September 23, 2016

Review: Lethal Weapon 1x1 (US: Fox; UK: ITV)

Posted 2 days ago at 08:49 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Lethal Weapon

In the US: Wednesdays, 8/7c, Fox
In the UK: Acquired by ITV. Will air this autumn

I love Lethal Weapon. I really do. Despite the constant repeats of Die Hard at Christmas and a general moving by society away from movies associated with Mel Gibsonsince his 'incidents', to me, it's the best and most important of the 80s action movies.

I could probably even write a thesis about it, it's so important. Written by Shane Black (Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3), ostensibly it's a buddy-buddy cop movie in which the 'lethal weapon' of the piece - Gibson, a former special forces soldier who's now suicidal following the death of his wife - is partnered with the soon-to-retire Danny Glover, eventually becoming friends after fighting drug smugglers. In actuality, it sees aimless American men wondering what their purpose in society is, now that the Vietnam War is over, with Gibson's burn-out on one side, Mitchell Ryan and Gary Busey's amoral army of mercenaries on the other. It debates the nature of the 'new man' and whether unreconstructed men should aspire to be what society needs, and eventually crafts out a purpose for the left-behind: Gibson's trailer park trash who was 'only ever good at one thing' (killing) is able to put aside his suicidal tendencies by using those skills to help others when needed. 

Of course, that was the 80s and the debate has now evolved. So did Lethal Weapon, itself evolving from a semi-serious piece into an almost outright family comedy that could comfortably accommodate Chris Rock, Joe Pesci and Rene Russo in its ranks.

It's this latter incarnation of the franchise that Fox's new TV adaptation is largely channelling, but pleasingly, there are still traces of that original darker tone to the show. Based loosely on Shane Black's original script, it sees Clay Crawford (Rectify) take on the Gibson role, Riggs now being a Texan former Navy SEAL sniper turned cop who's on the verge of becoming a father when his pregnant wife is killed in a car crash.

Relocating back to his wife's home town of Los Angeles, he's partnered with Damon Wayans (In Living Color), an older cop just returned to work after having a heart attack. Neither's keen to work with the other at first, particularly once Wayans learns that Crawford has a death wish, but through various developments and stunt scenes directed by series exec producer McG (Charlie's Angels), they slowly forge a bond together.

Although the Lethal Weapon movies eventually became one big family with a continuing ensemble, don't be too surprised that for a series, that ensemble becomes even larger. The Murtaugh family comes through the transition intact, albeit with different ages. Jordana Brewster (Dallas, Fast & Furious) takes on the late Mary Ellen Trainor's role as Crawford's psychiatrist, while Tony Plana (Ugly Betty, Madam Secretary) takes on the new role of Crawford's father-in-law. 

Given that Wayans is largely known for comedy, you might be expecting the show to be nothing but buddy-buddy laughs. However, Crawford is the main focus of the show. As well as capitalising on Riggs' sharpshooting and martial arts skills, the TV adaptation still puts his death wish high on the show's feature list. 

As you might expect, given the 30 years' time difference, there are tonal differences, particularly in the attitudes to former military. Special forces aren't as mysterious as they were and attitudes to the armed forces are different - the wounds of the Vietnam War to the American psyche are different to those from Iraq. Wayans' son wants to enlist 'for the experience', and Crawford is 'happy' to point out that's a great idea if the experience you want is seeing your best friend shot in the head.

Also new is the culture gap between California and Texas, with Crawford a more well spoken Southern gentleman than Gibson. Meanwhile, Wayans' comedy talents are instead used most when dealing with his wife (Keesha Sharp) and family, rather than with Crawford. 

All the same, despite death wishes, a dead pregnant wife in the first five minutes and the copious number of car chases and shootouts, Lethal Weapon the TV series is a decidedly lighter affair than it probably should be and is nowhere near as compelling as it should be, either. Crawford, who is still undoubtedly the show's biggest asset and does fine at both the dark and the light, doesn't have the same manic energy that Gibson had once he had a target in his sights. The script is all over the place, despite the fine template, and its reinventions of old scenes are virtually nonsense.

And despite McG's presence behind the camera, the action is mostly badly choreographed, underwhelming and empty, other than a couple of fight scenes. Indeed, among all the other damage he undergoes in the episode, one of the lead characters is shot twice and the only trace of injury at the end is his arm in a sling. This is action because it can look cool, rather than because it has any real meaning.

