December 19, 2014

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year

Posted 2 days ago at 14:20 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Merry Christmas from Wonder Woman

I’m off on my Christmas break now, so there’ll be nothing from me until January 5th 2015. So have yourself a great holiday season and I look forward to seeing you all again… in the future!

Merry Christmas!

What have you been watching? Including Ascension, The Fall, State of Affairs, Ground Floor and Scorpion

Posted 2 days ago at 14:18 | 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. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Yes, a doubler – two in one week to cater for the Christmas break and mop up a few leftovers. There’s only been one new show of note this week, though, and that’s…

Ascension (US: Syfy; UK: Sky1)
A spaceship is sent out in the 1960s to colonise a planet in the Alpha Centauri system. 50 years later and the ships’ descendants experience their first murder. Except there’s a Completely Obvious Twist…

I’m only about halfway through the second of the three episodes, so I can’t comment on how this ends, only that the first episode is catastrophically dull as it tries to establish its Mad Men in space vibe while simultaneously trying to avoid giving away that twist, which even a passing acquaintanceship with science, technology, history and the release date of Elton John’s ‘Rocketman’ will reveal within the first ten minutes. However, once the twist is revealed, everything gets a lot more bearable as the writers stop contorting themselves to avoid giving the game away. It’s still not great, and the main stars – Tricia Helfer and Lauren Lee Smith – are lumbered with duller versions of their best known roles, but you might be relieved to know it does at least get better. And you can while away the time spotting references to classic SF authors and noted authors of the 1960s.

After the jump, I’ll be running through only The Fall, Ground Floor, Scorpion and State of Affairs. I’ll tell you now, though – I’m only halfway through Elementary (it’s okay so far – who is the publisher of the ornithology quotes, hmm? – but isn’t this a show that’s supposed to be about Holmes and Watson? I’m not getting that any more).

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Ascension, The Fall, State of Affairs, Ground Floor and Scorpion"

Third-episode verdict: The Librarians (US: TNT; UK: SyFy)

Posted 2 days ago at 13:46 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerLibrarians.jpgA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Sundays, 8/7c, TNT
In the UK: Mondays, 8pm, Syfy

Well that rolled around quickly, didn’t it? Yes, time for a third-episode verdict already on TNT’s The Librarians, a spin-off series from the Noah Wyle TV movies that featured the character of the Librarian and is already being described as “Hercules: The Legendary Journeys for a new generation”.

Described by me as that, anyway.

The first couple of episodes were relatively action-packed, seeing Wyle and his helper monkeys defeat a magic-obsessed secret society led by a former Max Headroom who wanted the Crown of King Arthur, Excalibur and the Stone from whence it was taken (except it wasn’t) so they could return magic to the world. Budget now shot and Wyle off to defend the world from alien invaders instead, the third episode had to rely on the helper monkeys to fill the breach.

This was less than successful. The script was actually quite imaginative, giving us a new take on the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur that was surprisingly innovative. And while one could quibble with Christian Kane’s confusion over whether a fresco was Minoan or Helladic - are you blind, man? - the lurching around from historical inaccuracy to historical inaccuracy of the first two episodes wasn’t such an issue in the third.

No, the problem was twofold: the characters and the lack of fun. Without Wyle to bolster up both the supporting characters and the script, episode three revealed the spin-offs flaws like so much wallpaper peeling off from some cracked walls. Without the right kind of action and fun, the show stops being enjoyable and actually becomes quite painful, as we’re forced to watch some really quite dreadful actors try to inject life into some paper-thin characters with dialogue that the average five year old would probably regard as hackneyed. And with a budget far too low for its ambitions, it’s hard to really respect a globe-trotting show that largely sticks inside tunnels, offices and Boston alleyways.

So what we have here is a very variable, family show that lives and dies on its writing, with a cast that can’t save it when that writing falls through. When it’s good, it’s going to be brain-off, adrenaline-on TV; when it’s bad, it’s going to be fingernails on blackboards TV.

Still, Bruce Campbell is Santa Claus next episode. How can that not be aces?

Barrometer rating: 3
Rob’s prediction: Should last a while at least, particularly now we’re reaching Christmas, but it’s still got a long way to go before it finds its feet.

