In France: Last autumn In the UK: Saturday 16 February, 9pm, BBC. iPlayer: Episode 3, Episode 4 In the US/Canada: Acquired by Netflix
Very much a game of two halves, this Saturday's episodes. After I waxed lyrical about the show last week, episode three decided to be all contrary and a bit of a disappointment, an unremarkable plot expander, redeemed by just a few twists and turns.
But then episode four turned up. Episode four, which contained not just a big helping of WTF, but topped it all off with a massive dose of OMG. No, I don't know what French texteese is for Oh My God. I'm assuming not OMD.
There are shows that despite essentially having an incredibly stupid premise actually turn out to be quite smart. Consider Prison Break, created by Paul Scheuring, in which an architect gets himself arrested so he can be incarcerated in the same prison as his death-row brother. Because he's also the architect who designed the prison and has developed an intricate plan to get them both out of jail together - which he's had tattooed onto his entire body.
Incredibly stupid premise, yet at times, it was actually quite smart, with intricate plotting, fun characters and tension aplenty.
Yet there are also shows that despite essentially having an incredibly stupid premise actually turn out to be absolutely stark staring bonkers insane.
Consider Zero Hour, created by - oh look - Paul Scheuring, in which Anthony Edwards' wife gets abducted after she buys the wrong clock in a market. It turns out that it's all part of a sinister conspiracy, involving the Rosicrucians, possibly the second coming or is it the anti-Christ, Nazis, reincarnation, 12 clocks, one for each of the apostles, and an unintelligible international terrorist. Only Edwards, together with a noble band of sceptical journalists, can save her and the world.
Yes, if you thought Dan Brown's Da Vinci Code wasn't far reaching enough in its implications and Angels and Demons was just too plausible, have I got a show for you... and it's possibly the stupidest, worst written show since the dawn of time.
New Zealand is a small country - okay, it's quite big, but in turns of population, it's quite small - but it does still have a surprisingly large effect on world media. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit were filmed there, mainly thanks to New Zealand film director Peter Jackson. The Oscar-winning Whale Rider launched the US career of actor Cliff Curtis (Traumaand Missing). A multitude of shows from the late 90s, including Hercules: The Legendary Journeys and Xena: Warrior Princess, introduced the likes of Lucy Lawless and Karl Urban to the world, and Spartacus is doing so with a new generation of actors all over again, with that show's Manu Bennett leading the charge into the US.
However, New Zealand does have its own home-grown film and TV industry, and in modern times, three of the biggest forces in New Zealand TV have been broadcaster TV3, and James Griffin and Rachel Lang of South Pacific Pictures, the originators of the long-lasting Shortland Street. This combo first gave us the comedy crime series Outrageous Fortune (remade in the US as Scoundrels), which nurtured the career of many a New Zealand actor, including Anthony Starr, currently doing sterling work as the star of Cinemax's Banshee.
Then came The Almighty Johnsons, which delved more into fantasy, with a tale of reincarnated Norse gods living in New Zealand. That's currently filming its third season and a US remake is currently being piloted by SyFy.
But it's all systems go at South Pacific because now we have another Lang and Griffin project (actually, so far, it's most Lang) - The Blue Rose, a comedy crime drama that reunites two of Outrageous Fortune's female stars, Antonia Prebble and Siobhan Marshall, in a tale of vigilantism and office temp work. When office temp Jane (Prebble) discovers that Rose, the PA she is replacing, died under mysterious circumstances, she joins forces with Rose’s best friend Linda (Marshall) to get justice for Rose. Along the way, they find others who need their help - victims of fraud, theft and injustice - and soon Jane, Linda and a team of unlikely co-workers are taking on the corporate bullies, fighting for justice and using their unique powers for good. They're not afraid to break the law in order to stand up for the little people, and every step takes them a little closer to uncovering what really happened to Rose.
It's an odd combination of office politics and murder mystery with a very odd couple at its heart, but it just about works. Here's a trailer:
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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.
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"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."
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"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.