May 26, 2017

When's that show you mentioned starting again, TMINE? Including Cardinal, El Chapo, Friends from College and Ozark

Posted yesterday at 18:11 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Every Friday, I let you know the latest announcements about when new, imported TV shows will finally be arriving on UK screens - assuming anyone's bought anything, of course.

Another week without acquisitions. What's the point of that then?

But we do have some premiere dates, at least:

Cardinal (Canada: CTV/Super Écran; UK: BBC Four)
Saturday, June 3, 9pm
Episode reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4-5, 6

El Chapo (Netflix)
Friday, June 16

Friends From College (Netflix)
Friday, July 14

Ozark (Netflix)
Friday, July 21

News: BBC Store closing; Veep, Silicon Valley renewed; Get Shorty trailer; + more

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May 25, 2017

The Weekly Play: The ITV Play - Gentry (1988)

Posted 2 days ago at 16:34 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Nigel Kneale went to Hollywood. He headed off after Kinvig in 1981, after initially being approached by director John Landis to work on the screenplay for a remake of Creature from the Black Lagoon. The movie never went into production, but while in the US, Kneale met director Joe Dante, who invited him to write Halloween III: Season of the Witch for him. Kneale agreed, on the proviso that it would be a totally new concept unrelated to the first two films, which he had not seen and he did not like what he had heard about them.

Kneale's treatment for the film met with the approval of John Carpenter, the producer of the Halloween series. However, financial backer Dino De Laurentiis insisted upon the inclusion of more graphic violence and a rewrite of the script from director Tommy Wallace. Kneale was displeased with the results and had his name removed from the film. 

He didn't return to writing for UK TV until 1987. Part of the virtually forgotten ITV Play drama strand, it sees  affluent young couple Duncan Preston (Surgical Spirit, Dinnerladies) and Phoebe Nicholls (The Elephant Man, Brideshead Revisted) inspecting a shabby town house that's up for sale. Nicholls is less than impressed by it, but Preston has plans to renovate it and sell it for a big profit. However, their plan quickly turns into a nightmare when three criminals led by Roger Daltrey (Tommy, Highlander: The Series) arrive, searching for the money they hid in the building years ago.

Although 'gentrification' was a theme of the Thatcherite years, with certain councils famously importing affluent yuppies into impoverished areas in an effort to improve the area (and make it Tory), this is arguably Kneale's prescience at work again - he'd anticipated Big Brother by several decades with The Year of the Sex Olympics, and Gentry was here predicting the advent of Property Ladder and its ilk.

But following on from Kinvig and as with the later Ladies' Knight, Kneale writes Gentry as much as a comedy as it is a drama - the name is a mocking of middle-class cluelessness and arrogance at thinking it can just enter a working class area and do what it likes, without caring about that area's history. The horror here is the discovery for the middle class that the working class might not like that and would fight back through the middle class's weak spot - their homes.

Gentry also has a point to make about the effects of gentrification on the existing locals. Daltrey's character may be a criminal and have a gun; he might even take the couple hostage. But he's sympathetic, he and his gang returning to their childhood homes to find the area 'gentrified', their loved ones and community gone.

And it's this week's play. 

PS Three of Kneale's one-off plays, including Gentry and Ladies' Night are coming out on DVD in September

News: The Get Down cancelled; S Korea's Miss Marple; CBC's 2017/8 schedule; + more

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May 24, 2017

Weekly Wonder Woman: Justice League (Rebirth) #21, Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4, Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman #4, Trinity #9

Posted 3 days ago at 20:32 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman IMAX 3D poster

Not long now! Just one week to go until the movie is released, so understandably, all the stops are being pulled out for what is apparently the most hotly anticipated movie of the summer. In fact, there's just so much news, I'm going to wait until after the jump or else the entire home page is going to be nothing but Wonder Woman. Which ain't a bad thing, I guess, but might not annoy the neighbours.