Crawford is good enough and the character still Riggs enough that I'll tune in for episode two, at least, in the hope the show pulls itself together in later episodes. But this feels like an adaptation that either only loosely understands its original material or doesn't feel it can fully exploit it in a primetime show. Whichever it is, it also can't create something of its own that's as good or even half as engaging.

News: Magnum PI's daughter; Odd Mom Out, Dice, El Ministerio del Tiempo renewed; + more

Posted 2 days ago at 07:31 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Internet TV

European TV


US TV show casting

New US TV shows

September 22, 2016

Review: Designated Survivor 1x1 (US: ABC; UK: Netflix)

Posted 3 days ago at 17:00 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Designated Survivor

In the US: Wednesdays, 10/9c, ABC
In the UK: Netflix. New episode every Thursday

Like most people in Britain, I get virtually all my knowledge about how the US government works via The West Wing. Screw Newsnight - I'll tell you the first five amendments to the US Constitution and the episodes in which they featured right now, if you want.

So when I heard about Designated Survivor, no explanation was needed: after all, not only had the Mayor from Buffy The Vampire Slayer been President Barlett's 'designated survivor' in He Shall, From Time To Time…, Laura Roslin would never have become President of the 12 Colonies in Battlestar Galactica were it not for a constitution specifying the exact list of people who would assume the position in the event of some terrible tragedy.

Designated Survivor is neither of those two shows. Instead, it's roughly half-Dave (that delightful movie in which ordinary punter Kevin Kline becomes President and behaves very nicely and decently, unlike the other politicians), half-24 (that less delightful TV series in which highly trained anti-terrorist agents have a very limited amount of time to shoot and torture lots of people to prevent terrible atrocities taking place).

It sees the lowly Secretary of Housing, who's just about to be fired by the sitting President, accepting the duty of 'designated survivor' during the State of the Union. Except then Congress gets blown up and this decent - possibly too decent - pushover family man and educator instantly propelled to the top job, where he has not only to bring the country together and keep it stable, he has to prevent all out war with other nations, find out who was responsible for the bombing and what they intend to do next, and avoid a coup d'êtat from people who think he's just not up to the job or even eligible for it, given he was unelected.

Can he do all that? Hell yeah. Because that man is Kiefer Sutherland. Yes, boys and girls, Jack Bauer is finally President.

Continue reading "Review: Designated Survivor 1x1 (US: ABC; UK: Netflix)"

Read other posts about: , ,

Clive Owen is back driving BMWs again

Posted 3 days ago at 16:18 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The people of Britain first became aware of Clive Owen a long time ago - back in the 80s, in fact, when he was Chancer on ITV. That show made him very popular with the ladies in particular thanks to his starring role as the wide-boy conman 'Stephen Crane' - if you've seen the show, you'll know why I put that name in quotes - and he became indelibly stamped on the popular psyche as a result.

But it took a while for the rest of the world to wake up to Clive Owen and although the indie movie Croupier helped to establish him, it wasn't through movies or even a TV show that he became a star. Instead, it was through a series of auteured adverts for BMW called 'The Hire'. Each mini-movie advert was streamed online - one of the first ad series to take advantage of the Internet - and featured Owen driving a BMW.

Okay, that's not very informative, I know, but that was more or less the only thing the ads had in common - how could it be otherwise when you had the likes of Tony Scott, John Woo, Ang Lee, John Frankenheimer, Joe Carnahan, Wong Kar-wai, Alejandro G Iñárritu and Guy Ritchie directing them in their own unique styles, and Gary Oldman, Forest Whitaker, Don Cheadle, Marilyn Manson, Ray Liotta, Stellan Skargård et al guest starring?

Here are the John Woo and the Guy Ritchie ads so you can compare and contrast.

After the series began in 2001, BMW saw its sales go up 12% from the previous year, the ads being viewed more than 11 million times in four months. Indeed, the films were so popular that BMW produced a free DVD for customers who visited certain BMW dealerships - except BMW ran out of DVDs.

The result was that - at least in the US - Doug Liman could cast Owen in a bit part in The Bourne Identity, have him do little more than drive a BMW arround and the audience would know that a sly wink to the series was being cast in their direction. 

