September 3, 2015

You can catch a train to Hogwarts from Rugby

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The departure board at Rugby station for Hogwarts

No, really. You can.

Even Hannibal's gag reel is better than Red Dragon

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If you want more proof of Red Dragon’s inadequacy, it’s over here.

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Watch the Muppets try to make Agents of SHIELD look interesting again

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They can try. They will not succeed.

News: Sneaky Pete series, River Song returns, more Survivor's Remorse + more

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Doctor Who

Internet TV

  • Sarah Silverman, Jenny Slate, Mira Sorvino, Patton Oswalt, Jon Cryer, Brandon Routh, Adam Pally et al to guest on Netflix’s Lady Dynamite
  • Amazon green lights: series of Sneaky Pete, more scripts for Casanova
  • Rosario Dawson to appear in Netflix’s Luke Cage, Theo Rossi to recur
UK TV New UK TV shows
  • Trailer for BBC One’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover

New UK TV show casting

  • Faye Marsay, Jason Watkins, Helena Bonham Carter join BBC One’s Love, Nina
  • Michael Socha and Michaela Coel to star in E4’s Aliens
US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

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September 2, 2015

Preview: Blindspot 1x1 (US: NBC; UK: Sky Living)

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Blindspot

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC. Starts September 21st
in the UK: Acquired by Sky Living

It’s often said that there are no such things as original ideas any more. All that can be done is to take a whole bunch of existing ideas and come up with a novel combination of them.

However, some shows are just so derivative, you can’t imagine for a second that they’re actually trying to do something new, rather than simply showing you something so familiar and comfortable, you’ll just watch them out of habit, assuming that you’ve missed an episode or something and the cast all have new haircuts.

And so we have Blindspot, a show so familiar you’re probably picking out chinaware together.

On the face of it, this shouldn’t be the case. It has a whole bunch of qualities that it probably thinks are unique. Except they’re not. Perhaps Blindspot’s blindspot is its massive derivativeness.

After all, how many shows do you know that see people with full body tattoos that give mysterious clues to plot revelations? Apart from Prison Break, of course.

And how many shows do you know where a mysterious stranger wakes up with no memory of who they are or what their name is, but who wants to find out - and they have a very special set of skills that will help them with that? Apart from John Doe, of course.

And how many shows do you know where it’s Jaimie Alexander (Sif from Thor, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD) who’s the mysterious stranger waking up naked? Apart from (seasons 2-3) of Kyle XY, of course?

And how many NBC shows can you name where every week the heroes chase after some mysterious, diabolical criminal with just a few clues handed down ex nihilo to them by some even more mysterious man? Apart from The Blacklist, of course.

In fact, each seemingly unique aspect of Blindspot you’ll have seen already somewhere else, probably done better, and Blindspot adds nothing to them. Alexander’s fine now she doesn’t have to do a cod English accent and she gets to kick ass, speak Chinese and do all kinds of things implausible for someone who has amnesia but that look cool.

Sullivan Stapleton plays her FBI handler, recruited to look after this amazing new asset because she has his name tattooed on her back. He's a lot of fun as the kick ass dick Damien Scott in Strike Back.

He would be fine in this, too, if he actually had a character rather than a plot function. Unfortunately, all he has to do is growl, pull faces and wave guns, since it's pretty hard to have chemistry with someone who has no memories.

But that’s basically it. You already know how it’s going to play out. Each week, they’ll find a new tattoo that’s a clue to a crime they have to stop. Alexander will kick some ass and maybe reveal a new talent. Stapleton will probably shoot someone or do something that will enable Alexander to look good. And there’ll be a gradual drip, drip, drip of clues as to who Alexander really is that will make ultimately make even less sense than the idea that someone would wipe Alexander’s memories then tattoo her with clues to future crimes, rather than simply tell the FBI all he knows.

I like both Alexander and Stapleton, but unfortunately this is just generic NBC action at its very dullest. The action's generic, the story's generic, the ensemble set up is generic. Get your DVDs out and you'll almost certainly find something better.

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News: Killjoys and Dark Matter renewed, Dracula's brides series, Dr Jekyll joins Penny Dreadful and more

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Film casting

Film trailers

  • Trailer for The Danish Girl, with Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander
  • Trailer for Risen, with Joseph Fiennes, Tom Felton and Peter Firth
  • Trailer for Macbeth, with Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard
Canadian TV

Internet TV

UK TV

UK TV show casting
  • Shazad Latif to play Dr Jekyll on Penny Dreadful, Patti LuPone to return
  • Jon Hamm to guest on Toast of London

US TV

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

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September 1, 2015

What have you been watching? Including The Bakkhai, Impastor, Glitch and The Whispers

Posted yesterday at 21:08 | 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.

