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July 22, 2014

Review: The Lottery 1x1 (Lifetime)

Posted on July 22, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

Lifetime's Lottery

In the US: Sundays, 10/9c, Lifetime

Did you know the world’s fertility is slowly decreasing? No one’s exactly sure why, although chemicals, particularly those with oestrogen-like properties, that have been flushed into the ecosystem is among the more likely suggestions. Of course, with the world’s population heading for 7 billion and likely to hit 9.6 billion by 2050, it’s not exactly an immediate global issue, even if it does affect some people quite deeply.

But imagine what would happen if by 2020, suddenly everyone, everywhere stopped being able to have children and no more kids were born at all. What would that be like?

Well, lots of people have already had a go at answering this question. Margaret Attwood projected a similar future in The Handmaid’s Tale, which effectively imagined what would happen if Islamic law were implemented by a Christian US.

PD James's The Children of Men, adapted by Alfonso Cuarón and Timothy J. Sexton as a movie starring Clive Owen, imagines a similar dystopian future for the UK in such circumstance, albeit one that's more fascist than theocratic. 

All of which is bleak - way, way too bleak for basic cable, let alone Lifetime, home of very fluffy female-friendly fare such as Army Wives, Devious Maids, Drop Dead Diva, The Client List and Witches of East End. So I can’t imagine that when Sexton re-pitched Children of Men as a TV series, he did it without thinking it might need to be toned down a bit and made a bit more hopeful.

Certainly, given his co-producer partner is ‘practising friend of popular science’ Danny Cannon (CSI, Eleventh Hour), edginess was out of the question for Sexton's The Lottery. Within the first 10 minutes of the future extinction of humanity being announced, scientist Marley Shelton (also Eleventh Hour) has already come up with a viable treatment that fertilises 100 embryos.

Now science being largely a collaborative subject and this being a highly urgent issue that the whole world needs solving within the next 70-100 years, you’d have thought the most obvious coda to all this is that Shelton would then have been working with other scientists around the US and the world to perfect her technique and get a new baby boom underway. Meanwhile, those embryos would be being implanted in the most genetically and physically hospitable environments: their egg donors.

Except that wouldn’t be very dramatically interesting, so instead, brace yourselves. First, US President Yul Vazquez (The Good Wife, Magic City) wants to keep the discovery secret and impregnate 100 female soldiers with the embryos. Just like that. Because women join the army to have babies.

But then chief of staff Athena Karkanis (The Border) is hatching a cunning plan to 'give the nation hope’ - a lottery, with 100 lucky winners being given the chance to have a child. And then we add on a conspiracy theory to make it all just a little bit sillier.

Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: The Lottery 1x1 (Lifetime)"

Review: Satisfaction 1x1 (USA)

Posted on July 22, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Glades

In the US: Thursdays, 10/9c, USA

There is something of a pyramid of US TV networks, which has premium cable at the top, basic cable in the middle and network at the bottom. If it’s on premium cable, it’s liable to be top quality and have as much swearing, nudity and violence (aka ‘adult themes’) as your little heart desires; if it’s on basic cable, it’s probably not going to be as good as premium cable, but it’s still likely to be a cut above the usual; and then there’s the potluck of network TV at the bottom - could be good, could be bad, unlikely to be great.

As a result, there’s something of a ‘trickle down’ effect with this pyramid. Since premium cable has the biggest budgets and the most creative freedom, it gets the best pitches and makes the most innovative shows. Every other channel just has to play catch-up.

Case in point is USA’s Satisfaction, which sees Matt Passmore (The Glades) growing increasingly dissatisfied with his job and life before erupting in rage and giving it all up, hoping to seek enlightenment, before reclaiming his life. Sounds a lot like HBO’s Enlightened with Laura Dern, doesn’t it?

Not so fast, though, sonny Jim. Because along the way he discovers his unsatisfied wife, Stephanie Szostak (Iron Man 3), is paying an escort for sex. And when he finds himself in possession of said escort’s phone, he soon discovers the surprising number of rich single and married women prepared to pay him quite a lot of money for sex, too. Hmm. Sounds a lot like HBO’s Hung, too, doesn’t it?

So - two HBO shows rolled into one. Should be twice as good as one HBO show, shouldn’t it? Well…

It’s called trickle down for a reason.

Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: Satisfaction 1x1 (USA)"

July 21, 2014

Review: Matador 1x1 (El Rey)

Posted on July 21, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

El Rey's Matador

In the US: Tuesdays, 9pm ET/PT, El Rey

There is something of a stereotype in the US that there’s only three groups of people who play what the rest of the world calls football/le football/Fußball/ποδόσφαιρο/etc but which America calls soccer:

  1. Children, particularly girls
  2. Immigrants
  3. Latinos

'Real men', on the other hand, play what the US calls football, but the rest of the world calls American football.

Now, the World Cup this year, at which the US did surprisingly well, might have helped to start the slow process of neutralising this stereotype. But film director Robert Rodriguez made his career playing with Latin stereotypes in films such as El Mariarchi and From Dusk Till Dawn and with grindhouse homages such as Sin City, Machete and, erm, Grindhouse. Given that Rodriguez now has his own English-language, Latin-interest, pro-grindhouse TV network, El Rey, it’s no big surprise therefore that his second scripted drama, which follows hot on the heels of the TV adaptation of From Dusk Till Dawn, should capitalise on that stereotype.

Matador is a partial grindhouse homage about an undercover DEA agent (Gabriel Luna) who gets recruited by the CIA when they spot he’s not only quite good at undercover work, he can also run very quickly. Luna’s task? To somehow infiltrate LA’s professional football team, run by Alfred Molina, to uncover a global conspiracy.

Plausible, no?

By turns Chuck-like then Escape From Athena ridiculous, Matador is unfortunately only moderately exciting and, it has to be said, is full of immigrants. Brits and Australians. There’s just loads of them.

Here’s a trailer.

Continue reading "Review: Matador 1x1 (El Rey)"

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