These days, every chatshow host seems to have a gimmick for interviewing guests. Graham Norton's red chair is probably the tamest, since he doesn't actually consign the guests to their doom, but it's there. I'll mention it. James Corden, of course, not only has Carpool Karaoke for interviewing singers, he gets his film star guests to act out their entire careers.
But Anika Moa has probably the oddest approach of all. A singer and chatshow host on New Zealand's Maori Television, she gets guests to answer questions… while they're wearing a dental retainer. Here's Lucy Lawless giving it a whirl, for example.
No, I don't know if it's the same one each time or whether they sterilise it afterwards.
Guy Ritchie is the sort of director who wants not nuffin to do with not none of that auteur theory. That's lardy dah, ponces' talk, that is.
Yet you can spot a Guy Ritchie movie a mile off, innit? You got the hypermasculinity and the sexual objectification of women, ain't ya? You've got the obsession with and eulogisation of working class, English crims - the kind that only someone ultra-posh who's the son of a baronet has, right? You've got the casting of proper working class, hard actors, who hopefully are crims, too. You've got the slow-mo, you've got the rhyming slang, you've got the monickers, and you've got the stylisation that lets the audience know it's not quite for real, that it's all just a bit off from real-life - that it's all just a bit of bantosaurus rexing.
Case in point, guv'nor - like anyone in London's used guv'nor seriously since The Sweeney - is Snatch, Guy Ritchie's 2000 movie about a diamond heist and a 'pikey' boxer (Brad Pitt). Bants and sexual objectification right there in the title 'cos it has a double meaning, don't it? And all as authentically East End as the Islington filming locations.
So what happens when you take the auteur out of the auteured, which is what we now have with Crackle's Snatch? You get something as soft as a soufflé, that's what.
Owing almost nothing beyond its general feel to the original movie, it sees Luke Pasqualino (born: Peterborough) playing the Cockney son of notorious banged-up Cockney bank robber Dougray Scott (born: Glenrothes). He's doing his best to pay off the debts, but his get-rich schemes with posh boy Ruper Grint (born: Harlow) aren't working and the local Cockney lone shark's going to take his Cockney mum's flower shop off him if he doesn't pay up - and quick.
So he puts everything they have on a fight involving his 'half-pikey', half-Cockney boxing star Lucien Laviscount (born: Burnley). Except that makes everything worse.
Fortunately, Cockney moll Phoebe Dynevor (born: Manchester) is still miffed at Cockney Cuban-wannabe Ed Westwick (born: Stevenage) for taking her share of the takings at his club, so enlists them in a cunning scheme to rob Westwick that should help Pasqualino, Grint and Laviscount make thirty grand, easy. It just involves a heist…
Now, not for a second does any of this ring true, from the Manchester filming locations masquerading as the East End because the East End doesn't look like the East End any more through the wobbly accents through the idea that Pasqualino is in any way related to Scott through the action scenes through the amiable Cockney geezers that populate this florist-envying underworld through the laughable prison Scott's banged up in through every other thing that happens in the show.
But unlike Ritchie's Snatch, which was clearly sending itself up while simultaneously worshipping at its East End altar, this Snatch clearly half-believes in its nonsensical vision of the E postcodes that would make EastEnders seem like a Ken Loach documentary. Not totally, but the self-satire has been very clearly bleached out of the formula. Some of the cast are even taking it all seriously.
It's also a very pale imitation of Ritchie's style. Snatch seems to get bored of trying anything visually exciting after the title sequence, after which it's business as usual. There's very little humour, Laviscount is completely comprehensible, and the minimal action in the show fails to excite even slightly. In the least Ritchian move possible, Dynevor even gets lines, character and motivation, while never having to take even some of her clothes off. Not once.
However, as Dynevor and indeed most of the cast seem to be about 15 years old, playing dress-up in a modern-day, London-based Bugsy Malone, that's not such a bad thing.
And yet… there's still a grudging "not bad" quality to it. Sure, writer/creator Alex De Rakoff (The Calcium Kid, Dead Man Running) is British, the cast are British, Rupert Grint is an executive producer and it's filmed in Britain. But this is Crackle, a US internet network, not BBC Three.
Sure, there's a token American supporting character (Stephanie Leonidas from Defiance - ironically, the only member of the cast who is born: London), but there are no lingustic concessions, no forced explanations for dialogue or settings. It's probably the most authentically British TV show made for a US network that I've ever seen. It's just that for Brits, it's not properly pukka, y'know?