Owen, of course, went on to much bigger and better things, including movies and Cinemax's The Knick. But now, 15 years after the ads, he's back for old time's sake. The director chosen for 'The Escape'? None other than Neill Blomkamp, with Dakota Fanning, Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga along for the ride.

You'll have to wait until October 23rd before you can see the full thing on BMW Films. Until then, you can enjoy this shiny trailer with Jon Bernthal shouting and shooting a lot.

Read other posts about:

Joss Whedon would rather you didn't vote for Donald Trump. And neither would his mates

Posted 3 days ago at 16:06 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Joss Whedon - you either love him or only like him a bit. I think it's probably impossible to hate Joss Whedon unless you're about 12 years old and have no sense of TV history.

Politically, Whedon is, of course, a great big feminist and Democrat, and you shouldn't be surprised that with a few exceptions - cough, cough, Sarah Michelle Gellar - so are his mates. With President Trump an actual realistic possibility in the next four months, Jossy-baby has got a huge number of his more famous pals to put together a video pleading with you not to vote for the racist, misogynist, homophobic, lying sociopathic conman who could well usher in the Apocalypse. He's even got half of the cast of The West Wing along for the ride.

The video's probably preaching to the converted and won't sway many dissenters, but it's worth a gander anyway because it's pretty funny, too.

Read other posts about: , ,

News: ITV2 acquires The Great Indoors; Uma Thurman is a TV fixer; Ghost in the Shell teasers; + more

Posted 3 days ago at 07:28 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Film trailers

Internet TV

  • Jeremy Tardy to recur on Netflix's Dear White People
  • Teaser for Netflix's Haters Back Off


New UK TV shows

New UK TV show casting


US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

Read other posts about:

September 21, 2016

Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #4 & #6; Wonder Woman '77 #21-27 (ish)

Posted 3 days ago at 22:35 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Welcome back to Weekly Wonder Woman, which this week and for one week only happens to fall on Wonder Woman Wednesday. 

It's been a while, hasn't it? Sorry about that, but holidays, work and TV have all got in the way. Fingers crossed, though, we're back on track now. We might even be weekly again. Wouldn't that be something?

In WWW's absence, things have happened, of course. She's been set to feature on four US postal stamps from October 7:

Wonder Woman stamps

The first trailer for the new Justice League cartoon, Justice League Action, has been released:

As has one for the video game sequel to 'Injustice: Gods Among Us', which features Diana as well:

A photo for the live action Justice League has also been released. Superman's in it - did you see that coming?

Live action Justice League

Wonder Woman artist Liam Sharp has signed exclusively with DC. We've learnt there's going to be a Wonder Woman crossover with The Bionic Woman in Wonder Woman '77 in December that includes art by Alex Ross…

Wonder Woman Bionic Woman crossover comic cover

…and that the forthcoming NBC show Powers (I'll review it when it airs, folks) will also involve Wonder Woman peripherally, at least. 

You could also have learnt to draw Wonder Woman the Ivan Reis way at DC Art Academy.

See what happens if you go away for a bit? Madness, that's what. Madness.

Of course, the previous two months have also seen an awful lot of comics featuring our Diana. There's literally no way I could cover all of them today without taking all of today to write WWW, so I'm going to do what I did last year and recap the missing issues of each title once the latest issue of that title is out in the forthcoming weeks.

In the case of Wonder Woman, I'm also going to break down the recaps between the two different storylines. And on top of that, despite the fact that there are new issues out today featuring Wondy, I'm only going to look at the titles that were out last week, otherwise I'll not have anything to look at next week.

Once you've done all your back-of-a-fag-packet math with that algorithm, you'll see that after the jump, I'll be looking at Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #4 and #6, as well as Wonder Woman '77 #21-27. Well, I might cheat with the latter ones.

Continue reading "Weekly Wonder Woman: Wonder Woman (Rebirth) #4 & #6; Wonder Woman '77 #21-27 (ish)"

Read other posts about:

Review: This is Us 1x1 (US: NBC)

Posted 4 days ago at 14:47 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

This is Us

In the US: Tuesdays, 10/9c, NBC

Calling your show This is Us is a bold move. It implies a certain universality of the human experience, which in an age of identity politics is hard enough in a single city of the US, without TV producers having to think about how much of the New York City cultural experience transfers to South Africa, for example. 

