April 17, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Fargo, Agents of SHIELD, Silicon Valley and Friends With Better Lives

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Fargo

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.

A little bit earlier than normal, thanks to the Easter bank holidays in the UK, but we'll back to the usual Friday slot next week. New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

But I also watched:

Fargo (US: Tuesdays, 10pm, FX; UK: Sundays, 9pm, Channel 4, starting Sunday)
Despite the name and the Coen Brothers' presence in the producers' roster, rather than a straight retelling of the movie, Fargo is an anthology series, each season telling a different 'true' crime story from the Minnesota region, the movie effectively being just one of those stories. Indeed, despite the setting and there being a William H Macy-esque schmuck of an accountant (Martin Freeman) and a bright but unlikely female sheriff (Allison Tolman) to investigate the heinous crimes of a newly arrived criminal (Billy Bob Thornton), the show has far more in common with the Coen Brothers' No Country For Old Men, right down to Billy Bob's dark angel with an eccentric haircut and some nice-guy sheriffs (Shawn Doyle, Colin Hanks) who get close, sometimes too close, to a force of evil beyond their experiences.

While not a patch on the movie, Fargo is nevertheless a decent piece of work, well written, well shot, with some eye-opening scenes, and largely well acted, particularly by Doyle but especially by Thornton, who's almost as mesmerising as Javier Bardem was. But it's largely interested in issues of masculinity, what it means to be a man and what happens if you fall short of those societal demands, so the female characters get short shrift from the story. Importantly, the relatively inexperienced Tolman has yet to make anything like the impact that Frances McDormand did in the movie, although she's likely to shift in importance in later episodes (spoiler)given Doyle unfortunately gets killed towards the end of the first episode

Not truly compelling, but definitely a cut above the average and I'll be sticking around to the next episode at least.

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, Community, Continuum, CrisisEndeavour, Friends with Better Lives, Game of Thrones, Hannibal and Silicon Valley.

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News: More Americans, Shetland, less Bletchley Circle, Sigmund Freud fights crime + more

Posted yesterday at 07:48 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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The Equalizer

The Daily News will return on Tuesday. Have a happy Easter!

Film

UK TV

New UK TV shows

  • Frank Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer developing Freud: The Secret Casebook

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

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April 16, 2014

News: Discovery/BSkyB buy 5, Heroes' digital prequel, Y Gwyll on Netflix + more

Posted 2 days ago at 07:10 | comments | Bookmark and Share

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Film casting

Trailers

  • Trailer for Paul Haggis’ Third Person with Liam Neeson, Kim Basinger, Olivia Wilde et al
  • Trailer for David Cronenberg’s Maps To The Stars with Mia Wasikowska, Julianne Moore, John Cusack et al
  • Trailer for Oculus with Karen Gillan
  • Final trailer for X-Men: Days of Future Past
Internet TV

UK TV

US TV

New US TV shows

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April 15, 2014

Weekly Wonder Woman: Superman/Wonder Woman #7, Smallville: Lantern #5 and Justice League Beyond #16-17

Posted 2 days ago at 21:34 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Superman/Wonder Woman #7

Normally, around this time, I’d do a round-up of all of Wonder Woman’s appearances in DC comics in the past week. Unfortunately, given that both Superman and Wonder Woman were at the epicentre of a nuclear explosion not so long ago, I can’t do that, can I?

What do you mean they survived? How…?

Okay, we’ll talk about that after the jump. We’ll also be looking at a few alternative universes: the Smallville alternative universe, where Wonder Woman is flirting away with Steve Trevor, and the Justice League Beyond alternative universes, in which a slightly older Wonder Woman is off with Batman instead.

Gosh. Still, as long as she’s having fun, hey?

Continue reading "Weekly Wonder Woman: Superman/Wonder Woman #7, Smallville: Lantern #5 and Justice League Beyond #16-17"

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News: No more Fearnet, Sundance's The Village remake, TV Land aims Younger + more

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Trailers

  • Trailer for God’s Pocket with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Christina Hendricks et al
  • Trailer for David Fincher’s Gone Girl, with Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike et al
Internet TV

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

April 14, 2014

Review: The Gods of Wheat Street 1x1 (ABC1)

Posted 3 days ago at 21:25 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Gods of Wheat Street

In Australia: Saturdays, 8.30pm, ABC1

So there’s this guy called Odin who lives with his family on Wheat Street*. Well, he lives with Athena, Electra, Tristan and, erm, Libby; his brother Ares is in prison while his sister Isolde lives round the corner. His mum, Eden, is dead, so she only drops round to give advice from time to time.

