. The upcoming series will deliver sliver-sized stories that draw inspiration from the rich trove of American folk fright tales and urban legends, and each star already has been attached to a specific episode in the show’s nine-episode first-season run. 

Expect to see Brosnahan and Fimmel in "Golden Arm,” an episode that Raimi himself is directing to spin a “famous urban legend from Michigan,” according to the report. Ricci, meanwhile, will star in "Red Rum,” a tale that reimagines “Colorado's scariest story.”

50 Shades of Fright is just one of more than 40 all-new short-form series heading to the mobile-only Quibi platform, and it’s all set to arrive next spring, when Quibi debuts at two price points: $5 per month with ads, and $8 per month to go ad-free.