Yet that's what This is Us is going for. You probably have to look back to Parenthood and before that thirtysomething to find shows that were so convinced of their universal applicability and smartness.

This is Us - or perhaps that should be This is US, given it's American focus - tries to demonstrate its pancosmic thesis through the conceit of three storylines, each involving one or more people who all have the same birthday: a married couple (Milo Ventimiglia and Mandy Moore) who are about to have triplets; an actor brother and a love-lorn sister (Justin Hartley and Chrissy Metz); and a rich trader (Sterling K Brown) whose drug-addict father (Ron Cephas Kones) abandoned him as a baby after his mother died.

A title card preceding the drama says that according to Wikipedia, people who share the same birthday aren't guaranteed to have anything else in common. But how much do you want to bet that it's hinting at a "universality of the human spirit", that universality being love, predominantly for family, predominantly in an American way? And that on top of that, that there's a secret link between the three storylines that will become immediately obvious by about two-thirds of the way through? One that involves a bit of cheating involving Milo Ventimiglia's physique?

Continue reading "Review: This is Us 1x1 (US: NBC)"

Read other posts about:

Review: Bull 1x1 (US: CBS)

Posted 4 days ago at 09:09 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share


In the US: Tuesdays, 9/8c, CBS

They say 'write what you know', but if everyone in TV does that, we're going to be in a sorry state very soon. I've already lost track of the current number of shows airing, just having aired or that are in development that are based on the lives of one of the executive producers. There's even a Judge Judy drama on the way. Do we really need that? I don't think so.

I guess the idea is that it not only gives an air of verisimilitude to the show, as well as a built-in audience and ideas for stories that might otherwise never have occurred to the writers, it also insulates the writers from accusations of racism, implausibility and so on - "But that's what actually happened!" they can say.

Trouble is that with a lot of these shows, either people's lives are already remarkably similar to TV shows or somewhere in development, people's life stories get squeezed into formats that allow the shows to run for 10, 13 or 24 episode seasons, hopefully up to a syndicatable 5-7 seasons or more. The result is they all still end up looking the same as one another and what you see is probably not what actually happened?

Take Bull, CBS's new show, which is based on the life of Dr Phil McGraw. You know Dr Phil, right? Well, before being a stalwart of Oprah and then getting his own show, he was a 'trial scientist'. Here he is explaining what that is to Bull star Michael Weatherly.

I say 'based', but the show's creators say 'inspired'. That suggests that it bares very little resemblance to watch Dr Phil's life used to be like. Yep, development squeezed the real life out of it while it was shoving the story into a CBS procedural formatting box.

Nevertheless, there might be something true about it. I mean if you think Dr Phil is just a trite regurgitator of homely platitudes with little scientific basis that are designed to further his TV career rather than actually truly help people, which would be impossible anyway, Bull will just confirm your suspicions as it's just a trite regurgitator of homely platitudes with little scientific basis that are designed to further a very standard legal procedural.

All the same, real or not, seen Justice? Seen Shark? Seen Lie To Me? Then you'll have seen a whole bunch of very similar shows that were all better than Bull. There's the standard older, slightly troubled central eponymous white guy who everyone thinks is brilliant and spends most of their time admiring. There's the diverse team of slightly less brilliant, slightly more personality-free helper monkeys who are going to get significantly less time for character development over the course of the series. There's the endless stream of supposed pieces of wisdom that are actually just blunt over-simplifications. There's the never-ending series of false trails before the eventual resolution. There's blunt talking at anyone who's not 'with the programme'.

About the only thing different is the inclusion of a slightly punky computer girl (Annabelle Attanasio), which is more of a head nod to the NCIS audience Weatherly is hopefully taking with him.

If this is an advert for 'trial science', it's also a big epic failure. While it may (or may not) be an accurate representation of what goes on behind the scenes with 'mirrored juries' (seen them in Justice and Shark - soz) et al, trying to pass off "she's thinking of him as being like her son" as profound is a surefire loser. If people are paying big money for this, I've got this great wire transfer scheme they might want to hear about.

Bull's not without the occasional innovation: I quite liked the way the various members of the jury Weatherly was analysing from afar seemingly spoke their inner desires to him and his 'too long, didn't read' was a nice rejoinder to something from a millennial.