News: Thunderbirds renewed, HBO's Sarah Silverman, James Ellroy and David Fincher shows + more

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The Daily News will return on January 5th 2015. Happy holidays!

Trailers

  • Trailer for Stephen Belber’s Match, with Patrick Stewart, Matthew Lillard and Carla Gugino

Australian TV

  • iView being added to PlayStation 3 and 4

Canadian TV

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New UK TV shows

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

  • HBO developing: James Ellroy and David Fincher 1950s Los Angeles drama

New US TV show casting

December 18, 2014

News: Charlie Sheen to guest on The Goldbergs, Manu Bennett joins Shannara, Sam Neill to Toast London + more

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Charlie Sheen on The Goldbergs

Trailer

  • New trailer for Taken 3
  • Clip from Terry Jones’ Absolutely Anything with Simon Pegg

Australian TV

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UK TV show casting

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV show casting

December 17, 2014

The Wednesday Play: The Mahabharata (1989)

Posted 3 days ago at 21:10 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Le Mahabharata

Right now, you may have noticed, there’s a whole load of religions about to have some sort of festival or other. So to avoid all hint of bias, this week’s Wednesday Play has nothing to do with any of them and is purely of concern to Hindus – none of whom are celebrating anything right now, except maybe a birthday or two.

Peter Brook CH, CBE is one of the world’s most famous and justifiably lauded theatre directors. His career in both theatre and film has spanned decades, stretching back with the RSC to 1950 all the way through to the present day. Perhaps his most famous work, however, was a 1985 production that he had co-written over eight years with Jean-Claude Carrière and Marie-Hélène Estienne: The Mahabharata. An astonishing nine hours long, it was nevertheless a distillation in itself of the world’s longest and perhaps even most important work of epic poetry, the eponymous 200,000-line long Sanskrit text Mahabharata.

Regarded by Hindus as both a text about Hindu moral law (dharma) and its history, the poem dates back to 400BC and is perhaps as early in origin as 9th century BC. Its main plot is about the struggle between two branches of a single family – the Kaurava and the Pandava – for the throne of Hastinapura, which eventually culminates in the battle of Kurkshetra, but the majority of the work includes a wide range of other myths and legends.

Brook regarded the Mahabharata as a text of the world, so for his production, he chose a cast from countries all round the world, including Georges Corraface, Vittoria Mezzogiorno, Mamdou Dioumé and Yoshi Oida. After the production premiered at the 39th Avignon festival, Brook was to take it on a world tour for four years and at the end of that period, an abridged version a mere six hours long was filmed and shown as a two-part mini-series on Channel 4 in the UK. This was subsequently cut down to three hours for a cinema and DVD release.

Many of the cast of the stage production were to return for the mini-series, including Corraface, Mezzogiorno, Dioumé and Oida; however, in true RSC fashion, as well as some new cast members such as Ciarán Hinds, some of the original cast took on different roles, with Bruce Myers switching from Karna to become both Ganesha and Krishna, Andrzej Seweryn moving from Duryodhana to Yudhishthira and Maurice Bénichou switching from Ganesha and Krishna to Kitchaka, to name but a few.

It’s an epic in all senses and a very theatrical one at that, but if you have the time – perhaps over Christmas – you can watch all six hours of the mini-series below or you can get it on DVD. It’s definitely worth the effort.

Other versions
It's worth noting that Brook was not the first to adapt the Mahabharata, even if he was the first to adapt it in English. Because there was a film made in 1963 of just one story of the Mahabharata, Narthanasala, which again you can watch below, although your Telugu had better be good since it's not subtitled.

A 1965 film, however, made an attempt at adapting the full story in just two and a half hours, and this is subtitled, if you want to give it a go, you may be glad to hear.

As well as a 2013 film, this time 3D and animated, there have also been four Indian TV series (1988, 1997, 2008 and 2013). The earliest of these series was produced by famed Indian film director BR Chopra and despite being 94 episodes long and taking nearly two years to air, was one of the most successful programmes in Indian TV history. It was subsequently imported to the UK by BBC2.

The 2013 series, Mahabharat was equally well viewed but had a somewhat larger budget, being the most expensive series in Indian TV history.