As well as this week's news, you can look forward to reading in just a click and a few paragraphs' time about the week's comics featuring Diana: Justice League (Rebirth) #21, Justice League/Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #4, Wonder Woman '77 Meets The Bionic Woman #4 and Trinity #9. 

See you in a mo…

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News: Hanna TV series; Elisabeth Moss is Typhoid Mary; no Linda From HR; + more

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May 23, 2017

Review: Twin Peaks 3x1-3x2 (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)

Posted 4 days ago at 21:36 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Twin Peaks

In the US: Sundays, 9pm ET/PT, Showtime
In the UK: Mondays, 2am, Sky Atlantic

Like most of David Lynch's work, it's easy to recognise Twin Peaks' importance without really being able to explain why it's important. Ostensibly a pastiche of US soap operas mashed up with a murder-mystery, it was still obvious from the get-go that Lynch was doing something TV really hadn't done before. But it was really hard to say what it was doing.

I remember sitting in the TV room during my first week of university watching the show that all the papers had told us was must-see TV. I was already a Lynch fan, Channel 4 having introduced me to most of his movies over the years, so I was looking forward to it even more than most.

But for half an hour we sat there, wondering what the hell everyone was raving about, as the body of high school cheerleader Laura Palmer (Sheryl Lee) was washed up 'wrapped in plastic' near the small town of Twin Peaks and the inhabitants underwent all the stages of grief you'd expect from seeing a golden girl struck down in the prime of life in a town that felt like it hadn't quite escaped the 1950s.

Then enter Special Agent Dale Cooper (Dune and Blue Velvet's Kyle MacLachlan), a boy scout of an FBI agent sent to investigate the murder, and suddenly the tension of the room eased. At last, we understood what everyone was on about. This was magic. This was art.

Over the course of the next two seasons, the show proved elusive. Sometimes a murder-mystery, sometimes a comedy, sometimes a horror movie, Twin Peaks was indefinable oddness, with perfectly ordinary characters (James the biker boy) interspersed with oddball small town characters (Deputy Andy), oddball FBI agents (David Duchovny's cross-dressing agent and Lynch's own deaf agent), oddball characters from nowhere in the world (The Log Lady - so-called, because she carried a log with her) and oddball characters from nightmares (Bob, the ultimate killer of Laura Palmer, who came from 'the Black Lodge' and possessed people).

There have been books filled with theories about Twin Peaks and what it was. What's often forgotten is that it wasn't very David Lynch. Sure, the undertones from Blue Velvet, with its theme of "the darkness hiding behind the facade of white picket fences", was obvious. But while Cooper got inspiration from dreams and the Black Lodge had dead people talking backwards and dwarves dancing…

…the nightmare surrealism of Eraserhead was a distant memory.

In fact, objectively speaking, Twin Peaks was mostly a very conventional ABC soap opera cum thriller that just happened to have some wonderful characters and some wonderful moments of surrealism.

Nevertheless, despite being cancelled after two seasons and its follow-up movie flopping, Twin Peaks has remained a worldwide cult classic, esteemed almost as much as its contemporary The X-Files was, but without having been dragged past the point of a natural death and ending on a worthy cliffhanger - Cooper seemingly possessed by Bob after a final encounter in the Black Lodge. 

Somewhat perfectly, though, the show had a built-in promise that it would return in 25 years and Showtime in the US has delivered on that promise with a whole new limited series. The question was: what form would it take? Would it be a simple cash-in that brought back a few characters for a quick new murder to be solved? Would it simply riff all the original's greatest hits without adding anything? Sure, David Lynch was on board, but when was the last time he'd done something exceptional? Mullholland Drive or Lost Highway maybe?

Well, the first two episodes are in and I have to say the new Twin Peaks is magnificent. Absolutely magnificent. And what's more, it's a return not just to Twin Peaks but to the David Lynch of pretty much all his movies, including Eraserhead. Although maybe not Dune (Hal yawm!).