But those moments are fleeting. Unless you like watching TV shows that are just like all those other TV shows that you like - well, it is CBS - give Bull a wide berth.

News: Atlanta, Better Things renewed; Y Gwyll teaser; Toby Stephens gets Lost in Space; Mata Hari reimagined; + more

Posted 4 days ago at 06:31 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Internet TV


  • Teaser for series 3 of Y Gwyll/Hinterland

New UK TV show casting


US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

  • Aden Young, Logan Marshall-Green, Sarah Jones et al to star in USA's Damnation

Read other posts about: ,

September 20, 2016

Review: Kevin Can Wait 1x1 (US: CBS)

Posted 5 days ago at 19:39 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Kevin Can Wait

In the US: Mondays, 8.30/7.30c, CBS

CBS sitcoms almost perfectly divide into two camps: the first are executive produced by Chuck Lorre (eg Mom, Two And a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory) and are surprisingly diverse in terms of ideas, if not their general hatred of all that is good and pure in the world. The second, by contrast, normally revolve around overweight blue collar men married to much more attractive, younger women and who have trouble adapting to modern life as they'd much rather be spending their time sitting around with their mates, knocking back beers. Such men are usually Kevin James (eg King of Queens).

Kevin Can Wait falls squarely into camp two, with Kevin James - for it is he - playing a just-retired cop married to Erinn Hayes (Childrens Hospital, The Winner, Worst Week, Guys With Kids) and having to deal with greater intimacy as he hangs around the home with his two younger school-age kids. Then his high-achieving eldest daughter (Taylor Spreitler) announces she's dropping out of school to support her nerdy British boyfriend Ryan Cartwright (Alphas) while he develops his app, prompting all manner of soul-searching by James.

I was expecting the worst of this and to be fair, you can probably guess pretty much all the tragic attempts at comedy in the first half of the episode. But things marginally improve once Spreitler shows up with Cartwright in tow. It's also worth noting that Hayes can do this kind of sitcom standing on her head, and that although James may be best known these days for being besies with Adam Sandler and starring in near-horror movies such as Here Comes The Boom, he's also a decent enough actor and an appealing presence in this kind of multi-camera comedy. Despite co-creating a character who wants to spend all day playing around in go-karts and drinking beers with his buds, his creation is a warm-hearted guy, willing to let his daughter and her fiancé move back in with him, if it'll stop her dropping out of school and potentially ruining her future. 

That said, despite the cast's best efforts, there's only a smattering of gags that ever manage to hit home ("That's every stripper's backstory!") and viewing is frequently only bearable at times on fast foward. I doubt I could summon up the strength to view another episode, to be honest. But having watched this first episode, it does at least make me think twice before totally writing off anything James is in in future.

Review: The Good Place 1x1-1x2 (US: NBC)

Posted 5 days ago at 18:24 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Good Place

In the US: Mondays, NBC, 10/9c

We're all going to die. Well, maybe not the Scientologists and at least one person from the Planet Zeist is going to live forever (if he wants). But the rest of us are going to kark it at some point.

What happens next is a matter of debate, with numerous religions promising all manner of outcomes, most of which are incompatible with one another. Who's right? After all, it's kind of important, don't you think?

Well, according to The Good Place, Hinduism, Christianity, Buddhism, Islam et al have got it about 5% right. The person in all of recorded history who managed to guess most accurately was a Canadian stoner called Doug who got high on mushrooms in the 70s and got it about 92% right.

It turns out, though, that it's not whom you worship or how many blood sacrifices you make each week that counts - it's the quality and number of the good things and bad things you've done that on balance contribute to your final destination. And to get to The Good Place, you have to have done an awful lot of extremely good things, because it's very, very exclusive. Unlike The Bad Place. And you don't want to go to The Bad Place.

This is the dilemma facing Kristen Bell (Veronica Mars, Gossip Girl, Party Down, House of Lies, Frozen) when she dies and finds herself in The Good Place. She actually wasn't a good person at all, having been rather selfish, as well as impressively good at selling fraudulent medical products to the elderly. But a mix-up with a human rights lawyer who also did volunteer work in the Ukraine means that she's now gone to a much better place than she deserves - an exclusive new neighbourhood in The Good Place created by newly promoted afterlife apprentice Ted Danson (Cheers, CSI, CSI: Cyber, Bored To Death), one that's filled with whatever your heart desires, particularly frozen yoghurt outlets. Here, she can learn to fly, go to parties and never have hangovers, and live with her soul mate in her dream home. Well, someone else's soul mate and dream home - it is a mix-up, after all.