I’m back! Miss me? Of course you did. Well, maybe. But I’m back either way and raring to watch some tele.

In fact, I’ve been watching some tele for the past month… past two weeks anyway, most of which was catching up with the previous three weeks I’d missed. So after the jump, I’ll be talking about those shows I managed to watch and in most cases see through to the end of their seasons: Glitch, Halt and Catch Fire, Hannibal, Impastor, The Last Ship, Mr Robot, True Detective and The Whispers. Oh yes, and despite my promises to the contrary, I also tuned in for the first episode of season 4 of Continuum. Humans I’ll get round to once my lovely wife has cleared her backlog of My Kitchen Rules Australia.

But over those five weeks, I came up with a new rule: no new tele during August. If you start airing your new show in August, it’s dead to me, because you picked a very silly time to start it.

That means that although Netflix gave us not only Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp as well as Narcos, I’ve not watched either of them. Or any of Amazon’s Casanova and Sneaky Pete. HBO’s Show Me A Hero? Please don't. Showtime’s Blunt Talk? Honestly, no. Public Morals? Can stay private, thank you very much.

Which isn’t to say I won’t watch them at some point. Indeed, if you’ve started watching them, let me know if they’re any good so I can prioritise them accordingly. But for now, I’m not in a rush to tune in, particularly since the Fall 2015 season is about to dawn on us with more than a dozen new shows, so I’ve got to schedule accordingly.

On which subject, I did manage to watch the pilots of a few of those forthcoming shows, including Lucifer, Blindspot and Minority Report – hopefully I’ll be reviewing them over the next couple of weeks.

I also watched some movies and went to the theatre a bit, too.

Walk of Shame (2014) (iTunes)
One of those films that on paper I should have loved since it features Elizabeth Banks, Gillian Jacobs and Willie Garson. Except I really, really didn’t.

It sees Banks play a goody-goody TV journalist who’s just been dumped by her fiancé and turned down for a new job, so decides to let loose and has a one-night stand with James Marsden. Except then she finds out that she actually has got the job after all, provided she can get into work that morning. Wouldn’t you know it? Things go hilariously badly in her attempts to get there on her ‘walk of shame’.

Unfortunately, Walk of Shame is not so much borderline misogynistic and offensive than actually misogynistic and offensive. Iit’s also without any of the redeeming quality of 'being funny'.

The Men Who Stare At Goats (2009) (Netflix)
Lovely wife and I used our holiday to read some actual books, including a whole stack of journalist Jon Ronson's, amongst which was The Men Who Stare At Goats. An investigation of the US Army’s post-Vietnam dabbling with psychic powers, the book is largely an account of Ronson’s investigations as he visits one former ‘psychic soldier’ after another to learn what happened as the army tried psychologically to deal with its loss.

We ended up wondering how the book could be adapted as a movie with Ewan McGregor and George Clooney, and the answer is: by fictionalising it. McGregor plays a journalist recently dumped at the outbreak of the Iraq war (the point where Ronson’s book ends) who bumps into a ‘contractor’ (Clooney). Clooney is a ‘jedi warrior’, trained by the US army to be invisible, burst clouds with his mind, walk through walls, stop a goat's heart goat by staring at it and more. Or try to, anyway.

The movie is then a juxtaposition of McGregor’s learning in modern day Iraq about what it is to be a Jedi warrior (the irony is not lost on the film’s producers. At all) and flashbacks to the foundation of the army’s Jedi warrior movement by Jeff Bridges.

The film is a bit clumsy as a satire, trying its best to weave real world elements from Ronson’s book into the fictionalised journey, but ultimately normalising them, rather than making them as genuinely weird as they were (Bridges’ real-life counterpart was the man who came up with ‘Be All That You Can Be’, back when he thought that wars could be stopped by small children holding baby animals in front of them). It’s better if you’ve read the book, but Clooney is great to watch whether you have or not.

The Bakkhai (Almeida)
The second of the Almeida’s major productions of ancient Greek plays, this sees Ben “Paddington Bear” Wishaw playing the god Dionysus, visiting ancient Thebes to bring his religion to its population of women, and finding resistance from the king, Pentheus (Bertie Carvel from Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell).

In contrast to the Almeida’s radical reworking of Aeschylus’ Oresteia, this version of Euripides’ classic text is one of the most traditional productions I’ve ever seen, with the text rarely deviating from the original except for the occasional modern bit of humour, the chorus singing all their lines and the cast being just three men who share all the roles between them. Much is made of the gender-blurring and homoeroticism of the play, as Dionysus grants Pentheus’ desire to see what his debauched female followers get up to by persuading him to wear women’s clothes (Carvel plays his own mother, too). But it’s not until the end and Dionysus reveals his terrifying true nature that the show’s real power and tragedy kicks in.

