February 9, 2016

Olivia Munn and Ryan Reynolds demonstrate the difference between Deadpool and X-Men: Apocalypse

Posted 22 hours ago | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Both have sword fighting, but as you can probably tell, tonally, they're very different movies.

#Psylocke v. #Deadpool #xmen #apocalypseRepost @oliviamunn

Posted by We Geek Girls on Sunday, 7 February 2016

News: Matt LeBlanc is Not Your Friend; Angel From Hell cancelled; Magicians renewed; + more

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  • Seven to launch 7flix entertainment channel

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February 8, 2016

Weekly Wonder Woman: Action Comics #49, Wonder Woman '77 #14, The Legend of Wonder Woman #13, Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year 5 #7

Posted yesterday at 18:21 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman

It may not be the end of the month any more, but that's not enough to stop Diana from popping up in various titles last week. As well as the usual appearances by Elseworld Dianas in Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year 5 and The Legend of Wonder Woman, we saw the return of TV Diana (and assorted comic book enemies) in Wonder Woman '77.

And for those of you who hadn't realised that the 'Savage Dawn' Vandal Savage crossover story is still ongoing, be surprised, because it's continuing in Action Comics #49: Supes is out of chemo, he's got a shiny new set of powers, and it turns out that when you give the boy from Krypton his little blue green pill to help him get over his impotence, he stops feeling sorry for himself and remembers he's got a girlfriend.

Continue reading "Weekly Wonder Woman: Action Comics #49, Wonder Woman '77 #14, The Legend of Wonder Woman #13, Injustice: Gods Among Us - Year 5 #7"

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Fourth-episode verdict: DC's Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1)

Posted yesterday at 16:21 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerLegendsofTomorrow.jpgA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Thursdays, 8/7c, The CW
In the UK: Thursdays, 8pm, Sky 1. Starts March 3 (TBC)

You know what should be both fun and awesome? DC's Legends of Tomorrow. You know what is instead just a bit limp and unremarkable? DC's Legends of Tomorrow. It's such a disappointment. 

It has a great central idea: take all the best supporting characters from both The Flash and Arrow, stick them together as a team, and have them travelling throughout time to defeat an immortal Big Bad. It's a limited series, promising us all kinds of possibilities in terms of character development and mortality. It has elements ripped straight from Doctor Who, right down to having Rory (Arthur Darvill) playing time hunter Rip Torn. It's got a great cast, including the two Prison Break brothers Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell, former Superman Brandon Routh, the kick ass Caity Lotz and the very cool Victor Garber. 

But each and every episode, from beginning to end, bar the second, has been nothing except low-budget, comic book escapism of the highest order, with no real significance or import. Even deaths are trivial and a bit meaningless.

Character development is defined as 'starting off a bit mopey/fighty and progressively becoming a bit more/less mopey/fighty'. Fights are a bit poor. Special effects are okay at best. Attempts to recreate a particular time period largely come down to giving everyone some new clothes to wear, while someone hangs up a banner on a Canadian building and hopes everyone will just buy it as 1975/1986/2000 BC. Plots are a bit poor. Dialogue's sometimes okay, but largely not. Acting is frequently hammy and dreadful. 

Given all the effort that's been spent on developing the characters in other series, it almost feels like the producers thought it would just be so awesome having everyone together, they didn't need to put any effort into the eventual team-up. Or maybe everyone good was already so tied up with Arrow and The Flash that it was left to the B-team to put together DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Or maybe it's simply because The CW doesn't actually have the budget to put together an entire TV series like The Avengers.

An unthreatening villain facing a not especially inspiring team-up in a series of uninspiring, plot loophole-riddled, joyless episodes of comic strip harmless? Who could resist? Probably not me actually. I'm not loving it, but the idea of not watching it seems odd, simply because of the good members of the cast.

All the same, I really, really wish it was a lot better than it actually is.

Barrometer rating:  3
Would it be better with female leads? N/A
TMINE's prediction: Unlikely to get renewed with the current team, but the mooted anthology-type structure with completely different characters could well get traction

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Hulk and Ant-Man drink a coke

Posted yesterday at 08:41 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

I guess easy money for Mark Ruffalo and Paul Rudd, since they probably didn't even have to turn up.