Trouble is that this utopia is precisely engineered for good people, but before even a day's passed, Bell's stealing things, thinking bad thoughts and generally doing the sorts of things that should have had her going to The Bad Place. She is the snake in this particular Garden of Eden, and before you know it, it's raining garbage, giant stolen shrimp are hurtling through the sky, giraffes are roaming free and everyone's dressed like bees.

If she's to avoid being found out and sent 'elsewhere', Bell has no choice but to work together with her alleged soulmate, Senegalese ethics professor William Jackson Harper, to learn how to be a good person. But it's going to be hard going - and somebody else already knows she doesn't belong there…

Here's a trailer. I promise it's not stolen. Much.

Continue reading "Review: The Good Place 1x1-1x2 (US: NBC)"

Read other posts about:

News: Clique, Broken casting; Flowers renewed; Supergirl trailer; + more

Posted 5 days ago at 06:26 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Internet TV


New UK TV show casting

  • Annal Friel and Paula Malcomson join BBC One's Broken


New US TV shows

September 19, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Hooten and the Lady, Doctor, Doctor and High Maintenance

Posted 6 days ago at 21:13 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. 

Après lui le déluge. This week marks the proper kicking off in the US of a big selection of the Fall schedule, so brace yourself for a flotilla of reviews as the likes of Designated Survivor, Notorious, The Good Place, This Is Us, Lethal Weapon and Pitch head down the pipes towards. I've saved myself some of that burden by previewing a couple of shows already, including Speechless (US: ABC) and Son of Zorn (US: Fox); I've also reviewed the first episodes of Quarry (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic) and Better Things (US: FX), and passed a third-episode verdict on Four In The Morning (Canada: CBC). 

I'll do my best to keep up, but I might get caught up on some rapids somewhere - maybe by deciding to watch the rest of saison 2 of Le Bureau Des Légendes (The Bureau) (France: Canal+; UK: Amazon).

After the jump, I'll be reviewing the regulars, Halt and Catch Fire, Mr Robot and You're The Worst, as well as the second episode of newcomer Quarry. But if you think that the list above is all I've been watching, you don't know me very well:

Home From Home (UK: BBC Two)
I tuned into this comedy pilot purely for old times' sake, since it starred my TV wife Joanna Page. It sees Page married to Johnny Vegas for some unfathomable reason and the two of them deciding to buy a cottage in the Lake District and dragging their kids along to stay with them. Unfortunately, in the transit down the motorway, they forgot to bring any jokes with them. Somehow, I doubt it will make it to series…

Hooten and the Lady (UK: Sky1)
There can't have been many people who, when they first heard of Lara Croft, thought to themselves "Wouldn't she better if she were split in half - one half an aristocratic archaeologist, the other an adventurer who likes diving off things and grunting?" Yet Tony Jordan (Life on Mars, Hustle) apparently did, as can be seen from his new Sky1 show Hooten and the Lady.

As nominatively determined to dreadfulness as its spiritual predecessor Bonekickers, it sees Ophelia Lovibond - last seen ruining Elementary - deciding the best thing to do to fight government cutbacks at the British Museum is throw aside over a century of archaeological best practice, revive the good old days of Empire and cultural insensitivity, and head off down the Amazon a-lootin' 'n' a-pilligin'. There she meets American petty criminal Michael Landes (Love Soup, Save Meand they strike a pact to combine his brawn and her brains in an effort to get rich and save museums. 

The show wants to be a sort of Indiana Jones meets the screwball comedies of the 40s and 50s, but in reality is a near-unwatchable fan fic version of Lara Croft meets Relic Hunter, but without the charm, stunts or wit of either. The decade and a half's age difference between the two leads doesn't help conjure an air of romance, either, even assuming there were more to either character than a thinly sketched character background more suited for a murder-mystery weekend.