It seems this epic has legs…

News: E4 acquires The Goldbergs, The Missing and Brokenwood Mysteries renewed, a Crims trailer + more

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Film casting

Trailers

  • Trailer for The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
  • New trailer for Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella

Canadian TV

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  • TV2 green lights family sci-fi drama The Cul De Sac, Prime renews The Brokenwood Mysteries
UK TV New UK TV shows
  • Trailer for BBC Three’s young offenders comedy Crims

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting
  • Neil Jackson joins TNT’s Lumen, Giacomo Gianniotti joins Lifetime’s Marilyn

December 16, 2014

Weekly Wonder Woman: Sensation Comics #18, Injustice: Gods Among Us: Year Three #11

Posted 5 days ago at 11:58 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Sensation Comics #18

Unfortunately, it’s our last weekly round up of Wonder Woman appearances for the year, thanks to DC’s continuing ‘War on Hellenismos’ my Christmas break, which means that unless I feel invigorated in the New Year, I’ll be missing out on the next issues of both Wonder Woman and Superman/Wonder Woman and maybe even the first issue of Wonder Woman ’77, which are all due out in the next fortnight.

Let’s all pray to Dionysos for Christmas booze to fill me with life then.

Either way, I’ll be leaving you with a look at two comics. Sensation Comics Featuring Wonder Woman #18 concludes a three-part story in which Diana’s been off to Apokolips to fill it with Christmas cheer rescue some Amazons and work out what Darkseid’s been up to.

Meanwhile, we also see the surprise return of Wonder Woman in year three of Injustice: Gods Among Us, she having spent the previous year in a coma, which turns out not to be quite what it seemed. No, it wasn’t Dionysos’ Christmas booze.

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A fourth Totally Serialized is coming to London in January

Posted 5 days ago at 11:03 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Workingirls

Un village français

Paris

Lascars

Caroline Proust

Hey everyone – remember the first three Totally Serialized (one, two, three)? Well, the fourth one’s coming next month…

Totally Serialized – Season 4
29 - 31 January 2015 at Ciné Lumière

From 29 to 31 January, Ciné Lumière will hold the 4th edition of Totally Serialized, the one and only TV series festival in London. Aimed to promote and improve collaboration between the UK and France, it will showcase the best of new productions from both sides of the Channel.

Audiences will get a chance to attend exceptional preview screenings and meet creators and actors of their cult TV series.

Those last years of production have proven that TV series are more creative than ever. And more recently, the British TV industry has broken down frontiers, with international buyers moving away from a remake-centred strategy and now broadcasting the original series with subtitles. French shows such as The Returned, Braquo, Spiral, Hard and Maison Close from the French Pay TV CANAL+ have benefited from this shift, and have proven to be a success on Channel 4, FX, BBC Four and Sky Arts respectively. Just recently, Channel 4 acquired Witnesses, another French series. One of the aims of the festival is to encourage this trend.

A dedicated industry programme is organised in association with Creative Europe Desk UK and the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) on 29 & 30 January aiming to foster international exchanges and co-productions in order to meet the growing demand for high-quality European TV drama. Various aspects of the constantly-evolving field of TV series, including producing, screenwriting, and financing will be covered.

The festival opening ceremony followed by an industry cocktail is organised with CANAL+.

In partnership with the Society of Dramatic Authors and Composers (SACD), British and French TV writers will gather and discuss the art of TV writing on 30 January while networking events will accompany this two-day programme. The festival also launches a speed-dating meeting between selected French and British producers organised with Europe Creative Desk MEDIA France and Ile de France Film Commission.

Festival highlights include a preview of award-winning writer Russell T. Davies’ Banana, courtesy of E4 (Channel 4) in the presence of members of the cast and crew.

Spiral enthusiasts are in for a treat as several events will be dedicated to this dark and labyrinthine Parisian crime drama. While Series 5 will be showing on BBC Four, the CANAL + CREATION ORIGINALE series will be unravelled by its screenwriter Anne Landois in a special screening of episode 1 at Ciné Lumière on 29 January. In addition, Caroline Proust, who plays Captain Laure Berthaud will give a masterclass where Spiral’s fans will learn behind-the-scene stories on 31 January. The UK premiere of Paris, a mini-series from the team behind Spiral, will top it all.

Thrillers are a strong strand in this year's festival as we will also screen the UK Premiere of Jean-Christophe Grangé's The Passenger with actor Jean-Hugues Anglade (Braquo). and host a masterclass with Tony Grisoni in which he will decrypt the creative process behind the acclaimed Channel 4 TV show Southcliffe.