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News: Good Wife cancelled; Orange is the New Black triple-renewed; Jason Bourne trailer; + more

Posted yesterday at 07:36 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share


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  • Liza Weil to return for Netflix's Gilmore Girls revival
  • Netflix renews: Orange Is The New Black for three seasons

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  • Fox green lights: pilot of female buddy cop comedy The Enforcers and inter-racial NFL family comedy 
  • CBS green lights: pilot of mirror-touch synesthesia medical drama Sensory

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  • Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Natascha McElhone and Italia Ricci join ABC's Designated Survivor

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February 6, 2016

What have you been watching? Including Okkupert (Occupied), Lucifer and Marvel's Agent Carter

Posted 3 days ago at 14:54 | 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.

Well, I've culled and the fact I've culled means that alles in Ordnung now. If I hadn't been doing some last minute editing of articles for the Financial Times yesterday (ook, hark at me), WHYBW would have been with you then. Now it's today, so that means I've been able to slip a couple more shows into my viewing schedule.

This week I've already passed third-episode verdicts on:

But I'll be saving my third-episode verdicts on Stan Lee's Lucky Man (UK: Sky1) and DC's Legends of Tomorrow (US: The CW; UK: Sky1) until Monday. That means that after the jump you can see what I thought of the latest episodes of American Crime, Arrow, The Flash, Lucifer, Man Seeking Woman, Marvel's Agent Carter, Okkupert (Occupied), Second Chance, Supergirl and The Shannara Chronicles. This week's theme? Relationships with fathers. Can you guess which shows feature them? Other than Lucifer, obvs?

I might watch the latest 100 Code tonight. Or I might watch Sicario instead. The latter seems a better a choice. Anyone got any better suggestions?

I'd let you know what I thought of Guy Ritchie's movie version of The Man From UNCLE, but we only watched 10 minutes of it last night before my wife fell to sleep, which is probably not a good enough sample of it to pass a fair judgement. And to be fair, we both thought it wasn't bad. Not proper Man From UNCLE and quite silly, too, but interesting in its own right so far, particularly the take on Napoleon Solo, and a good recreation of Berlin and Checkpoint Charlie.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Okkupert (Occupied), Lucifer and Marvel's Agent Carter"

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February 5, 2016

News: Colony renewed; a Brooklyn TV series; Adam West's Big Bang; Dan Stevens and Audrey Plaza are X-Men; + more

Posted 4 days ago at 07:48 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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February 4, 2016

That ER reunion you were hoping for didn't turn out quite as planned

Posted 5 days ago at 15:19 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Well, George Clooney turned up. And a helpful stand-in.


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News: Supergirl/The Flash crossover confirmed; Manhattan cancelled; S4C funding frozen; + more

Posted 5 days ago at 07:29 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share


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February 3, 2016

Third-episode verdict: Angie Tribeca (US: TBS)

Posted 6 days ago at 16:22 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerAngieTribeca.jpgA Barrometer rating of 1

In the US: Mondays, 9/8c, TBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired

If there's anything that Angie Tribeca proves, it's that comedy is hard. TBS's new spoof of police shows, particularly CSI: Miami, but also Rizzoli & Isles and anything with a tough detective who doesn't want a new partner, it's also a 'find and replace' sequel to Police Squad and The Naked Gun. There are often entire gags and formats lifted wholesale from those predecessors and then names and characters simply swapped out. This ranges from the title sequence (someone yelling at the end, with a different reason for the yell each episode, mimicking police squads different guest star being killed at the same point) through to characters repeating lines of dialogue after someone's said "Say, do you…?" 

This isn't a huge problem. Police Squad was hilarious; I don't mind Angie Tribeca being hilarious, even if to be hilarious it has to steal jokes.

And the show frequently is hilarious - after a slightly rocky start, the first two episodes are almost painfully funny at times. But the third episode, which doesn't do that much different from the previous two, is just not funny. Same sort of jokes, same sort of situations, but not many laughs, because you could see the punchlines coming a mile off. It's a show of usually obvious jokes where they're suddenly just a bit too obvious to be funny.

Comedy is hard. Get things slightly wrong and suddenly the laughs aren't coming.