Everybody involved looks like they're having fun out on location somewhere sunny. The rest of as we sit through their irritating, by the numbers, 'flirtatious banter'? Less so.

Doctor, Doctor (Australia: Nine)
After taking over most of Australia's TV channels, the omnipresent Rodger Corser (The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Beautiful Lie, Party Tricks) now makes his moves on the Nine Network with this surprisingly enjoyable Australian redo of Doc Hollywood that also feels like it's here to stick two fingers up at Seven's somewhat clunky 800 words, which has just returned for a second season, as well as wave in passing at ABC Australia's Rake and USA's Royal Pains.

Corser plays a top Sydney heart surgeon who's got one too many addictions for his own good. An incident at a party ends up with the arrogant Corser being stuck on probation for a year but, with few friends and the Australian health service in desperate need of GPs in rural areas, Corser finds himself sent back to general practice in his home town.

There, he has to deal with his politician mother, the fiancée he stood up and who's now married to his brother, his uninterested father, his gun-mad foster brother and everyone he grew up with. Oh yes, and not remembering any general medicine any more, so having to Google everything, half his patients being a plane-ride away, not being able to do any surgery or else he'll lose his licence, and an Irish nurse who's not going to help him quit substance-abuse any time soon.

Doctor, Doctor is actually a lot more charming yet simultaneously harder edged than you might think. Corser's character is as big a dick as Rake's, yet Corser is engaging enough to make you like him. The fact he's a coke-head who likes to party-hard on whatever other substances you might have to hand is also a lot darker than someone with a single incident behind him. There's also the coming to terms with general practice, as well as the denizens of the local hospital, which is pretty entertaining.

It's unlikely ever to make it to the UK, given Nine's strapped enough for cash as it is, but I used to think that about Hulu, too, and look what happened there. Give it a whirl if you can.

High Maintenance (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic - probably)
Originally a Vimeo web series and maintaining a lot of that feel, High Maintenance sees its co-writer-creator Ben Sinclair playing a pot-delivering, New York cyclist who encounters new and odd customers in every episode.

While billed as a comedy, it's probably better to think of it as a frequently amusing series of vignettes skewering characters, the first a katana-wielding strongman who seems reluctant to pay, the second a gay man who realises he's spending too much time with his fag hag flatmate rather than other gay men. With Sinclair an in-story Rod Serling, don't be too surprised to discover there's a twist in the tail with each vignette, the first having an absolute kicker of a resolution. But also be prepared for a lot of cringe comedy along the way, as the drug-focus of the piece means the show goes to some dark and uncomfortable places along the way.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Hooten and the Lady, Doctor, Doctor and High Maintenance"

Read other posts about: , , , , , , ,

Le Bureau Des Légendes (The Bureau) is back for more on Amazon, but the translators have been napping

Posted 6 days ago at 18:16 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

One of the best shows I've seen this year, if not the best, is Canal+/Amazon's Le Bureau Des Légendes (The Bureau), a hugely impressive spy show that anyone who loves television should watch as soon as they can. Indeed, Le Figaro called it "to this day… the best ever [TV series] made in France".

It's a sign of how good it is that despite only acquiring the first season in June, Amazon has decided to make September just a little bit brighter by giving us the second season of the show already, despite The Bureau being in French and subtitled - that suggests impressive ratings.

Indeed, have a look at the second season's ratings on Amazon and you'll see that of the 24 ratings its received already, every single one of them is five stars. I'm only three episodes in and although bits of it seem a little less plausible than the first season and there's far less tradecraft, I'd happily rate it five stars, too. 

The Bureau ratings on Amazon

Despite that, we can't let if off from normal protocol when it comes to typos. If you're going to mock up a web page in English, remember to spell 'Access' the English way, not the French.

A typo in the The Bureau

Do the people of Aberystwyth really want to stare at Y Gwyll (Hinterland) all day?