From all that, you might think you have ABC1’s The Gods of Wheat Street correctly pegged as Australia’s answer to The Almighty Johnsons. But you’d be completely and utterly wrong.

Because, beyond the names of gods and heroes – and the occasional visitation by the dead – this is largely a six-part Aboriginal soap opera from the people who gave us Redfern Now, both in front of and behind the camera, but without the benefit of Jimmy McGovern's guiding hand.

Once you get over that basic misdirection, it’s not that bad. It's a drama about finding hope, having dreams and wanting more in life in small-town Australia, even when you’re poor and it looks like life is trying to kick you in the you-know-wheres. There’s a certain nominative determinism to the plot: Odin is the all father who tries to keep his family together, despite not having any money, his employer having just died and pretty much everything being up for sale; Ares is always in fights; Electra has daddy issues; Tristan would do anything for love; and so on.

But it’s not great. The acting by most of the leads is not so much convincing as earthy. The dialogue has the occasional laugh. The writers aren’t afraid to look at issues like domestic violence, racism, violence against women and everything else you might expect given the set-up they’ve created, but they’re more interested in regular-type people with regular-type ambitions – doing well at school, going to college to study fashion, looking after the family, finding a boyfriend or girlfriend, and so on.

I do find myself slightly compelled to watch the second episode, but only slightly. If you’re Australian, the show might well be of interest to you, even if it is all a bit worthy; but outside of Australia, most viewers are going to be hard-pushed to find much to watch in The Gods of Wheat Street beyond a mildly amiable drama about mildly amiable people.

* This review was written entirely in a style designed to irritate Giles Coren

Batman's 75 so here's a Bruce Timm animation to celebrate

Posted 3 days ago at 19:48 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

You’ve heard of Batman, right? Guy who likes to dress up as a bat to fight crime? Probably rings a bell, doesn’t it?

Anyway, he’s 75 years old this year and to celebrate, DC Comics has got the man behind the bulk of Batman animations for the past two decades to put together this little 1930s-style cartoon in which Batman hits things a lot.

Enjoy!

[via]

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News: BBC4 acquires The Code, SyFy heads for The Expanse, Banshee recruits + more

Posted 4 days ago at 07:08 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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Trailers

  • Trailer for Anton Corbijn’s A Most Wanted Man, with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Robin Wright, Rachel McAdams et al
  • Opening battle from X-Men: Days of Future Past

French TV

  • Kam&Ka acquires Canadian show format Appearances, to co-develop Israeli shows

UK TV

UK TV show casting

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

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April 11, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Agents of SHIELD, Vikings, Suits, Game of Thrones, Endeavour

Posted 6 days ago at 21:51 | 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.

New shows I’ve already reviewed this week:

After the jump, the regulars, with reviews of Agents of SHIELD, Crisis, Mammon, 35 Diwrnod, 19-2, The Americans, Community, Continuum, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, Elementary, Endeavour, Game of Thrones, Hannibal, House of Cards, Suits and Vikings

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Agents of SHIELD, Vikings, Suits, Game of Thrones, Endeavour"

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Dear Daily Show, that's not how you spell Euripides

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

Euripides not Euripedes

It’s spelt Euripides, or Εὐριπίδης, not Euripedes. Bad Daily Show. (Click on the picture to zoom in)

Third-episode verdict: Surviving Jack (Fox)

Posted 6 days ago at 21:08 | comments | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerSurvivingJack.jpgA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US: Thursdays, 9.30/8.30c, Fox

Time for a third-episode verdict on Surviving Jack, a show that attempts to do for 1991 what The Wonder Years did for the 1960s without as good a soundtrack but with more clips of American Gladiators.

On the whole, it’s been a decent enough three episodes, each filled with at least the requisite Kermodian five laughs to ensure it’s worth watching. True, the only good character is Jack himself - Christopher Meloni from L&O:SU - everyone else simply existing to create situations where he is doctor-ish/army-ish when he should be dad-ish. But that doesn’t mean those other characters are entirely worthless and while they are pretty much the straight men and women of the piece, their predicaments are handled as well as The Wonder Years handled Kevin’s.