Other than that, there's not much to say about Angie Tribeca. There's nothing profound about it. There's no real story arc, no character development worth mentioning. It's just very funny. When it is. It's just that sometimes it isn't.

Barrometer rating: 1
Would it be better with a female lead? N/A
TMINE prediction: TBS has a lot of confidence in it, having already renewed it for a second season. The TMINE crystal ball can look no further than that

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Third-episode verdict: The Magicians (US: Syfy)

Posted 6 days ago at 15:32 | comments | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerTheMagicians.jpgA Barrometer rating of 3

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, Syfy
In the UK: Not yet acquired

No matter how many different dust jackets you put round them to confuse fellow commuters, the Harry Potter books were undoubtedly for kids. Although everyone quailed at the thought of He Who Must Not Be Named (Lord Voldemort), you never got a feeling of any real risk, any real power or anything genuinely nasty going on. Death spells? Sure, but you just fall over and die, and that's it. It's not even 24 in the scheme of things, let alone the almighty forces of the universe at work.

The Magicians, which is basically Harry Potter for adults, does much to improve this situation. Set in an exclusive school (university) for wizards, it gives us a magic that can at times be genuinely terrifying. We've seen a man made from moths stepping through mirrors from other worlds to freeze time and paralyse people while he rips out their eyes. We've seen fiction and reality blurring, with characters from books becoming real and the real becoming fictional. We've had ghosts that can actually frighten, people disfigured horribly by magic and raw power consume magic users alive.

And if the rest of The Magicians had been as great as that depiction of magic, I would be its biggest fan. The trouble is that such moments are few and far between. The rest of the time, it's still Harry Potter but in what is effectively an American High School, rather than a university - one filled with mean girls and bullies, and acted by people who seem to have wandered in off the street rather than acting schools. It's also filled with hammy attempts at comedy that are as obvious as they are unfunny, something that isn't helped by everyone smirking whenever they have to deliver a funny line.

There is a vague attempt to give us a rich vs poor subtext, with our stupidly named hero Quentin Coldwater going to the elite, Yale-esque 'Brakebills', while his best friend Julia fails the entrance exam and ends up at the equivalent of the local poly, which is half portakabin, half Fight Club. But that's about it as far as depth and characterisation are concerned, because while you cared about ordinary Harry, bright spark Hermione and loyal old Ron, frankly, pretty much everyone in The Magicians could die a fiery and painful death and you'd be more worried about the marks they'd left on the hardwood flooring than their horrific demise.

It's a shame because when it starts to properly deal with magic, The Magicians has some truly memorable scenes and some real imagination going on. It just understands that fictional world far better than it does people.

Barrometer rating: 3
Would it be better with a female lead? Marginally
TMINE's prediction: Likely to get cancelled after a season, but Syfy might just persevere with it

Third-episode verdict: The X-Files (season 10) (US: Fox; UK: Channel 5)

Posted 6 days ago at 14:22 | comments | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerX-Files.jpgA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US: Mondays, 8/7c, Fox
In the UK: Mondays, 9pm, Channel 5. Starts February 8

When old TV shows get revived, whether it's Burke's Law, Knight Rider, Charlie's Angels or Full House, all everyone cares about is whether the Olsen Twins, John Forsythe, David Hasselhoff, Gene Barry or Bob Saget are going to be back on our screens as the characters they played in the original. Then it'll be proper.  Then everything will be okay.

What almost no one seems to care about but probably should far more is whether the people behind the scenes are back, too. The reason you loved that TV show in the first place? Almost certainly not just the cast, but the characters, the dialogue, the plots and the mise en scène of the original, none of which were down to the cast. True, new blood may be able to recreate or even better the original - such as with Battlestar Galactica - but chances are, what you need is those creative talents back in the production hot seat.

That's certainly what we should have been paying more attention to with The X-Files. David Duchovny's back! Yay! Gillian Anderson's back! Yay! Mitch Pileggi's back!… (Check's IMDB)… Yay! 

Sure, that's great. But is what we're going to get more like Ronald D Moore's remake of Battlestar Galactica or James Dott's remake of The Invaders? The devil's in the authorial details.

A while ago, I posted a rant arguing that the UK needed more TV shows with longer season lengths because that was the only way we could train up writers, give them experience and give them a career pathway. Who cares if they turned in work that might not be great at first - in a season of 13 or 24 episodes, who'd remember the occasional duff one or who wrote it, I argued.