Posted 6 days ago at 18:07 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Y Gwyll Mural

Okay, so there aren't a lot of TV shows set in Aber and the show's probably done a lot for tourism to the twon, but do people really want to stare at Richard Harrington looking a bit broody in Y Gwyll (Hinterland) for the next two years? I wouldn't have thought so, but S4C disagrees - it wants to stick a great big mural on the side of an art shop in the town. Planning applications are in, so let's so wait and see what happens next… 

Read other posts about:

News: Roadies cancelled; 5* acquires Aftermath; Dirk Gently character teasers; + more

Posted 6 days ago at 06:26 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Internet TV



US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

Read other posts about:

September 16, 2016

Review: Quarry 1x1 (US: Cinemax; UK: Sky Atlantic)

Posted 9 days ago at 19:22 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Cinemax's Quarry

In the US: Fridays, 10pm, Cinemax
In the UK: Sky Atlantic. Starts October

As fans of The Great British Bake Off have recently discovered, format rights are very important these days. In fact, there have been 60-odd legal disputes over format rights around the world, over the years.

This is odd, since legally, there's no such thing as format rights. After all, it's one thing to argue that as you created suave British superspy James Bond, someone else writing books about suave British superspy James Bond without your permission is doing something untoward; it's quite another to argue that no one else should be able to make a TV show that involves amateur cooks making cakes.

Of course, there's a grey area somewhere between those two extremes. How about books featuring British superspy? Or superspies of any nationality? Or just regular spies? What about baking competitions that have a host called Mary Berry and all the same rounds as The Great British Bake Off, that's called The Pretty Good British Bake On?

It's somewhere lurking in this middle ground that we found Quarry, Cinemax's latest excursion into adventure, drama, things being shot and ladies getting naked. It stars Logan Marshall-Green of Traveler, Dark Blue and Prometheus fame as a soldier returning home to Memphis after the Vietnam War, where he discovers not only that veterans aren't that welcome, particularly ones implicated in rather heinous massacres, but also that jobs aren't that common. However, the rather mysterious Peter Mullan (Miss Julie, Red Riding, My Name is JoeTyrannosaur) is willing to pay him and fellow war buddy Jamie Hector (The Wire) rather a lot of money to put their soldiering skills to work killing people, and before you know it, the body count is piling up.

If that sounds a bit familiar, it's because of one of two things. 

  1. You've read Max Allen Collins' Quarry series of books on which the show is based
  2. You've seen ITV's The Fixer, in which a war veteran who's done some bad things ends up killing people for Peter Mullan.

The shows aren't exactly 100% identical and the Quarry series was written way before The Fixer. But with the very Scottish Peter Mullan playing a very Southern but otherwise identical 'tough bastard boss'? Hmm. That does not to me coincidence say.

If only format rights were real, ITV might be having some quiet words with Cinemax right now.

As well as being a relocated Fixer, Quarry also has a lot in common with Cinemax's own Banshee, beyond simply the involvement of Greg Yaitanes. 'Quarry' - as Marshall-Green soon becomes known - is returning to a lost love whose love he might have lost (Jodi Balfour); he's come back brutalised by his experiences and has to adapt to normal life again; there's the lure of criminal life and its rewards but the acknowledgement of its costs, particularly in the lives of people we care about as well as of normality; there's a sexually fluid and amusing fellow criminal (Damon Herriman - last seen as a trans spy in Australia's Secret City); and practically everyone in the cast is from outside the US (Mullan - British; Balfour - South African; Herriman - Australian; Nikki Amuka-Bird - Nigerian-British).

But the tone's different - whereas Banshee was pure pulp that both transcended and embraced its trashier qualities, Quarry wants to be something greater, something more noirish, something more philosophical. As well as lapping up its period setting, the mid-70s being a respite from the omnipresent 80s nostalgia we're currently experiencing, Yaitanes also gives us all the directorial tricks he can throw our way, ranging from flashforwards and dream sequences to odd camera angles and compositions. And both Marshall-Green and that non-American cast list are top-tier acting talent - they're not here for the shootouts. 

While the feature-length first episode was a little too long and a little too exploitative for its own good, Quarry made a good start, clearly setting itself up to be Banshee mark 2, a more refined show that should still appeal to the same audience but which isn't going to dwell in the realm of the hyper-violent and could draw in more discerning viewers as a result. The producers need to work a little on making the characters more appealing, as pretty much everyone is either too messed up or too criminal for you to want to spend much time with them. But they have the foundations they need in place, plenty of source material to work with (including The Fixer) and a decent story to tell, so I'll be tuning to see waht they do with it all.

Read other posts about: ,


Featured Articles

Lethal Weapon

A review of the first episode of Fox/ITV's Lethal Weapon