Continue reading "Review: Twin Peaks 3x1-3x2 (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)"

News: Joss Whedon's Justice League; Chicago Justice cancelled; + more

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May 22, 2017

Review: Downward Dog 1x1 (US: ABC)

Posted 5 days ago at 19:17 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Downward Dog

In the US: Tuesdays, 8/7c, ABC

Downward Dog feels like an also-ran. When I was commenting last week how I was sure there were more new TV shows due our way soon, I was recalling from my write-up of last year's Upfronts that the show existed and was a mid-season replacement, and as mid-season was running out, surely Downward Dog had to be on on our screens soon (whither Still Star-Crossed?). 

More so, I wrote it up as "A dog comments on a woman's life", in part because of Imaginary Mary, which I wrote up as "An imaginary friend comments on a woman's life". It was clearly not just a second tier show, but a second tier show following in the wake of a near identical second tier show on the exact same network, but without even the benefit of Imaginary Mary's Jenna Elfman, making it probably a fifth tier show at best. 

Or so I thought. 

Based on a web series of the same name, Downward Dog sees Fargo's Allison Tolman playing some sort of creative in advertising. She puts together presentations for ad campaigns anyway. Whatever it is she does, it doesn't make her happy, in part because her boss Barry Rothbart (The Wolf of Wall Street) thinks he's a feminist but is really a mansplainer who'll go for any ad campaign containing French words and nudity.

Her personal life? Even less happy, since she's broken up from her boyfriend Lucas Neff (Raising Hope) and spends most of her nights in, crying to herself and drinking red wine.

Which cheers up her dog no end. That's quality time, he says. Because the conceit of Downward Dog is that her dog talks to camera, except rather than simply saying "Bunnies… food… meat… hugs… sleep" in continuous cycles, he talks to the camera like an emotionally hyperaware man talking to his therapist. He's still a dog, so doesn't understand that when Tolman drives off every morning, she's driving to work, not just having fun by herself. He doesn't think they're in a relationship either (thankfully), although they clearly have a relationship, and so 'Ned' spends most of his time dryly discussing what Tolman is doing wrong and how it affects him, his loneliness when she's out and so on. Oh yes, and the fact the neighbourhood cat (Lady Dynamite's Maria Bamford) is clearly a sociopath who wishes to destroy him emotionally.

So the show is of two halves. The workplace half is pretty ordinary stuff, with the standard Working Girl approach to work, with Tolman discovering her inner strength with the help of both Ned and gal pal Kirby Howell-Baptiste (Love), after being kept down by her boss. The far more interesting half is Ned and his commentary - perhaps unsurprisingly, as that's the core of the web series. At times, that's genuinely funny, although it's not until the dream sequence at the end that there was a real, life-out-loud moment. 

It's gentle, but human stuff that dog owners will probably find funnier than the pet-less will. It's smart, although not so much that you'll hear dozens of philosophical nuggets you'll have never heard of before. Downward Dog is nothing hugely remarkable, but for a fifth-tier, Jenna Elfman-less, mid-season ABC replacement, it's a lot better than it should be.

News: Nick Frost is Captain Pugwash; Germany/Austria's own Bridge; Trial & Error renewed; + more

Posted 5 days ago at 06:18 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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  • Hugh Grant to star in BBC One's A Very English Scandal


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May 19, 2017

When's that show you mentioned starting again, TMINE? Including The Handmaid's Tale and The Kennedys: Decline and Fall

Posted 8 days ago at 16:29 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Every Friday, I let you know the latest announcements about when new, imported TV shows will finally be arriving on UK screens - assuming anyone's bought anything, of course.

No new acquisitions, this week, I'm afraid. But we do have a couple of premiere dates.

The Handmaid's Tale (US: Hulu; UK: AmazonChannel 4)
Sunday, May 28, 9pm
Episode reviews: 1-3, 4, 5

The Kennedys: Decline and Fall (US: Reelz; UK: Channel 5)
Monday, May 29, 9pm


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