If you like weak, semi-comedic crime dramas, Snatch might work for you. If you want to see Rupert Grint doing something a bit different from Harry Potter for a change, it's worth a punt.
But if you're a fan of the original movie, a fan of Guy Ritchie or - heaven forfend - a proper Londoner, born and bred, best to steer clear of this one, me old china and head out for a cheeky Nando's instead.
With the movie getting ever closer, naturally the number of tie-ins to Wonder Woman is increasing. For example, new to the list is a Diana Prince Funko toy, which has a removable shield. Surprisingly enough, Steve Trevor is going to get a single issue of his own comic, Wonder Woman: Steve Trevor #1, as well. How exciting. Imagine how many people are going to be pleased by that.
Meanwhile, assuming you haven't been too busy designing your own bracelets to read any comics, you may have noticed a few new titles featured Diana this week: Trinity #7, Justice League #17 and Wonder Woman Meets The Bionic Woman #3. We can chat about them after the jump.
The trouble with Making History is that it's more of an idea for a show now, rather than an actual TV show. When it started, it had a relatively high concept behind it: Adam Pally has inherited a time machine from his dad and he uses it to go back in time to the War of Independence for the simple, base reason that he wants a girlfriend and is too inept in modern times to impress anyone, let alone the highly talented and beautiful daughter of Paul Revere, Leighton Meester. Armed with centuries of knowledge, he can woo her with Céline Dion lyrics and his tales of having invented the skateboard and headphones. However, he ends up ruining history, so has to recruit uptight history professor Yassir Lester to his cause to put things right.
Since then, the show has struggled to work out what it's actually about, other than three mismatched people who happen to have a time machine. There's plenty of culture shock and commentary, with Pally and Lester managing to ignite the revolution again in the second episode by getting the Brits to threaten to take away the 'Americans' guns ("Why do they need so many? We didn't care at first, but now they have so many, they clearly plan on using them, so we need to take them away from them…"), and Making History is almost funny when it's making these kind of throwaway comments about both modern and past US life.
There's also some humour to be had from Meester's trying to adapt to modern times with Pally's help ("This is a photo of an Asian girl. What do we say when we see an Asian girl?" "Nothing. There is nothing remarkable about an Asian girl and no comments are necessary") while still being an 18th century girl at heart who kills squirrels and uses their pelts for fur and their bones to make very small pianos.
But that's really about all the show has to offer, so it's really struggling to work out what to do with itself. There's no chemistry between the leads and no reason for the trio to be together other than the scripts demand it. In fact, by episode three, the show is having to dress up Pally as Cher to find any really new jokes to make, which is something that only makes sense if you saw him in Happy Endings; future episodes look likely to involve sending our heroes back in time to other eras in the hope that fresh eras will provide fresh opportunities for jokes, now every other source has been mined.
Of all the time travel shows we've had in the past year, Making History is not only the weakest, it's the least funny, despite it being the only actual time-travel comedy in the pack. Even Timeless has better jokes. This is despite a decent cast and some obvious intelligence in the writing. Ratings are poor, so I suspect the end is nigh for the show anyway, so you can afford to give this one a miss.
It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently and your chance to recommend anything you've been watching.
Well, I've done it. I managed to watch all of Marvel's Iron Fist (Netflix) in a weekend. Okay, technically, I still have one episode to watch, but I'll have done that in time for tomorrow's full-season review.
However, that does mean I've not watched all the rest of the tele on my list, which means it's time for a purge.
And don't worry, I'll be getting round to passing verdict of Making History (US: Fox) and The Arrangement (US: E!), assuming that all three episodes of the latter are in any way watchable. Fingers crossed, I'll also review Midnattssol/Jour Polaire (Midnight Sun) (France: Canal+; Sweden: SVT; UK: Sky Atlantic) at some point, too, as well as at least the first episode of Snatch (US: Crackle).
But now we come to the regulars. I think the likelihood of my carrying on with Prime Suspect 1973 is small, and Fortitude might have to sit on the backburner for a while and may disappear altogether. Season two of Billions hasn't justified its existence to me yet, and the stupid number of movie references this week put me it off it significantly, so that'll be going, too. I've also decided that in all likelihood, despite being superb TV, season 3 of American Crime is going to be as depressing as the first two seasons, so I'll bow out now before I kill myself. Don't let that stop you from watching it though (I mean that in a positive way, honestly).
