It’s Weekly Wonder Woman, which depending on how you view these things is either six days late or one day early. Just to explain, last week was a bit of a desert, with only Sensation Comics #29 offering us anything featuring the Amazon princess, and as it was a two-part story, I decided to roll it into this week’s reviews. And as I might be a bit busy tomorrow, I figured I might as well do everything today instead. There’s lovely, hey? In fact, I might do it again next week, the fact it being Good Friday in the UK next Friday having almost nothing to do with that particular decision. Oh no.
So after the jump, we’ll dive into Sensation Comics #29-30 as Wonder Woman defends an over-sexualised Miley Cyrus-alike from a crazy mansplainer. But as an added fillip, we’ve also got a guest appearance by Wondy and the rest of the Justice League in Batman and Robin #30. That Robin’s only gone and got himself some superpowers, which means Batman needs help keeping the young whippersnapper in line…
So what is an American crime? Well, according to the rather brilliant ABC show American Crime, it’s a regular crime but observed as simply part of a wider picture, in which systems and attitudes lock individuals into situations and behaviours they can’t escape.
Following on from an apparent burglary in which a veteran is killed and his wife raped, the show depicts how the crime and the investigation affects the families of those involved. But it also asks why the crime happened, how society views the crime, whether the crime is indicative of larger problems and whether there’s a middle ground that could be reached by everyone that’s unachievable thanks to the extremes and rules society lays down.
Following a first episode that was perhaps a little self-conscious of its own importance and that occasionally escaped from its combination of artful direction and verisimilitude to give us aspects that were a tad ‘writerly’ in their unlikeliness, the following two episodes have barely put a foot wrong in showing us the insides of the American justice system and how it can trap those who have barely done anything wrong or who would benefit from either treatment of human kindness. It’s tried to put in the shoes of junkies, drug dealers, legal immigrants, illegal immigrants, Latinos, black Americans, white Americans, fathers, mothers and everyone else as their lives overlap and they fail to understand one another, only knowing their own lives and what society tells them to be.
The show's a hard watch. It is literally the last thing I watch out of every week’s viewing, not because it’s a bad show, but because it’s such a dishearteningly true picture of reality, without any glimmer of hope and goodness to relieve the misery, beyond the fact it’s on broadcast TV so can’t quite tread into the darkest realms. That's why I’ll only doing my third-episode verdict on a Wednesday, when the show airs a new episode on a Thursday. That's why the ratings keep dropping.
But as I’ve said before, if this were on HBO, there’d be no doubt that everyone would be calling it the most important, most realistic, most astutely observed crime drama since Southland or perhaps even The Wire. If you have any interest in quality TV, this is the one American show you should be watching right now.
Barrometer rating: 0 Rob’s prediction: With these ratings, it’s unlikely to survive, so catch it while you can.
There's something weirdly fascinating about the USA Network's Dig. The creation of Tim Kring (Heroes) and Gideon Raff (Homeland), it sees FBI agent (hello to) Jason Isaacs travelling to Jerusalem to catch a criminal, only to somehow get embroiled in an Old Testament conspiracy theory that involves unblemished heffers, cloned kids whose feet must not touch the ground and a long-lost priest's breastplate that allowed him to communicate with God. Bringing in all sorts of Jewish mythology in the same way that the similar Touchdid, it's nevertheless absolute bobbins in the Dan Brown vein that's only mildly less stupid.
Since the first episode, we've had all sorts happen but very little get explained, beyond the introduction of yet more conspiracists including Richard E Grant and the pairing of Isaacs buddy-buddy stylee with a sceptical Israeli cop (Ori Pfeffer). There have been plenty of chases, plenty of deaths, plenty of 'revelations' and plenty of biblical references, but nothing yet makes much sense.
The show has a few redeeming features: the Jersusalem filming and having half the show in Hebrew is lovely; the occasional local touch, such as having Pfeffer pick up his kid while taking a suspect to the police station, makes it feel like one of Raff's shows before he switched to US TV; a strong supporting cast, including Grant, Anne Heche and David Costabile, lift the show above the likes of Allegiance; and having a show that's firmly about Jewish rather than Christian traditions is novel.
But that's not enough, when faced with Dig's obvious stupidity and dullness. It's just tedious to watch.
Nevertheless, there's something oddly compelling about its strangeness. Normally, with such a high Barrometer rating, I'd have dropped it like so much CSI: Cyber. But for some reason, whether it's just the absolute strangeness of the show, Isaacs or the location filming, I want to tune in for more.
I absolutely under no circumstances would recommend Dig (or anything Tim Kring is involved with) to anyone, but I might well stick with it, right until the bitter end. At which point, I'm sure I'll rue my wasted time. But I think I'll still have seem something different from the usual US TV thriller. And perhaps that's Dig last remaining redeeming feature.
