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October 2, 2012

Review: 666 Park Avenue 1x1 (ABC/ITV2)

Posted on October 2, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

666 Park Avenue

In the US: Sundays, 10pm/9pm Central, ABC
In the UK: Acquired by ITV2

So when is an adaptation not an adaptation? When you've only bought the book for its title because it's cool and you're really adapting something else altogether, that's when.

You might be tempted to think, for example, that 666 Park Avenue might be somewhat like 666 Park Avenue, the book of the same name - on which its credits claim it is based. And yet a brief yet cursory examination of the book's Amazon listing (or even, like me, if you flicked through it in the book shop) will reveal a few discrepancies:

Welcome to New York City, where the socialites are witches.

Jane Boyle has been living a fairy tale. When her boyfriend Malcolm proposes, Jane can't believe her luck and decides to leave her Paris-based job as a fledgling architect and make a new start with him in New York. But when Malcolm introduces Jane to the esteemed Doran clan, one of Manhattan's most feared and revered families, Jane's fairy tale takes a darker turn.

Now Jane must struggle with newfound magical abilities and the threat of those who will stop at nothing to get them.

Welcome to 666 Park Avenue….

Yes, it's Gossip Girl meets The Secret Circle. At least, the book is.

But that's not 666 Park Avenue the TV series. That is something completely different. And by completely different, I mean it's Rosemary's Baby meets The Devil's Advocate with just a hint of The Shining to give us 'The Devil's Janitor'. That's not as sexy a title as 666 Park Avenue, is it?

When Jane Van Veen (Rachael Taylor) and Henry Martin (Dave Annable), an idealistic young couple from the Midwest, arrive in New York City, the glamorous center of industry and media, they are offered the opportunity to manage the historic Drake. Jane, a small town girl with big ambitions, always knew she wanted to be an architect. Henry, a member of the Mayor's staff, is grounded, intelligent and tenacious. They are lured by the intoxicating lifestyle of New York's wealthy elite.

Sexy, enticing and captivating, home to an epic struggle of good versus evil, The Drake maintains a dark hold over all of its tenants in this new, chilling drama, tempting them through their ambitions and desires.

Basically, bunch of people in a building. They all get tempted. They sign their souls over to the guy who owns the building - the Devil (probably) - and then bad things happen. Two new people move in. They're going to be tempted by something, but you can bet they're going to do some investigating first.

And despite some really quite gruesome scenes, there is almost nothing interesting about this show. Apart from the title. It's a real place, you know.

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October 2, 2012

Review: Made in Jersey 1x1 (CBS)

Posted on October 2, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Made in Jersey

In the US: Fridays, 9/8c, CBS
In the UK: Not yet acquired. I'm assuming Sky Living had a fit of the vapours

Beware the juggernaut, my son!

The juggernaut - aka CBS - is the goliath of TV. It dominates the ratings. It had oodles of cash. It can do pretty much what it likes. And if you don't like that, it'll run all over you.

The newest trick CBS appears to have discovered is to take existing programmes, file the serial numbers off, bolt on a procedural and then call them its own. This season, it's already deployed its own version of Sherlock as Elementary. Vegas - not to be confused with NBC's Las Vegas, but easily confused with its The Playboy Club as well as A&E's Longmire - emerged blinking into the moonlight last week and on Friday, we got Made in Jersey.

Now at first sight, you might not spot what Made in Jersey obviously rips off. After all, the lead character in this legal show, in which a street-smart Jersey girl gets her big break in a Manhattan law firm, isn't blonde (hint, hint).

But by the end of the episode - in which her exciting knowledge of hairstyling products is used to prove that the student accused of murdering her professor is innocent and that despite everyone's belief that she's an airhead, she really can be a lawyer - you'll be going, "Oh, so that's what CBS couldn't get the rights to cheaply! Legally Blonde!"

Because that's what we have here: Legally Blonde with hair dye but without any humour, and with a legal procedural element bolted on. Another triumph for CBS's assimilation department.

Are there any redeeming features to the show? Well, at a push, since it's clearly not the dialogue, plotting, plausibility or characterisation of Made in Jersey that is going to save it, I'd have to say it's got one thing going for it, other than Kyle MacLachlan looking very bewildered by the whole thing: for the first time in a long while, we have a US TV show that's about class.

Here's a trailer:

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October 1, 2012

Review: Doctor Who - 7x5 - The Angels Take Manhattan

Posted on October 1, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Angels Take Manhattan

In the UK: Twas on BBC1 on Saturday. Available on the iPlayer
In the US: It was on BBC America on Saturday, y'all

Vroomfondel: I think our minds must be too highly trained, Majikthise

From the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy

So here we are. The end of an era. Exeunt Ponds, stage right, chased by a baby Angel. Stevie Moffat introduced them to us two and a half years ago with the first of his stories, The Eleventh Hour, and here he is, writing them out again.

Should be quite a moving moment, shouldn't it? Rusty usually managed to make companion departures the big tearjerkers they should be. Maybe not Martha, although who cared about her. But the 'death' of Pipes? The 'death' of Donna? Pass me a snivel-rag now.

Except, while there was a certain degree of sadness right at the end, this wasn't quite the tour de force I was hoping for from our Stevie. The trouble? I think that Stevie might be getting too clever for his own good. And working too hard.

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