Now that's true for the novice writer just starting out in a sea of other writers, turfing out the meat and potato filler episodes. But when it's the showrunner? Oh, you remember when he turns in duff ones, because they're the special episodes, the ones reserved for advancing season arcs, expanding characters, redefining shows and so on.

And so it is with Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files. He chose to write the first episode of this tenth season to bring Mulder and Scully to our screens, and if it wasn't clear from the original series and all the series he's tried and failed to run since, it was clear from My Struggle I that he got a bit lucky with The X-Files. Because it was dreadful. Just distilled essence of ridiculousness. I was half-inclined never to watch another episode ever again.

But as I pointed out in my rant, longer season lengths give writers a chance to learn the ropes and give them a career pathway, so they can go on to create things themselves. It's worth perusing the IMDB list of writers given their break and training on the original The X-Files, since many of them have gone on to become the great and the good of TV and film writing and show running. Vince Gilligan? He created Breaking Bad and Better Call SaulAlex Gansa? Homeland and 24. James Wong? The Final Destination series. Howard Gordon? Legends, 24, Homeland and Tyrant. Frank Spotnitz? The Man in the High Castle and Strike Back. The list genuinely does go on. And proves me right.

So the question we should have all been asking ourselves is whether these guys were coming back to write for the show. Thankfully, the answer is yes, because once we got past Chris Carter's mythology-laden, brain-warping, conspiracy-mad first episode, we got straight down to old school X-Files again with Founder's Mutation, thanks to James Wong.

Yes, everyone's a bit older now and you get away with showing ickier things on screen, but this was proper X-Files, with a 'weird thing' of the week to investigate, Mulder and Scully doing their usual routine, and all manner of scary events happening, in proper Wong style. True, if there was an explanation as to how Mulder and Scully got their old jobs at the FBI back, I missed it (is there an FBI reserves list or something?), but despite the best part of two decades having passed, everything was the way it should have been.

Episode three gave us Darin Morgan's effort. While Morgan hasn't really set the world on fire with the shows he's produced since The X-Files (Intruders, Those Who Kill, Fringe, Bionic Woman, Night Stalker), his are probably the best remembered episodes of the show's original run, since they were the funniest: Clyde Bruckman's Final Repose, War of the Coprophages, and Jose Chung's 'From Outer Space'. And he didn't let us down with this year's thoroughly amusing Mulder & Scully Meet The Were-Monster, a script 10 years in the making apparently, with Mulder looking back with middle-aged eyes at previous cases, only to realise most of them were scientifically explainable, so reluctantly trudging off after Scully to investigate a lizard-man and bumping into Kumail Nanjiani (Silicon Valley) and Rhys Darby (Flight of the Conchords, How To Be A Gentleman) in a Kolchak: The Night Stalker straw hat along the way.

Often hilariously funny thanks to both the writing and Anderson and Duchovny's performances - has Anderson actually laughed on-screen since The X-Files? I don't recall her doing so, but it's a very welcome sight - with dozens of nods to fans along the way, it reminds you how good The X-Files could be, and how many imitators have come, failed and gone since the show aired through being unable to recapture the show's essence.

So writers - good. Get good writers and your show will be good. QED.

Unfortunately, we've three episodes to go in this 'limited series' revival of the show and while one's written by Morgan, the other two are written by Carter. Oh oh. I get the feeling the final two episodes are going to be rubbish. 

That means that it's a hearty thumbs up from me for at least half the series and a worried look to the horizon. Make sure you watch the episodes Carter hasn't scripted, since they're the good ones; the others, I leave to your discretion.

PS My, don't Mulder and Scully both look young in the title sequence?