So that means that after the jump, it'll be the new regulars (although some of these are on a tight leash, too…): DC's Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, The Good Fight, Imposters, Legion, Making History and The Magicians. I'll also be looking at the rather surprising change of pace in the season finale of Lethal Weapon.
The observant will notice I haven't mentioned The Americans - don't worry, I'm not so stupid as to have dropped them from my schedule, I simply haven't had the time to watch episode two so will do a doubler next week.
Certain satires want to define and even gut a genre. It was nigh on impossible to watch Newsnight once The Day Today was on the air, chat shows looked stupid once Mrs Merton and I'm Alan Partridge kicked in, soap operas were unwatchable after Soap and can anyone take the BBC seriously at all now W1A regularly skewers it?
Trial & Error would like to be a skewering piece of satire. But it faces two problems on that score. For starters, it largely relies on the audience having watched the likes of Netflix's Making of a Murderer and HBO's The Jinx, being a parody of true crime documentaries. I'm not sure what the overlap with NBC's audience is, but I doubt it's very big.
The plot sees John Lithgow playing a poetry professor who appears to have murdered his wife. Lithgow seems more concerned by his roller skates and the cable company than he does about her death, so is the prime suspect, particularly when he turns out to be more than a bit gay and having an affair with his personal trainer ("Sexuality is fluid… and sometimes my fluids go towards men").
To defend him, his father-in-law (Bob Gunton) hires one of those 'northeastern lawyers' because they seem so crafty (nudge, nudge, wink, wink), but winds up with the less-than-crafty newbie Nick D'Agosto (Masters of Sex, Gotham). D'Agosto assembles the best defence team the small Southern town has to offer. Unfortunately, that's Sherri Shepherd (Sherri), who's not only dyslexic enough to spell trial as trail (The Trail being the original, more cryptic name for the show), she has rare brain disorders that cause her to pass out from excitement and to laugh at tragic events; Steven Boyer, who may not be dyslexic but he's stupid enough to accidentally set fire to exhumated bodies; and an investigator who has relieve himself sexually whenever he gets excited. And there's a lot of excitement.
None of which is very funny, so the show's second problem is that it relies on the tried and trusted method of stereotyping southerners for about 90% of its jokes. On top of being hugely stupid, Boyer has a sister who is also his cousin and he has bad dentistry. Prosecutor Jayma Mays (Heroes, Glee) is highly sexed, constantly propositioning D'Agosto whenever he comes to her office and has an accent that makes her name hard to understand. She's okay with that, though, but woe betide you if you pronounce Judge Horsedich's name wrong, though, as she's mulling over any of the archaic laws still on the statute books in town, such as the forbidding of 'buggery' and 'death by bear'.
If you laughed at any of that, well, you're easier to please than I apparently am.
The show does at least respect the forms of the documentary, and has a pretty firm grasp of local news reporting, too. And there was a scene in the second episode involving Lithgow's roller skate wrench that was actually quite moving (you'll understand if you see it).
But if I make it to three episodes, it'll be a miracle. Skewering the genre? You'll have forgotten about Trial & Error by the end of the week.
About the blog
A UK media blog focusing on the best scripted TV from around the world, with daily news, views, exclusive reviews and good conversation. There's a bit of a bias towards the latest and greatest US TV, but we also cover Scandinavian, Canadian, European and Antipodean TV, as well as UK TV ranging from new Doctor Who to old Z Cars, and BBC4 to S4C.
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"For most of us watching the telly of an evening is a way to wind down and relax, but for Rob Buckley it’s his blogging bread and butter. With reviews of cult classics and up and coming US and Brit television shows, The Medium is Not Enough is fast becoming essential reading for TV buffs, with over 50,000 hits a month."
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I'm Rob Buckley, a freelance journalist who writes for UK media magazines that most people have never heard of, although you might have heard me on Radio 5 Live's Saturday Edition or Afternoon Edition. I've edited Dreamwatch, Sprocket and Cambridge Film Festival Daily; been technical editor for trade magazine Televisual; reviewed films for the short-lived newspaper Cambridge Insider and the equally short-lived Death Ray and Filmstar magazines; written features for the even shorter-lived newspaper Soho Independent; and was regularly sarcastic about television on the blink-and-you-missed-it "web site for urban hedonists" The Tribe. I'm freelance now and have contributed to the likes of Broadcast, Total Content + Media, Action TV, Off The Telly, Action Network and TV Scoop.