Barrometer rating: 4 Rob's prediction: It's only supposed to last a season and that's all it's going to get
After all, she’s quite important to the Daredevil comic strip.
Probably not, though. I mean if they couldn’t get Scarlett Johansson for Marvel’s Agent Carter, which actually had the entire Black Widow programme’s back story in it, what chance a Netflix TV appearance, no matter how good it might look?
Back in 1975, things might have been different. Angela Bowie acquired the TV rights to both Daredevil and Black Widow for all of a year and tried to create a TV series based on the two characters. That got as far as a photo shoot with actor Benny Carruthers as Daredevil and Bowie as Black Widow.
However, it was considered too difficult and expensive to film, so nothing happened. A shame or small blessings? You decide…
PS I should probably say “Next time, baby” for the full Iron Man effect. It’s not really me, though.
Chris Douglass to star in NBC’s Take It From Us, Trace Lysette to be a regular on NBC’s The Curse of the Fuentes Women, Maureen Sebastian to be a regular on Fox’s Cooper Barrett’s Guide To Surviving Life, Gabrielle Dennis joins Fox’s Todd Harthan drama
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.
Well, it’s been another epic week in TV land (not to be confused with “I can’t believe you can still see the" TV Land - the network for older, nostalgic, probably slightly visually challenged folk), with loads of new shows, as well as some returning ones. I haven’t managed to find the time to tune into Netflix’s new thriller series, Bloodlines, which was released on Friday, but this week, I’ve managed to take a gander at:
Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (Netflix)
Tina Fey’s new sitcom (unfortunately not starring Fey) in which one of four female cult members holed up underground are rescued by the authorities, and while three of them are happy to return home, one of them is spunky enough to try to make a new life for herself. Her name? Kimmy Schmidt. First, Schmidt (Ellie Kemper) manages to find herself a ‘home’ (aka small cubbyhole, it being New York) to live in with failed actor Titus Andromedon (Tituss Burgess) and makes a sort of a friend in the form of Lillian Kaushtupper (Carol Kane). Then she gets a job looking after the son of the delightfully named and incredibly rich trophy wife Jaqueline Voorhees (Jane Krakowski). Will she buckle under all these pressures or will she prove unbreakable?
As with 30 Rock before it, this is a show that grows from a not especially auspicious pilot episode redeemed by one character (Jack in 30 Rock, Mrs Voorhees here) to become funnier over time. But it’s still not hilarious by the second episode and if you’ve ever seen The Nanny Diaries, you’ll find yourself noticing not only how very similar they are in a lot of ways but also that there's:
A complete lack of Scarlett Johansson in this, who was much funnier
A complete lack of Chris Evans or anyone even in a similar role. He was funny in that, too
Nowhere near as much intelligence in the script-writing, despite the source.
All the same, there are some laugh out loud moments involving IP licensing and the revelation of who Voorhees’ parents are, so I’m going to bear with and watch the rest of it - when I have a mo.
I also tried to watch…
The Royals (US/UK: E!)
Liz Hurley becomes queen and has to supervise the rest of her equally inappropriate, bonk-tastic family. Or something. I did manage to get through the young Harry-alike playing darts and managing to get a bullseye every time while not really looking, to impress an American girl into bed. But I gave up after 10 minutes, in part because it's really hard to watch that much soft porn shagging on your iPad when you're commuting on a train, without people thinking you're a perv, and I didn't manage to get back to it. Oh well. I don't think I'll be missing much. Joan Collins is in it, too, apparently. But then she was in Benidorm.
After the jump, the regulars: 12 Monkeys, 19-2, The Americans, Arrow, The Blacklist, The Doctor Blake Mysteries, The Flash, Fortitude, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD and Vikings. One of these is being demoted this week. I wonder which one?
On top of that, we also have the return of Community. Woo hoo? You’ll find out the answer to that one after the break, too.
Wondering where Dig and American Crime are? The short answer is: waiting for third-episode verdicts tomorrow and maybe Wednesday. The long answer? I've got to watch them first…
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.
Add in film, theatre, art, books, events, competitions and even weekly reviews of Wonder Woman comics, and you've (hopefully) got officially the fourth best blog on the web for media lovers. Oh yes, and there's The Barrometer, the ultimate guide to quality TV.
Praise for the blog Cision: fourth most important UK TV blog Blogging Edge: Blogger running Britain 2013
"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."
"The Medium Is Not Enough is a light-hearted look at TV, often from the US, but also from the UK. With varied, well-written content, the blog features healthy engagement and features well in search engines."
"Billing itself as 'officially the fourth most popular UK TV blog', there are several whimsical regulars here that could help it climb as high as number three…"
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.