Given that the show is based on I Suck At Girls, don’t be surprised that most of those predicaments involve teenage son Connor Buckley sucking at dealing with girls, but rather than this being the traditional ‘ugly nerd with zero social skills aiming too high’ set-up expected of sitcoms, this is more ‘cute boy makes the same relationship mistakes everyone else does when they’re young’ kind of thing. Episode one saw him have his first kiss, two revealed he was actually quite good at sports and three had him actually asking someone out and not getting the reaction you’d have expected, all of which is surprisingly refreshing and probably shows you how tired other shows are rather than necessarily how fresh this one is.

Meloni is great as Jack; the show has some good one-liners; the female characters, even Rachael Harris’s, could do with some extensive development work but are not merely plucked from a box of stereotypes; and there’s some actual sensitivity to all the male characters for a change. Probably the best new network comedy of the 2013-14 season, since it’s more consistent than Enlisted.

Barrometer rating: 2
Rob’s prediction: Will last a season and might even get picked up for a second one

News: TNT's The Librarians spin-off, Marc Warren joins the Musketeers, Tom Ellis in Rush + more

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Film

  • David Benioff and DB Weiss to write, direct and produce Dirty White Boys
Trailers

Canadian TV

  • CBC to cut 657 jobs
UK TV

UK TV show casting

New UK TV shows
  • Trailer for Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This, with David Threlfall, Amanda Redman and Helen McCrory

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

  • Trailer for USA’s Rush with Tom Ellis [US only]

New US TV show casting

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April 10, 2014

Mini-review: Turn 1x1 (AMC)

Posted 7 days ago at 15:49 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

AMC's Turn

In the US: Sundays, 9/8c, AMC

Wars should, by their very nature, be exciting. The Revolutionary War that brought about the independence of the United States of America from British rule is such a thing of mythology and eulogisation that it’s possibly one of the most exciting wars that can be discussed or depicted. And when you add in spies as well, and get some of the best British actors on TV to take part, surely you’re onto a sure-fire adrenaline fest, no?

No. Because Turn, based on the Alexander Rose novel Washington's Spies: The Story of America's First Spy Ring, is a veritable snoozefest.

Largely, of course, this is down to its being on AMC. Although the network has had its fair share of successes – Breaking Bad, Mad Men, The Walking Dead – none of them have got to where they are by packing every hour with a thrill a minute. And Turn seemingly takes great pains to do the same, without giving us sparkling dialogue or interesting characters to make the journey worthwhile.

Although the show is clearly going somewhere, the pilot episode really doesn’t give you that many reasons to go with it. Commendably avoiding the “British army were just as bad as Nazis” route trodden by The Patriot, Turn does take relative pains to be equitable to the Brits and to avoid hoary old cliches (no one says “The British are coming! The British are coming!” since most Americans still thought of themselves as British, for example).

Unfortunately, it does this by giving us a reluctant farmer (Jamie Bell) as a hero, his dodgy accented father (Kevin McNally) with a foot in both camps to talk a lot, a dull wife (Meegan Warner) and a slightly more interesting ex (Heather Lind) for Bell to pine over, and a British army officer (Burn Gorman) to pass out the law honourably in difficult times. The screen practically goes grey with boredom as soon as any of them appear. And when your TV can’t be bothered to watch what you’re watching, a show is in trouble.

Angus Macfadyen (Robert the Bruce in Braveheart) could be good fun as a Scottish mercenary-come-black ops ranger working for the Brits, if he weren’t mumbling every line, and Seth Numrich's organiser of the Culper Spy Ring is so square-jawed and all-American-before-there-was-an-all-American that he disappears in a cloud of blandness in virtually every scene he’s in.

I dare say further down the line – maybe one season or even two seasons from now – something might have happened and the hours of TV-viewing involved will have paid off a little. But at a time when there’s just so much good TV on – hell, this is on the same night as just Game of Thrones, Silicon Valley, The Good Wife and Shameless alone – I doubt many people will have accompanied it that far or that it'll all have been worth it.

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