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January 8, 2013

Review: Transporter 1x1-1x2 (RTL/M6/HBO Canada/Cinemax)

Posted on January 8, 2013 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Transporter The Series

In Canada: Fridays, 9pm ET/MT, HBO Canada/Super Ecran 1
In the US: Acquired to air on HBO Cinemax, possibly in June
In Germany: Already aired on RTL
In France: Already aired on M6

Co-productions are the future. Allegedly. Ask the BBC, which regularly works with BBC America and also HBO on productions. Sky also does plenty of international shows in collaboration with US, Spanish, French and South African broadcasters.

The idea is that you unlock more money that can result in either better shows or shows that couldn't otherwise have been made at all, or you can have overseas filming and exotic locations courtesy of the people who know the areas best and can give you firm advice on the cultures that can be incorporated into the scripts.

Sometimes this works: the Swedish/Danish The Bridge was excellent; Sky's Falcón and Strike Back are good; Canada's Flashpoint, originally produced in association with CBS, wasn't half bad, despite its desperate attempts to appear as un-Canadian as possible.

Sometimes it doesn't: BBC/Cinemax's Hunted was dreadful.

Quite often, the problem is in making a programme that will appeal to audiences in all the countries involved. Anyone can import another country's television, quite cheaply, but once big production money is involved, you often want actors from both countries, filming in both countries, writers from both countries and so on. And of course each country's producers and network executives will want input into the show. As a result, more or less anything interesting gets filed off by the process.

It's basically 'death by committee'.

In particular, there is one unholy alliance of producing countries, familiar to anyone who watched TV in the 90s, that can be pretty much be guaranteed to co-produce rubbish: Canada, France and Germany. Forget how good each individual country's television can be - united in co-production they are only a force for evil.

Remember Highlander? Remember its arbitrary location changes from Canada to Paris and back each season? Remember the contractually obligated French and German actors struggling to speak English each episode? Remember the guest Englishperson in any episode shot in Paris, since they needed someone who could act in English, who was cheap and who could be there quickly?

If not, let's pretend 20-odd years haven't happened and tune into Transporter: The Series. It's based on the 2002 Luc Besson French-US movie that starred Jason Statham as Frank Martin, an ex-special forces, samurai-like car driver who would drive anything you wanted, anywhere you wanted for a price and would kick the crap out of anyone who tried to stop him - provided you stuck with his supposedly rigid rules. The series sees Chris Vance (ex of Prison Break and Mental but no action background whatsoever) take over the role of Martin, who's still working in the South of France - and Germany - but now has the help of a comedic German car engineer and an East European female boss, and is being chased by both the French and Belgian police.

Creative compromises? I don't know what you mean. Here's a trailer for the movie, followed by a trailer for the series itself.

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December 28, 2012

Review: Wonder Woman #15/Justice League #15/Batwoman #15/Aquaman #15

Posted on December 28, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Wonder Woman #15

As we head into the new year, for Wonder Woman, it seems an appropriate time to say, "Out with the old, in with the new."

For starters, in Wonder Woman #15, not only do we have the much-heralded, full-on return of the New Gods to the DC Universe, we also have some new characters - including, naturally enough, a new relative for Wondy - and new powers for her as well.

But over in Justice League #15, the flip remark I made when reviewing Justice League #14 turns out to have been prophetic, too: Wondy has a new secret dating identity. Yes, 'Diana Prince' is back. Woo hoo!

Justice League #15

And since our Wondy seems to be getting some proper 'screen time' in the DC Universe for a change, this month, she's also popping up in Aquaman for the first time since the nu52 reboot. Although, it has to be said, it's a less than edifying experience for all involved. And it's not just because of the usual Aquaman fish jokes.

Aquaman #15

And, just for fun, she flies a bit in Batwoman #15. Well, falls, flies, it's much of a muchness. But it does give us the chance to ask a vital question that DC seems to have been posing for a couple of months now: is Wonder Woman a goddess? And to answer another vital question that DC seems to have been posing for even longer: do its writers really do any research?

Batwoman #15

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December 21, 2012

Preview: Deception (NBC) 1x1

Posted on December 21, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Deception on NBC

In the US: Mondays, 10/9c, NBC. Starts January 7 2013

With NBC doing so well in the ratings right now, it's tempting to forget that it essentially churns out derivative rubbish. It even rips itself off with Go On, which is an imitation - albeit a not bad one - of Community.

As if to prove a point, here comes Deception, a show that practically screams, "We wish we'd thought of that, ABC!" Combining two of ABC's stand-out shows of last year - Scandal and Revenge - Deception is a relentlessly monotonous show of ridiculous proportions. Marrying Revenge's "crime, East Coast rich people and the poor outsider woman" soap opera with Scandal's mystery/thriller and black female lead (when only one network show has a black female lead, you know something's wrong with the entire industry), Deception sees an FBI officer go undercover to solve the mystery of her former rich girl best friend's apparent drug overdose. Except it's really murder - as if you couldn't see that coming.

Okay, might be good, you might think, except being NBC, it's the blandest, dullest possible combination of those two shows, offering neither excitement nor vicarious thrills to get you through the fact that despite a decent cast that includes Victor Garber and Tate Donovan, there is absolutely nothing remarkable about the plot, the dialogue, the characters or their relationships. Even the tag line "To find the truth, she'll become a lie" is boring.

Here's a trailer. Stay awake if you can.

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