Barrometer rating: 2
Would the show be better with female leads? No
TMINE's prediction: Ratings are holding up, talks are under way and with the cast willing and able, the limited series format might just prove a sufficient draw for viewers to keep coming back

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News: pilots for MacGyver reboot, Cruel Intentions sequel; Fortitude adds stars; + more

Posted 6 days ago at 07:25 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

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February 2, 2016

Third-episode verdict: Billions (US: Showtime; UK: Sky Atlantic)

Posted 7 days ago at 20:03 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BarrometerBillions.jpgA Barrometer rating of 2

In the US: Sundays, 10pm ET/PT, Showtime. Starts January 17
In the UK: Acquired by Sky Atlantic

With shows above a certain level of quality, you offer a bit more leniency. Lesser shows stick everything into their pilot episode, trying to get you to watch subsequent episodes by putting all their cards on the table straight away: "This is what we are. This is what you're going to get if you keep watching." As such, you can tell almost immediately if those shows have got what it takes to make you watch.

And then they tend to neither improve nor worsen, simply offering you more of the same until you're bored. Or maybe they just offer less and less each week as they run out of ideas.

But with shows that are obviously well written from the outset, you're prepared to bed down. When you read the first chapter of a good book, you don't immediately drop it just because you don't get how all the characters inter-relate or even what the overall plot is - you take it on trust that that will be developed, and developed well, in subsequent chapters. There may even be flaws, but if the good significantly exceeds the flaws, you'll keep reading.

And so it is with Billions. Now the first episode was really very good. Very good. A real-life chess match between the US's most powerful lawyer (Paul Giamatti) against Wall Street's most powerful hedge fund manager (Damian Lewis), it was clever, had crackling dialogue and insight. Okay, so it had that weird thing with the dominatrix and Giamatti, and to be honest, both Lewis and Giamatti are miscast. There was also no blindingly obvious reason why Giamatti was going after Lewis, other than Lewis had a lot of money, since the show didn't bother to depict Lewis doing anything bad. But it was fascinating to watch.

So I gave it latitude. All good things come to those who wait, etc, etc. Give the show time to dot the i's and cross the t's, I thought.

Now, this wasn't necessarily a mistake. I gave Rubicon about nine episodes of latitude and was much rewarded for my patience. But three episodes into Billions and we've still not had any real indication of wrong-doing by Lewis. He's a dick. Indeed, if Billions has a theme, it's that powerful people - particularly but not exclusively men - are dicks and do dickish things. The more money and/or power they have, the more dickish they are, often openly, too.

But that appears to be the extent of his crimes, beyond perhaps a bit of minor insider trading. He's not foreclosing mortgages on the penniless, he's not destroying companies and jobs for shits and giggles, he's not even doing terrible things with prostitutes on super-yachts.

He's just rich. And for some reason Giamatti wants to take him down. It's not exactly Galahad's quest for the Holy Grail, is it? 

And that would be a minor issue if the show had other assets. But it's started to divest itself of them. The second episode had a lovely piece of real-world Wall Street (spoiler alert: the simulated SEC investigation), but all that chess-playing has diminished by about 50%. It's still there and Lewis' wife, Malin Åkerman, has started to do the female equivalent, deploying some clever social gambits against someone she'd quite like to burn in Hell, but the move/counter-move structure of the first episode has largely dissipated.

In its place, we've had some comedy, which at least has been amusing, but not especially clever and is usually accompanied by everyone smirking. We've also had some more ridiculous sex. Didn't think that urinating dominatrix fun of the pilot was quite enough? Well that's back in episode three, with a cattle prod for luck, as well as discussions of the emotional implications of liking ATM. No, it's probably not what you think it is, so go Google it.

Meanwhile, episode two gave us cunnilingual naked lesbians snorting cocaine off each other. And a man being disciplined by a muscular dwarf in a wet room. 

Realistic depiction of Wall Street culture? I have no idea, but it really doesn't advance the plot or characterisation, beyond referring us back to the theme of "People with power are dicks and do dick things."

Based purely on the first episode and the fact Showtime has already given the show a second season, I'm going to stick with this, as there's clearly some clever writers working on it. But I've read reviews that suggest that at least some of the trends I've mentioned above are still true by episode five. That's a lot of leniency I'm going to have to offer.

When it's at its best Billions is a very clever piece of writing. That best is starting to recede into the distance, along with my patience. Fingers crossed, both will return at some point. In the meantime, if you enjoy lots of powerful men (and women) trying to be alphas and trying to see who can pee highest up a wall, Billions is going to be the highlight of your week.

Barrometer rating: 2
Would the show be better with female leads? Yes
TMINE prediction: Already renewed for a second season

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