This year's festival will be a platform for new talent with a BAFTA masterclass on 'Breaking and entering TV Screenwriting' for budding writers, a marathon of new French TV comedies and fresh out of French animation schools directors with En sortant de l'école, a mini series based on Jacques Prévert’s poems.

After the jump, the programme of public events (ie the ones you can attend if you don’t work in TV). And to find out more or book tickets, visit the Totally Serialized web site

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Martin Freeman returns to The Office. Sort of

Posted 5 days ago at 09:19 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Martin Freeman was hosting Saturday Night Live in the US this weekend and for one of the sketches, he returned to the series that made him famous in the first place: The Office. Except since The Office, he’s become even more famous thanks to The Hobbit*. So guess what Saturday Night Live did. And it’s surprisingly accurate to the BBC version, too…

*And Sherlock, obviously.

News: Gracepoint cancelled, ITV's Beowulf, trailer for RTD's Cucumber, Banana and Tofu + more

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Trailers

  • Trailer for Terrence Malick’s Knight of Cups, with Christian Bale

UK TV

  • Joanna Lumley to guest on charity Downton Abbey
  • Trailer for Mrs Brown’s Boys’ Christmas special
New UK TV shows

US TV

US TV show casting

  • Mo McRae joins Murder in the First, Cicely Tyson to guest on How To Get Away With Murder

New US TV shows

  • Trailer for MTV’s Eye Candy [US only]

New US TV show casting


December 15, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Ground Floor, Arrow, The Flash, The Newsroom, The Machine, Jack Reacher and Red 2

Posted 6 days ago at 15:49 | comments | 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. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Time for a little bit of a catch-up, given I haven’t done one of these in a fortnight. There are still a few things in my viewing queue that I haven’t yet had time to watch: last night’s The Librarians I’ll cover in a third-episode verdict this week and I’ll probably do the same for The Legacy, although the subtitling makes it hard to watch when I’m doing the ironing. I’ll also try to give Netflix’s Marco Polo a watch, given they dumped the whole series online over the weekend.

I have managed to watch a few films, though.

Red 2 (2013)
The gang from Red are back to far less effect, with Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Mary-Louise Parker and Helen Mirren joined by Anthony Hopkins, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Lee Byung-hun as the old/amateur spies (plus one deadly young one) forced to use their lifetime of skills to save the world. Again. There’s a lot more travelling to foreign climes but only Byung-hun’s martial arts and Hopkins’ performance really lift the piece above the humdrum, with most of the interesting edges of the first movie filed off or toned down. It does give us a brief onscreen meeting of Hopkins and Brian Cox, which is probably the only time you’ll get two Hannibal Lecters together.

Jack Reacher (2012)
Tom Cruise is improbably the 6’5” military policeman of the Lee Childs novels, here investigating a seemingly random sniper shooting with an obvious suspect who needs his help being vindicated. A perfectly adequate, reasonably intelligent thriller with military trappings that does little to excite, beyond a few decent fights. Rosamund Pike is wasted.

The Machine (2013)
A strange little independent sci-fi thriller funded by the Welsh Government, of all things, in which scientists Toby Stephens and Caity Lotz work on developing intelligent machines for the Ministry of Defence and have to wrestle with the Turing Test, the nature of consciousness and intelligence, and other existential questions, as well as killer robots. Lotz is the obvious star, demonstrating all the qualities that made her such a powerful presence in the second season of Arrow, but Stephens is no slouch either. The film doesn’t quite manage to square all its intellectual concerns with its need for gore, and the ultra low budget means that the action is largely confined to a couple of rooms. But it’s a lot more interesting and intelligent than you might have expected. Plus it’s got Siwan Morris from Mine All Mine and Caerdydd in it

After the jump, I’ll be running through lots and lots of episodes of: Arrow, Constantine, Elementary, The Fall, Forever, The Flash, Gracepoint, Ground Floor, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, The Newsroom, Scorpion and State of Affairs.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Ground Floor, Arrow, The Flash, The Newsroom, The Machine, Jack Reacher and Red 2"

News: Channel 4's Space Ark, Sky1 acquires Ascension, Beastmaster to recur on Arrow + more

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