Probably a bit too traditional for its likely audience, judging by the reserved applause at the end of what are tour de force performances by both Carvel and Wishaw, but well worth it if you’re a lover of Greek tragedy.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including The Bakkhai, Impastor, Glitch and The Whispers"

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Want to see the differences between Manhunter, Red Dragon and Hannibal?

Posted 2 days ago at 14:22 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Ever since Alex Cox chose it for his BBC2 show Moviedrome, way back when Silence of the Lambs was released in 1991, Manhunter has been one of, if not my absolute favourite films. If you want to know the reasons why, I wrote about it a few years ago.

Based on the book Red Dragon but retitled after the box office flop of Year of the Dragon, 1986's Manhunter was actually the first Hannibal Lecter movie, although it featured Brian Cox as Lecter (aka Lecktor in this). Despite being directed by the King of the 80s, Michael Mann, it never went on to acclaim at the time. Since Silence, however, it's built up a huge cult following and is arguably still the best of the Hannibal Lecter movies.

However, once Silence took off, the desire to remake Red Dragon with Anthony Hopkins became almost insatiable. The result was that in 2002, Brett Ratner directed Red Dragon, a remake of Manhunter starring Hopkins, Ed Norton replacing William Petersen as Lecter's nemesis Will Graham. Yes, Brett Ratner. For those who don't know Ratner, he's very much Hollywood's most average director. He's not terrible, but every film he makes is literally the most average version possible of any given source material.

Since then, however, Hannibal Lecter has moved over to the TV world in the form of the rather wonderful (albeit inconsistent) Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelsen now playing Hannibal "the Cannibal" and Hugh Dancy playing Will Graham. A hybrid of Red Dragon, Silence of the Lambs, Hannibal and Hannibal Rising, it's plotted its own course with the source books over the past three seasons, rounding off its latest (and probably last) season with a multi-episode adaptation of Red Dragon.

Now some enterprising person (Matthew Morrettini) has taken all three versions of the same scene - Will and Hannibal's first meeting following Lecter's capture - and edited them together to show you the differences between the three takes on the novel. Much of the dialogue is the same, so the performances and direction are what differentiates them. Watch the video and you'll notice how iconic, clinical and 80s Manhunter is, how artistic and surreal Hannibal is... and how incredibly, incredibly average Red Dragon is.

Who's your favourite Lecter/Lecktor?

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News: Under The Dome, Complications, Hindsight cancelled, BBC2's acquires Versailles + more

Posted 2 days ago at 07:16 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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Well, hello September! How you doing?

Film casting

Australian TV

  • Casting on ABC3’s Tomorrow, When The War Began

Internet TV

UK TV

New UK TV shows

US TV shows

US TV show casting

New US TV shows

New US TV show casting

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July 24, 2015

We're all going on a summer holiday. Well, I am, anyway

Posted on July 24, 2015 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Rethymnos

Yes, it’s August again, more or less, so it’s time for my annual pilgrimage to Greece. That means no blogging until September, unless I go a bit loopy in the sun.

As usual, my three awesome, well considered reasons for this are:

  1. Most of you lovely readers are on your holidays in August, too, so I’m not going to write something none of you are going to read.
  2. Most media people are on their holidays in August, too, so they’re not actually going to be making much news I can get up early to report on or review.
  3. After a nice long holiday, it’ll take me some time to get back into the swing of things, anyway

TTFN and If you're going on holiday, too, have a nice time – let us know if you had fun!

MediumRob

PS Until I’m back, feel free to enjoy this picture of David Tennant standing up for a change.

David Tennant as Richard II

What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal

Posted on July 24, 2015 | 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.

It’s that time again – August. Well, almost. Either way, I’m away on holiday for a good few weeks, which means I won’t be watching much tele.

That presents me with the opportunity to unveil a new holiday blog experiment: ‘Keeper or not’.

Essentially, ‘Keeper or not' boils down to a single question: “When I get back from my holiday, am I invested enough in the show that I’ll try to catch up on the numerous weeks’ worth of episodes I’ll have missed, so that I can keep watching it?” And based on the answer to that question for each show, I’ll be keeping it or culling it from my viewing queue.

So after the jump, let’s play ‘Keeper or not’ with: Dark Matter, Glitch, Halt and Catch Fire, Humans, Impastor, The Last Ship, Mr Robot, Stitchers, Suits, True Detective, UnREAL, and The Whispers. Which shows will survive?

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Impastor, Glitch, Humans and Hannibal"

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